Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is reportedly going to take the entire season off while he continues recovering from the brutal knee injury that cost him millions of dollars.
Before injuring his knee on December 17, 2014, Ekpre-Olomu was widely considered to be the top cornerback heading into the 2015 NFL Draft. After a draft-weekend free fall the Browns landed the former Oregon star in the seventh round.
And now, seven months into his recovery, Ekpre-Olomu must put his NFL dreams on hold until his body mends, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer reports. The talented cornerback knows he has first-round talent and believes he would have been taken there if not for the injury:
“I definitely feel like I was,” he said after the Browns drafted him in the seventh-round. “I feel like I’m one of the best defensive backs in this class. Especially playing this position, you have to believe that you’re the best out there.”
Draft experts pointed to his physical play, his quickness, smooth movement and agility as reasons he was worthy of being selected early, before his injury. Physicality is something he’ll always have available to him, but the other qualities can be lost.
Nobody yet knows what the future holds for Ekpre-Olomu. He may rise like a phoenix from the ashes to return to former glory, or he may fade into history as quietly as Marcus Lattimore did after suffering a similar set of circumstances.
The team isn’t showing signs of worry, however.
“Players that have had this injury before, it’s rare that you would return that season,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “Given our depth, we’re very comfortable with him sitting out. That’s just one that we felt it was a low-risk, high-reward move when we took him in the seventh round. There’s no reason to rush it back given the depth in that room now anyway.”
With no pressure on him to hurry back to action, Ekpre-Olomu is in the best position to get healthy. If his knee does recover fully, then the Browns will have landed a tremendous bargain.
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