2022 NFL Draft: Maryland TE Chigozem Okonko

We continue our review of the potential 2022 draft predictions for the Dallas Cowboys.

Name: Chigoziem Okonkwo
Position: TE
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 238 lbs

Chigoziem Okonkwo Career Stats, Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

Combine results: 4.52 40-yard run, 35.5-inch vertical jump

When the Cowboys made the decision to franchise the Dalton Schultz brand, their tight end position dropped several notches down the needs list this season. However, the release of Blake Garwin creates a need for depth. While Sean McKeon and recently re-signed Jeremy Sprinkle provide that, Dallas could choose to draft someone in later rounds as well.

If so, the Cowboys could do much worse than Chigoziem Okonkwo in Maryland. One of the best recruits in his class, Okonkwo is committed to Maryland and earning time to play as a real freshman in 2018. However, this season also saw head coach DJ Durkin suspended and then fired during the pre-season. New coach Okonkwo in 2019 installed an offense that benefited from their tight ends to a lesser degree than the previous system.

However, Okonkwo had a promising sophomore campaign as a tight end to the rotation. He was ready for the big 2020 season after showing off Sports Raw, but Okonkwo developed myocarditis caused by COVID-19 and missed the entire season. Despite facing the risk of being a career-end crisis, Okonkwo recovered and played in his final year with the Terrapins, looking in every way to the athletic whimsy he had in previous years.

Receiving ability: This is easily the best part of the Okonkwo game. Its easier to understand his game if you consider him a really big receiver. He’s a playmaker in the scrolling game, and Maryland has taken advantage of that. He has a receiver hand, often catches and rarely sees narrow ends. He was a frequent playing intermittent, and Maryland used him on a lot of screens and movies where he created big plays after the hunt.

Play path: Impressed during his sophomore year for his raw potential, Okonkwo then missed a year that could have been crucial to his development. As such, he’s still pretty tough, and it shows in his way as he runs. It helps that Maryland made him run a very diverse road tree, so at least he’s exposed to a lot of different roads. Okonkwo still works out the nuances of it all, even though his athletic style made him get away with it in college. He will need to improve his techniques in the NFL.

Turn on ban: When Okonkwo was asked to act as an immobilizer, he showed good effort and a willingness to use it that way. But he clearly hasn’t had much development in this area yet, often struggling to maintain his mass for as long as necessary. The good news is that he has the frame to become a good running blocker, and he seems to have the desire to grow there too, but the Okonkwo shouldn’t be part of any first-year blocker scheme.

Scroll ban: Okonkwo isn’t the kind of narrow one you’d want to leave as an extra pass-through barrier. This part of his game is very unrefined and seems to have no anchor, which can be disastrous in protecting passes. He’s worked really well as a kind of chip-and-release player, and has a role in those concepts at the next level.

sports: Okonkwo is weird. In the combination, he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, which was at its best between the tight ends; The fastest man came in 4.61 seconds. His time of 40 was faster than attending 12 different receptions. The Okonkwo’s 35.5-inch vertical jumper came second among the narrow ends as well, which is indicative of his explosion. It was great to see Okonkwo take part in the rest of the group testing, but it’s still clear how much sporting power he has.

Size: Compared to other narrow limbs, the Okonkwo lacks bulk. This is a big factor in his struggle as a blocker, too. Standing at 6’2″ and 238 pounds, Okonkwo still has a size advantage over the vaults he drew in Maryland. His superb speed is also enough to give him an edge against nearly any NFL midfielders he might encounter. Okonkwo’s size is only an issue if the team He wants to use it as a barrier with any regularity, which would be a huge waste of his talent.

The untouched: The fact that Okonkwo was not only able to recover from a serious illness such as myocarditis, but was also able to play meaningful football, is a testament to his strength and commitment to football. Okonkwo also plays an advantage for him, which can be seen in the way he tries to body the defenders before and after the catch. He’s the kind of tough guy who likes his physique in the game, although he’s quick and quick to avoid most contacts.

As a prospect for the Cowboys, Okonkwo will emerge as a development prospect with a very high ceiling. His positive attitude toward Ban suggests he could develop into a well-rounded end, and spending a year alongside the likes of Schultz and McKeon could help him learn a few things in the field.

In the short term, the Okonkwo can be a dangerous weapon if deployed properly, but is too tough to be a weak player. In the long run, it can develop into a distinct aggravating end in the right environment. This makes draft dropping it difficult, as some teams will appreciate it on day two while others view it as a possibility on day three.