2014 NFL Draft: Player Profile: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFLDraft Player Profile: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB - Oregon

5'10" 190 lbs

If you’re in the market for a physical, strong defensive back with very good speed / closing burst, who can play man to man, press or off coverage, and has the ball hawk skills and aggressiveness to legitimately project as boundary corner, then Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a guy you want to keep your eye on this season. I won’t go as far as to say he’s a legitimate shutdown CB yet because as a first year starter, he’s raw. But he’s got the athleticism, footwork and instincts that it takes to be an early first day pick that can develop into this type of shutdown corner at the next level.

According to NFLDraftScout.com, in his first year as a starter at Oregon, Olomu compiled a Pac-12 leading 20 pass break ups in 2012 ( 1.53 per game ) which was also ranked 6th in the nation / 4 interceptions / 63 tackles ( 44 solo / 19 assisted ) / and was tied for the league lead in forced fumbles with 6.

Olomu’s height is something that could be a concern to some scouts looking for a bigger DB at the next level, but when I watch the tape I see a kid that plays much bigger than 5’10". I think many fans want to see a bigger CB these days because of the bigger match-ups around the league at WR, but there aren’t many examples of good NFL CB’s that taller then 6’1" and keeping in mind the closest example to home, Joe Haden, who isn’t even 6’0" and he’s a legit shutdown corner. The bottom line is that depending on arm length, instincts, quickness, hands, and the ability to read the play, a CB can make up for height. I believe Olomu has plenty of room for growth in terms of adding strength and weight to his frame at the next level.

Olomu has smooth, quick, balanced footwork and back pedal which allows him to cover significant ground in a short amount of time. He is able to quickly switch direction and flips his hips smoothly while keeping in stride with the receiver laterally and vertically. He works best while in man to man coverage, pressing up on the line, jamming the receiver and causing him to alter the timing of his route. While I think his hand usage at the LOS is a strength of his game at this level, I think he needs to continue to get better at this. While the video available is only a small sample size, I saw a lot of hand usage downfield outside of 5 yards from the LOS which in turn drew several pass interference penalties. I am not sure if this was more a function of him being beat and not able to catch up to the route in some cases, or him just being overly aggressive and trying to make a play. Regardless, I will be watching to see if he can fix the pass interference calls this season.

It’s hard evaluating a CB without coaches film because you can’t track the WR’s route or the defensive backs position throughout the entire play, but there are clearly aspects of the play and the game that jump off the screen when watching defensive backs. One of them is instincts, and Olomu has very good instincts. He reads the QB and the play well which allows him to jump routes and get his hands on the ball. He has what I consider to be very good game speed, closing in on tackles quickly and can be found flying around the secondary making plays on the ball in coverage. What I particularly like about his instincts is that he is able to get his head around and locate the ball while running with the receiver and has the body control to position himself where he can deflect the ball. For a sophomore, first time starter last year, this was very encouraging sign. Where I’d like to see him improve is in his ability to get both hands on the ball and convert touches to interceptions more often.

Olomu can deliver a big hit, and seems to enjoy lining a player up like a safety often can, but his technique isn’t perfect and sometimes his effort in tackling isn’t consistent, especially in smaller spaces where he can’t line up a player from a distance. In these instances, he sometimes struggled to fight through blocking and could be found arm tackling or diving at players feet in hopes to trip them up. While I see him setting the edge often and flushing the runner inside towards help, I’d like to see him fight through blocks with more effort and create space where he can break down and initiate contact vs. waiting for it to come to him.

Overall, I think Olomu will fit best in a system that allows him to play to his strengths, as a press man or off man defensive back who can use his aggressiveness and ability to locate the football and disrupt passes down field, using the sideline to his advantage. He’ll need to prove he can play with bigger, stronger receivers at the next level but barring anything unforeseen, I believe Olomu has the speed, ball skills, physicality and aggressive nature that’s going to help him become one of the first few defensive backs off the board next spring. If determined to still be a need, I could see Olomu being a great fit for the Browns should he be there when we pick in the first round.


