Fourth-round draft picks aren’t always dominant, but Alex Okafor has the potential to be a good player.
Okafor was born on February 8th, 1991 in Dallas, Texas. He’s 6’4″ and weighs 264 pounds, and he went to Pflugerville High School, where he was a two-time academic All-District Selection, a prep All-American and a three-year starter at defensive end. In addition, he was a two-time letterman in basketball. Okafor was a two-time all-state DE, and he 131 tackles and 20 sacks.
Okafor was a second-team All-USA and EA Sports All-American as well. He was rated the nation’s top strong-side DE. USA Today high school All-American. He started the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and participated in the inaugural Hawaii Prep Football Classic. At Texas, he was a AFCS 1st Team All-American with 46 tackles and 7 sacks. In 2011, he was on the All-Big 12 team as a first-teamer.
He was on the Ted Hendrick Defensive End of the Year watch list, and he was an FBS Coaches’ All-American and unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection (coaches). In 2012, he was an All-Big 12 first-teamer, and he was voted team captain at the end of the season with Vaccaro. Okafor shared Clyde Littlefield’s award for being the most spirited defensive player with Desmond Jackson and Vaccaro.
Okafor led the team in sacks (12.5), quarterback pressures (20), forced fumbles (four) and tackles for loss (18), so he is an impactful player. He was a solid tackler as well, as he ranked fourth on the team in tackles (68). In addition to his athletic achievements, he was a three-time member of the Texas Athletic Directors’ honor roll. He ranked first in the Big 12 and ninth in the entire FBS in sacks per game (0.96), and, to add on to his monumental list of achievements, he was second in the league and 20th nationally in forced fumbles with 0.31 per game.
Oh, and he was tied for second in the league in tackles for loss with 1.38 per game.
Okafor, who won MVP Honors in the 2012 Alamo Bowl with six tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, capped off his college career with by winning the Bronko Nagurski award. He started off his NFL career when he was picked in the fourth round by the Cardinals. With their need for depth on the line, the Cardinals got a good overall athlete with a good motor and a player is committed to setting the edge.
He displays strong hands and can knock opponents back or can use an effective swim move. Okafor does have a slightly stiff upper body and struggles changing direction, so he will probably stay on the line, but he is a good run-stopper. Texas also lined him up at tackle. He’s a Ray Edwards-type player, and his strength, length, & high effort should make him a good left defensive end very well capable of stopping the run.
Okafor should be a solid supplemental pass rusher. He’s inconsistent, but he has the potential to take over and dominate. Whether he can dominate in the NFL remains to be seen, but we know that the Cardinals added a good player here.
Stay tuned for more player profiles on Raising Zona. Tomorrow, Earl Watford will be analyzed.