According to NFL.com’s ‘Next Gen Stats,’ Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke is ranked as their 5th best off-ball linebacker:
5. Bobby Okereke
Indianapolis Colts · Year 4
Tackling score: 93
Coverage score: 84
Pass rush score: 51
OVERALL SCORE: 83
With three-time All-Pro Shaquille Leonard having been limited to two games this season due to injuries, Okereke has picked up the slack. The 26-year-old has made a tackle on 16.5 percent of his defensive snaps this season, the sixth-highest rate among players with at least 300 snaps. But the Stanford product has made an arguably bigger impact in the pass game, allowing a mere 4.8 yards per target as the nearest defender in coverage (fifth among off-ball linebackers, min. 20 targets). The 3-4-1 Colts are hanging around in the AFC South race, and if they are to contend, Okereke maintaining his form might be just as important as Leonard returning to form.
In a Colts’ linebacker corps that also includes 4x NFL All-Pro Shaquille Leonard, Okereke often flies under the radar. However, the 4th-year linebacker remains one of the league’s better young linebackers, especially in coverage.
On the season, the 6’1”, 235 pound linebacker has recorded 78 tackles (48 solo), 3 passes defensed, and a fumble recovery during 8 games (7 starts).
Per PFF (subscription), Okereke is their 16th best linebacker overall with a +72.3 overall grade, highlighted by a +84.6 run defense grade. In coverage, Okereke has been targeted 44 times for 32 receptions, 316 passing yards (9.9 ypr. avg.), and an opposing passer rating of 92.6. However, the next gen stats clearly seem to present him in a more favorable light.
The former 2019 3rd round pick and ‘future Hall of Famer’ is a free agent as season’s end and with the Colts having already paid fellow starting linebackers Shaq Leonard and Zaire Franklin, Okereke could be a potential salary cap casualty this upcoming offseason—and left to walk to sign a more lucrative deal elsewhere.
That being said, Okereke is clearly playing well in a contract season, namely in coverage (and tackling).