Diamond in the Rough:  Giants Sign UDFA Romeo Okwara

By Michael Stewart

GM Jerry Reese has completed his UDFA frenzy by signing 17 undrafted prospects and 13 others for tryouts to compete for a roster spot or possibly a spot on the practice squad. That’s a total of 20 prospects with invitations in hopes of becoming a diamond in the rough.

There are only 3 players that have peaked my interests among this group and they are DE Romeo Okwara out of Notre Dame, DE Greg Milhouse out of Campbell, and final DT Melvin Lewis out of Kentucky. Below are scouting reports for each player (courtesy of CBS Sports).

Romeo Okwara (DE) Notre Dame 6’5//265: Given the national exposure Notre Dame receives, it is difficult for the Irish to produce underrated prospects. But with linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive tackle Sheldon Day generating most of the buzz, few (outside of Irish fans) would know who led the team in sacks the past two seasons.

Romeo Okwara, who moved to the United States from Nigeria as a sixth grader, was moved again in South Bend, switching from outside linebacker to defensive end as a junior. He started 12 of 13 games for the Irish in 2014, recording 39 total tackles, including four sacks. Okwara doubled his sack production as a senior. Okwara’s total tackles (48) and tackles for loss (12.5) also jumped in 2015 while he was asked to rush off the edge as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end and stand-up rush linebacker.

Sporting an imposing frame with a huge wingspan, the 20-year-old Okwara offers intriguing upside. Flipping between two different positions at Notre Dame, however, limited his opportunity for growth at either of them and he remains a very raw prospect. Looks like a power forward with good height, broad shoulders and long arms. Despite his length, shows good take-on strength at the point of attack and pride in setting the edge. Shows burst off the ball as an edge rusher, crossing the face of tackles whether he’s lining up out of the three-point stance or as a standup rusher.

Romeo Okwara can stun would-be blockers with a heavy initial jolt and shows the leg drive to effectively bull rush his way into the pocket. While his long legs slow him a bit when changing directions, Okwara accelerates smoothly and has good speed, overall. He shows a legitimate burst to close on the ball carrier, often arriving with a thud, forcing three fumbles over his career and blocked a kick in 2015. A classic ‘tweener whose high-cut frame leaves him a bit top-heavy and lacking the flexibility to change directions smoothly. Lacks ideal core flexibility to run the arc and get to the quarterback in one fluid motion. Negates his own strength as rusher with poor pad level.

Inconsistent get-off on the snap, too often being the last defender off the ball. Looks robotic on the field, showing little anticipation and too often getting caught up by blocks when pursuing downfield. Has to learn to use his hands better to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Despite his height, long arms and opportunities in coverage, Okwara has only one pass defensed in 42 career games (including 26 starts). Okwara possesses some exciting traits that will appeal to proponents of the 4-3 and 3-4 alike, but he’s clearly a project who will require significant patience