With the 66th pick the 2022 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Brian Asamoah II, LB, Oklahoma. The Vikings acquired the 66th pick in a trade with the Lions during the first round, exchanging picks #12 and #46 for picks #32, #34, and #66.
Asamoah (As-a-MO-ah) was ranked 88th on the consensus big board and the 10th ranked linebacker.
Asamoah is an undersized, athletic linebacker- of the modern 3-down variety. His best comparison in terms of measurables is the linebacker he may have been drafted to replace in time: Eric Kendricks.
Asamoah is remarkably similar to Kendricks in every measure, only with longer arms.
COLLEGE GRADES AND STATS
Asamoah led his team in tackles in both 2020 and 2021, was named Honorable Mention All Big-12 in 2020 and 2nd Team All Big-12 in 2021.
Dane Brugler, The Athletic:
STRENGTHS: Fast flower who cuts off run lanes before they can materialize … opens his hips and shows off his short-area burst and chase range … flashes the ability to be a second-level ninja, eluding blockers while keeping his eyes locked on the football … comes to balance as an open-field tackler … strong hands to finish the tackles that he starts … quick through gaps and can dip under blocks … varies his speeds as a blitzer … longer arms than expected for his height and can jolt blockers in the hole when he commits and times up his strike … balanced zone dropper … was a regular on punt coverage (three special teams tackles in 2021) … plays fearless and tough and played in every game the last three seasons before opting out of the bowl game … led the team in tackles in 2020 and 2021.
WEAKNESSES: Undersized and can be overwhelmed by blockers … average play strength to stack, shed, and control the point of attack … can get lost in traffic and struggles to out-leverage blocking angles … takes himself out of plays when attempting to run around blockers … late to locate road blocks mid-pursuit and must expand his vision … takes overaggressive angles and doesn’t protect vs. cutbacks … plays with an inconsistent feel for route development in coverage … below average on-ball production in 2021 with zero break-ups or interceptions.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Oklahoma, Asamoah lined up at weakside linebacker in former defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s 3-3-5 base scheme. An offer from Ohio State never arrived for the Columbus native, but he thrived with the Sooners, leading the team in tackles and earning All-Big 12 honors each of the past two seasons. Asamoah plays with the foot speed to make plays downhill, outside the numbers, and when dropping and covering in space. He can be engulfed at times, but he has decent length and should continue to get better taking on contact. Overall, Asamoah is undersized and underpowered, but he has sideline-to-sideline speed with dependable tackling skills and upside in coverage. He projects as a run-and-chase linebacker with NFL starting potential.
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Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network:
Positives: Undersized run-and-chase linebacker who stands out in pursuit. Athletic, fast, and quick getting out to the flanks. Immediately locates the ball and the action, displays good change-of-direction skills, and has an explosive closing burst. Fires upfield on the blitz and against the run and plays with reckless abandon.
Quick to the sidelines and cuts off the corners from ball handlers. Gets outstanding depth on pass drops and easily stays downfield with fast running backs. Covers a tremendous amount of area on the field, breaks down well, and uses his hands to protect himself. Leads by example on the field.
Negatives: Must improve his ability in coverage and does a lot of face-guarding. Really needs a free shot at the ball, as he gets caught up in the traffic.
Analysis: Asamoah is outstanding pursuit linebacker who plays big-boy football with fierce intensity. His lack of size will cause mismatch problems. However, Asamoah could be a great fit on the inside of a 3-4 scheme that allows him to use his pursuit talents.
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Lance Zierlein, nfl.com:
See-ball, get-ball linebacker with an itchy, twitchy trigger and explosive pursuit speed. Asamoah is adequate at reading keys and diagnosing the action with quickness. His pursuit paths to the football are aggressive but they’re lacking in technique to maintain his gap integrity. His playing style is likely to have him around the football more often than not, but consistency in finishing tackles could be an issue for him in the pros. He’s athletic in pass coverage and could stand out on special teams. Asamoah is a 3-4 weakside inside linebacker or a 4-3 Will with the potential to find starting reps down the road.
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Keith Sanchez, The Draft Network:
Brian Asamoah chose Oklahoma over Arizona, Arizona State, and Cincinnati. Early in Asamoah’s career, he struggled to see playing time due to his lack of understanding of the complex Oklahoma defense. Going into the 2020 season, Asamoah was named the starting inside linebacker, taking over for first-round pick Kenneth Murray.
