While the Houston Texans fell well short of a win in Week 11 against the Washington Commanders, a few players stood out as top performers. Among them was defensive lineman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, who matched his mark for a career-high in tackles in a single game with seven, which he had set in Week 10 against the New York Giants.
This is notable because his presence on the defensive line is turning into a major factor against opposing offenses who now have to account for one more player who is showing a knack for getting into the backfield. Okoronkwo is in his fifth season in the NFL and has shown signs of progression throughout the season that point toward development that could make him a major contributor on the defense moving forward.
Though he will need to continue on this trajectory for some time to become a star on the Texans’ defensive line, every indication is that he is starting to come into his own for a team that desperately needs more players to step up to find consistent success. Paired with other impact players like Jerry Hughes and Maliek Collins up front, Okoronkwo could soon find his niche as a highly effective situational pass rusher with some upside against the run when facing specific personnel packages.
His journey is far from over, but at just 27 years old, there seems to be plenty of potential for Houston’s coaching staff to turn him into a truly special talent before his career draws to a close. Whether that will be this year or next is unclear, but for head coach Lovie Smith, Okoronkwo’s potential is a cause for salivation ahead of a 2023 rebuild that will be both intensive and challenging.
When the Texans go to re-create their roster after February’s Super Bowl, watch for Okoronkwo to be a factor in its construction on the defensive line.