© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — It is not recommended to test Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson’s joint patience.
When Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson stuffed Julian Okwara’s face in the ground
That’s not hyperbole. In a spring practice at Notre Dame in 2017, when McGlinchey and Nelson were both seniors, and soon-to-be top-10 draft picks, they were bested by an underclassman defensive end by the name of Julian Okwara.
It was during a period of two-minute drills when, “it gets pretty hectic,” as Okwara said. Okwara made sure the pair knew just how badly they were being beaten by the then-sophomore.
“I was kind of talking crap one time to both of them because I was beating them in two-minute,” Okwara recalled. “I was beating them and then I think they got tired of me talking, because I was really talkative that day. And then they double-teamed me. I think they aborted their technique just to put me on the ground. They stuffed my face in the ground. I just stopped talking from then on. So I’m looking forward to meeting them in the future, definitely looking forward to that so I can get back at them a little bit.”
Notre Dame DE Julian Okwara recalls a funny story about getting double-teamed by Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson in practice when they “stuffed my face in the ground” after getting sick of his smack talk – “I just stopped talking from then on” pic.twitter.com/B7eFMFqdzw
— KNBR (@KNBR) February 27, 2020
Okwara, an edge rusher who is a projected late first-round draft pick, spoke to a versatility he believes could allow him to play outside linebacker in 3-4 schemes. He will not participate in the Combine as he continues to recover from a surgically-repaired fractured fibula. He said he will be full go “soon,” saying, “That’s all you need to know.”
His path to the NFL, as a Nigerian immigrant from the United Kingdom, is far different from that of his brother, Romeo Okwara, an undrafted rookie free agent who was signed and later waived by the New York Giants. He’s currently with the Detroit Lions. Julian joked that his brother, being the oldest, would have to pay rent should he be drafted by the Lions, assuming the two decide to live together.
As for his skillset, the younger Okwara said he provides fluid movement and unexpected power that he can convert inside.
“I think I’m very fluid in my movements, [which] are really obviously difficult for tackles for guards,” Okwara said. “I’m able to rush the three tech, rushing the five tech. I think my speed my speed and strength, the combination of both, are very misleading to some people. A lot of people wonder how I’m able to do that…
“I think I’m just different in a lot of ways. I’m ready to improve my technique and I know I have a lot to work on, so I’m looking forward to getting to the next level, get that coaching and just build off my game.”
Chase Young to repeat Bosa’s draft selection
Another year, another Ohio State defensive end set to be the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
This year’s candidate, Chase Young, has a bit of a template to go off. He won’t participate in Combine drills — “I don’t want to waste time trying to be a Combine athlete,” he said, pointing to a decision made by him and “his team” — one of the luxuries of having proven himself as the best edge rusher in the Draft.
Bosa, who sat out the majority of his junior year at Ohio State following a severe groin injury, didn’t have that luxury, and had to prove his health at last year’s Combine. He confirmed his pedigree, running a 4.79 40-yard dash, with 29 bench press reps and a 33 1/4 inch vertical leap.
Young said he looks up to Bosa and that Bosa has helped him throughout the process, advising him to “be myself.”
“Nick, he’s always setting the standard,” Young said. “That’s just motivation for me to achieve a lot of real good things. It’s definitely been a blessing to watch him grow into the player that he is. He’s definitely helped me along this passage. He hasn’t stopped. I’m just grateful to be able to see him grow.
“He just told me to be myself. That’s what I have been trying to do the whole time I’ve been here.”
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) February 27, 2020
Young comes from that same defensive line school — you could call it the Larry Johnson (Ohio State’s legendary defensive line coach) Academy of Smothering Quarterbacks — as both Nick Bosa and his older brother, Joey.
It’s based on converting speed to power, and a basic, but deadly effective two-hand-swipe pass-rush technique. Nick Bosa broke down his three current moves here, and told KNBR about the pair of other moves he hopes to add this offseason in work with his brother..
