On Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers hosted Olympian discus thrower Lawrence Okoye for a pre-draft workout. Okoye, who is Britain’s record holder in the discus, participated in the NFL’s regional draft tryout in Atlanta back in March. He was so impressive he advanced to the NFL Super Regional Combine that took place this past Sunday and Monday.
If drafted by the 49ers, Okoye would not be competing for a shot as a backup quarterback for the 49ers, which came to mind when this was first reported, but as a defensive lineman. He was one of 219 players who attended the NFL Super Regional Combine in Dallas this week and ran a 40-yard dash in 4.88 and 4.78 seconds. He also had a 35-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-5 broad jump. The potential defensive lineman stands in at 6-foot-6 and 304 pounds.
The 49ers do need help on the D-line, but would it be smart for the team to draft someone who has zero experience playing football? There is a possibility with Okoye making it on an NFL team even if he is not drafted. He was expected to be signed by a team as an undrafted rookie before he participated in the regional combine. Not only because of the numbers posted at the regional combine, but also because he had a promising career in the junior rugby union. So he has some experience with contact on a sports field.
This would not be the first time the 49ers drafted a former Olympian if he is selected. Back in the 1984 NFL draft, Bill Walsh drafted shot putter Michael Carter as a nose tackle in the fifth round. Carter won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Carter would go on to win three Super Bowls in nine seasons with the 49ers. But a big difference between Carter and Okoye is that Carter played college football and was a star at SMU in 1981 and 1982.
At the 2012 London Games, Okoye finished last in the discus representing Britain which began his journey to starting an NFL career. He is also scheduled to visit with the New Orleans Saints on Friday