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Ron Rivera hit a proverbial home run with his first draft pick as the head coach of the Washington Football Team.
Chase Young, selected second overall, exceeded expectations by making the Pro Bowl, earning Defensive Player of the Month in December and becoming the franchise's first Defensive Rookie of the Year. His game-changing plays, combined with his "crazy unusual" leadership, immediately made him one of the faces of a team on the rise.
Rivera's second swing will be with the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he'll have a pair of new executives -- general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney -- helping him make that decision. They'll aim to add another valuable piece to help build a consistent winner.
In anticipation for that selection, which will be made April 29, Washingtonfootball.com will highlight one mock draft from a notable draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. After starting with Mel Kiper Jr. and Daniel Jeremiah, next up is former Washington general manager and current NFL.com analyst Charley Casserly.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
Rivera covets position flexibility, and there may not be a more versatile defender in the 2021 NFL Draft class than Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Owusu-Koramoah made plays at all three levels of the defense en route to being named a unanimous All-American and winning the Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation's best linebacker.
He led the team with 11.0 tackles for loss and notched 1.5 sacks, finished second on the team with 62 tackles and broke up three passes while recording his first-career interception. And that's not even including his three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the Fighting Irish's win over then-No. 1 Clemson in November.
"A better prospect than Isaiah Simmons, Owusu-Koramoah will make an immediate impact and eventually become a star," Casserly wrote in his first mock draft.
Should Washington draft Owusu-Koramoah, he could become the team's best coverage linebacker depending on whether or not it retains impending free agent Kevin Pierre-Louis. Over the past two seasons, Owusu-Koramoah has had no problem covering running backs, wide receivers or tight ends, earning a coverage grade of 88.7, according to Pro Football Focus. On 72 targets, he allowed just one touchdown.
Some analysts project Owusu-Koramoah as a defensive back because of his 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame, but he has shown the physicality and tackling ability to warrant consideration as an every-down linebacker.
And even if Washington did not use him in such a manner, he likely would be on the field for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in some capacity. He could be near the line of scrimmage as a pass-rusher or in the slot as a cornerback. He could even be used as the team's "Buffalo nickel," serving as the third safety in sub packages.
Washington is looking for playmakers to line up behind its fearsome front, and Owusu-Koramoah certainly fits that mold.
"He's very aware as a zone dropper and he's an explosive blitzer off the edge," Jeremiah wrote about Owusu-Koramoah, who he ranked 17th in his latest top 50 prospects story. "He's very aware as a zone dropper and he's an explosive blitzer off the edge. He is quick to key/read before dipping under blocks on the front side against the run. ...He needs to improve his consistency as a tackler in space, though, as he has too many fly-by misses. He brings outstanding leadership to the defense. Overall, Owusu-Koramoah might lack ideal size/bulk, but he's built for a pass-happy NFL."