From Prospect to Pro: Comparing Ifo Ekpre-Olomu To Brandon Flowers
By Ken Scudero
When evaluating defensive backs, we tend to place most of our focus on the physical skills of the backs, which can only be determined through the 40 times and drills we see at pro days and combines. Unless a corner or a safety is an absolute ballhawk and can produce gaudy defensive numbers during the season, it can be easy for him to be overlooked. While good speed and impressive vertical jump numbers are nice to have, defensive backs that can blanket receivers are few and far between. One of this year’s great corner prospects is Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, the junior resembles former Virginia Tech corner Brandon Flowers (5-9, 187). Not only are they nearly identical in size, they are virtually the same player.
Ekpre-Olomu played in all 14 games his freshman season, compiling 34 total tackles as well as breaking up eight passes. Last season, as a sophomore, he was named first-team All-Pac-12 and third-team All-America. He was secon in the country with six forced fumbles and seventh with 20 passes defended. To add to that, he had 66 total tackles, four interceptions and a touchdown. He plays extremely well off the ball and usually keeps the play in front of him, something you love to see from an every-down corner. He shadows receivers and stays right on top of them while always reading the eyes of the quarterback.
Ekpre-Olomu has top notch speed, like Flowers, who is currently in his sixth NFL season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Flowers had 40 passes defended, 10 interceptions and 17 tackles for loss in his Virginia Tech career and has proven to be a great defensive back at the NFL level. He blankets receivers, like Ifo, and uses his speed, good footwork and good positioning to disrupt pass plays. They are both versatile defenders with the ability to play tight press coverage as well as zone coverage when protecting a lead.
The thing that separates Flowers and Ekpre-Olomu from other defensive backs is their skills around the ball and with the ball. They both excel when going after the ball rather than going for the big hit on a receiver; they seem to always find the ball. I should add that they are both sound tacklers with excellent mechanics. Both are the kind of great all-around corners NFL teams search for in the draft because they can be used in so many ways. When a corner can do multiple things well, he can be played in many different defensive packages.
Ekpre-Olomu is part of a defense which has allowed only 27 total points in the first three games of the season. Though Ekpre-Olomu hasn’t yet intercepted a pass, his presence is evident with a defense that has given up only 568 yards of passing through those three games. He’s one of the five best cornerback prospects, and I believe he will be taken in the second round come May 2014.