INDIANAPOLIS — Chris McGaha, an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts who focuses on the West Coast, as well as general manager Chris Ballard discuss what they saw in linebacker Bobby Okereke, the Colts’ third-round (89th-overall) pick in this year’s NFL Draft:
It seems like athletically Okereke's super close to someone like Darius Leonard. Is that something you guys saw?
McGaha: “Yep. That's true. He's got the length, 35-inch arms. He's fast. He ran fast; I don't remember the number exactly. But plays with effort, kind of like Darius — instincts, tackling, sideline-to-sideline guy. He's good in coverage, too. We saw him kind of in the same light. You put those two guys next to each other.”
Okereke mentioned that the MIKE linebacker spot might be his strongest position. Would you agree with that?
McGaha: “I think he could play all three. He's played MIKE at Stanford. He can make the calls, he's smart, he is tough, he's got the length. So that helps him with blocks and whatnot; defeating blocks. But he is fast, he plays with good effort. And then coverage, too, if you want to bump him out, or whatever, he's good in coverage. So I think he can play all three. I kind of saw him in size as a MIKE or WILL. But I think he'll get a chance at all three, too.”
Colts general manager Chris Ballard also talked about Okereke during his film session with reporters last month:
Ballard: “I’m really excited about him. If you think back — I started thinking this last year when we played the Giants — remember when everybody was hurt, dinged up? So we actually had (Ahmad) Thomas come in, playing the dime, but we were down … (Anthony) Walker was hurt, he had the pec, and (Darius) Leonard was dealing with the ankle all year, so we were down to having to play our practice squad guy, and I was (thinking), ‘We’ve got to build some depth at inside linebacker. It’s too important to us.’ So we went into it creating great competition; it’ll be a heck of a battle. But Walker’s a heck of a football player. And we’ll play Okereke at MIKE and SAM, and he’ll play some WILL, but he will definitely get in there and compete because he’s got — remember when I talked about hawkin’ the quarterback? So this is another one; I’m not gonna lie to y’all: I think he’s really good, man. I think he’s gonna be a heck of a player. Long, he’s smart, he can run.
“I mean, look: to be the starting MIKE right off the bat, I mean, being able to make the calls, see everything that’s going on, all the checks and everything you have to do, that’s what he would have to be able to handle. And then you have to be a freakin’ football player, like Anthony Walker. Anthony’s a good player and played real good football for us last year. It’s a really good problem to have. It’s nice when you have a MIKE, a WILL and a SAM, and then depending how we use Banogu, also, in the mix, it just gives you a lot of flexibility and depth. And then it helps your special teams, man. Let’s don’t ever underestimate that; I mean, that’s an important element of winning games.”