Foye Oluokun has been a hidden gem for the Atlanta Falcons this season. No one with any sanity can say the 2020 season has had any positives for the Falcons. But, after some excellent performances, Oluokun has become a feature in the Falcons defence.
Oluokun’s performance in Dallas in particular was a real statement. Oluokun managed to force 3 fumbles in just 17 snaps in week 3; the then head coach, Dan Quinn called it the best 17 snaps he had seen from any linebacker.
That’s quite the statement, remembering he was defensive coordinator in Seattle during the Legion of Boom.
FOYE OLUOKUN’S JOURNEY
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Foye Oluokun has had to fight his way to where he is today.
Oluokun started his football journey in John Burroughs High School. The same school as Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. He then went to college at Yale, where he was originally a safety and had to fight through injuries.
Only in his final season at Yale did he make the transition to linebacker. It is at his pro day that Oluokun really put on a show. He showed real athleticism and speed, which saw scouts really start to take notice.
His experience as a safety saw him excel in coverage drills and it was his speed that the Falcons really liked.
Initially, Oluokun was seen as a backup linebacker who would contribute on special teams. However, standout linebacker Deion Jones got sidelined for the season early on in the 2018 campaign. Oluokun came in and he far exceeded any expectation the Falcons had.
But in 2019, with Jones back on the field, Oluokun was only used on 30% of defensive plays. Oluokun did impress with his tackling ability and athleticism, but through up some question about his coverage ability against better opposition.
Oluokun had clearly shown enough though, as the then defensive coordinator, now Interim Head coach, Raheem Morris told the media this preseason:
“Foye is such a good player for us. He’s so talented. He’s so smart, he’s big and he’s strong. He can match up well against anybody. I really feel like Foye can matchup with a lot people in this league.”Raheem Morris – atlantafalcons.com
Oluokun is now an established player on the Falcons defence and has proven to be a diamond in the rough on a dismal Falcons defence.
ON THE FIELD
It’s Oluokun’s athleticism that has really underpinned his success on the gridiron. So far, Oluokun has put up 215 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception and 5 forced fumbles in 41 games.
Oluokun’s tackling has been superb and he has been the bedrock of the Falcons defence so far in 2020. He has been the team’s most consistent defender. Oluokun disrupts the running game and puts pressure on the quarterback. As the stats suggest, he is an assured tackler and rarely do you see him make mistakes.
On the other hand, Oluokun has struggled in coverage. However, even this has improved in 2020. He has struggled against bigger receivers when protecting against the pass.
But with added game time, Oluokun’s coverage abilities have advanced and he is certainly performing better than anyone could have imagined. You have to remember, he was a sixth round pick!
Oluokun’s numbers have been impressive, but they don’t tell you everything!
He is one of the hardest working players on the team and has the determination and mindset to be one of the leaders on the defence. Having only turned pro in 2018, he can set an example to future draft picks.
He has shown that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are drafted. If you work hard, put in the hours and ultimately deliver, you can make it too.
Foye Oluokun’s performances have now seen him get added to the Pro Bowl voting list having originally been left off.
Whoever takes over the regime in Atlanta, they can be happy that the linebacker group continues to improve. With so many holes to fill and positions to fix they can be assured by the way the Falcon’s linebacker group continues to grow with Oluokun as a starter.
Feature Image: atlantafalcons.com