According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke is their 36th best free agent overall in the 2023 NFL free agency class ranking:
36. LB BOBBY OKEREKE, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Okereke stepped up in a major way in the absence of fellow off-ball linebacker Shaquille Leonard, with his 72.9 grade ranking 23rd at the position. Okereke was particularly stout against the run, with his 13 defensive stops against the run tied for the 13th most. Okereke is now coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 100 tackles and 50 defensive stops.
The former third overall pick still has room to grow as a coverage player, but at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, he moves well enough in space to not be a liability in coverage.
Despite the team’s overall struggles, the 4th-year linebacker put together a very solid season for the Colts defense, recording 151 tackles (99 solo), 5 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries during 17 starts (16 games) in 2022.
In early November of this past season, Okereke was ranked as NFL Next Gen Stats’ 5th best off-ball linebacker in the entire NFL.
The undersized 6’1”, 235 pound linebacker was lauded for his coverage ability coming out of the NFL Draft as a third round pick from Stanford in 2019, but was surprisingly stout against the run this past season.
Still only 26 years old, Okereke would ordinarily be a starting caliber NFL linebacker that any defense would ideally like to retain, but the Colts already have a highly paid linebacker, Shaquille Leonard, and just handed out another multi-year free agent contract to fellow starter Zaire Franklin last offseason—meaning there may only be so much cap space to go around at the position, rather to allow Indy to focus on other team roster needs.
Not to mention, intriguing backup linebacker E.J. Speed is also a free agent, and the Colts could elect to re-sign him over Okereke, when considering all factors.
It’s possible that Leonard’s potentially cloudy football future could provide the Colts some pause when it comes to letting their still young productive starter, Okereke, ultimately sign elsewhere (*as reuniting with former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus in Chicago makes some sense, among other possibilities).
However, with Speed also as a pending free agent, Indianapolis may hedge their bets here some and sign the latter for cheaper. Time will tell.