Owusu-Ansah, a Division II All-American from Indiana University Pennsylvania, is a major possibility to be selected in the second round by the Green Bay Packers, who met with him at the Scouting Combine and again on Friday.
In a deep but flawed field of cornerbacks, Owusu-Ansah possesses arguably the best combination of speed, size and productivity.
Of Scout.com's top 10 cornerback prospects, Owusu-Ansah and Virginia's Chris Cook are the only two who stand over 6 feet tall. At a shade over 6 foot, Owusu-Ansah was the fastest player at Ohio State's pro day, turning in 40-yard times of 4.34 and 4.36 seconds, according to agent Nate Haber and some teams in attendance.
Of course, none of that matters if he can't cover. As a junior, he got himself on NFL radars with eight interceptions. He was barely tested as a senior but managed two interceptions. He wasn't asked to play much press coverage at IUP, which he'd have to do with Green Bay, but with his physical stature, he's certainly got that capability.
"I think teams know that I have a lot of upside and potential to be a good player at the next level," Owusu-Ansah told Packer Report on Monday. "They know that I have things to work on — and so do I. I think I've impressed a lot of teams but I have a lot of areas where I need to get better."
Owusu-Ansah showed his competitive fire by testing himself at the pro day. His 4.47 clocking at the Scouting Combine ranked third among the corners and trailed the top-ranked 4.45 of Wake Forest's Brandon Ghee. He could have rested on that figure but didn't — and pushed a shoulder that he injured early in the season (he played through it) and again in the season finale. Owusu-Ansah said he'd be healthy and ready to go for training camp.
"My shoulder feels fine right now but I have an injury that can't be repaired by strengthening. It has to be fixed," he said. "But I did feel good. I did 21 reps, which is pretty good, I think, with a hurt shoulder. The whole pro day went real well. I had the fastest 40 there out of everybody."
Getting an invite to compete at Ohio State was big. Not only could scouts match Owusu-Ansah's athleticism against players from the Big Ten powerhouse, but they could compare him in position drills.
IUP CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
Darron Cummings/AP Images
So how does one of the top cornerback prospects in this draft wind up at a Division II school? Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, was a prep powerhouse, so he flew under recruiters' radars. And he missed a chance to make a name for himself by not going to elite camps before his senior season.
"Maybe I wasn't big enough to play at the big schools, I don't know," he added. "It all worked out for the better."
Indeed. Of his eight interceptions as a junior, seven came during the final four games of the season. Still, he never considered himself an NFL prospect until the first agent called him at the start of his senior season.
"I was like, ‘Wow, I'm getting a call from an agent,'" he said with a laugh.
Not only does Owusu-Ansah have the size the Packers demand from their corners, but he'd fill a gaping hole with his return skills. He scored nine touchdowns at IUP, including four on punt returns and three on kickoff returns. As a senior, he averaged a whopping 29.7 yards on kickoff returns and 12.5 on punt returns.
"Coming to IUP, I was a running back," he said. "When they switched me over to DB, I took advantage of that opportunity as a kick returner and punt returner to make plays with the ball in my hands. I love special teams. Every chance I get to return a kick, I take advantage of it. I enjoy it very much."
Asked who he enjoys watching, he mentioned Deion Sanders and Barry Sanders, and said he looked forward to facing another one of his favorite playmakers, Randy Moss.
And Charles Woodson? Owusu-Ansah's parents came from Ghana and he was born in Florida. He grew up in Columbus — home of Woodson's collegiate rival, Ohio State.
"He's a great player. He's the first defensive back to win the Heisman, so he's definitely a player I look up to," he said. "It would be awesome to be a Packer."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.