Oregon is known for its high powered offense that lights up the scoreboard on a weekly basis, but the Ducks have produced some good defensive prospects, including Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso. One of the program's top talents for the 2015 NFL Draft is Ekpre-Olomu.
Ekpre-Olomu worked his way into a starting role in 2012 and had an impressive season. The sophomore totaled 63 tackles, four interceptions, six forced fumbles and 16 passes defensed. Against USC and its star receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, Ekpre-Olomu had some good and bad moments. He played a lot of press man and held his own with an interception and a few passes broken up in the end zone, but he also was beaten for a score and was called for a few pass interference penalties.
In 2013, Ekpre-Olomu improved his play overall. He racked up 78 tackles, three interceptions, six passes broken up and one forced fumble for the year. The junior had some rough moments in coverage against Colorado and wide receiver Paul Richardson, but bounced back with a number of good games. Ekpre-Olomu maintained good coverage versus Tennessee and played well against UCLA.
In perhaps his biggest test of 2013, Ekpre-Olomu played well going against Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, a first-round pick to New Orleans in the 2014 NFL Draft. Cooks and Ekpre-Olomu had some good battles and were going back-and-forth, but Ekpre-Olomu contained Cooks from lighting up Oregon like Cooks did to the vast majority of his opponents.
2014 Season Outlook:
With teammate Terrance Mitchell entering the 2014 NFL Draft, Ekpre-Olomu will have a new starter playing on the other side from him this coming season. Thus, Ekpre-Olomu will probably match up against the best receiver the opponent has to offer on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately for draft evaluators, Ekpre-Olomu won't match up against two of the Pac-12's best receivers in USC's Nelson Agholar and Arizona State's Jaelen Strong. There are some quality receivers at Washington and UCLA, but his best test could come against Stanford and Ty Montgomery. Montgomery has a size mismatch against Ekpre-Olomu, so it will be interesting to see how the gritty corner matches up against Montgomery.
Arizona's Austen Hill is another big receiver who could test Ekpre-Olomu - if Hill is fully recovered from an ACL that cost him the entire 2013 season.
Ekpre-Olomu is fast and agile. He has the ability to play off-man coverage. Many college corners are unable to master that technique, but Ekpre-Olomu has been able to play it. He looks like he has loose hips to turn and stay with receivers while they run their routes. Ekpre-Olomu can maintain coverage in and out of breaks to not allow separation.
Ekpre-Olomu has demonstrated some ball skills with the ability to play the ball and not panic when passes are thrown his direction. He has instincts and could function well as a zone corner as a professional.
Even though Ekpre-Olomu isn't the biggest of defenders, he is a quality tackler and plays with some physicality. Ekpre-Olomu can play on the line of scrimmage and jam college receivers. He may not be able to play press man as much in the NFL, but it's nice that Ekpre-Olomu has that kind of versatility. Durability hasn't been an issue for him, and he looks like a tough football player.
In the NFL, Ekpre-Olomu could be moved around from playing outside and lining up in the slot. He looks like a great candidate to play the nickel role and cover slot receivers. Ekpre-Olomu could be a nice weapon for a defensive coordinator, and it could be a mistake to keep him in one spot.
2015 NFL Draft Expectations:
Assuming Ekpre-Olomu plays well in his senior year, he could be a top-20 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The issue that could hurt him with NFL teams is height. Ekpre-Olomu is listed at 5-foot-10, but colleges often inflate the sizes of players. It is important for his draft stock that he doesn't check in shorter than 5-foot-9. Ekpre-Olomu also needs to show that he has the ability to defend big receivers despite the size disadvantage.
If Ekpre-Olomu is 5-foot-9, he could still be the 2015 NFL Draft's version of Jason Verrett, and with the weakness of this coming draft class, Ekpre-Olomu could go in the top 20. If Ekpre-Olomu checks in at 5-foot-8, that could hurt his draft stock significantly.
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