NFL offenses will run straight at him if he's a defensive end
Summary: There have been some excellent athletes, and pass-rushers in particular, who have been foreign imports. Last year, the Lions took Ezekial Ansah with the fifth-overall pick. Another Ghanaian was drafted with Edmund Kigbila going to the Panthers. There also were players drafted who hailed from Liberia and Zimbabwe. This year, the Nigerian Attaochu will keep the streak going.
Attaochu spent the last three seasons as a dangerous edge rusher for Georgia Tech. He had a solid debut in his sophomore year with 59 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one interception, two passes broken up and two forced fumbles. In 2012, Attaochu made strides with 69 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and one forced fumble.
In 2013, the senior collected 45 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and 12.5 sacks. He beat North Carolina left tackle James Hurst for one of those sacks. Attaochu had big games against Clemson and Georgia as well. He really developed his game and became a more consistent pass-rusher in 2013. At the Senior Bowl, Attaochu had a quality week and did well in the pass rushing one-on-ones. He showed some strength to go along with his quickness.
The type of player Attaochu will be is pretty clear as he is going to be drafted for his edge-rush ability. Attaochu is very fast coming off the corner with nice agility to work his way around tackles. He has added strength that helped him to shed blocks. Attaochu has some different pass-rushing moves to employ and showed an improved ability to set up tackles as a senior.
As a defensive end, Attaochu is undersized for run defense, but at outside linebacker, he should be much better. If Attaochu's drafted into a 4-3 defense, he could play Sam (strongside) linebacker on running downs and move to defensive end in passing situations. Attaochu's best fit would come as a 3-4 outside linebacker who blitzes off the edge.
Attaochu really improved throughout his collegiate career, and if he continues in that direction, he could be a steal. Following a strong senior year and Senior Bowl performance, Attaochu looks like he could go as high as the second round and shouldn't fall out of the third.
Player Comparison: Ahmad Brooks. Attaochu has upside, and if he is well coached, he could turn into a player who is similar to Brooks. The 49ers have gotten a lot of good years out of Brooks. Attaochu is similar size to Brooks (6-3, 259), and both of them are dangerous rushing the passer. Attaochu also has the athleticism to be used in a variety of ways like Brooks with the 49ers. If Attaochu can turn into a player comparable to Brooks, he will have outplayed his draft slot if he's a second-day pick.
NFL Matches: Houston, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Arizona, Philadelphia, San Diego, Green Bay, Cincinnati, San Francisco
There are a number of teams that could consider Attaochu in the second round. Leading it off would be the Texans. They need an edge rusher to go on the other side from J.J. Watt, and if they take a quarterback in the first round, Attaochu could make a lot of sense in Round 2 or possibly Round 3.
Last year, many were surprised when the Jaguars passed on Dion Jordan. Jacksonville has a pathetic pass rush for which Attaochu would be a quick upgrade. The Jaguars also must improve their outside linebackers. Attaochu looks like a great fit for Jacksonville, and the team coached him at the Senior Bowl.
The Cardinals, Saints, Colts, Eagles, Packers, Chargers and 49ers are all 3-4 defenses that could use another pass-rushing outside linebacker. It wouldn't be surprising if one of those teams targets Attaochu on Day 2, plus all of their schemes would be ideal fits for him.
The Bengals could be an interesting spot for Attaochu. Cincinnati could lose Michael Johnson in free agency, and James Harrison is just a short-term starter at outside linebacker. Attaochu could be a good pass-rushing weapon with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.