Who are the closest NFL comparisons for Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam?
The Chicago Bears signed Jimmy Graham, but may still need a tight end in the draft. Albert Okwuegbunam, (we will call him Albert O) is a name who has popped up after an impressive performance at the NFL combine. Recently, we have gone through draft prospects’ physical and athletic profiles to find NFL comparisons to look to. Today, we will look at Albert O.
Albert O ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at 258 pounds. He did not do any other athletic testing, which makes it tough to find an exact comparison. However, at the same time, he accomplished a rare feat. Not many NFL athletes run that fast at his weight. In fact, just seven combine participants at tight end in the past 20 years have run under a 4.6 in the 40 weighing over 250 pounds.
How does the Okwuegbunam profile compare to these eight players?
Greg Olsen ran a 4.51 at 254 pounds. While Okwuegbunam is not quite the receiver as Olsen and is unlikely to go in round 1 as Olsen did, that is great company. This shows us that while not many can compare to the size and speed comparison, but there is a very high ceiling in this profile of the player. Of course, not all eight turned out this well.
Jimmy Graham ran a 4.53 at 260 pounds. Graham may be a closer upside comparison for Albert O, as Greg Olsen was a much more complete tight end than either Graham or Okwuegbunam coming out.
Albert Okwuegbunam struggles with physicality, blocking and he is not a dynamic route runner. However, he is massive, he can straight fast, and he can win jump-balls. At it’s peak, that is a skill set similar to Jimmy Graham. Graham was the 95th overall pick due to his inexperience at tight end, and due to the questions surrounding Albert O, 95 may be a good range for him as well. The Bears drafted Olsen and signed Graham, maybe Albert O is an option?
Tony Scheffler may be the best comparison for Albert Okwuegbunam. Scheffler had a good, not great college career, and dominated at Western Michigan in the red zone, similarly to Albert O. He was on the radar, but moved into second round discussions with his 40-yard dash. Scheffler wound up going in round 2, 61st overall after running a 4.54 at 254 pounds.
Scheffler was never an elite tight end but used his size and speed to be a great complimentary piece in the passing game. He excelled from 2007-2012 for the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions in these areas. While Albert Okwuegbunam does not have elite video coming into the draft, Scheffler has shown that size and speed can work in a specific role.
Cameron is similar to Graham in that the two are former basketball players who have moved to tight end. Still, they all share similarities with Albert Okwuegbunam when it comes to living above the rim and running with straight-line speed.
Injuries were the issue for Cameron, who had 917 yards in his third NFL season, but that totaled nearly half of his production through his six-year NFL career.
Bears fans are familiar with most of this list, as they have drafted but Olsen and Kellen Davis. Davis went 158th overall in 2008 despite running a 4.59 at 262 pounds. Still, Davis shows some of the downside that may come with just drafting height and speed at tight end. Davis hung around the league but never broke out. He was used almost primarily as a red zone tight end, a very real downside comparison for Albert Okwuegbunam.
Hodges is the bottom tier comparison. He had the speed, and the size, but was not physical enough to make the NFL. Despite a 4.57, Hodges was a sixth-round pick who bounced around to a couple of teams. He was last on the Steelers practice squad.
Almost every player to come into the NFL draft with similar height, weight and speed has had success in some regard. A floor for Albert Okwuegbunam is a red zone threat and a depth tight end who sticks in the NFL for a while. The upside is a seam splitter and a vertical passing game threat who has the size to potentially add more as a blocker.