The Denver Broncos selected Albert Okwuegbunam with the No. 118 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Before turning in the draft card, GM John Elway called second-year QB Drew Lock to get the 411 on Albert O.
Elway and the Broncos’ brain trust liked what they saw from Okwuegbunam on film and were impressed by his performance at the NFL Combine but since the team had recently prioritized intangible traits like football IQ, character, passion for the game, and leadership on a higher level than in years past, what better person to give them the unvarnished truth than his college quarterback?
Lock went to bat for Albert O. and the Broncos drafted him. We already knew that Okwuegbunam runs a faster 40 time (4.49) than 2019 first-rounder Noah Fant but what else does the athletic tight end bring to the table?
In what was his first official presser of 2020, Lock answered that question with gusto on Tuesday, previewing for Broncos fans what to expect from Albert O.
“I think what makes Albert so special is how smart he is and how he finds open spots on the field,” Lock said via virtual teleconference on Tuesday. “Really him in the red zone, you can find a lot of clips of us at Mizzou on corner routes, putting it up high to him and letting him go get it.”
Here’s an example of Okwuegbunam running that red zone corner route and Lock ‘putting it up high’ for him. (0:28)
Lock also made it clear that fans will be impressed by the sheer size of Okwuegbunam, who checks in at 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds with 34-1/8-inch arms and 10-1/4-inch hands. Lock isn’t exactly small in comparison, standing at 6-foot-4 and 228 pounds himself.
“He is a massive human being,” Lock said. “When you guys finally get to see him in person, you’ll realize that. He is very athletic, can go up and get the ball and moves really well as we saw at the Combine.”
With Fant in the building, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Okwuegbunam. If it were any other QB under center in Denver, I’d have my doubts that Albert O. would be able to make much of an impact in 2020 due to OC Pat Shurmur’s reluctance to use more than one tight end on the field at a time.
But knowing that a chemistry already exists between Lock and Okwuegbunam, it’s a safe bet to assume Shurmur already has a vision for how to capitalize on that connection and the rookie tight end’s unique blend of height/weight/speed.
But make no mistake; Fant takes precedence in this offense by virtue of his draft pedigree, to say nothing of his talent. After all, Fant was the NFL’s most productive rookie tight end last year and set franchise rookie records for the position. In the red zone, especially, is where I could see Shurmur making some exceptions and figuring out how work Fant and Okwuegbunam on the field at the same time.
For now, fans will have to hurry up and wait. Rookie mini-camp and Phase 1 of OTAs have been converted into a virtual affair. Probably the first chance you’ll get to see Lock and Okwuegbunam on the field together will be at some point in Phase 3 of OTAs in late May, if things continue to go well with the country slowly opening back up from quarantine.