Games Notes vs. USC

Likes to hit hard

Pursues the play, high motor vs run

Seems to play with consistent and hard effort

Uses hands a lot, in press coverage at the LOS , uses to reroute his WR or disrupt timing, route. This is part of what's he's asked to do. But he uses his hands often downfield and outside the 5 yards boundary where it's permitted to touch the receiver, this gets him in trouble / PI more than I'd like.

Seems to have very fast / elite / closing speed

Misses INT opportunity at beginning of 4th quarter, although ball was low and deflected, he got his hands to it and it was in front of him, in stride. It should have been caught.

@ 1:44-ish mark in 4th quarter, although the unfortunate outcome on the play was a catch - and a great one by #15 Nelson Agholor - Olomu showed the ability to read the play, locate the ball in coverage, and leap to deflect pass at its' high point.

Although the game is in the books ( Oregon is up 62 - 45 ), if I'm looking at the situation and what I want to see from my CB, the last 20 seconds of the game leave me with a bad taste. With less than 10 seconds left, I would have like to see his effort to finish the play much more intense. He sets the edge casually and then tries to arm tackle the WR out of bounds, nearly missing and allowing him to sneak inside the 5 yard line. I want to see a big hit like I did at the beginning of the game, or at least an aggressive, technical hit. I also don't want to see him let the other player walk in for the TD. Albeit again the game was in the bag and he probably didn't want a PI, etc.

FILM ROOM >> Olomu turns and locates ball in end zone, over his shoulder and disrupts pass perfectly vs Marqise Lee:

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You can see the push off strength in real time play, creates just a little bit of space and causes the WR off his timing and slightly off balance.

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Here you can see Olomu with his eyes on the QB and the ball that has just been released. He's still engaged with the receiver and has done a good job forcing him to the outside.

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Olomu has completely flipped his hips and turned his body around 180*, keeping his eye on the ball and getting his hand up in the air to attack the ball.

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This is the point on many plays watching the available film that you think the receiver is going to come down with the catch, but in real time ( and a little more clearly below ) you can see that Olomu actually reaches his hand in over the top of the receivers hands and knocks the ball out just before Lee can secure it for the TD.

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Game Notes vs. Arizona

Although he seems to only be playing the man, and not looking for ball on first pass into end zone, he does well to react to the player going up and touching ball, then shoves him to disrupt catch

Sets edge vs run in red zone, is able to push WR off to create space so he can line up the tackle and keep the edge, allowing both he and his teammate in pursuit to combine for the tackle on the play inside the 5 yard line.

INT on zone coverage, Olomu reads play, QB throws to backside looking for the curl, but WR continues up sideline signaling for the higher throw into the end zone, but Olomu is in perfect position and makes grab along sideline, in bounds.

Very active, strong hands. Seems to be able to locate the ball when in traffic and battling with WR, doesn't deflect initial pass, but strips ball and locates as WR is bringing it down, dislodging it. Aggressive hands.

Pass interference call just outside the end zone, using hands to go around the WR from directly behind the WR, doesn't get around the side door.

On next play, inside the 2 yard line, 3rd and goal, Olomu is playing boundary corner, pressed up, short side of field, weak side of formation,  jams WR at the snap, continues to engage using hands and arms within the 5 yards, even though it's in end zone, forces receiver into a slow cut, disrupts timing and then dives to deflect the pass.

Makes an amazing, pass break up. . . but ran into and grabbed WR along sideline, tripped into him, and drew flags. BUT, had he not made the play, the flags are picked up because the play would have resulted in TD. WR clearly had position, height, and the advantage of seeing the play. Olomu was facing WR whole time, didn't see ball until it was in WR's hands. Great job to go up and make sure he didn't catch it. Text book.

Ball hawk. The kid finds the ball in the air. Several occasions in this game.

Effective edge blitz on a read option, Olomu goes for RB, Carr keeps it, and Olomu nearly recovers enough to get to QB who get balls off just as he closed in.

