Lawrence Okoye: Video Highlights for British DE
Photo Courtesy of The Daily Mail
Of all the young men hoping to enter the National Football League this year, there may be no more interesting story than that of Lawrence Okoye.
The 21-year-old Brit, who holds the British record in the discus throw and competed in the 2012 London Olympics in that event, has never played organized American football.
That hasn't deterred Okoye from pursuing an NFL career or teams from expressing interest, and here's a look at some of the reasons why an NFL club is likely to at least give Okoye a shot.
Strength to Spare
The general consensus is that defensive lineman is Okoye's best bet in the National Football League, and the 304-pounder would certainly seem to possess the upper-body strength to push offensive linemen around in the NFL.
At least that's what the above video from February would appear to indicate, as Okoye bench presses nearly 500 pounds in it.
The ability to fend off blocks in the NFL isn't just about upper-body strength. Players also need to be able to generate a "push," which requires lower-body power.
Okoye would seem to have not only the size to potentially manhandle offensive linemen, but also the lower-body strength as well, as demonstrated by this 265-pound power snatch from 2012.
Standing Tall in the Scrum
Granted, Lawrence Okoye doesn't have any experience playing American football, but he can at least draw on his experience as a young rugby player for the Whitgift School in Croydon.
Okoye was a promising enough player to draw contract offers from Premiership clubs, but after winning the under-20 British discus title in 2010, Okoye gave up the sport to concentrate on his Olympic dream.
300-plus pounds, sub-5.00 40-yard speed and that strength on a rugby field?
I bet there are still British kids having nightmares.
Showing off at the Regional Combine
If some NFL teams viewed Okoye's NFL aspirations as something of a gag, they weren't laughing after the recent Super Regional Combine in Dallas.
As Bucky Brooks of NFL.com reported at the time, Okoye ripped off a blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds and also performed very well in the broad jump and vertical leap.
Granted, Okoye's lack of experience showed in the position drills, but Brooks wrote that "scouts will take a chance on Okoye as a late-round prospect/priority free agent based on his sheer size, strength and athleticism."
The Smarts to Pull This Off
Making the transition from rugby player, to discus champion, to NFL player is not going to be easy.
However, given that this is a young man who was accepted to Oxford University to study law, it would certainly seem that Okoye has the mental discipline and intelligence to match his considerable physical gifts.
We'll close this article with an interview between Okoye and former NFL running back Jamaal Anderson, in which Okoye discusses rugby, the Olympics and his NFL dreams, among other subjects.