Around this time last year, then-redshirt sophomore Albert Okwuegbunam could be found in the first or second round of most mock drafts.
Instead, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Missouri tight end decided to stay in school. The decision, although a surprise to some, seemed sound at the time. The 2019 draft class was top-heavy at tight end, so with a strong junior year, Okwuegbunam had a chance to be the top tight end in the 2020 class.
While that could still be the case, especially if he tests well, Okwuegbunam had a down year this season, only this time, he’s thrown his name in the hat.
Okwuegbunam became the second Missouri Tiger underclassman in two days this week to declare for the 2020 NFL draft. Teammate Jordan Elliott, a 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle, also declared this week.
Okwuegbunam finished the year with 26 receptions for 306 yards and six touchdowns. His receiving yards and receptions were career lows, while his touchdown receptions tied his career-low. Okwuegbunam also led the team in dropped passes with 8.
Thank You 🖤🐯 pic.twitter.com/x8I3hMo6xM
— Albert Okwuegbunam (@AOkwuegbunam) December 2, 2019
Draft evaluators have questioned Okwuegbunam’s blocking and route running. However, some of his issues this season can be blamed on inconsistent quarterback play, while Missouri’s coach, Barry Odom, was recently fired after four seasons.
Okwuegbunam finishes his career with 98 receptions for 1,187 yards. His 23 career touchdowns are second in school history. He’s currently ranked No. 61 in the latest Fanspeak big board.
Elliott, meanwhile, has been a steady presence on the Fanspeak big board all season, as he’s currently ranked No. 49.
The former University of Texas defensive lineman transferred after his freshman season, sat out 2017 as part of transfer rules, then played relatively sparingly as a sophomore at Missouri. But Elliott came on strong this season, finishing with 44 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 6 hurries and three pass deflections. His 91.5 rating by Pro Football Focus is the highest of any interior defensive lineman in college football.
And he put forth the effort this past offseason, as he cut out red meat from his diet and lost close to 30 pounds, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
— Mike Spencer Hrynyshyn (@MikeSpencerWNS) December 2, 2019