“I think the technique that Coach [Johnson] teaches in college and works in the NFL as well,” Young said. “I’ll continue to perfect my technique, the tool box that I have now, I know that it’ll bring me success in the NFL. That’s one thing that I took from Nick and Joey.”
Another John Lynch Stanford connection
It’s no secret that John Lynch likes to hang around his old stomping grounds in Palo Alto. He’s made himself available and known to most Stanford players, at least as much as he can without getting into trouble with the NFL given his status as the 49ers’ general manager. The 49ers have drafted a Stanford player in three of the past four seasons, excluding 2018, and currently have three Stanford alumni on the roster that were acquired in free agency.
A late-round prospect who may well go undrafted, is Stanford linebacker Casey Toohill. He functioned more as an edge rusher in the Cardinal’s 3-4 scheme, but tried to play up his versatility in being able to play as a traditional, 4-3 outside linebacker. His performance at the Combine will play a significant role in whether he’s drafted, but if he’s not, don’t be surprised to see him in Santa Clara, at least on a training camp deal.
He played with Lynch’s son, Jake Lynch — an inside linebacker at Stanford — since high school. Both attended Cathedral Catholic High School, in San Diego, California.
“So I met John, I’ve known him for a few years. Incredible guy, has been very successful in the NFL,” Toohill said. “I’ve been very impressed with how successful he is post-NFL career. He should be Hall of Famer like and he still is striving, achieving more, so a really impressive individual.”
While Toohill said he hasn’t talked much with Lynch himself in the draft process he’s “met with the 49ers a good amount.”
“Them being so close to Stanford, there’s a lot of overlap with our guys and them so yeah, I hope to continue to talk to them,” Toohill said. Asked what it would be like to be drafted by the 49ers:
“It’d be incredible to stay in the Bay Area,” Toohill said. “I mean, I love the area. I think the Niners have an incredible team culture. I mean, you can see, I really think they’re going to go back to the Super Bowl. So it would be great to join a team that is that strong. I mean, I have buddies on the team, they rave about the culture. So I think that would be that’d be incredible to join.”
The 49ers currently have four Stanford alumni on the roster, including linebacker Joey Alfieri, who the 49ers scooped up to their practice squad as a rookie last season, and have on the roster as a likely training camp body.
Toohill said he sees himself in the mold of T.J. Watt, and pointed to the athleticism of George Kittle, and versatile, athletic players as a selling point for himself:
While he also stressed that he believes he’s smart and a quick enough learner to adapt to a traditional 4-3 scheme, as a Stanford graduate, he said he has to guard against coming off as a know-it-all. In the NFL, you have to be smart, but not “too smart.”
“I think you got to be sometimes careful,” Toohill said.” You don’t want to appear like too like, ‘Oh, I know everything.’ No one wants wants to, you know, just have anyone on the team that they may perceive as arrogant. So I mean, I just tried to emphasize more my hard work rather than just, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna pick this up because I’m smart.’ Because I mean, you can be smart and not have a good football IQ. Those don’t those two don’t necessarily correlate.”
No date set for CBA vote, Smith doesn’t mind criticism
DeMaurice Smith, the president of the NFL Players’ Association, spoke on Thursday about the looming vote on the collective bargaining agreement. After the executive committee of the NFLPA voted 6-5 to send the proposal to the rest of the NFL players (but not with enough of a majority to recommend a decision), meaning only a simple majority of the roughly 2,000-plus NFL players need to approve it.
Given that roughly 60 percent of players are on minimum deals, that probably bodes well for the approval of the proposal, given that those players get a roughly 20 percent base raise and can’t afford to miss a season of income.
The CBA has been criticized largely by veterans like Richard Sherman, Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Rodgers for adding a 17th regular season game, as well as the multitude of other perceived flaws, like not increasing the share of player revenue to 50 percent (47 percent currently, goes to 48 percent in new deal and 48.5 percent if a 17th game is approved).
Smith said he doesn’t mind players criticizing the proposed CBA and said he wouldn’t want to live in a world where players didn’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith explains why a long-term CBA deal is preferable pic.twitter.com/tYIDWwzqYj
— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) February 27, 2020