The Dallas Cowboys spent the early part of free agency buffering their defense, especially in the trenches. They signed six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy to add some size and experience on the interior and give the Cowboys their starting 3-tech next season. Also, they added his former Carolina Panther teammate and two-time Pro Bowler Dontari Poe to use his nearly 350-pound frame to provide more pressure inside as a 1-tech. All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence will hold down the left side of the defensive line per usual. Randy Gregory, who will very likely be reinstated, will come off the right side, hopefully, aided by Aldon Smith who’s returning after a four-year absence. However, there’s still a need for another edge rusher and Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara is an interesting prospect to consider.
Okwara saw limited action in 2016 and only recorded four tackles in 11 games. In 2017, he showed flashes that he could be a major contributor as he registered 17 tackles (4.5 tackles for loss), 2.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in 12 games. He would start 12 of 13 games in 2018 and he made them all count. Okwara totaled 39 tackles (12.5 tackles for loss, led team), eight sacks (tied for team lead), an interception, and a forced fumble. His 2019 campaign started off pretty well as he racked up 19 tackles (seven tackles for loss), five sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in the first nine games for the Irish. However, he suffered a broken left fibula against Duke which ended his senior season.
Watch “Notre Dame DE Julian Okwara Highlights 🍀 ᴴᴰ” on YouTube
He has a long/athletic frame at 6’4 252 pounds. Does a really good job using his hands to get an initial punch to keep offensive tackles off balance and utilize his bull rush skills. Very good speed coming off the edge and pursues plays relentlessly. Showed a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage as 24 of his 79 career tackles were for a loss. Also, he has the ability to drop in coverage against running backs and tight ends as well.
Scouting report according to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein
“The lanky edge rusher followed up an impressive 2018 with a slightly disappointing senior season that saw a drop in production and ended prematurely due to a broken leg. One look at his NFL brother (Romeo Okwara, Lions) should tell teams to project Julian as a bigger, stronger player with time. He has build-up speed up around the edge and carries an impressive closing burst to seal the deal, but he’s in desperate need of a rush counter to keep tackles guessing. He hasn’t shown a consistent ability to play the run, so his NFL success could generate a thumbs up or down based primarily on his ability to cause havoc as a rusher.”
Getting pressure on the quarterback is paramount and Okwara would add another young talent to the Cowboys defensive roster, and possibly a future starter.