Senior Bowl Player Profile: Auburn LB Owen Pappoe
On February 4th, Mobile’s game will be held at Hancock-Whitney Stadium and over a hundred of the nation’s draft hopeful seniors will descend on the Gulf Coast for a week of practice in front of scouts from every NFL team before the Senior Bowl. Leading up to the game, we’ll take a look at a different prospect every day and talk about their background, their college career, where they could be drafted, and how the Senior Bowl could help them. Today we’ll take a look at versatile Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe:
Pappoe is a native of Loganville, Georgia and attended Grayson High School. He was one of the most sought after recruits in the class of 2019, ranked as a consensus five star among all major recruiting sites. 247 Composite rankings rated Pappoe as the 25th overall player in the nation and the #1 OLB (though he played in more of an off-ball roll at Auburn). He was also the #4 player overall in the state of Georgia, only behind WR Jadon Haselwood, who will be drafted this year, as well as #1 overall pick Travon Walker and CB Andrew Booth of Clemson, a second-round pick last year.
Pappoe is someone who Tiger fans have become extremely familiar with over the years. He has been a starter since day one, an absolutely incredible feat in the SEC. In 2019, he was named to the midseason freshman All-America team by the Football Writers Association of America. A four-year starter who has had an exceptionally productive career, the accomplishment he is perhaps most proud of is the fact that he has been voted as a team captain for the past two seasons. He was just the fourth ever player in program history to serve as a two-time captain.
In addition to being a phenomenal leader, Pappoe is a versatile player who can serve in a lot of roles. He has been a tackling machine at times, but is also athletic enough to be very effective in coverage as well. In his senior season in 2022, he was named a semi-finalist for the Butkus award as well as third-team All-SEC by Phil Steele. He finishes his career in orange and blue with 256 tackles and projects as a day two pick in the draft. Check out some of his best plays:
Current Draft Projection:
The consensus seems to be pretty varied on Pappoe’s draft status. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him go anywhere between the second and fourth round. The one big concern on him seems to be his size and in turn his ability to be a middle linebacker in the NFL, but a clever defensive coordinator can certainly use Pappoe’s athleticism as a chess piece to their unit. Pappoe will likely go back to a weak side roll at the next level. Not to mention, his ability as a leader is impressive enough that a team could grab him earlier than expected.
How the Senior Bowl Could Help Him:
Similar to Jonathan Mingo, the Senior Bowl seems like a huge opportunity for a player like Pappoe. He has clearly demonstrated that he has traits of an NFL linebacker, especially in coverage and sideline to sideline ability defending the run, but some scouts will be concerned over his size and how this could hinder him at the next level. But a good week of practice in front of every team in the league can go a long way towards easing any worries scouts may have. If Pappoe does well in Mobile, he has the potential to solidify himself as a Day 2 pick.