As a starter, Asamoah did not disappoint, becoming an instant impact player for the Sooners. As a prospect, Asamoah shows great athleticism that allows him to be a sideline-to-sideline player showcasing great closing speed to the ball-carrier. Asamoah has the ability to key and diagnose run plays, and on arrival, Asamoah is a violent tackler that thrusts his entire body into the ball-carrier. Asamoah is a good athlete at linebacker that should see early playing time in nickel packages in the NFL.
Ideal Role: Defense with simplified reads where he can read and chase
Scheme Fit: 4-3 WILL linebacker
Tackling: Asamoah has great closing speed to the ball-carrier, which allows him to cover a lot of ground quickly. On arrival, Asamoah will greet ball-carriers with a big-time hit. Asamoah accelerates through ball-carriers which results in big-time hits. At times, he can overrun plays because of his aggressive nature to get to the ball-carrier as quickly as possible.
Football IQ/Instincts: When playing the run, Asamoah is capable of reading blocks and tracking the ball-carrier to a gap. He uses his natural instincts to maneuver through traffic and defeat blocks while working toward the ball-carrier. Asamoah can use improvement on properly reading misdirection plays. There were multiple examples where the offense used pulling guards and fake jet sweeps to get Asamoah to flow to the wrong gap.
Competitive Toughness: This player is a high-level competitor that doesn’t mind getting in opponents’ faces to make his presence felt. On any given play you see him give max effort to work his way to the ball. Asamoah is also a player that celebrates his teammates making plays and encourages them to continue to play hard.
Pass Coverage Ability: Asamoah is an exceptional athlete, which allows him to cover a substantial amount of ground quickly in pass coverage. On play-action plays, Asamoah can play the run, and when he realizes that it is past he can quickly bail out of the play and sink into his zone to disrupt any throwing lanes created by the play-action fake. In man coverage, Asamoah has the athleticism to cover backs out of the backfield effectively.
Run Defending: For Asamoah, run defending is a trait that he flashes high-level plays, but he is inconsistent. Asamoah is capable of properly following his run keys and flowing to the ball-carrier to make the tackle. But, at times, he has eye violations where he reads the wrong keys and it results in him being out of position, compromising the integrity of the defense. Asamoah, at times, will also flow too hard to the direction of the play and give up cut-back opportunities to the ball-carrier. At the next level, Asamoah will need to improve eye discipline and patience in order to become a reliable three-down linebacker.
Block Deconstruction: Asamoah has multiple techniques that he uses to deconstruct blocks. He’s able to utilize is his long arms by quickly shooting them and shedding the offensive lineman off of him to make the tackle. He is able to dip and rip under offensive linemen, avoiding full contact with them to get to the ball-carrier. While Asamoah is effective at deconstructing blocks, he needs to become more consistent. There are many instances where he allows the offensive lineman to get into his chest plate and it’s hard for him to disengage with them.
Lateral Mobility: Asamoah is a quick-twitch athlete that has good lateral mobility shown by his ability to quickly flow sideline to sideline. Against the run, Asamoah is able to quickly scrape sideline to sideline effortlessly. Asamoah can also flow one direction and then quickly redirect to another direction.
Flexibility: There are many examples of Asamoah’s flexibility throughout his game. Asamoah is an effective blitzer and this is because he is able to sink his hips and dip and rip under offensive linemen to get pressure on the quarterback. His flexibility also shows in his quick reaction laterally. Asamoah can effortlessly change direction in explosive bursts due to his fluid hips.
Leadership: As the inside linebacker for the Sooner defense, Asamoah is a great communicator. There are numerous examples of him calling the defense and aligning teammates into the proper gap. He is also a high-effort player, so he leads by example in giving high effort throughout the duration of the game.
Versatility: At Oklahoma, Asamoah played primarily the MIKE linebacker position, but he has the athletic traits to play multiple positions in a 4-3 scheme. Early in his NFL career, Asamoah may be best suited as a WILL linebacker where he can play in space and flow freely. He will also excel in situations where he is asked to cover RBs and TEs in one-on-one situations. Asamoah is a natural linebacker but his athleticism will allow for a team to place him in multiple positions.
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Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network:
Scouting reports take all observations about a player and compartmentalize them into simple paragraphs and sections. But sometimes, when sifting through these observations, you lose the sense of where and when these observations were noted.
