Name: Charles Omenihu
Position: Defensive End
As far as pure hand-in-the-ground defensive ends go, not many in this draft class fit the prototype like Omenihu. His frame and physicality would indicate top-15 pick, yet for the most part, he seems to be a day two prospect. Regardless, someone’s defense is adding a diamond in the rough from the defensively absent Big 12.
From head to toe, Omenihu carries the ideal build for any NFL defense. At 6-foot-6, he is plenty long to maintain separation and control. And then add in his muscularity and you have a guy who was tailor-made to play defensive end at the next level. Even if a 3-4 defense drafts him, Omenihu has plenty of girth to hold up on the interior.
Strength will not be an issue for Omenihu, so long as he keeps his leverage consistent. His height leaves him a bit susceptible when he stands up, but he mitigated that a bit as an interior rusher by working out of a four-point stance. His greatest asset is his heavy hands. He wins early with strong, well-placed punches in run and pass defense, and that makes it difficult for blockers to get leverage advantage on him in one-on-one situations, even when Omenihu gets too high.
Omenihu moves incredibly well for a guy his size. His long strides make him a mirroring nightmare on speed rushes, especially when coupled with his strong punches. His ability to move in tight areas is solid, though not quite as explosive as his first step. But in stunts or when extending outside runs, Omenihu shows more than enough lateral quickness. His flexibility is only OK, as he is not a typical bender around the corner. But given his length, size and countering ability, he has not really needed true corner-turning ability. Omenihu has on occasion, shown the ability to dip the shoulder and turn inside, however.
Working out of three- and four-point stances and as a stand-up, Omenihu is lightning quick off the ball. He reads movement very well, and his length allows him to initiate contact and get immediate control of his man. As an edge rusher, his long strides make it difficult for tackles to match him, so he is often able to get the advantage off the snap. In run defense, he is a bit more passive and slow off the ball, but his length and power help him to get control anyway.
Much of his success as a run defender comes from Omenihu’s length and hand usage. He can fire quickly and engage, get the hands in place and maintain separation as he finds the ball. His play recognition is pretty strong, as he has shown the ability to attack the front of zone blocks both as a three-technique and as an edge. When he needs to, he can effectively stretch backs to the sideline. Omenihu does not struggle to finish plays either; his length and range results in a lot of tackles in the backfield (18 in 2018). He only runs into trouble in situations where he loses leverage advantage, i.e. when his pad level gets high or he encounters down blocks and double teams. Should he stay at end at the next level, that will not be as much of a concern. However, as a 3-4 end, Omenihu would need to work on his feel for these types of blocks.
Aside from his frame and hand usage, Omenihu will draw a lot of eyes for his pass rushing prowess. He has a myriad of moves and counters that he consistently works, both inside and outside. He can fire out, lock the hands inside and get a strong push with his bull rush. His swim move, club and rip, push-pull and chops all have given him success, and when one does not work, he has another at the ready. That is the most enticing part of Omenihu’s game. He has a plan. He knows where to go when his first idea does not get results, and his quick, strong hands re-establish his advantage. This is why Omenihu, should find some early success against NFL pass pro.
As much as it would hurt, the Vikings may very well end up releasing Everson Griffen. While the veteran still plays at a fairly high level, his production took a dip in 2018, due in no small part to his well-publicized mental health struggles. With a handful of key players left to sign, Griffen may be a relatively unexpected cut. And the Vikings will be left with a sizable hole on the defensive line should that happen.
With Stephen Weatherly, the Vikings have a guy who will always come through in run defense and can occasionally be a force as a pass rusher. But unless he takes another dramatic step in play this year, he would be more of a solid guy than a true elite-level difference-maker. Omenihu possesses the traits to dominate. Pair him with Danielle Hunter, another physical freak who was a little raw coming out of school, and the Vikings would boast one of the scariest young pass rushing duos in all of football. Plus, given his experience all over the field, Omenihu could take on the role of passing down three-technique like another Texas product, Brian Robison.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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