Film Study: Chuks Okorafor Against The Green Bay Packers

With all the attention surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers rookie receiver James Washington‘s breakout performance last Thursday against the Green Bay Packers, another rookie that has quietly performed at a high level throughout the offseason has been offensive tackle Chukwuma ‘Chuks’ Okorafor. Considering the limited amount of time Okorafor has had to adjust to the professional-level speed and learn a new pro-style system, not only has Okorafor been able to adjust, he has exceeded expectations. Described by Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak as “raw”, Okorafor is steadily improving his fundamentals, while making use of his natural strength and athleticism to his advantage.

From reviewing his performance against the Packers, Okorafor in my estimation is well on his way to becoming a starter in the near future. I have seen very few offensive linemen of his size, with his natural movement and ability to use leverage to neutralize pass rushers.

Feet and Lateral Movement

 

To say the least, Okorafor’s movement is a thing of beauty. In addition to being nibble-footed, the key to his lateral movement is his first step. Note in this clip when the ball is snapped, his first step is not too wide and not too narrow. Secondly, his body is not leaning too forward or back, he maintains just the right base. Thirdly, his feet are constantly moving; thus giving the Packers pass rush practically no open area. The only area of improvement would be his initial punch to create more separation. Aside from this aspect, his pass blocking is absolutely impressive.

 

Ability to Recover

 

In the first clip, Okorafor’s first step was almost perfect. In this sequence, Okorafor’s first step is a little too narrow which could have resulted in him losing his balance. The Packers outside linebacker is able to get the jump on him but Okorafor is able to push him just enough off the arc, sending him to the ground. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is able to step up into the pocket and complete the pass to receiver Justin Hunter on this play. This could have been a disaster but to Okorafor’s credit, he was able to recover from his bad initial step and create enough room for Dobbs to step up and make the play.

Natural Strength

 

This clip was a demonstration of the type of natural strength Okorafor possess. When reviewing this sequence, the technique was not as sound as in the first clip, yet he was more a little assertive. He initiates contact with the Packers outside linebacker and proceeds to take full control of him. It was clear after a few seconds, he has no answers as Okorafor started to drive him back. This type of strength is what he was known for at Western Michigan and it appears to be translating at the pro level.

 

Though we have given a small sample size, his level of play has been consistent with what was reported about him throughout training camp. Okorafor still has some deficiencies in technique and is not as strong with his run blocking. For what it is worth, the Steelers got a great value in the third round with this young man, and I believe is able to play with the first-team offense if given the chance. As far a backup, Okorafor, in my opinion, solidified this spot after the first week of training camp. Yet I believe with the way he is trending, there could be much on the horizon.

 

 

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