Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah paints in the details in his pre-draft process

Tyler James I South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

When Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah talks about refining the details of his game, the former Notre Dame linebacker isn’t leaning on clichés.

Otherwise he wouldn’t mention something so specific as ankle mobility when asked what he’s been working to improve since the end of Notre Dame’s football season.

“A painter can paint a big picture, but it’s not going to become a masterpiece until he focuses on the small details,” Owusu-Koramoah said Monday.

Owusu-Koramoah put some of those details on display Wednesday at Notre Dame’s Pro Day. With NFL personnel, including head coaches Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts), in attendance, Owusu-Koramoah participated in position-specific drills and parts of the traditional NFL Scouting Combine workouts.

Owusu-Koramoah didn’t paint a complete picture Wednesday in the Irish Indoor Athletics Center. He sat out the 40-yard dash due to tightness in his hamstring, according to the NBC Sports Network telecast. He also didn’t participate in the bench press.

But dressed in only a tight pair of compression shorts, Owusu-Koramoah displayed some of the attributes that made him a unanimous All-American and Butkus Award winner as college football’s top linebacker in 2020.

The 6-foot-1, 221-pound prospect showed his quick change of direction with a 20-yard shuttle of 4.15 seconds and three-cone drill of 6.81 seconds. Missouri’s Cale Garrett was the only linebacker at last year’s NFL Combine to run a faster shuttle time. None of the 18 linebackers who completed the three-cone drill last year were faster than Owusu-Koramoah.

Owusu-Koramoah also registered 36.5 inches in the vertical jump and 124 inches in the broad jump which measure explosiveness. His 36.5-inch vertical would have qualified for eighth at last year’s NFL Combine. The 124-inch broad jump would have tied for ninth.

Those numbers don’t match up favorably against Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, who was selected with the No. 8 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in last year’s NFL Draft. Simmons registered a 39-inch vertical and 132-inch broad jump at the combine. But Owusu-Koramoah’s numbers were similar to LSU’s Patrick Queen (35-inch vertical and 125-inch broad), who was selected No. 28 by the Baltimore Ravens last year.

Simmons and Queen didn’t participate in the shuttle or three-cone drill at last year’s combine.

Nothing Owusu-Koramoah did Wednesday should be surprising given the way he played the last two seasons, compiling 142 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, four recovered fumbles and one interception. Most, if not all, draft analysts have been projecting him as a first-round pick for months.

That’s why reporters covering the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Steelers all asked Owusu-Koramoah questions during Monday’s press conference.

Owusu-Koramoah shared that when he’s interviewing with teams, he asks about the team’s culture. Why?

“I want to be able to mold myself and cultivate myself to match what that team’s looking for,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “With anything’s that positive, I want to be able to adapt and be relatable to others and give the team what that team ultimately needs.”

Owusu-Koramoah has clearly been listening. He said the Browns told him verbatim that their culture is smart, tough and accountable.

He carefully listened as reporters asked questions too. Owusu-Koramoah requested questions from a pair of reporters from Brazil and offered a few words in Portuguese before answering their questions.

When a different reporter detailed perceived flaws in Owusu-Koramoah’s game, he both agreed and pushed back.

“I think you just said it … other than the instinctive part,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “But I think you just said it perfectly.

“I need to work on tackling. Every defensive person needs to work on tackling. I need to work on my angles. Those are two things that I don’t think are my weaknesses, but those are things that I sure need to work on to become the player that I want to become. So those are the things that I am correcting and working on.

“Every missed tackle that I’ve had, I’ve calculated it and said, ‘Wow. Every missed tackle that I’ve had, I’ve left my feet.’ If I can just keep my feet and be more patient on my angles, I’ll be just fine.”

Owusu-Koramoah prepared for his Pro Day workout at the EXOS facility in Frisco, Texas, alongside Alabama running back Najee Harris, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore. He hasn’t settled on his draft day itinerary yet with the possibility remaining that he could be invited to attend this year’s NFL Draft, which will be held April 29-May 1 in Cleveland.

He shouldn’t have to wait past that Thursday night to hear his name called. He could become Notre Dame’s first linebacker picked in the first round since Bob Crable in 1982.

“It’s been a beautiful process,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “Monumental. Something that you’ll always remember.”

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah put his athleticism on display Wednesday during Notre Dame’s Pro Day. Most NFL Draft analysts project him as a first-round pick.