Owens flipped from UCF to Georgia Tech on January 23, toward the end of the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Owens is a 3-star recruit per Rivals (5.6) and 247Sports Composite (0.8192) rankings. While some teams view him as a strong-side defensive end (where he played primarily in high school), he will play defensive tackle for Georgia Tech. The former UCF commit measures an impressive 6’4”, 286 lbs, and looks to have room to add more weight to his frame.
Owens chose Tech over a bevy of Power-5 offers, including: Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, NC State, Purdue, Syracuse, and Wake Forest.
Owens has an intriguing blend of length and frame thickness that boost his upside as a prospect. The recruiting services listed him at 6-4 286, while Tech listed him at 270 lbs on signing day. Either way, he has the frame to get to the 290-300 lb range once he’s been in a college S&C program for a few years.
In Ted Roof’s defense, this will slot him into the 3-Tech position, though Mike Pelton said he might start out at DE and slide to the interior when he grows. He’s a bit more of an ideal fit for a 5-Technique, but Tech has successfully played several of those types of players at the 3-Tech position over the past few years.
This was an interesting analysis to do, because there are 2 frames through which to view Owens’ athleticism. He played mostly DE in high school, and some occasional DT, where he’s projected to play as a Jacket.
As a DE, there’s a lot to like, but it’s a bit lacking. His first step isn’t going to blow anyone away on the edge, though he has great get-off for his size. He plays well in space on the edge, but not really at a Power-5 level. He bends pretty well, but not at an elite level.
His athletic profile just fits more at DT, or a 5-Tech. He’s got a great first step for those positions. He bends well for those positions. With his continued size growth, he simply projects better as a DT than a DE.
Owens has a developing skill set that he’ll need time to work on as he adjust to the college game. He will need some refinement his first year.
He knows how to use his hands and length to control blockers and shed them before the ball-carrier arrives. He shows decent pad level when he plays inside, but stands up a bit too much when he plays on the edge. Owens also uses his hands well in pass-rush situations. In one instance on the film, he performs an excellent rip-and-dip move from (what looks like) the 4i position. This showcased his ability to use his hands, his ability to bend, and his ability to get his pads low.
He primarily uses a rip-and-dip or a bull rush, and should develop another move in college if he wants to progress to an elite level. He’s athletic, but not so athletic that the same move will work consistently at the Power-5 level
Owens sheds blockers well in the run game, but this aspect is where the lack of true DT film makes him harder to evaluate. He won’t be playing the 1-Technique at Georgia Tech, but he’ll still see the occasional double team. He’ll need to prove that he can hold up. He is also a bit aggressive getting upfield, and will need to learn how to hold point in the run game once he transitions inside.
He also needs to improve tackling technique. Considering his size, he should tackle through the player more often than he does, and he needs to learn not to leave his feet while tackling unless he absolutely has to. This is a common technique flaw for young defenders.
What to Expect
For this year, expect Owens to redshirt. If he starts out at DE, there’s a lot of depth there ahead of him. At DT, he needs more time to physically develop. As discussed previously, he has some technique refinement to work through as well.
With time and teaching, Owens has a chance to be a more athletic, long 3-Technique in a similar mold to Patrick Gamble, but with much better bend and a better first step. Owen’s floor is more of a role player at the DT position.
Owens is perhaps the most important player in this class, as he fills a huge need at one of the most important positions in the college game. Welcome to the Flats Antwan!