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Niners Nation Scouting Report: Amobi Okoye

While there are still 3 months until the draft, we all want to know about the potential draft options.  For most of us, our information consists of what we've read at a major site or what we saw of a given player in their bowl game.  Since we have a solid network of college blogs within SB Nation, I decided we should take advantage of that in getting scouting reports on potential 49er draftees.

And so Niners Nation presents SB Nation Scouting Report.  Since this will not be an every day feature, I'll create a separate heading on the left side of the screen that links to past Scouting Reports if you want to look them over as we get closer to the draft.

Our first report comes from Mike over at Card Chronicle, SB Nation's very own University of Louisville Cardinals blog.  Amobi Okoye is currently 12th on Mel Kiper's Big Board, the 2nd defensive tackle and the 4th defensive lineman overall.  I made some formatting adjustments, but the comments are all Mike's insight.  Take it away Mike:

When talking about Amobi Okoye there's only one place to start and that's his age. Okoye is only 19-years-old, but has already graduated from U of L (in just 3 1/2 years) with a degree in psychology.

Amobi and his family moved from Anambra, Nigeria to Huntsville Alabama when he was just 12-years-old. Amazingly he tested into the ninth grade at that age and played football for the first time the next year as a 13-year-old sophomore. He signed with Louisville at the age of 15 and then became the youngest player ever to play in an NCAA football game the next year when he saw action in all 13 games as a 16-year-old college freshman. The youngest person ever to play college football finished his freshman season with 17 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Unique Situation
Whoever drafts Amobi Okoye this April will be getting a man child with four years of a high-level college experience and the age of someone who should be studying the playbook and preparing for his redshirt freshman season. The NFL Draft has never featured a situation like this and I'm extremely anxious to see how it plays out.

He may have spent four years playing in Mike Cassity's 4-3 defense, but Okoye's style is set up perfectly to play nose tackle in a 3-4 set like San Francisco's. He's 6-2, 320 lbs., but plays much faster than his size would indicate. He starts near the ground and stays remarkably low when he makes his drive toward the quarterback or ball carrier. He's extremely strong and uses his strength to push lineman around and clog up holes. For the majority of his career he's been more of a gap-filling run stopper than a pass rusher, but in 2006 it seemed he was always on top of the quarterback.

Amobi was the best player on the field every time he lined up this season. He finished his senior campaign 55 tackles, 8 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, and forced three fumbles. He was a second team All-American and one of just two unanimous selections to the Big East's All-Conference team. He was a team captain and in my eyes, as well as the eyes of many others, Louisville's most valuable player.

If I had to point out one flaw in Amobi's game it would be that multiple times this season he appeared physically drained and asked to come out of the game in crucial sequences. Whether this exhaustion stemmed from being a bit out of shape or just going extremely hard all the time I'm not sure, but if pressed I'd probably side with the latter.

He needs to develop more rush moves since his path to the quarterback in the college game usually came via a rather primitive route (Dude pushing dude), but I suppose these are the types of things they teach you in the league.

His speed and raw athletic talent is off the charts, but he's not going to be able to rely solely on natural ability once he makes it to the next level.

"He's a better person than he is a player" has become somewhat of a cliché in recent years, and it's a shame because young men like Amobi are truly worthy of such praise. In regards to his character I will refer you to this story which I think speaks for itself.

I wouldn't expect him to make a gigantic impact in his first two years in the league because he is a bit unpolished, but nobody will outwork Amobi Okoye, and he will be a star before all is said and done.

Best of luck with the upcoming draft and the 2007 season.

Thanks for the insight Mike.  I definitely encourage everyone to check Card Chronicle.  If we do end up taking any Cardinals other than Okoye I definitely plan on going back to them for further scouting reports.