For a few prospects, it’s more important than others. Some players have a linear progression and don’t develop much through a season, either due to stagnation or pre-existing dominance. But others show immense growth from their first to last game in a given year. That needs to be a part of their profile. And that’s what Asamoah showed in 2021.
Asamoah’s athletic profile
While Asamoah has shown immense growth over the past year, one thing has always remained static in his evaluation: athleticism. Asamoah may be one of the best athletes in this linebacker class, and that’s saying a lot. The Oklahoma LB is highly explosive and flashes freaky range. He can close ground quickly and run-down offensive players from behind as they turn up field. When he finally triggers and closes on plays, Asamoah can hit an impressive second gear.
The Oklahoma LB gears up incredibly quickly in short spaces, but there’s more to his game than straight-line explosiveness. Asamoah is a smooth and spry lateral athlete. He’s light on his feet and an easy mover in space with twitchy corrective athleticism. He can change directions easily and adjust leverage on the fly. Moreover, Asamoah has exceptionally fluid hips for his size. He can quickly transition and chase, and he can also sink his hips into transitions with minimal lateral stiffness.
Asamoah’s athleticism translates incredibly well in all phases. The Oklahoma LB has the explosiveness to be disruptive on the blitz, but he also has the athleticism to feign rushes and shade out into zone coverage. In the box, Asamoah has the lateral agility and burst to adjust his tackling angles on short notice. He can leverage his burst into contact force and use his proportionally long frame and strong upper body to consistently wrap up as a tackler.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Asamoah has everything you want athletically, but the most exciting part of his scouting report is that he visibly developed over the course of 2021. When he’s patient, he flashes great processing ability, as he’s able to diagnose plays and close in with quickness. The Sooners product seemed to improve at patiently reading plays in 2021 — an ability that will be vital in the NFL.
Going further, Asamoah knows how to use his traits once he’s dialed in on plays. In run defense, he generally takes good angles in the box. He can identify ball carriers and swerve in for stops. He flashes physicality coming downhill, and he’s willing to blow up blocks and disrupt running lanes. Furthermore, Asamoah has shown that he can read blocks, surge into lanes, and wall off runners with his frame. He’s able to use targeted physicality and micro-movements to pry himself past blockers.
In pass defense, Asamoah’s upside is tantalizing. The Oklahoma LB’s feet are fast and sudden, and he can quickly bounce off his backpedal and close on opponents. He actively adjusts his hip alignment in zone coverage to maximize leverage against routes around him, and he can peel off in coverage and engage underneath routes with force. Asamoah does a fairly good job following the quarterback’s eyes, and he can use his lateral agility to shield receivers. He can also identify swing routes and erase them.
Among other things, Asamoah is urgent in pursuit and a fiery competitor. He’s shown he can wrap up and bring down comparable players without help. Additionally, he has the versatility to occasionally shade out as an overhang slot defender in some alignments.
Areas for improvement
Asamoah’s linear growth is incredibly encouraging, and it’s something you can capitalize on early if you’re an NFL team. But the Oklahoma LB still has room to be more consistent in a few areas. In his less inspiring processing moments, Asamoah needs to do a better job watching the ball. He can be easily misled by play fakes, and he can be over-aggressive and give up running lanes by trying to surge into the backfield. Like many young linebackers, Asamoah still needs a better balance of patience and decisiveness.
Moving ahead, Asamoah can be more proactive and aggressive in red-zone situations, where there isn’t as much time to hesitate. He can also find better gap discipline at times, as he doesn’t always maintain his positioning in run defense. The Oklahoma defender can get re-routed by blocks in the open field retreats up field to evade blocks at times, playing himself out of position. Asamoah’s slightly lighter frame can make it difficult for him to disengage second-level blocks. When linemen latch on, it can be hard for him to break free.
Asamoah’s positioning can improve at times as well. The Oklahoma LB can take better angles in the open field to get around blocks. Furthermore, he overshoots tackling angles at times, losing his balance when he tries to recover. Asamoah gives up too much cushion in zone coverage occasionally, and he can be late to break when shadowing routes, sitting down in zones too early.
Finally, Asamoah can stand to get a little stronger at the NFL level. He also has room to add to his pass-rushing arsenal.
