If you’re looking for a long-shot, out-of-the-box player in this year’s rookie class, keep an eye on Lawrence Okoye.
Okoye is a 21-year-old Olympic discus thrower from Great Britain who came to train in the United States and now is pursuing a career in the NFL.
He’s never played a down of football in his life, but according to the Daily Mail newspaper in Great Britain, via ProFootballTalk.com, Okoye took part in one of the NFL’s regional scouting combines this offseason and now has the NFL seriously interested in him. Teams are looking at the 6-feet-6 and 294-pound Okoye as a defensive end.
“At the combine, I really stood out because of my size, strength and speed,” Okoye said. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I was good on the day — to the point that a lot of NFL clubs began talking to me immediately on the back of it. They all see me as a defensive end, which suits me just fine.
“I’ve had some meetings since, and done some private workouts with some clubs, too, and already they are talking to me about contracts even before the Super Combine in Dallas next weekend. I’m talking about some of the best known and biggest teams.”
Though Okoye hasn’t played football, he played rugby while growing up. The Daily Mail characterized him a strong prospect for becoming an Olympic and world champion in the discus though he finished a “disappointing” 12th at the London Olympics last year.
Okoye said his pursuit of football doesn’t mean he’ll abandon his career throwing the discus, if it doesn’t interfere with training for football. And even if he makes it in football, he expects to return to throwing the discus when he retires from the game.
Okoye still might be a long-shot for selection in this year’s draft, but it appears to be a given he’s going to sign with an NFL team.
“‘From my mid-teenage years everyone kept telling me to give American Football a go, and I thought about applying for an American college scholarship when I was 16,” he said. “I’ve always been a huge NFL fan for as long as I can remember, and whenever I’ve arrived in the states the customs officers always ask me who I play for. I want to give this my best shot. It’s a rare life opportunity.”