BEREA, Ohio - The Browns might have made the steal of the recent NFL Draft - but might have to wait a little bit longer to see a return on their investment.
Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (5–10, 195) was a highly rated prospect who injured his knee at the end of the season. In one of the early mock drafts last fall, Sports Illustrated had Ekpre-Olomu as being drafted 21st overall, in the first round.
However, that was before Ekpre-Olomu tore his ACL before the college playoffs began. The Browns drafted him with their last pick in the seventh-round (241st overall).
He also disclosed on a conference call with the local media on Wednesday that he also dislocated his left knee in the injury.
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“Yeah, I think definitely teams were concerned and thinking that I wouldn’t be able to play or I wouldn’t be able to play at the level that I wanted to play,” he said. “But it really only takes one team and I’m excited to be playing for the Browns and I’m excited that they gave me the opportunity to prove (myself) and they have the faith in me that I’m going to be back to 100% and healthy.”
Ekpre-Olomu will not take part in the Browns rookie mini-camp this weekend as he continues to rehab in Los Angeles. He also admitted that he might not be ready to play in 2015.
“It’s definitely a longer rehab than just a regular ACL,” he said. “It all depends on the person. Some people are able to come back in seven months. Some people are able to come back in 10 months. It really matters when the ligament scars in and … the strength in going to be there, but at the same time it’s up to the doctor they have to feel 100% that the ligament is scarred in and over time it’s not going to wear out again.”
ESPN’s Todd McShay said on Day three of the draft that Ekpre-Olomu would’ve been a late first round/early second round draft choice if he wouldn’t have been injured.
“I definitely feel like I was (a first-round pick before the injury),” Ekpre-Olomu said on a conference call Wednesday. “I feel like I’m one of the best defensive backs in this class. Especially playing this position, you have to believe that you’re the best out there.”
ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported last week Ekpre-Olomu will be able to collect on a $3 million insurance policy since he dropped out of the first three rounds of the draft due to injury.
“In the long run, [the injury] will make me stronger, having to rehab every day and watching a bunch of DBs drafted before you.”
He was the 28th defensive back to be selected in the draft.
Ekpre-Olomu started the first 13 games of 2014 before a knee injury knocked him out of the Rose Bowl, ending his senior season with 63 tackles, 11 passes defended and two interceptions. He earned First Team All-Pac 12 honors for the third straight season and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Ekpre-Olomu was an All-American in 2012 and 2013.
For his college career, Ekpre-Olomu had 48 passes defended, nine interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and eight forced fumbles.
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com summed up Ekpre-Olomu’s career this way:
“A three-time All-Pac 12 First Teamer, Ekpre-Olomu put himself on the NFL radar with an All-American sophomore season in 2012 with consistent production the past three seasons, starting 40 straight games as one of Oregon’s defensive leaders,” he said. “However, he enters the NFL as damaged goods after his Dec. 2014 knee injury, which he suffered during practice leading to the playoffs.”
The Browns feel they may have a steal on their hands if Ekpre-Olomu can come make a comeback.
“We felt like the kid, had he come out last year – there was a bit of talk that he might come out last year – again, special kid decided to go back to school and finish his degrees and live it out that way,” Ray Farmer said. “Again, the way we grade is a little different from everyone else. We don’t get into the rounds or any of that, but we felt like this kid could be a starter when he was 100% healthy.”
Ekpre-Olomu said he is motivated every day in his 3½ hour rebab workout to make a full comeback.
"People doubting you and thinking that you’re not going to be able to come back and play and be at the level that you once were.,” he said. “I wake up every day and focus on how much I can improve today.’’
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