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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Draft Day Trade Up??

Get Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Moving up on draft day is a costly business, teams are reluctant to give up their spots without receiving maximum compensation in return. We’ve seen franchises cripple themselves for years to come for the right to move up and select their guy. The 1998 Chargers gave up a cache of picks and players to move up one spot to select QB Ryan Leaf, the 2012 Redskins gave up consecutive 1st Rd picks to move up four spots to select QB Robert Griffin III and more recently the 2017 Chicago Bears broke the bank giving up the 3rd, 67th, 111th picks and a following year’s 3rd round pick to move up one spot, from 3 to 2 to select Bills current back-up QB Mitch Trubisky. While the majority of GM’s pay the price and take the gamble to move up and acquire the ever-elusive franchise QB teams rarely make the move to land a hybrid linebacker, but Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is worth the risk and the draft capitol it would take Brandon Beane to slide up the board into a position where he could draft the freakishly talented linebacker.

Who is Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah?

Owusu-Koramoah is my top-rated defensive player in this draft and is the prototype for the future of the linebacker position. At 6’2 220lbs he’s lighting quick and surprisingly powerful. While most modern linebackers function best in a single role, he offers the rare skill set of a player who excels as a pass defender as well as one who is effective vs. the run and when it comes to being a true hybrid there is no other player in this draft that possesses his elite level of versatility. When it comes to coverage Owusu-Koramoah played a ton of it, spending more than half his 2020 snaps aligned out in the slot and at his size he still earned the 2nd highest coverage grade in the entire country from the slot. His film is overflowing with “wow” plays, smothering smaller, shiftier receivers down the field while muscling up bigger stronger tight ends in the red zone. His reaction and instincts in coverage are outstanding. His speed and fluidity keep him tight in coverage while his extremely long arms (33in.) help him to make plays, out stretching to obstruct the catch point and wrapping around receivers to swat the ball away. While he is not a polished tackler at this point in his development his explosiveness is a force to be reckoned with. The power he is able to generate on contact is outstanding, even at 220lbs. He meets ball carriers like a locomotive. He is a throwback in this sense, in todays overly cautious brand of football where “big hits” are being phased out; Owusu-Koramoah still brings the hammer something this Bills defense has lacked in recent years. Countless times over the past two seasons he was able to destroy ball carriers, upending them, leveling them and sometimes knocking them out of the game and often times those big hits led to dislodged footballs. Owusu-Koramoah is a nightmare around the box, his burst and quickness off the edge are mismatches for any tackle to cover in space or any back to step up and handle. To put it into context his speed off the edge is reminiscent of Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. I understand that’s a bold comparison but the tape doesn’t lie. In the regular season matchup vs Clemson, he blitzed from the second level and found himself so deep into the backfield that he met RB Travis Etienne at the pitch and stole the football from his grasp and ran it back for a TD. In two seasons at Notre Dame, he racked up 142 tackles/ 24.5 for loss/ 7 sacks/ 1 INT/ 7 PD/ 5 FF/ 4 FR as he fueled one of the nation’s top ranked teams to the college football playoff.  

Why trade up for LB Owusu-Koramoah, when Beane just doled out some serious cash to re-sign Matt Milano?

For starters Owusu-Koramoah is much more than a linebacker, he is a living breathing swiss army knife. An all-in-one defensive specialist who can not only play traditional outside linebacker, but can man the slot and box safety roles and play them both at an extremely high level. He is just as impactful playing down field in coverage as he is blitzing off the edge. Roaming the secondary as he’s delivering the knock out hit on running backs. Drafting Owusu-Koramoah is essentially drafting two or three players at once. His positional versatility and how it could be maximized in Buffalo’s scheme could be epic, and prove to be worth every penny of the investment. McDermott and Frazier won’t be replacing Milano with Owusu-Koramoah they would be replacing CB Taron Johnson and his over utilized role as the Slot/ Nickel CB and inserting a player who can provide the coverage upgrade that is desperately needed as well as improving the ability to disrupt in the backfield and the speed to close down the perimeter run. Johnson was on the field for nearly 60% of the Bills defensive snaps in 2020 and despite his playoff heroics he has been a liability in coverage. Last season Johnson was targeted 80 times and allowed nearly 70% of the passes to be completed, at roughly 10 yards a clip, giving up 551 yards on the season while giving way for opposing QBs to post a 90.2 rating when targeting his responsibility. The bottom line is with the amount of nickel sets the Bills run they need to upgrade position, drafting Owusu-Koramoah gives McDermott and Frazier the flexibility to keep three linebackers on the field while still being sound versus the pass and the run without having to sub players in and out, leaving the defense vulnerable. 

What it could cost?

Talent wise Owusu-Koramoah is a top 15 player maybe even a top 10. With his undefined role, positional uniqueness, and the anticipation of an early run on QBs he could slide down the board some, possibly falling into the early 20’s which should prompt the hustler in Brandon Beane to start making phone calls. The Bills have the 30th pick in this year’s draft and a move up 10 plus spots would require for some high-level maneuvering as well as some costly draft capitol. Unfortunately, outside of an additional 5th round pick the Bills are not in possession of any excess picks. Not to mention they are without a 4th round selection this year, as it was part of the Stefon Diggs deal last season. While there is no exact formula for trade value from one spot to the next, there is enough precedent to make an educated guess as to what it could cost for Beane to move up the required spots to land Owusu-Kormoah. In 2020 the Packers moved up from 30 to 26 and only surrendered a 4th round pick. The 49ers moved up from 31 to 25 and in return they gave up a 4th and 5th round pick, while the Chargers made the move from the 2nd round at 37 all the way up to 23 and paid dearly with a 2nd and a 3rd round pick. Given the recent moves of similar leaps the Bills could realistically move up 10 plus spots for the asking price of a 4th and 5th round pick. Beane could give away both 2021/5th round picks as well as a 2022 late round pick to satisfy the deal. Or he could offer a 2022/4th rounder and a 2021/5th rounder to make the jump. Either way both scenarios would not be overly detrimental to the franchise going forward. The issue for Beane would be finding himself in a bidding war. Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Cleveland who all are ahead of Buffalo all have needs at the linebacker position as well. Beane has proven to be a master draft day negotiator, never overpaying for what he wants. If this holds true and he’s able to find a willing partner in the early twenties; Beane could solve a handful of our defensive issues with one single selection and focus his attention on upgrades elsewhere with his remaining picks. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah could be the difference maker needed to solidify a Bills Superbowl run in 2021.

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