In reality, a rare few have the talent to play early in their careers at the top FBS programs. Most prospects have to bide their time, wait their turn, and work in the less endearing shadows. It took a long time for Notre Dame defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji to earn his chance, but now that he has, he’s a legitimate NFL Draft prospect.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive End
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’4 3/8″
- Weight: 256 pounds
- Wingspan: 85 3/8″
- Arm: 35 1/4″
- Hand: 9 5/8″
Tony Pauline’s Adetokunbo Ogundeji Scouting Report
Positives: Large, explosive pass rusher who flashes ability on occasion. Strong, gets leverage on opponents and keeps his feet moving. Possesses a solid build, is forceful up the field and shows the ability to bend off the edge. Keeps his feet off blocks, stays with the action, and possesses a closing burst.
Negatives: Must improve his playing balance. Slow locating the ball. Very inconsistent.
Analysis: There were times the past two seasons when Ogundeji displayed himself as a dominant force upfront for Notre Dame and looked like a terrific next-level prospect. There were also times when he was very streaky and disappeared for stretches. The bottom line is that Ogundeji comes with a terrific amount of upside as well as growth potential and could develop into a starting defensive lineman in the NFL. Or he could bounce from team to team and never meet expectations.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji Player Profile
Adetokunbo Ogundeji’s football journey began in high school. It is there where the Notre Dame defensive end was a rising player based in Walled Lake, Michigan. A season-ending knee injury in his senior season threatened to erode Ogundeji’s stock, but his talent was still recognized in the 2016 recruiting class.
Rated as a three-star recruit by ESPN, Ogundeji was only the 63rd-best defensive end in the country. His vertical jump over 30 inches spoke of explosive potential, but his 40-yard dash below five seconds implied speed concerns. Despite that, Ogundeji received interest. He had more opportunistic offers from teams like Toledo, Buffalo, Miami University, and Pittsburgh. But the interest was only mutual in the case of Notre Dame.
Ogundeji would have to work harder to receive a recurring role. But that wasn’t a problem for the Notre Dame signee. In fact, that was part of the plan.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji’s career as a Notre Dame defensive end
In his first season, Ogundeji did not see the field. The Notre Dame defensive end was still getting back to 100 percent after injuring his knee. Still, he managed to help on the scout team down the stretch. He also packed on weight for his impending opportunity. As long as Ogundeji worked, that opportunity would come.
The 2017 season was another waiting year. Ogundeji appeared in five games for the Fighting Irish, but it was mainly on special teams. Ogundeji didn’t log any stats, and he went into his redshirt sophomore season still seeking to make the long-awaited leap.
The Notre Dame defensive end was only a rotational player in 2018, but he finally got his chance to flash. In limited playing time, Ogundeji earned 25 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
Ogundeji’s rise to a starting role
After getting a chance to show off his traits, Ogundeji saw his role increase on defense. He still wasn’t a full-time starter in 2019, but he managed to start once and saw action in all 13 games. Over that stretch, Ogundeji logged 26 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Ahead of the 2020 season, defensive linemen Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara left for the NFL Draft. That left the door open for players like Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes to emerge. Ogundeji, having waited four years for his shot, made the most of it. In ten games, the Notre Dame defensive end amassed 20 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and a forced fumble.
After Notre Dame’s first-round playoff loss at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ogundeji declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. He also accepted an invite to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. There he will have one more valued opportunity to put his talents on display.
Analyzing Adetokunbo Ogundeji’s NFL Draft profile
Right away, it’s clear that Adetokunbo Ogundeji has some high upside traits. He’s 6-foot-4, 268 pounds, with impressive length and power. Those two traits work together to enhance his game overall. Ogundeji’s length serves him well in all phases. He’s able to bat aside offensive line moves and set the edge in run defense, and his lower body strength helps to facilitate.
In addition to his size and frame, Ogundeji also has a few plus athletic traits. He can be more consistent with his explosiveness, but his room for quick acceleration is certainly there. He’s more of a long-strider around the edge than a pure speed rusher. Regardless, he has enough short-area burst to gain leverage early against less athletic blockers. Further inside, that burst can put pressure on interior linemen.
Building on his natural traits, Ogundeji has also shown progress with his hand technique. With his length and power, he can club linemen, and he certainly shows flashes of violent hand usage. He can be more consistent disengaging with linemen, but again, the capacity is there.
What are the issues with Adetokunbo Ogundeji?
Ogundeji has a lot of solid traits, and he’s adding pass rushing moves to his arsenal. His athletic profile isn’t complete, however.
While Ogundeji has good explosion in spurts, he struggles to carry his speed through the rep consistently. He’s a high-motor rusher who brings plenty of juice, but he doesn’t have quite enough speed around the edge to get quick pressure on a regular basis. This impacts his ability in pursuit as well.
Additionally, Ogundeji lacks some of the traits that serve to compliment explosiveness. He’s fairly stiff in his upper body, and he doesn’t have a ton of ankle flexion. The Notre Dame defensive end doesn’t showcase the ability to shrink his surface area as he accelerates. That will be a mitigating factor for his upside at the NFL level. Ogundeji lacks a lot of speed rushing traits, and his power isn’t yet at the point where he can win with power alone.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
It’ll be interesting to see how Adetokunbo Ogundeji projects to the next level, once he’s selected in the NFL Draft. He’s fairly young for a redshirt senior. He also has some foundational traits that allude to untapped upside. Having said that, the NFL is trending toward more bend and speed around the edge. Ogundeji doesn’t quite meet the mark in those areas.
While Ogundeji’s profile is somewhat limited as a pass rusher on the outside, he could be fairly productive as a hybrid EDGE who rotates to the interior on pass-rushing reps. Ogundeji’s best traits — explosiveness, power, and length — translate well to a straight-line, gap-rushing role. He’s shown flashes in his limited interior reps at Notre Dame.
Going even further, a full-time transition might not be out of the question. Ogundeji packed on over 50 pounds without losing his athleticism. Perhaps he can get to 280 or 285 and add even more power to his game. In that scenario, he’d be a versatile 3-4 defensive end with potential in 4-3 schemes as well.
Where might Ogundeji go, and to what team?
I’m a big fan of Ogundeji’s upside. As of now, however, he seems like an early-to-mid Day 3 pick, given his lack of role definition at the next level. He’ll likely progress through the draft process as a defensive end. However, his projected versatility and inside utility adds to his appeal.
For teams like the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and San Francisco 49ers, the Notre Dame defensive end offers early-down ability. He’s also versatile on pass-rushing plays. And for teams like the Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers, he could be a solid hybrid end.
Ogundeji’s stock isn’t set in stone, however. At the Senior Bowl, he’ll have a chance to elevate his stock. And although offseason testing will be very different this offseason, Ogundeji might still have a chance to showcase his upside at a pro day. Even if he doesn’t go before Day 3, Ogundeji will have an NFL future. And along the way, he should only come across more opportunities to grow.
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