Sunday, March 31, 2013

Will Broncos Target Olympian Lawrence Okoye?

When Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil left Denver as a free agent and joined the Ravens' defense earlier this month, it created a talent gap at DE on the Broncos' defensive line.

To help fill the void created by Dumervil's departure, the Broncos were expected to quickly sign a veteran end.  That hasn't happened yet, and it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.

The team appears ready to hand Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers more playing time, while also giving youngsters Jeremy Beal and Malik Jackson more snaps this summer.  Drafting at least one defensive lineman in April is also part of the team's plan.

A dark horse could be 21-year-old British Olympic discus record holder Lawrence Okoye.

Okoye is being targeted by "five leading NFL teams," according to Ian Stafford of the Daily Mail (via After participating in Atlanta's regional combine last week, Okoye has drawn interest from several teams and plans to workout at another regional combine in Dallas on April 7.

"At the combine, I really stood out because of my size, strength and speed," Okoye told the Daily Mail. "I don't want to sound arrogant, but I was good on the day -- to the point that a lot of NFL clubs began talking to me immediately on the back of it. They all see me as a defensive end, which suits me just fine."

Defensive end?  Just what the doctor ordered for Denver.

The only problem is that Okoye has no football experience.  He has played Rugby though, which has some similarities to football.

There is no question as to whether or not Okoye has the body to play in the NFL — he is 6'6" and weighs in at 294 pounds (within one inch and one pound of Derek Wolfe's measurements).

At the NFL's scouting combine last month, prospects entering the draft competed in a 225-pound bench press test.  Okoye has benched over 450 pounds.

"I've had some meetings since, and done some private workouts with some clubs, too, and already they are talking to me about contracts," said Okoye, who will probably sign with a team as an undrafted free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft concludes on Saturday, April 27.

He's a long shot, but Okoye is a player to watch as training camp draws closer.