Ifo Ekpre-Olomu: All-American Corner’s Slide in the Draft and What It Says About NFL

Oregon junior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) intercepts the football from Oregon State junior quarterback Sean Mannion (4). The No. 13 Oregon Ducks play the Oregon St. Beavers at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 29, 2013. (Ryan Kang/Emerald)
Oregon junior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) intercepts the football from Oregon State junior quarterback Sean Mannion (4). The No. 13 Oregon Ducks play the Oregon St. Beavers at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 29, 2013. (Ryan Kang/Emerald)

We hear about it all the time. Injuries are a part of football. Ok, really, injuries happen in any sport you play. Also walking down the street. The difference is, in football, you get them more frequent and injuries you didn’t even know you could have. Last year I busted my bursa sac in my elbow it and swelled up to 3 times the size of my other elbow. Then I taped up the arm and tried to make tackles with one arm which didn’t work out so well.

We have all seen injuries and even the horrific ones like with Marcus Lattimore who played for South Carolina who had not one but two separate ridiculously graphic knee injuries. What is fascinating is the rehab process. This has increasingly become more efficient and athletes are coming back sooner from major injuries. Adrian Peterson came back from an ACL injury faster than many would have thought possible 15 years ago. We are smarter and technology is better.

Which is why it is fascinating that corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from the University of Oregon, went from a sure top 15 pick in the NFL draft, all the way to the 7th round based upon a recent knee injury. Ifo was a first team All-American at his position which extremely hard to accomplish and was praised going into his senior year that he would be the first corner picked in the draft. Having been an Oregon fan my whole life and seen Ifo play numerous times in person, I can tell you that Ifo is the real deal.

Ifo has coverage skills akin to the island of Jervis. He is a true lock-down corner. On top of that, his open field tackling ability is impressive. He filled in the run game like a freight train. Ifo is the guy you put on the other team’s best guy. So why, when his recovery is slated to have him return mid-fall, did he drop so far?

Some out there have questioned his size. He is 5’10 which has been a typical height for corners except for as of late when teams are drafting slightly taller. But corner is less about height and more about positioning and leverage which Ifo has in spades.

Ifo dropped because firstly, he was not able to compete at the combine. I personally have a love/hate relationship with this event. I love watching athletes at the top of their game. However, it is very annoying when media and coaches fall over themselves for someone who looks the best in their spandex, runs the fastest 40, and pumps out the most reps on the bench, instead of what these guys can actually produce on the field. There is a huge difference between being an athlete and being a football player. Physical attributes help but do little to measure actual production.

Give me film and not a beauty contest to prove worthiness.

Since Ifo was not at the combine he was out of sight and out of mind and other corners had ability to shine. In an environment which is based upon what have you done for me lately, this is a huge deal. Luckily for Ifo, he took out an insurance policy on himself when he decided to forgo the draft the previous year. The policy, although not fully public, is rumored to pay Ifo around 3 million dollars since he was not drafted in the first 3 rounds. A lot of high caliber players who take the risk of staying another year of college, are now taking out policies to leverage their future and make sure if they did face major injury, they are at least covered a little bit in the event they don’t get to play and lose out on the potential of millions.

Even though Ifo deserved to be drafted way higher, at least he will have that to fall back on. Plus, the Browns are getting a steal of a pick and likely for cheap. What they will get is a guy who quietly go about his business and produce on the field. In the era of obnoxious Johnny Football, Cleveland could use some silent production.

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