With Jared Cook set to hit free agency next month at the advanced age of 34, there’s a good chance the Chargers look elsewhere to solidify their tight end position this offseason. The team used a third-round pick on Tre’ McKitty last year but he ended up being not much more than the team’s fourth tight end in many cases. He saw an increase in snaps due to injuries ahead of him but only finished the season with six catches four 45 yards.
Despite drafting McKitty in 2021, could the Bolts end up selecting another to round out a rather young group that includes Donal Parham and Stephen Anderson? It’s possible.
Per The Draft Network’s Justin Melo, the Chargers were one of 30 teams to meet with Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo at this year’s Shrine Bowl. At 6’3 and 250 pounds, Okonkwo is built like a traditional H-back who has the capability of lining up all over the offensive formation. Similar to Anderson, Okonkwo loves to mix it up in the run game and he’s surprisingly athletic for his size. As you can see in the tweet below, Melo hypes up Okonkwo’s potential time in the forty.
I'm a fan of #Maryland TE Chigoziem Okonkwo. Super athletic TE that loves to block as well. Wait until he runs the 40— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) February 18, 2022
Okonkwo had an excellent @ShrineBowl. He met with 30 teams including in-depth meetings w/ #Titans and #Patriots, among several others.
Okonkwo took a bit to break out in college with the Terps. In his first two seasons, he totaled just 25 catches for 270 yards and three touchdown before losing his junior season due to an unfortunate case of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can occur due to viral infections.
The Nigerian-native bounced back in a big way to be the starter for the Terps in his final year, corralling 52 passes for 447 yards and five touchdowns. As stated above, his performance was good enough to get him an invite to one of the nation’s top all-star showcase.
While at the Shrine Bowl, Okonkwo impressed throughout the week, starting off with a phenomenal one-handed catch during the first practice’s round of one-on-ones. In the video below, you can see the type of damage he can do up the seam with his suddenness as he catches the safety flat-footed.
Chigoziem Okonkwo gets vertical, shows a stutter go and freezes the S. Jack Coan hits him with a rope for a TD. These two have been OUTSTANDING. Michael Mayer, talk to your guy. pic.twitter.com/uqNRm8xSHo— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 1, 2022
Overall, as a former tight end, I’m bias to playmakers at the position. Okonkwo’s versatility is intriguing but the Chargers may be better off finding a traditional “Y” tight end to fill that role instead of another undersized player at the position. For a fourth or fifth-round pick, I think that’d be pretty good value, in my opinion.
Let me know what you all think of Okonkwo as a prospect and if you’d like to see him end up in the powder blues.