4 dark-horse candidates to be Steelers pick in the first round of the draft

Azeez Ojulari #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Azeez Ojulari #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (6). Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (or J.O.K. as we call him), might be stuck in between positions, but he’s a flat-out football player. At 6’1” and 215 pounds, Owusu-Koramoah almost has an identical body type to strong safety, Terrell Edmunds; however, he was a linebacker for Notre Dame. The Steelers need a player who can start opposite of Devin Bush, but to be honest, J.O.K. doesn’t really fit the bill.

Fortunately, he’s a man of many talents and an ideal defensive playmaker for today’s NFL. He could be used as a safety in the box, a linebacker in nickel formations, and the team’s dime backer. Because there is so much nickel and dime coverage in today’s NFL, J.O.K. could find himself playing upwards of 50 percent of snaps in Pittsburgh as a rookie.

By his second season, the Notre Dame product could slide right into the starting strong safety role, and he has drawn favorable comparisons to Chargers safety, Derwin James. J.O.K. is lightning fast with terrific coverage skills and the ability to lock down tight ends. He also plays like his hair is on fire and is not afraid to come downhill and tackle – a trait the Steelers clearly love. If he fell to pick 24, he would be an absolute steal at this point in the draft. Apart from his weight, Owusu-Koramoah checks all of the boxes Pittsburgh typically looks for at the linebacker position; but he’s too versatile to pigeonhole him to just one spot on defense.