UPDATE: Following the official announcement from the Chargers, CJ Okoye will be a defensive lineman in his first shot at making it in the NFL. A 6’6, 315-pound defensive tackle with his level of natural athleticism should be fun to keep an eye on!
The NFL has been working overtime in lately to spread the good word of football throughout the likes of both Europe and Africa. The league’s International Player Pathway has sent a handful of notable players to the NFL in recent years, including Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata and Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson.
On Thursday morning, NFL insider Tom Pelissero announced that eight more players from the IPP will be joining either a team from the NFC North or AFC West for the 2023 season.
For the Chargers, that player is 6’6, 315-pound offensive lineman Basil “CJ” Chijioke Okoye from Nigeria.
(Okoye is listed as a defensive lineman below but a quick Google search will tell you otherwise)
Eight players from three countries have been added to NFL rosters for the 2023 season through the International Player Pathway Program: pic.twitter.com/pdPJvcfHX9— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 4, 2023
Okoye was one of a number of players to recently partake in the NFL Africa camp back in March of 2022. The sizable, and surpringly lean, Okoye was named the MVP of the camp after showing off his impressive athleticism and technique for someone who hasn’t been playing the game for all that long. Some actually believe he’s the most NFL-ready player of the group coming out of the pipeline.
Okoye will join an offensive line room where there is little to no depth behind the team’s starting offensive tackles now that Jamaree Salyer is switching full-time back to guard. Foster Sarell and Zack Bailey headline the backups along with other undrafted free agents Andrew Trainer and rookie Nic Melsop.
It is a long shot that Okoye ends up making the team, but much crazier things have happened before and he’s landed in a pretty decent spot with the way the Chargers are still fleshing out their depth up front.
Meet your newest Charger!— BOLTS Draft Talk (@BoltsDraftTalk) May 4, 2023
Basil Chijioke Okoye will join the Chargers roster through the International Player Pathway Program. "CJ" is 6'6 315 OT from Nigeria with 34.5 arms.
He is considered the most NFL ready & the highest ceiling prospect coming from the program this year. https://t.co/qJ0lGr1uE2
NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Basil ‘CJ’ Chijioke Okoye, OL, Nigeria— American Football International (@AFIReview) May 4, 2023
The NFL Africa camp MVP will join the @chargers https://t.co/BA9iSoK1E9 pic.twitter.com/Y7F6i5wk7n