David Ojabo could be the the athlete the Broncos need to improve their underwhelming pass rush

David Ojabo, LB, Michigan
David Ojabo, LB, Michigan Syndication Detroit Free Press

After a midseason trade that included franchise legend Von Miller and an injury to the former fifth overall pick in Bradley Chubb, the Broncos pass rush was severely lacking for the majority of the 2021 season. Luckily for the Broncos, it is now the offseason and this upcoming draft class has no shortage of top-flight pass rushers at the edge position.

The class is headlined by two of college football’s most feared defenders in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson, but it would not be wise to overlook Hutchinson’s teammate, Michigan’s David Ojabo, who has a better chance of being on the board when Denver is slated to pick.

Positives

If there is one position where you should bet on the physical makeup of a player, it is the edge position. This is a department in which Ojabo massively excels.

Starting with his frame, Ojabo stands at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds with the necessary length that is coveted by NFL scouts. While clearing the physical benchmarks that are sought after in the NFL, what makes him truly ridiculous is the athleticism contained within that remarkable frame.

Ojabo will be a player the casual football fan will fall in love with after the combine. As a former high school prep state title winner in the 100m dash, this should be no surprise, but what is exciting is just how much of it you can see on the football field. While watching his college film, it would be hard to miss just how exceptional his speed, agility, and flexibility all are. These are all things that have translated to his very productive one year as a starter.

New to football, Ojabo was born in Nigeria, moved to Scotland, and then made another move to America for high school, before starting his football journey in the 11th grade.

After all of that, this prior season was his first year as a collegiate starter, which makes the amount of production he had, ridiculous. Finishing the season with 12 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles, Ojabo burst on the scene, moving up draft boards in a hurry.

This lack of experience with the tools Ojabo has gives him a ton of room to grow and makes his ceiling extraordinarily high. Despite the lack of football he has played, he is growing as a player every game, which should ease some worries about the kinks he has shown in his overall body of work.

He is not all upside though, as he has already developed plenty in this time to get to the stage where he can be considered one of the best edge defenders in this class. Specifically, when rushing the passer, Ojabo has picked up plenty of nuances to make him deadly when getting after the quarterback.

Using a plethora of moves including an outside rip and inside spin, Ojabo has enough in his toolbox to be a productive pass rusher early in his career. With that being said, the most deadly weapon Ojabo has is his speed rush. When Ojabo is given the leash to simply pin his ears back, keep the tackle’s hands off of him, and bend, Ojabo is a nightmare to block.

Once at the quarterback, Ojabo is always looking for the big play. A small nuance the average fan may not notice, he has a knack for attacking the football. This is something you often see even seasoned pass rushers forget, making what he could become that much more exciting.

As a run defender, Ojabo’s most impressive trait is the range he has is in pursuit. When going down the line of scrimmage, Ojabo can simply make plays other edge prospects cannot. Not only because of how fast he is but because it is paired with his length, giving him a very large tackling radius.

Negatives

Being so new to football, Ojabo is still learning and it can be noticeable.

This is especially true as a run defender, where Ojabo is still a work in progress. Stacking and deconstructing blocks is the area in which Ojabo struggles the most, and it severely limits his impact in that facet of the game. At the end of the day, Ojabo will have to improve here to be an every-down player and maximize his insane potential.

Early on, this issue could limit Ojabo to more of a pass rush specialist role. While this is a role he could thrive in, fans should limit their expectations early on, giving Ojabo time to improve his technique.

Another area of improvement can come in Ojabo’s hand usage and ability to strike properly. While it isn’t severe enough to be a huge¬†negative, Ojabo’s play strength already is not something to write home about, making the ability to strike properly that much more important. Luckily, strides have been made through the 2021 season but it is not yet perfect.

Verdict 

With a unique blend of size, agility, speed, and bend, Ojabo has the makings to be a double-digit sack artist on the team he is drafted by. Edge prospects with the tools Ojabo has are hard to find and typically go early by the time the draft rolls around.

However, he is nowhere near perfect.

Ojabo is raw in plenty of areas and may be best suited to be a pass rush specialist early in his professional career. More than Thibodeaux or Hutchinson, Ojabo is a player a team would be smart to be patient with, letting his skills develop. With that being said, teams should be looking at every player they draft as investments rather than pigeonholing these prospects on what they are now.

Specifically for the Broncos, a lot will depend on who they hire as head coach and what that coach implements as their defensive scheme, but there is no doubt that Ojabo is deserving to be drafted right around where the Broncos are selecting, in the top 10. For a team desperately looking for pass rush help, Ojabo could fill in nicely, giving them a more consistent way to get after the quarterback.

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