The Dallas Cowboys are always looking to bolster their pass rush, and they’re doing their due diligence on this year’s class.
That includes Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, a Houston native who will play in Saturday’s Senior Bowl. Okoronkwo said he met with Cowboys’ southwest area scout Sam Garza before practices.
“He told me everything he wanted to see this week,” Okoronkwo said. “He wanted to see power moves and continue to see speed around the edge. He just wanted to see me in the run game show up a little bit more and I feel like I did all of that.”
Okoronkwo had a standout college career with the Sooners, coming on strong his final two seasons. He had nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss as a junior and eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss this past season.
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OU coach Lincoln Riley believes Okoronkwo has enough versatility to succeed in a 4-3 scheme like the Cowboys run under Rod Marinelli.
“Just because he has game-changing athleticism,” Riley said Thursday from Senior Bowl practices. “We dropped him a lot at Oklahoma and he did a nice job there. He's probably more comfortable in a 3-4 scheme."
Okoronkwo agreed that he has the ability to play in either system. He’s modeled his game after several standouts in the NFL, including Kansas City’s Justin Houston, Denver’s Von Miller and veteran Dwight Freeney.
“I have a great first step,” Okoronkwo said. “My bend around the edge is second to none.”
Okoronkwo believes he has a “very high ceiling” because he didn’t start playing football until his junior year at Alief Taylor High School in Houston. He described himself as a work-in-progress and his productivity the final two years in college suggests he’s grown in time.
And Okoronkwo didn’t hesitate in answering a question about what coaches might say about him after a practice.
“That guy doesn’t quit,” he said. “He has a relentless motor. He’s not going to stop unless you kill him.”
Oh, and he’d be thrilled if that happened to be Cowboys’ coaches talking about him in that manner. As stated, the Cowboys are always in the market for pass rushers. They tied for 15th in the league in sacks last season with 38, including 14.5 by Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.
Plus, plenty of Sooners fans are also Cowboys fans.
“That would be really cool [to play for the Cowboys],” Okoronkwo said. “If you’ve ever been in Norman, Saturdays it’s all about OU. And on Sundays, it’s all about the Cowboys. So that would be pretty cool.”