Owen Pappoe NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Auburn LB

Friday, February 24, 2023

Owen Pappoe NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Auburn LB

Michael Chang/Getty Images

HEIGHT: 6'1"











– Constant pre-snap communicator working to get the defense set and make checks at the line of scrimmage.

– When taking on blocks against the run, he's quick to get his hands up and is physical to get extension versus offensive linemen.

– Solid at getting off blocks overall. Has the strength to shed against tight ends and smaller offensive linemen.

– Has shown flashes of using his quickness, acceleration and agility to avoid blocks from offensive linemen without getting too far out of his gap.

– Good speed for impressive range against outside runs.

– Sure tackler overall. Wraps up and keeps his feet moving through contact when tackling in the box and knows when he can run through the ball-carrier and when to break down in open space.

– Uses his hands well in coverage, either making contact to help stay in phase when playing man or forcing reroutes in zone coverage.

– Impressive acceleration to click and close in coverage, which allows him to take deep drops and help take away intermediate throws in zone coverage while still being able to rally when the quarterback checks it down.


– A little short and undersized for an NFL linebacker and will get pushed around by bigger guards at the next level. Doesn't have much room for growth on his frame.

– Instincts as a run defender are rough. He falls for eye candy, can take a half-second too long to key and diagnose the play and will occasionally fit into the wrong gap.

– Misses opportunities to work over the top of blocks on the front side of outside gap runs, almost blocking himself.

– Not effective when blitzing with his lack of size; offensive linemen are able to catch him and avoid giving up penetration.

– Will occasionally get caught staring in the backfield too long in zone coverage.

– Can be a little too aggressive in man coverage. When he tries to get physical, he gets beat deep if he misses or the receiver is able to avoid the contact.


– Born September 9, 2000

– 5-star recruit in the 2019 class, No. 25 overall, No. 1 OLB, per 247Sports' composite rankings

– Made Bruce Feldman's list of exceptional athletes; 435-pound max on the bench press and 4.32-second 40-yard dash, per Auburn's staff

– Injuries: Eight missed games in 2021 (ankle)

– 41 career starts

– Career stats (four seasons): 256 total tackles (145 solo), 15 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 INTs, 7 PD, 3 FFs

– 2022 Honors: Team captain (fourth two-time captain in Auburn's history), Butkus Award semifinalist

– 2021 Honors: Team captain, Preseason All-SEC third team

– Named the USA Today Georgia Defensive Player of the Year in high school


As a four-year starter with 41 career starts, Owen Pappoe might be the most experienced linebacker in this year's draft class. And beyond the "C" on his chest, it was pretty evident he was the leader on the Tigers defense: He was constantly making pre-snap checks and getting everyone lined up correctly. That's something NFL coaches will fall in love with.

Pappoe is also an exceptional athlete for the position. He's a smooth mover, and his speed pops off the tape both as a run defender and in coverage. That should translate well to the next level with what is being asked of the modern-day linebacker and could help him overcome some of his size deficiencies.

Listed at 6'1" and 225 pounds, the Auburn product will be a little undersized heading into the NFL. Obviously, he's not going to get any taller, and he's already fairly thick, so this might be about as big as he gets. That's going to be an issue when taking on 310-pound, or more, guards climbing up to the second level.

The other concerning part about Pappoe's game is his instincts against the run are shaky, especially for being such an experienced player. He has a habit of falling for eye candy and gets caught flat-footed too often. Post-snap, it often looks like he's thinking and then reacting rather than just reacting, as he takes a tick too long to key and diagnose what the offense is running.

That being said, an even front team looking for an off-ball outside linebacker who is a solid all-around player should have Pappoe on its radar in the middle rounds.

GRADE: 7.0 (High-level backup/potential starter, Round 3)




Written by B/R NFL Draft Scout Matt Holder

from Bleacher Report

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