Asamoah’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
An important question to ask in scouting is, “Does a player lack the capacity to perform a certain task, or does he have the capacity but lack consistency?” Asamoah proved this season that he has the capacity to do most of what a linebacker needs to do — athletically and mentally. He has the lateral agility and twitch to maintain positioning in tight spaces. He’s physical and abrupt as a playmaker in congestion. And yet, when he flips his hips, he has near-elite pursuit speed and range toward the sideline.
Mentally, things are trending up for Asamoah as well. Early on in 2021, he was too aggressive and pre-emptive with his movements at times, and he’d play himself out of position often. He may have over-corrected a bit later in the year, as he sometimes appeared too tentative. But Asamoah clearly made a note to be more patient and consistent when reading plays.
Linebackers shouldn’t fully commit to a play until they know what they’re seeing. Quick processing is necessary to trigger with speed and not to lose ground while reading. Slowly but surely, Asamoah has improved there. He’s shown the necessary processing capacity, and he’s a near-elite athlete with all the necessary traits, physicality, and competitive edge.
At the moment, Asamoah is in the middle of a strong crop of linebackers in the Day 2 range. But if he tests well and stands out at the Senior Bowl, he could surge into the top 50. He’s a stellar fit as a 4-3 WILL or SAM or a 3-4 ILB, but he could grow to become a MIKE as well.
Asamoah’s Player Profile
College scouting departments have their work cut out for them. Everyone wants the four-star and five-star guys, but the truth is, there aren’t enough of them to go around. Sooner or later, you have to dig deeper — into the massive pool of three-stars, two-stars, and others. That’s where finding diamonds in the rough becomes a true skill.
Oklahoma found one such diamond in 2018 when they signed Asamoah. The Columbus, Ohio native was a mere three-star recruit with a 4.91 40-yard dash on record. Still, a 33.4-inch vertical showcased unearthed athletic upside. At the time, he was an under-the-radar signing, but Asamoah would eventually grow to be a valuable part of the Sooners defense.
Asamoah’s career at Oklahoma
Coming into college at just over 200 pounds, Asamoah needed a redshirt year to better prepare for the collegiate stage. The Oklahoma LB sat out in 2018. Afterward, he came into the fold as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He logged valuable experience as a rotational LB and special teams player, racking up 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a deflection.
Asamoah’s quick growth led the Sooners to name him a starter in 2020. He started nine of 11 games. Along the way, he registered 66 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 4 pass deflections, and a forced fumble — all while earning second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors.
Asamoah’s raw talent shined through in 2020, but the 2021 campaign was a massive step forward in his development as a complete football player. Asamoah led Oklahoma with 80 total tackles and logged 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and 2 forced fumbles. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and also earned second-team All-Big 12 honors alongside fellow linebacker Nik Bonitto and DT Perrion Winfrey.
Asamoah earned 11 tackles and a sack in a loss against Oklahoma State, which would be his final game as a Sooner. Ahead of Oklahoma’s bowl game — the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon — Asamoah announced that he’d be declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. At that moment, he opted out of postseason play and began preparation.
Asamoah’s NFL Draft ascension
There’s still work for Asamoah to do, even after his successful 2021 campaign. Nevertheless, the best is yet to come for the Oklahoma LB. He can still become a more consistent processor and proactive playmaker in coverage and against the run. But all the athletic tools are there for Asamoah to be an NFL starter. And if he keeps growing, he can become a productive one.
Round 1 is likely too rich for Asamoah. However, in the Day 2 range, he can rise from late Round 3 to Round 2 with a strong offseason. Testing well will confirm his athletic potential. Meanwhile, an appearance at the Senior Bowl will also be crucial. There, he can show his coverage prowess against tight ends and face running backs in blocking drills. If Asamoah makes use of those opportunities, he can become a top-50 pick.
FIT WITH THE VIKINGS
Asamoah will likely begin as a backup linebacker and core special teams player for the Vikings, as he gets acclimated to the NFL behind Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks. He could use to add a bit more weight- 5 or 10 more pounds is realistic without subtracting much from his athletic performance- and could be accomplished by the end of training camp potentially. Beyond his initial fit, however, Asamoah has the potential and ceiling to replace Eric Kendricks. How soon that will happen is a question mark, but that appears to be the Vikings’ goal for him and the primary reason for drafting him early in the third round.
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