CLEVELAND — In what may turn out to be one of the biggest steals of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns saw linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah fall to them in the second round and took him with the No. 52 overall pick. With his size in question, and a report about his heart health that came out after the draft, there have been some doubts about what he'll be able to bring to an NFL team—but Owusu-Koramoah is ready to prove his skeptics wrong.
The 6'1", 215 pound linebacker who was a projected first round pick, was reported to have fallen so far in the draft due to a "heart issue that came up late in the process and was a concern for most teams," as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported two days after the draft. But Owusu-Koramoah said the reports were "not necessarily 100% true."
"It's something that the coaches here always talk about of just being able to control what you can control. That was something that I couldn't control in terms of the reports that came out. Nevertheless, what I'm worried about, again, is the things that I am dealing with in terms of whatever my heart is and whatever my heart is not—my heart is 100% sure, my heart is 100% healthy," Owusu-Koramoah said. "You could see that going through the protocol, going through the tests, going through the EKGs and going through the past MRIs and things like that. It's not an issue. It's not something that I'm worried about. I'm looking forward to getting on the field and going.”
With a healthy heart and a spot on the Browns roster, Owusu-Koramoah is ready to get to work, attending his first day of rookie minicamp at the Browns training facility in Berea. He said even though he's new to the team, he already sees what he'll be able to bring to the table.
“This defense flies around. It's based on a principle of ‘No bark, all bite.’ It's based on the principal of attacking the ball. It's based on principals of really relying on your brothers. That's the kind of defense that I have always played in terms of Notre Dame," Owusu-Koramoah said.
As defensive coordinator Joe Woods looks to prove what his scheme is able to achieve now that he has the personnel to truly run it, Owusu-Koramoah says he sees his place in it all.
With his innate ability to execute hard hits and forceful tackles, Owusu-Koramoah also has the speed, agility and athleticism to be a rover on the Browns defense, which will bode well in a scheme that will look to put less linebackers on the field, but is also working on that more traditional role for when the team calls for it.
"Going into this defense, there's a lot of disguises and a lot of things that Coach is doing within the defense that I think just me and my versatility are used perfectly within the defense in terms of its principals and what he is looking for,” Owusu-Koramoah said. "It'll be similar but not too similar to the position I was playing at Notre Dame. It will be a WILL linebacker and that's kind of where I'm working at right now on third down and things like that. That'll add more to it, but for right now, that's what I'm studying.”
Showing off the safety-side of his defensive talent is something Owusu-Koramoah sees as the future of the league and what makes him such an asset to the Browns, and had this to say about those who think he's "undersized":
"I don't think I'll be the lightest – I can name a few. Even with that, it is an advantage in terms of how the league is evolving in terms of a more pass-based league and in terms of probably about 85% nickel and third-down defense. I think it's an advantage because the offense, the way it is running in terms of more spread. I think it's an advantage because of how the league is moving forward and just my skillset in terms of getting to Point A to Point B in terms of slipping blocks and pressing blocks. I think that is something I'll be looking forward to.”
Browns rookie defensive tackle Tommy Togiai addressed that recently as well saying, "I think that's the way the defenses in the NFL are moving towards more versatile speed guys, guys that can move and play multiple positions. I think that's why a lot of coaches, they're moving that way towards their defenses just to have athletic guys to be able to play multiple positions and be able to bring that speed, because ultimately at the end of the day, that's what the offense is going with, speed. So that's why you need to counter that with speed on the defensive side of the ball as well."
Aside from his physical abilities and athletic fit with the Browns, Owusu-Koramoah also sees himself fitting in with the way things operate now in Berea, as Cleveland boasts a competent coaching staff with well-executed plans.
"Everybody is really just focusing on the details, and that's something that I really got to key in on with me being such an attentive player and with me being such a locked-in player in terms of the details. I think I fit right in," Owusu-Koramoah said.
The new Browns rookie, who grew up a Browns fan as kid because "The colors. I like orange and brown," now gets to don them as he works through this rookie minicamp and prepares for his NFL debut. Until then, Owusu-Koramoah is soaking it all in.
"I'm expecting something that's fast and something that's packed with knowledge and packed with new things that I haven't yet seen. I'm really expecting a lot of information over the weekend in terms of special teams, in terms of third downs and in terms of base defenses. I'm expecting a lot of information this weekend," Owusu-Koramoah said. "I'm really excited to get underway because this is something that I've been waiting for, this is something that I can’t wait to do and I'm excited to see what it holds."
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.