A former five-star recruit who posted some big-time tackle numbers in the SEC goes under the scouting spotlight.
Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Weight: 225 (listed by Auburn)
Pappoe is 22 years old
An instant starter and impact player for Auburn, Pappoe primarily played as the MIKE backer for the Tigers. He racked up over 250 total tackles in 41 career games, including 93 in 12 games in his senior season. He earned the nickname “The Freak” for his prodigious athletic prowess that includes a 40-inch vertical and a blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds at over 220 pounds.
Pappoe was slated to appear in Senior Bowl week but missed it with a shoulder injury that did not require surgery.
Very fundamentally sound tackler with consistent heads-up and wrap form, though he will aim high at times
Quick feet and good reaction quickness in coverage
Always on his toes and actively moving; you never see Pappoe caught flat-footed or standing still
Well-respected field general who was responsible for setting up the defense pre-snap and making calls
Range to either sideline from the middle and can chase down runners with an impressive closing burst
Alert and instinctive in coverage, especially with the play in front of him
Straight-line speed to turn and run with TEs and RBs in man coverage
Hits with a lot of power behind his pads (ask Penn State)
Below-average at block avoidance; takes poor angles and doesn’t always use his hands to shed (see: Miss. St. and LSU games in ’22)
Lacks great body control in pursuit and run defense. Will overrun the point of attack and is vulnerable to quick-footed runners/receivers who can cut sharply
Lacks length and doesn’t help himself by not extending out his arms to tackle as well as hoped
Better working behind his own defensive line than attacking into the opposing backfield in run defense
Lacks a plan as a blitzer other than running full speed into the backfield
Missed more than half of the 2021 season with a leg injury. Heading to the NFL scouting combine with a torn shoulder labrum that forced Pappoe to miss the Senior Bowl
Pappoe is a reliably smart, physical off-ball LB. He’s at his best playing in the middle of the field and behind two stout DTs, cleaning up anything that gets past the line. His speed and quick processing allow Pappoe to chase down tackles all over the field, and he’s proven he can be an asset in coverage situations.
He often plays like he’s a bigger player, for better and for worse. Pappoe needs to move through the blocking and traffic better to take advantage of his speed, and he’s not as effective downhill as he is reading/reacting and patrolling the second level. The injuries probably lower his draft stock into the 100-150 overall range, though a clean bill of health for his shoulder at the combine and an expected strong workout could lift him into the 60-90 overall range.