BBD Assistant Editor: Joe Marino
Coming off back-to-back first-team all-Pac-12 selections, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu enters 2014 as one of the most talented cornerbacks in the nation. With two years of starting experience already under his belt, he is an impressive football player who is putting together a quality resume on the field.
Ekpre-Olomu appeared in all 14 of Oregon’s games as a true freshman, then exploded onto the scene as a sophomore in 2012, a year in which he was second in the nation with six forced fumbles and seventh in the FBS with 20 passes defensed, including four interceptions. He also had 63 tackles. Ekpre-Olomu continued to impress in 2013 as he compiled 84 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
His playmaking ability is obvious; his tape is equally as impressive as his statistics.
Why You Should Watch Ekpre-Olomu in 2014
Ekpre-Olomu is a fluid athlete with a smooth back pedal and good hips. He can turn and run with anyone and mirrors his opponents very naturally. You can apply the “pure cover corner” label to Ekpre-Olomu, who can be trusted on an island in man coverage. He is a fierce competitor who has tremendous balance and body control.
Ekpre-Olomu has excellent ball skills to go along with his athleticism and coverage ability. He has an incredible ability to track the football and disrupt completions by deflecting the ball, and he is very sure-handed when he has a chance to intercept the ball.
In the following example versus Oregon State last season, Ekpre-Olomu ran with New Orleans Saints first-round selection Brandin Cooks on a deep post, aware of his safety help over the top, and intelligently utilized a trail technique to position himself to play the football and secure an interception.
Ekpre-Olomu is excellent in run support and a sure tackler. He is extremely physical flying up and making plays on runs and short passes. When he does allow a completion, Ekpre-Olomu rarely allows any yards after the catch because he is so reliable as a tackler.
The following plays show Ekpre-Olomu’s willingness to come up and contribute as a tackler.
What Ekpre-Olomu Needs to Prove in 2014
Ekpre-Olomu struggles to maintain body positioning within the frame of his opponent, which allows too many easy completions on short routes. Improving his route anticipation and technique through press will be important areas for him to shore up in 2014.
The Oregon cornerback is also inconsistent with his eye discipline. He can allow easy separation when he gets caught with his eyes in the backfield and he loses track of his man in coverage.
Much like Darqueze Dennard, who was selected 24th in this year’s draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, Ekpre-Olomu can be very “grabby” down the field and will need to temper his hand usage to avoid costly penalties.
Projecting Ekpre-Olomu’s Draft Stock
Had Ekpre-Olomu declared for the 2014 NFL Draft, I would have anticipated him ranking among the top two or three prospects at his position. He will certainly compete to the be the No. 1 cornerback selected in 2015.
Listed at just 5’10″ and 195 pounds by Oregon’s official website, Ekpre-Olomu lacks ideal height for a cornerback, but brings everything else that NFL teams want in a high-level starting cornerback. By combining excellent coverage skills with the ability to play physically in run support and the versatility to line up all over the defensive backfield, Ekpre-Olomu has the makings of a first-round draft pick.