Alex Okafor: How Will Cardinals Newest Linebacker Fare in the Pros?

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2013

Oct 6, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns  defensive end Alex Okafor (80) rushes the passer during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. West Virginia beat Texas 48-45. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the 103rd pick in the draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Alex Okafor from the Texas Longhorns. 

Okafor is the third defensive player selected by the Cardinals within their first four picks.

Pro Outlook

Oklafor showed flashes of greatness at Texas, but his consistency has always been a concern. 

It will be interesting to see how Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles incorporates Okafor into their defensive game plan, because he doesn't seem like a natural fit in the 3-4 defense. 

When motivated, Okafor plays like a poor man's Justin Tuck. He's a well-rounded lineman, but not the explosive edge-rusher that 3-4 teams usually target. 

Especially in the NFC West, where he will be asked to help contain Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick four times each season, Okafor seems like a square peg in a round hole in the Cardinals defense. 

Roster Outlook

The Cardinals lost Quentin Groves in free agency, which opened up a spot at outside linebacker. 

O'Brien Schofield, Sam Acho and the recently signed Lorenzo Alexander will compete for the starting jobs, and Okafor can now join that group. 

Due to his athleticism, Acho probably has a leg up on the competition for one of the spots, but Okafor has a reasonable shot to win the other job.


Pick Analysis

Okafor is a solid value pick in the early fourth round, but I question how he fits into the plan in Arizona. He just isn't the type of athlete that fits well at 3-4 outside linebacker, and his questionable effort raises further concerns. 

The fact that the Cardinals addressed their defense for a third consecutive pick despite serious issues on offense further raises concern with their draft strategy.

Grade: C

Related

    Kevin White Hopes to Finally Make an Impact in the NFL

    Arizona Cardinals logo
    Arizona Cardinals

    Kevin White Hopes to Finally Make an Impact in the NFL

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk

    20 Fantastic QB-WR Combos in NFL History

    NFL logo
    NFL

    20 Fantastic QB-WR Combos in NFL History

    Barry Werner
    via Touchdown Wire

    Is Kyler Murray Truly Ready to Be an NFL Starter?

    Arizona Cardinals logo
    Arizona Cardinals

    Is Kyler Murray Truly Ready to Be an NFL Starter?

    Skyler Carlin
    via ClutchPoints

    Report: DT Gerald McCoy Drawing Interest from Bengals

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: DT Gerald McCoy Drawing Interest from Bengals

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report