The reigning Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year has big upside entering the NFL, but how long will Omenihu have to wait before hearing his name called?
As a member of Charlie Strong’s second full recruiting class, Charles Omenihu endured the lowest of lows and the highest of highs throughout his four-year career at Texas. From the 2016 loss at Kansas to the Sugar Bowl win against No. 5 Georgia, Omenihu went through it all as a Longhorn. He arrived on campus as a raw, lengthy 230-pound defensive end with a lot to prove, and he did just that over the course of his collegiate career at Texas.
While his closest teammates DeShon Elliott and Malik Jefferson departed after their junior seasons to pursue their professional football dreams, Omenihu set aside the NFL opportunity to return for his senior season in hopes to further improve his draft stock. This decision to return would later turn out to be one of the best decisions of his life.
After benefiting from another offseason under strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight, Omenihu was up to around 280 pounds by the start of the season. His transformation and development in his body and as a football player from his freshman year to his senior year were truly remarkable to see.
As a senior, Omenihu was second in the Big 12 in sacks (9.5) and tackles for a loss (18). These numbers were enough to bypass his sacks and tackles for a loss totals from the previous three seasons combined. All the hard work he put in paid off in the end, as Omenihu was rewarded with the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year award.
Omenihu saved the best game of his career for his final game as a Longhorn. In the Sugar Bowl, Omenihu lined up against former five-star recruit and 340-pound offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson on the majority of snaps and gave him some problems in pass protection. He showed off an elite sense of awareness and play-recognition throughout the game, as well.
His season didn’t end after the Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia, though. Omenihu participated in the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine and had standout performances at both of these events. After having an impressive week of practice and forcing a fumble in the game, Omenihu was listed as one of the top performers from the Senior Bowl.
Omenihu ran a 4.92 40-yard dash, a 7.48 three-cone drill, and a 4.36 20-yard shuttle time at the NFL Combine.
Omenihu’s impressive use of different hand-techniques as a pass rusher will stand out the most on film. Combined with his length, he uses his elite hand quickness and strength as major leverage against offensive tackles, which helps him shed more blocks and maintain his ground.
He’s improved tremendously in the run defense, too, but lining up against NFL offensive tackles is an entirely different beast. Given his versatility and how he was used in Todd Orlando’s 3-4 defense, it’s likely that Omenihu will be moved around as a rotational pass rusher at the beginning of his career. As he adds more strength to his frame, he’ll have the opportunity to develop into an every-down defensive end.
Given his incredible length standing at nearly 6’6 with an 84’ 3/4-inch wingspan, CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Chris Trapasso described Omenihu’s stature as, “impossibly, unfathomably long. He stands alone as half-man, half-pterodactyl.”
NFL.com Draft analyst Lance Zierlein compared Omenihu to current Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara. Although he didn’t start in most of their games, Okwara totaled 7.5 sacks in his role as a rotational pass rusher.
While he brings an ideal frame and attributes to the table as an edge rusher, Omenihu is considered a second-tier prospect because of the plethora of talent at his position. Defensive ends Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, and Clelin Ferrell will all be surefire first-round picks.
Where does Omenihu stand in this year’s draft? He’ll likely be a second or third-round pick depending on how teams value a player’s ceiling compared to their ability to contribute right away. Depending on how the dominoes fall on Day 1, keep an eye out for the Indianapolis Colts on Day 2. They’ve met with Omenihu twice already, at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and are in desperate need of a pass rusher.
Spring time in Texas