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How Texas DE Charles Omenihu’s 7-foot wingspan is boosting his NFL Draft stock

Texas DE Charles Omenihu talks NFL Draft, Senior Bowl

Texas DE Charles Omenihu is expected to be the first Longhorn taken in next week's NFL Draft. He talked about his length and size at the Senior Bowl.
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Texas DE Charles Omenihu is expected to be the first Longhorn taken in next week's NFL Draft. He talked about his length and size at the Senior Bowl.

Not many players in this year’s NFL Draft have the reach or stretch of Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu.

He has more than a 7-foot wingspan and 36-inch arms on his 6-foot-5, 280-pound frame, among the longest wingspans measured at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. How does that translate on the field?

The answer is simple if you ask Omenihu.

“Separation,” Omenihu said at Texas’ Pro Day last month. “If you can’t touch me, you can’t block me.”

Big 12 offensive linemen struggled blocking Omenihu last season. He had 45 tackles, 18 for loss and 9.5 sacks in earning the conference’s defensive lineman of the year honors. The 9.5 sacks were the most in the league, and he had at least one tackle-for-loss in the final 10 games.

It capped a four-year career that saw Omenihu improve each season, ending his college career with 116 tackles, 30.5 for loss and 17 sacks.

Now it’s on to the NFL for Omenihu. The Rowlett High product had a solid showing at the Senior Bowl in late January, and then measured well at the NFL Combine and went through more drills at his Pro Day.

Even though he’s projected as a Day 3 prospect (Rounds 4-7), Omenihu is expected to be the first Longhorns player taken in this year’s draft.

“It’d definitely be a badge of honor,” Omenihu said of being the first UT player taken. “We’ve got a lot of great players. I’m just working, man, trying to keep improving myself as a player.”

The No. 1 question professional scouts have about Omenihu’s game is his consistency. He’ll have stretches where he dominates and looks like an early-round pick, and then moments where the effort and production falters.

Omenihu doesn’t argue that, saying the tape doesn’t lie.

“You’ve got to be honest with yourself,” Omenihu said. “It’s there, but that’s why I haven’t hit the ceiling of my game yet.”

Among teams he had pre-draft visits with, according to Omenihu, were the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints. He also met with the Indianapolis Colts at his Pro Day. The Colts had defensive coordinator and former Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus in attendance.

The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler has Omenihu ranked as the No. 20 pass rusher in this year’s class.

“Overall, Omenihu flashes on film and boasts the long levers and raw power worth developing, but his spotty instincts and playmaking skills create consistency issues, projecting best as a base end who requires patience,” Brugler said in his evaluation of Omenihu.

Omenihu flirted with turning professional after his junior season, but he feels “100 percent” he made the right decision in returning for his senior season. The Big 12 defensive lineman of the year hardware justifies that, of course.

“Nobody can take that away from me,” Omenihu said. “I beat people multiple times and I’m going to take it to the NFL. I’ve just got to keep working and improving and do it again. It’s a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league.”

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