INDIANAPOLIS — With the 89th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts have selected linebacker Bobby Okereke.
Okereke — who stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 239 pounds — is coming off a 2018 season at Stanford in which he earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors, as he led his team with 96 total tackles (7.5 for a loss) with 3.5 sacks, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovered for a safety.
Okereke was also an honorable mention All-Pac 12 selection in 2017, when he had 96 tackles (7.5 for a loss) with four sacks and one interception.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote this about Okereke in his draft profile:
Undersized but instinctive and rangy, Okerke plays fast and is generally on the right track with his initial reads and response to play development. While he’s fairly sound from a technical standpoint, his lack of size and strength shows up in both tackling and downhill duties against blockers. He has adequate talent to drop and cover in space and his experience on special teams gives him a shot to become a quality NFL backup.
As of now, the Colts’ next pick is Saturday in the fourth round (129th overall).
PROVO — Every story has a beginning and most stories have an end.
For a lot of football fans, the story of BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki started midway through his collegiate career.
After a 21-tackle season, Takitaki earned attention and ink for the wrong reasons, when he was suspended for an entire season following an arrest made for allegedly stealing various athletic items on campus.
But that’s not the end of Takitaki’s story. After missing the entire 2016 season after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft, Takitaki returned to BYU and made good on his promises to family to finish out his career, earn his college degree, and become a better man.
Along the way, he made 237 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks while jumping between linebacker and defensive end in multiple systems and setups. He also met and married his wife Alyssa, a moment that he’s said often rates more favorably than any of his football accomplishments.
Takitaki’s story still isn’t over, either. He’s likely to hear his name called in next week’s NFL Draft, with ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. projecting him as high as a late third-round pick.
It’s all a part of the story — the good, the bad, and the (future) rewards.
“I embrace it. I love it,” Takitaki told KSL Newsradio. “I think it’s part of the journey.”
Takitaki has almost lived on a plane since his senior season ended in Boise following the Cougars’ win over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He’s been to All-Star games from Alabama to California, was poked, prodded, corralled and wrangled at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and performed both linebacker and defensive line drills at BYU’s pro day at the end of March.
It’s all part of the deal, the usual pre-draft process for prospects hoping to take their game to the next level. Many, like Takitaki, can play multiple positions — either defensive end or outside linebacker, in his case.
Most will likely get their start on special teams. That’s OK for Takitaki, too.
“I play violent out there, and teams tell me I’m made for special teams,” Takitaki said. “That’s been a big up for me.
“I know some guys love special teams.”
Either way, he’s likely to get his start somewhere.
“You’ll definitely hear his name called sometime either late next Friday or early Saturday,” said local NFL agent Evan Brennan, who does not represent Takitaki but projects him as a fourth-round pick.
Takitaki has visited seen NFL teams so far, including the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and most recently the Houston Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle, as his draft stock has soared remarkably high.
NFL teams get 30 individual workouts, and Takitaki has already received at least a half dozen, Brennan told ESPN 960 radio in Utah County. The Chiefs were among the first, then he kept getting phone calls. Dolphins. Falcons. Most recently he worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles, then spent more than a half-hour on a FaceTime chat with their defensive coordinator, he told the radio station.
“I feel like this process has been a ride. A lot of ups and a lot of downs,” Takitaki said. “But I feel like, looking at my career at BYU, it helped me a lot. I played a lot of positions, and I feel like what I did on the field definitely helped me a lot during this whole journey.”
BYU asked Sione Takitaki to do a little bit of everything. He’s a hyped-up player who is all over the field, but that energy can become reckless and inefficient. He has to learn to play with balance and technique rather than consistently relying on athleticism and hustle to compete. He looks best suited to play the weak-side linebacker position in a 4-3 defense where he can run and shoot backside gaps, masking some of the deficiencies in his game.
It’s probably safe to say that linebacker Sione Takitaki wasn’t expecting to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
Takitaki, who was selected by the Browns in the third round with the No. 80 overall pick Friday, had quite an interesting story to tell about how he found out that he was headed to Ohio.
Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald reported that Takitaki chose to take a bathroom break when Cleveland was on the clock with the pick since he had not spoken with anyone from the team since the NFL combine two months ago. Lo and behold, the Browns took the BYU product, and the call came while Takitaki was in the bathroom.
The 22-year-old Takitaki recorded 119 total tackles and 4.0 sacks as a senior last year and should be an impact addition to a quickly improving Browns D.
We did see something similar happen with this Panthers draftee back in 2016.
BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki, a fast-rising draft prospect, visited the Texans on Wednesday, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly.
Takitaki visited seven NFL teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans and the Miami Dolphins. He had nine private workouts for linebackers coaches.
Takitaki is expected to be drafted within the first three rounds.
Takitaki was voted a team captain and got married within the past few years, displaying signs of growing maturity. He was suspended earlier in his career for an honor code violation for allegedly stealing property on campus and reached a plea agreement and was briefly kicked off the team as a freshman for a dorm fight.