But injuries and other factors set in, and now it’s possible that neither one is among the first 32 players selected in the upcoming draft, held April 23-25.
However, while the two were unavailable for any on-field drills during the Combine, they still went through measurements – which turned out to be big wins for both.
At 6-foot-4, 268 pounds, Kareem’s other measurements included 10 7/8-inch hands, 34 3/8-inch arms and a wingspan of 84 inches. At 6-foot-4, 252 pounds, Okwara’s other measurements included 10 1/4-inch hands, 34 3/8-inch arms and wingspan of 81 3/4-inches.
Kareem had the longest wingspan and biggest hands, and he had the fourth-longest arms. Okwara, meanwhile, had the fourth-longest wingspan and hands, and his arms tied him with Kareem for the fourth-longest.
Both players were injured against Duke.
Kareem didn’t realize he had torn his labrum in his left shoulder until weeks later but continued playing through the injury. He had surgery on Jan. 21, which kept him from participating in the Senior Bowl and the Combine on-field drills.
Kareem is not expected to participate in contact drills during Notre Dame’s April 1 Pro Day and likely won’t be ready for rookie minicamp in early May, reports ND Insider Tyler James, but he should be fully healthy by training camp in August.
The recovery time is expected to be quicker for Okwara, who broke his left fibula against Duke on Nov. 9. He still went through the bench press at the Combine, recording 27 reps, good for fifth-best among Edge rushers. He recently started running again, James says, so it’s possible that he’ll be able to do so at his Pro Day. Okwara allegedly ran a 4.53 40 last spring.
As of now, many analysts see Okwara as the more athletic of the two, but Kareem is seen as the most NFL-ready and scheme diverse, as he could also slide inside to tackle.
Okwara is currently the No. 60 overall prospect and Kareem the No. 102 overall prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Steve big board.
Prior to the Combine, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote about how he compared the two. From Brugler’s December 2019 positional rankings:
“I’m probably on an island by ranking Kareem above Okwara, who is clearly the more athletic of the two Notre Dame edge players. But Kareem is the better and more well-rounded football player right now. He sets a physical edge and introduces power in his pass rush, using his hands as weapons. And while not an athletic marvel like Okwara, Kareem has the quickness to capture the edge.”