Ball Hawk AGAIN. . . INT pick 6. Shows speed and explosion here


Game Notes vs. Oregon State

Shows up again in run support in first half

@ 11:49 on the youtube film / 2:12 in the 2nd quarter on the game film, does a great job setting the edge and battling through blocks on the outside

Shows strength using hands and jab vs WR in slot

Good mirror in coverage, smooth feet, and quick

Uses hands downfield from time to time, needs to stop that habit.

Big play down towards end zone was not his fault, the coverage was blown over the top by the safety

Good job reading QB, playing more of a field corner role in off man or zone coverage, but is able to jump the route and make a great catch in front of WR along sideline for pick.


Game Film vs USC / Arizona / Oregon State


Game Notes vs. Washington State

Active early with his hands, breaking up a deep pass along the sideline, showing some good boundary corner ability and length.

Plays strong press coverage in several situations in the red zone vs a tall, 6'3" WR, Marquess Wilson

FILM ROOM >> Breaks up pass again at last minute by sneaking top hand in to knock ball free from Wilson:

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Here you can see Olomu breaking on the route, recognizing the ball is about to be delivered. Sorry about the blurriness of some of these snapshots. I think the point I am trying to illustrate will be clear though.

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Here he has closed some of the gap between the receiver, but he is going up to jump for the ball and Olomu is seemingly out of position.

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Keeps his eyes on the ball, although he's out of position in terms of being nowhere close to the ball and once again covering a much bigger receiver.

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Attempts to wrap the player up, as his next move is to turn his weight and power and try to slam Wilson to the turf.

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As he does this, he is able to spin around and once again, just when you think the WR has the catch, Olomu is able to sneak his hand around and knock the ball loose well before the receiver hits the ground.

Plays press coverage, man, zone and off man as well. Versatile in that regard.

Excellent run recognition, strong edge contain angle, and big hit / tackle with :50 seconds left in 1st quarter in the red zone. You can see his closing speed and tenacity here.

Very next play, 2nd and goal from the 4 yard line, with :24 seconds left in 1st quarter, Olomu is once again covering the tall Wilson on the weak side, man to man. Great recognition to stay with the play and locate the deflected ball thrown in the middle of the field, Olomu continues his coverage even though the play doesn't go his way, and locates the ball and makes the heads up INT in the end zone.

FILM ROOM >> Olomu makes another great pass deflection in the end zone here:

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Here he is again against the 6'3" Wilson in the red zone, press coverage, man to man.

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Good position: you can see Olomu is planting and pushing off nearly at the same time as the receiver, showing a good quick reaction in tight space.

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Here he appears to be lost behind the receiver with the ball on the way, and although you can barely see his head,  he is breaking on the ball and knows it's coming the whole time.

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Here you can see that he uses the arm with best position to reach up and make the play / deflection on the ball in the end zone, saving what could have been an easy TD catch vs. a less aggressive defensive back.

Contributed on Special Teams.

Great down field coverage, excellent throw along sideline. Olomu slips while trying to launch himself towards ball, but gets his head around, avoids contact before catch, and is in perfect position.

@ 6:20 in 2nd, Olomu gets beat over the top in zone coverage for a TD, looks like he tried to cover inside, but the play attacked the pylon.

FILM ROOM >> 3rd quarter, 1:23 left on game film / 5:18 on YouTube film, an amazing read and deflection vs what appears to be a TE, in man coverage,  in red zone:

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Here he is at the top of your screen, actually playing on the strong side in man to man, single coverage with only one safety over the top.

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Here you can see the man coverage, Olomu is blanketing his receiver, meanwhile the safety has allowed the slot man to run vertical, and will soon be breaking on a out route / curl of some sort. Olomu's man is about to cut back inside, leaving Olomu out of position since the safety will be evacuating to the outside with the slot receiver.

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Olomu is able to come across underneath, jumping the route and using his quick burst of speed to get him in position to break up this pass beautifully. The only thing I want to see here is his ability to go up and catch this ball vs. just knocking it down.

Game Film vs. Washington State

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