David Ojabo - EDGE - Michigan
Welcome to the rookie profile for David Ojabo. Ojabo, take a bow. It’s safe to say that none of us saw Ojabo’s meteoric rise over this past year and if you did predict this then I want to know what this week’s lottery numbers are. Ojabo has forced his way to becoming a guaranteed 1st round selection and perhaps a top 10 pick.
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 250 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.62s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
Michigan has given us another feel good story as a sequel to Kwity Paye from last year. David Ojabo was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK as a seven-year-old, later he made a brave decision to move to the US on his own at the age of fifteen. In high school Ojabo was a very good athlete playing basketball and soccer but struggled to make a breakthrough. It’s hard to believe that Ojabo had never played football until 2017 and tried out having seen what fellow pupil (Baltimore Ravens Odafe Oweh) was achieving on the gridiron.
Despite only playing one year of high school football, this didn’t stop Ojabo receiving a four-star recruiting grade, committing to Michigan. We didn’t see Ojabo take a defensive snap for Michigan until 2020 where he recorded one tackle in one game, unfortunately a visit to Scotland meant that due to COVID we didn’t see Ojabo return for three months and had to complete training sessions via Zoom. Having to compete for playing time against elite rushers such as Rashaan Gary, Kwity Paye and Aiden Hutchinson meant Ojabo had to be patient for his chance.
2021 was the year that nobody could have seen coming. Not only did Ojabo burst on to the scene, he obliterated it. Ojabo played 13 games and amassed 35 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 11.0 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. This led to second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors and has well and truly cementing Ojabo as a first-round draft talent.
Ojabo’s athleticism is extremely impressive as he has good speed as shown in high school, recording a 10.83 100m dash, combining this with his bend and length and a solid frame this allows him excellent explosiveness off the snap, his burst of speed allows him to escape tackles quickly. His explosiveness out of his stance is one of the most important skills when playing in the EDGE position, his bend is top notch and has shown time and time again in the past season his ability to get under tackles and beat them with his burst of speed. Ojabo uses his frame to hit hard and will rarely miss once he’s in the backfield, paired with his impressive radar in the pursuit allows him to get to ball carriers and quarterbacks very quickly. His athletic ability makes him a real mismatch against offensive lineman. Physically Ojabo ticks every box, expect him to blow up in the combine and move up draft boards.
Ojabo tends to make big money plays and force a lot of turnovers, something NFL scouts will love. Ojabo’s 2021 stats are rather deceiving as you’d think he was an every down kind of player, but he had to share playing time with Aiden Hutchinson and Dax Hill. Whenever Ojabo was on the field he made a huge impact; for instance out of his 11.0 sacks he forced a fumble on 5 occasions. Scouts will love that he already has a natural playmaking ability in the art of strip sacks.
Ojabo’s best fit in the NFL would be in a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker, especially having played most of his snaps from a two-point stance. Would also be a good fit in a 4-3 system as a defensive end, rotating him around a bit as he could tire out offensive tackles. This would also help keep Ojabo fresh and ready as a pass rusher where he could make a huge impact in the final quarter of games.
One of the glaringly obvious concerns for scouts will be a lack of experience and whether this past season was a ‘one off’ – personally I don’t think so and I can only see him getting better and better. He is far from the finished product but with his exciting abilities we’ve already seen, surely he can only keep improving on the foundations he’s built already, this is the question that scouts will be asking themselves
One element of Ojabo’s game that could seek improvement is in the pass rush plan, can rely too much on his athleticism and speed and whilst he’s winning a lot at the moment, a tackler that is ready for him is able to lock him up, something that in the NFL will happen much more often. Can rush too far up the field which allows a quarterback to simply step up.
Another area to keep an eye on; Ojabo spent a lot of time playing opposite Aiden Hutchinson and has rarely had to deal with double teams, this may see his productiveness in the stats column take a fall.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 1
Ojabo is one of the hardest players to predict as he’s such a raw talent, he could easily go in the top 10 of the first round or fall to the mid to late part of the first round.
I am basing this prediction on a team’s needs, picks and other players in this position that will be off the board. It’s likely we’ll see Thibodeaux and Hutchinson off the board before the Giants are on the clock. The Giants have a very talented and solid defense but have been underwhelming throughout the past year. How can the Giants defense improve in 2022? Quite simply by applying more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, this will then help the rest of the defense at every level. David Ojabo would improve this part of the Giants defense immediately, an excellent pass rusher with a very high ceiling.