Albert Okwuegbunam may have a name that is hard to pronounce but his game translates easily. While Okwuegbunam may have been just a 3 Star recruit out of Springfield Illinois he was a highly sought after player as every team in the Midwest wanted Albert O within their program. After redshirting intially Okwuegbunam hasn’t put up eye popping numbers in Missouri’s offense but has still found a way to showcase his talent. Here we take a look at why Albert Okwuegbunam is considered the best NFL Draft eligible tight end.
Maybe it is all part of the plan but when you watch Albert Okwuegbunam he doesn’t strike you as a fast, explosive or agile athlete. But Okwuegbunam can lull you to sleep and then when you least expect it Albert O will burst past you make a long catch and then run away. This sneaky athleticism is used to his advantage were the 6’5 255lb tight end can use his combination of size and burst to beat both defensive backs and linebackers. He may not look quick but he’ll burst right past you.
Too often in college football we have athletes out catching passes and they benefit by being able to just run to a spot or out athlete the defender. That is far from the case with Okwuegbunam who has developed some nuances to his route running. Against smaller defenders Okwuegbunam can use his size to shield off defenders to make catches. Albert O also understands how to use leverage as he has shown the ability to get inside or outside position and then make a quick burst to get a step on the receiver to make the catch. For his size Okwuegbunam can change direction easily as you can see in the above clip he’s able to cut on a dime and accelerate outside to get the first down.
Yeah there is more to the position, but the name of the game is catching the ball and Okwuegbunam shows that he can not only make the routine catches but he can also adjust and go get the ball when needed. Okwuegbunam has soft but strong hands that allow him to go up and attack the ball and then secure it despite contact. Even working down the field he shows the ability to track the ball and adjust if needed to make catches with his hands.
Even in today’s pass happy offenses the need for tight ends to block is still crucial. Just look no further than how the Patriots utilized Rob Gronkowski as an elite pass catcher and blocker. Now Albert O is never going to be confused for an elite blocker but he has the frame, strength and desire to go out and scrap with defenders off the edge. Okwuegbunam flashes the strength to be able to move or steer defenders but can also sink his hips and anchor in. If Albert O can clean up lunging at defenders issue and continue to improve on his technique he can develop into a quality blocker.