Tennessee Titans 2013 Draft: The Curious Case of Lawrence Okoye


With nine total selections in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans have plenty of ammunition to acquire several early round picks. TitanSized colleague Joshua Huffman recently wrote a great piece discussing the case for trading back into the 1st round. After analyzing the trade value chart, it’s clear that the Titans have the flexibility to accomplish this without mortgaging the farm.

I agree with being proactive when there’s a special player still on the board, but many skeptics will point to the past success with later round selections. Finnegan, Tulloch, Stewart, McCourty, and Verner were all drafted in the 4th round or later, and each experienced a significant impact for the Titans. I am not arguing that we should hoard all of our later picks, but there are hidden gems in each and every draft class.

While the Titans are obviously interested in drafting an impact DE for the 2013 season, finding a promising project would also be ideal. The NFL Super Regional Combine just wrapped up at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, and 219 players attended. These prospects are typically long shots to be drafted, and even longer shots to actually make an NFL roster. Only four players who participated in last year’s Super Regional Combine were even drafted, so that’s important to keep in perspective.

Apr 20, 2012; Walnut, CA, USA; Lawrence Okoye (GBR) wins the discus at 218-9 (66.67m) in the 54th Mt. San Antonio College Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

But one prospect stood out from the rest, especially surprising considering that he’s never played American football. Lawrence Okoye (21) is currently the British discus record-holder, after switching to the Olympic sport from rugby in 2010. Since the Olympics, he has expressed interest in once again changing sports, this time taking his shot in the NFL. Most people would have absolutely no chance at this point in their athletic career, but Okoye is a special talent.

Okoye is a physical specimen (6’6”, 304 lbs), but more importantly, he’s a world-class athlete. He impressed at the combine with a 4.78 40-yard dash, 10’5” broad jump, and 35” vertical jump. He’s also a warrior in the weight room, capable of teaching even NFL strength coaches a thing or two. While he has absolutely no experience in American football, he excelled as a junior rugby player before his discus career.

Okoye is by no means ready for the NFL, but his incredible potential alone could get him drafted. He reportedly turned down an offer to attend Oxford University in the fall, instead choosing to focus on his potential NFL career. He’s a focused and articulate man, and he would have no trouble learning defensive concepts and techniques from NFL coaches. While it’s dangerous to draft a player based solely on potential, Okoye may be the exception to the rule. If he’s still available in the 6th or 7th round, I would personally love to see the front office take a chance on such a world-class specimen.

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David Fleming