Ifo Ekpre-Olomu entered the 2014 college football season as the top returning corner in the nation. He had briefly toyed with the idea of declaring for the 2014 draft before committing to the Ducks for his senior season. While some inconsistencies in his play may have impacted his draft status slightly, Ekpre-Olomu was widely considered to be a top twenty prospect for 2015 until suffering a knee injury prior to Oregon's playoff run. That injury has dropped him outside the top 50 in the eyes of many draft experts.
The Oregon program is as tight lipped about injuries as Jason Garrett is, but it is known that Ekpre-Olomu is now rehabilitating his knee at Proactive Sports Performance in southern California, where he is working alongside Texas A&M offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi. The pair are pushing each other in an attempt to regain their respective standings in the upcoming draft.
"When you see him putting on weight, and you know he's 300-something pounds, and then I'm a cornerback, it really just gives me that added motivation. Every day I can just put five more pounds on, or I can go one more extra set. And having a partner to work out with you every day brings out the best in both of you." - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
It is that competitive fire that serves Ekpre-Olomu well. Undersized for the position, he does not hesitate to stick his helmet in on the action. His efforts have earned the praises of both Dane Brugler and Rob Rang.
Competitive and alert. Possesses broad shoulders and a well-built frame, overall and is sound in run-support, traits that could make him one of the country's best all-around cornerbacks. While undersized, does not shy away from throwing his body around in run defense.
Like Steven Nelson, whom I profiled previously, Ekpre-Olomu does not bring the ideal size to the position but he makes up for that with his play. During a career that saw him start as a true freshman, Ekpre-Olomu developed a reputation for being a turnover machine, a trait that will surely endear him to fans wherever he lands in the NFL. His movements are fluid and he closes quickly on the play. He can play effectively in both press and off man situations. During the 2014 college season, Ifo contributed 63 tackles, two interceptions, and 11 pass break ups for the Ducks. He received first team All-America honors for his efforts.
Where he differs from Nelson is in run support. Ekpre-Olomu is a solid run defender for a corner, but he is more susceptible to being blocked than is Nelson. One of his biggest weaknesses is that he is often tied up by perimeter blocking. If he wants to avoid being typecast as a nickle player at the next level, Ifo is going to have to work on learning to fight through blocks and contribute in run situations as well as on passing downs.
The biggest questions that he is going to be forced to answer naturally will surround his knee. The NFL Combine (February 17-23) will give teams their first chance to inquire about his progress. Even though he will not participate in the Underwear Olympics, the combine will go a long way toward setting how teams rate the former Oregon Duck. If teams like what they learn regarding his progress, it is likely that Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will begin to climb his way back inside the top 50 prospects. If not, there is a good chance that he will collect on the $3 million loss of value insurance policy that the University of Oregon bought for him in return for his commitment to play his senior season.