Michigan’s David Ojabo went from an unheard member of a team coming off of a 2-4 season to a superstar on a team that made the College Football Playoff. It’s amazing what a year can do to a player. Ojabo is a raw, but talented edge rusher who dominated this year, totaling eleven sacks on the season. He did play second fiddle to Aidan Hutchinson, a Heisman finalist, but was named a member of the All-Big 12 team. As he continues to grow and learn more about the game, there’s no reason Ojabo can’t become one of the best pass rushers in the league. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with a few All-Pro’s when it’s all said and done.
Ojabo has athleticism you just can’t teach. What he lacks in experience and knowledge of the game, he makes up for in pure talent. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, Ojabo is a freak of nature and is in the mold of many of the top defensive ends in the NFL in terms of physical talent. When at his best, he was unblockable. It didn’t matter if he went to the inside, outside, or right through you, there was no way an offensive lineman could keep him in front. Of course, he did have Aidan Hutchinson opposite of him so Ogabo didn’t see many double teams. That could change in the NFL, but he will continue to adapt and get better.
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Ojabo didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school as he spent his early years in Nigeria and Scotland. He is just scratching the surface of what he can become as a player and the term “getting better every game” is as true as it can get for Ojabo. He might need a season or two to become a big-time player (more on this later), but in terms of potential, Ojabo is a top three or four prospect in this class.
A former high school state champion in the 100-meter dash, Ojabo’s burst is legendary. Seriously, it’s some of the best you’ll ever see in a defensive end. He’s best-suited as a 3-4 defensive end, where he can stand up and his first step is to go right by the tackle. However, even if he is in a three-point stance, he channels his track background and shoots out of his stance like a cannon. Ojabo will create one-on-one mismatches right away due to his speed and get off.
Pass Rush Counter Moves
A common theme in this section will be a result of Ojabo’s lack of experience. One main thing that he has trouble with is reacting to what the offensive tackle is giving him as a pass rusher. Typically Ojabo has great burst and a solid plan for his first move, but if that’s shut down then he lacks a counter move. Because of this, too many times was he stood up and got absolutely no penetration.
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Ojabo is young and is still trying to develop his body to handle physical linemen. He honestly hasn’t spent much time in the weight room compared to many other college football players, so there is room for optimism. However as I’ll get into later as well, Ojabo might not be ready to produce right away. Of course, since he’s so skilled he might be able to, but he’s a guy who can project in year three as a double-digit sack guy.
Just remember, the guy you see in year one won’t be the guy you see in year three or four. Any organization has to be patient in developing a very talented individual.
I’m very high on Ojabo and believe that he should be a top-ten pick this year. I tend to like players who have such a high upside due to their physical gifts but also produced at a high level in college. As mentioned earlier, I think he fits best as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and ideally one that has other quality pass rushers around him. There are several teams early in round one that do need not only defensive talent but ones who can get to the quarterback. He doesn’t have the all-around game like teammate Aidan Hutchinson, but you could argue that they have comparable ceilings, which is thrilling for the team who drafts him.