Owusu-Ansah gives 'Boys options

There are many small school prospects that have emerged as potential high round draft picks this year, but one that gained the most momentum because of his size and versatility was Indiana University of Pennsylvania cornerback Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

Owusu-Ansah's ability to play cornerback, safety and even star as a return specialist has intrigued teams this offseason, and he's now enjoying the benefit of his success.

Owusu-Ansah maybe a small school prospect, but there's nothing small about his game. IUP Athletics

Owusu-Ansah visited the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins in the month leading up to the draft, as both teams were interested in playing the 6-foot, 207-pound defensive back at free safety.

The Cowboys, of course, are looking for a playmaker in their secondary after releasing hard-hitter Ken Hamlin. Hamlin brought an intimidating presence to the field, but he was limited in coverage and has poor ball skills.

And now, with Owusu-Ansah drafted by the Cowboys in the fourth round, he will be a huge upgrade over Hamlin.

Even though Owusu-Ansah is listed as a cornerback, in college he basically served as the team's free safety.

At IUP, the defensive structure calls for a lot of two-deep coverage where Owusu-Ansah played field corner, which requires him to function as a free safety. But at IUP, the linebackers and safeties amassed most of the tackles - that's why Owusu-Ansah, who was the last line of defense, didn't record many tackles during his career; he had 14 tackles in 2008 and 27 this past year. Owusu-Ansah is a physical player and will be a dynamic player at the next level; don't let his lack of tackles alter your view of him as a prospect.

During his career, Owusu-Ansah dominated the competition at the Division II level and generated some impressive statistics during his two-year stint as a starter; intercepting 10 passes (eight of them came during the 2008 season) and totaling nine touchdowns (four on punt returns, three on kickoffs, one on an interception and another returning a fumble) in his career. This past year, Owusu-Ansah scored five (three on punt returns and two on kickoffs) of his nine career touchdowns and was one of the most electric return specialists on any level in the nation.

For his efforts this past year, Owusu-Ansah received an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, but was unable to participate due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the season finale. But, he didn't miss his opportunity to shine in front of scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine, and at that forum he showcased his talents. Owusu-Ansah ran a 4.32 in the 40, posted a 35.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump; he didn't bench in Indianapolis, because his shoulder wasn't 100-percent.

On March 12th, Owusu-Ansah participated in the Ohio State Pro Day and continued to wow scouts with his natural ability. Surprisingly, he decided to run the 40 again and turned in another stellar time of 4.33, but scouts were shocked when he decided to participate in the bench press. With an injured shoulder, Owusu-Ansah put up 225 pounds 21 times and exceeded NFL personnel's expectations. Shortly after the OSU Pro Day, it was revealed that Owusu-Ansah had a labrum tear in his shoulder, which he had surgery on two weeks ago.

Despite having surgery on his shoulder, Owusu-Ansah could ultimately be selected in the second round. The team that drafts him understands that he won't be ready for mini-camp after the draft, but he will be 100-percent by training camp this summer. Owusu-Ansah is currently the 9th rated cornerback listed on Scout.com's 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.

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