Charles Omenihu’s rise up the NFL Draft board

Kirk von Kreisler

After three seasons and just seven sacks with the Longhorns, defensive end Charles Omenihu decided to return to the Forty Acres for his senior year; his return wouldn’t be in vain. Recording career-highs in nearly every statistical category, Omenihu helped lead the Longhorns to a Sugar Bowl victory, and, along the way, launched his name up draft boards.

The buzz for Omenihu is heating up with over two months remaining before the NFL Draft, and most of the discussion is about how far the long, versatile defensive lineman could rise.

With a breakout season under his belt, Omenihu was invited to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and compete against the best senior draft prospects in the country. Omenihu’s untapped potential flashed throughout the week of practice, as reports and clips of him beating other players like a drum repeatedly surfaced from Mobile, Alabama.

Omenihu, listed at six feet, six inches and 275 pounds, is already an eye-popper to NFL teams at defensive end for his length. Now, following an insane Senior Bowl measurement of 36.5 inch arms, he’ll earn even more attention thrown his way. Top on the athleticism showcased in his game film, as well as the versatility coaches crave and Omenihu is cooking with grease.

As draft season officially gets underway, draft profilers and film pieces on prospects will be relentlessly published. But, even with just a few takes hot off the presses now, it’s already evident Omenihu is becoming one of the draft crushes scouts and analysts could fall in love with. And, given he’s at one of the league’s most valued positions, who knows how high his stock will be come draft time.

The Draft Network’s Jon Ledyard thinks Omenihu could be in the first-round conversation after his performance in Mobile.

“Omenihu’s length, explosiveness and physicality make him extremely difficult to handle 1v1, both in the run game and as a pass rusher,” Ledyard said in his draft profile of Omenihu. “His growth this season and his versatility to play all over the defensive front are both extremely encouraging from an NFL evaluation standpoint.”

Daniel Jeremiah, an NFL Network draft analyst, listed Omenihu as one of the five biggest risers from Senior Bowl week. Jeremiah currently views Omenihu as a “Day-two prospect,” or a player likely to be selected in the second or third round of the draft.

“He has some physical traits that you love, including rare length, and he played really hard today,” Jeremiah said in his analysis of Omenihu. “Some of his big plays were made off of effort and just not quitting on the play. He’s not a finished product, but there’s a lot to work with, and he helped himself in Mobile.”

It’s been confirmed teams will be seeing Omenihu — along with Longhorn teammates Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kris Boyd, Gary Johnson and Devante Davis — at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL Combine in March. With more detailed measurements, laser-focused scouts and televised drills to come, the defensive line prospect’s rise just may continue.

The last time a Texas product was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft was 2015 — the program’s longest streak of absence since before the century. But, this year, it’s feeling more and more possible that Omenihu could break the streak.