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Amobi Okoye: Youth Shouldn't Be An Excuse Anymore

As I alluded here, I'm quickly losing my patience with Amobi Okoye. More accurately, I'm sick of hearing the same tired "He's Barely 22! Give Him Time!" defense that Jerome Solomon was trumpeting in the Chronicle a couple of days ago. Put me squarely in the Lance Zierlein camp. Per LZ's Twitter feed:

Can't wait for amobi to get older. He's going 2 be awesome when he grows up. Maybe not. Texans knew his age when they drafted him, right?

We get it. Amobi Okoye is young. Very young, in fact, for someone who's playing professional football. He's the same age as most rookies. Indeed, many players still toiling in college are the same age as him. All of this is true. It also shouldn't matter in this case.

The critical distinction is that Amobi Okoye is entering his third year in the NFL. That's the key. I don't care that he's 22 years old. It's not like his agent gave the Texans a break on the contract because Amobi was only 19 years old when he signed it. Far as I know, Amobi's contract does not include a clause that discounted his salary for the first few years because of his youth. He didn't do the Texans any favors by signing a deal with almost $13,000,000.00 in guaranteed money, $17,600,000.00 in total value, and a 12.6% increase over what the 10th player drafted in 2006 got. Amobi Okoye is getting big boy money. It's not unfair to ask for big boy production.

Now, if you want to chalk Amobi's underwhelming 2008 campaign up to nagging injuries, I'll listen to that argument. If you want to allege that he needs a planetoid defensive tackle next to him to fully take advantage of his skill set, I'm inclined to agree with you. Heck, you can even hit me with the notion that, to some degree, Amobi is a victim of his own success as a rookie (though that argument would seem to eviscerate any contention that Amobi's youth is somehow impeding him from being consistently productive as a Texan). In my mind, those are all fair talking points. Youth, though? I don't want to hear it anymore.

Wherever you come down on the issue, I think we can all agree on one thing: If Amobi has one more sack than a dead man AGAIN in 2009, your Houston Texans may have little choice but to address defensive tackle in the first round of the 2010 draft.