The Vikings have two defensive tackles, Kevin and Pat Williams, going to the Pro Bowl, but good interior linemen are a precious commodity in the NFL. While the Vikings gave Kevin Williams a lucrative contract extension in December, Pat Williams will turn 35 next season; so despite his impressive production and Pro Bowl performance in 2006, the team needs to begin looking toward the future.
That future could include Amobi Okoye if the Vikings' interest in him at the Senior Bowl on Wednesday is any indication. The team was setting up an interview with the defensive tackle from Louisville.
Okoye is considered an explosive interior lineman who makes plays in any direction and rarely gets knocked off his feet, according to TFY Draft Preview.
"He displays excellent first-step quickness and has nice size in the middle of the line," TFY writes.
In a number of ways, Okoye could be a very young Pat Williams. Some scouting services mentioned issues with controlling his weight, but he measured in at the Senior Bowl on Monday at a surprisingly slender 6-foot-2, 287 pounds. In fact, that could be a bit light to effectively play nose tackle in the NFL, but his overall strength is his ability to stuff the run, shed blocks and clog the middle, just like Pat Williams.
His youth could help him develop his body in the coming years, but it might also work against him on draft weekend. Despite playing four years at Louisville, where he amassed 121 tackles (23 for losses) and 10.5 sacks in 48 games, Okoye still will only be a 20-year-old rookie when he enters the NFL. The native Nigerian advanced in school beyond his age and began playing at Louisville as a 16-year-old true freshman.
While at Louisville, he was named a 2006 Associated Press second-team All-American and first-team Big East selection. In his senior season, he had 49 tackles and six sacks.
Okoye is expected to be a mid-round pick that has a chance of being selected on the first day (in the first three rounds).
Here are TFY's Senior Bowl practice reports on Okoye this week:
Monday Practice Notes: Has a great swim move playing over the center, but leaves his body open for blocking as he uses his hands. Want to see him add a little weight to play nose.
Tuesday Practice Notes: Fires off the ball low and hard and is very quick off of the snap. Really gave some of the interior blocks fits at times this morning. But if he does not beat his man initially, he can be overwhelmed at the point of attack, especially playing as a one-technique.
Wednesday Practice Notes: Again, really was coming off the ball at the snap. Despite his perceived lack of size at this point, Okoye really fought against pressure quite well this morning. His initial pass rush moves are effective but needs to work on improving his counters after contact. Did register a practice sack.
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