Isn't natural dropping into coverage as an outside linebacker
Will need to improve his ability to anchor against the run
May not be productive going against left tackles
Summary: Entering the 2012 season, there was more hype about Okafor's teammate Jackson Jeffcoat. Perhaps it was all name related with Jackson being the son of Jim Jeffcoat, but once the games started, Okafor was clearly the better player and pass-rusher.
That shouldn't have come as a real surprise as Okafor was one of the top ends in the Big XII in 2011. The junior was a First-Team All-Big XII selection and picked up 58 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. He was just a backup in 2010, yet had 2.5 sacks.
Okafor dominated the first half of the 2012 season. He made two massive plays to help Texas almost pull out a win against West Virginia. For the first, Okafor beat the right tackle with a speed rush just before halftime, dropped his shoulder to get leverage and planted Geno Smith on his back. The hit forced the ball out, and Jeffcoat recovered it just over the goal line for a Longhorns' touchdown. Okafor made a game-changing play in the fourth quarter with Texas down by three. He bull rushed the right tackle straight into Smith. Okafor reached out while falling to the ground and slapped the ball out of Smith's hand. The Longhorns recovered the ball at West Virginia's 12-yard line. Okafor also registered a blocked kick in the game with a number of other pressures on Smith.
Okafor had an ankle injury late in the year that led to him playing very few snaps against Kansas State. Still, he almost recorded a sack of Collin Klein; Okafor started it, but wasn't given credit statistically. He had zero tackles the week previous against TCU because of the ankle injury.
In his collegiate finale, Okafor went out with a bang as he dominated Oregon State with 4.5 sacks, eight tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Okafor came close to a few other sacks and set up his teammates to sack the quarterback. He was dominating the right tackle with speed rushes and bull rushes. The senior totaled 54 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 16.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, a blocked kick and a pass batted in 2012.
An injury kept Okafor from running at the Combine, but he performed well at the Senior Bowl. Okafor started out the week on fire before cooling down some. Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson told WalterFootball.com that Okafor was the best pass-rusher he went against in college, and NFL teams value that kind of feedback.
Okafor bested offensive tackles with speed, strength and a repertoire of pass-rushing moves as a Longhorn. He has a nice get-off with enough speed to turn the corner. Okafor also does well cutting to the inside. The strength of his bull rush catches offensive tackles by surprise. He should turn into a good pass-rusher in the NFL.
Okafor does ok on the ground, but he isn't an elite run-defender and is better trying to get upfield rather than holding his ground at the line of scrimmage. Okafor does well in pursuit.
Texas lined up Okafor in a variety of spots. He played both with his hand on the ground and as a stand-up outside linebacker. Okafor isn't natural dropping into coverage. He could play 3-4 outside linebacker, but his best fit as a professional would probably come playing left defensive end in a 4-3 defense. He could provide some nice pass-rushing mismatches against right tackles.
Scouts at both the East-West Shrine and the Senior Bowl told WalterFootball.com that they believe Okafor will be a first-round pick, but it seems possible that he could slip to the second day. Okafor's pass-rushing ability and production should result in him being a top-60 selection.
Player Comparison: Trent Cole. Like Cole, Okafor is a steady and consistent pass-rusher. Both players win with a combination of speed, strength, moves and versatility. Cole (6-3, 270) is a little shorter and heavier than Okafor, but in the NFL, Okafor should reach 270 after spending some time in a pro strength program. For the most part, Cole has been a reliable pass-rusher in his career that has produced good sack totals. It isn't a stretch to see Okafor having a career similar to Cole.
NFL Matches: Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, San Diego, Oakland
There are a few teams in the back half of the first round and early in the second round that Okafor could land with. Atlanta has to find a replacement for John Abraham. Okafor could be in the pool of players for the Falcons to consider late in the first round.
Detroit is going to need to bring in some defensive ends. The Lions could target Okafor early in the second round, and he would be a nice complement to their pass-rushing defensive tackles.
The Dolphins could use an edge-rusher to pair with Cameron Wake. San Diego could use Okafor alongside last year's first-rounder, Melvin Ingram. That will be a serious need if it isn't addressed by re-signing Shaun Phillips or a different veteran.
Oakland had a pathetic pass rush from its ends in 2012. The Radiers would have to trade up into the second round from their third-round pick, but Okafor would be a nice upgrade for them.