Like Sessler mentioned, other rookie linebackers received fanfare in 2019, but none were technically better than Okereke, whose 77.3 grade from PFF was tops among rookie linebackers — almost 11 points higher than the next player — and No. 8 overall among all NFL linebackers.
PFF put Okereke on its 2019 All-Rookie Team as a result.
“Bobby Okereke, he’s got somethin’ real special in his body,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said at his end-of-season press conference. “I think you saw the flashes.”
The Stanford product started 8-of-16 games as a rookie, primarily as the SAM linebacker. He totaled 58 tackles (two for loss), 1.0 sack, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovered, two pass breakups, one quarterback hit, and he intercepted and returned a two-point conversion attempt for points. He was credited with only five missed tackles throughout the season, which were the fourth fewest among qualifying linebackers.
Okereke was especially effective in pass coverage, which is critical for a 4-3 linebacker in today’s spread-’em-out NFL.
He allowed the second-fewest yards per reception among rookie linebackers (7.4), the third-fewest yards after catch (120) and the fourth-best opponent passer rating (102.0). Overall, he ranked 10th among NFL off-ball linebackers in coverage with a grade of 79.2.