There’s an edge rusher who’s consistently wreaked havoc on opposing offensive linemen this season. He plays for the Michigan Wolverines and could be an early first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. I’m sure you know who I’m talking about. No, it isn’t Aidan Hutchinson. I’m talking about Michigan DE David Ojabo — a player whose scouting report has his draft stock soaring late in the season.
David Ojabo NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive end
- School: Michigan
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 250 pounds
David Ojabo Scouting Report
If you didn’t know who Ojabo was before the season, I wouldn’t have blamed you. Coming into his true junior season, Ojabo had no sacks and just 1 tackle to his name — a true 2022 NFL Draft sleeper. Now, however, there’s no excuse not to know Ojabo’s name because he absolutely tore apart his competition in 2021.
Through the first eight games, Ojabo logged 7 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 3 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He recorded 2 sacks — including a strip-sack — in a close loss to the Michigan State Spartans. And a couple weeks later, he did the same against Penn State.
Ojabo is a talented edge rusher who generates game-changing plays in game-defining moments. But how does he profile as a 2022 NFL Draft prospect? Is the first-round hype warranted?
Let’s take a closer look.
David Ojabo’s athletic profile
Right away, Ojabo’s high-level physical tools stand out on tape. He might end up being a freakier athlete than Aidan Hutchinson, who was on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” this past offseason. At 6’5″, 250 pounds, Ojabo has impressive length and a fairly dense frame. That length provides a dangerous conduit for power. Additionally, he uses that length proactively to produce turnovers and disrupt passers in structure.
Ojabo’s frame is made even more dangerous by the exceptional athleticism contained within it. He has top-tier explosiveness off the snap, and he also has great torso flexibility. He can accelerate quickly while reducing his surface area and pinching the corner. Furthermore, he has a devastating ghost move, with which he uses his burst and contortion to shade by tackles with minimal contact.
Ojabo is an incredibly twitchy and energetic rusher, in addition to his contortion ability. He possesses elite lateral agility, which helps him keep an effective spin move in his arsenal. He can hit a rare second gear with his speed around the edge, and his speed and length combine for dangerous range.
What’s even more impressive is that Ojabo has shown he knows how to combine elements of speed, power, and bend in rapid succession. He can keep his balance while flexing and contorting, and he’s flashed legitimate multitasking ability in a small sample size.
Execution beyond the physical traits
As of right now, many of Ojabo’s wins are a product of his physical traits alone. Nevertheless, that only makes his peak potential even more exciting. Already, Ojabo is producing at a high clip — and he isn’t even close to his ceiling from an executional standpoint. The flashes that are there, however, are promising.
First off, Ojabo displays a hot motor, though not quite as consistently hot as Hutchinson’s. Once in pursuit, his length and explosiveness make him hard to evade. He also has scary range in run support. In pursuit, he can swoop down on ball carriers with his burst and wingspan, and he’s shown he can take effective angles in space as well.
In run defense, Ojabo can absorb opposing power and stand his ground — something his length and flexibility allow him to do. He can also latch onto opposing linemen and rip down their anchors with force. Those glimpses of extra physicality prove that the Michigan DE has three-down potential.
Moving to Ojabo’s pass rushing, the Wolverine DE also shows glimpses of targeted hand usage. He’s shown he can time hand swipes effectively and capitalize on the displacement gained by his natural traits. Ojabo’s growth is also exciting. He improved each week in 2021, seemingly adding more rushing moves to his arsenal with each passing game. That coveted linear progression will entice teams to invest in his development.
Areas for improvement
The upside is tantalizing with Ojabo, and there’s enough there that we don’t need to pump the breaks on the early-round talk. Still, there are clearly areas in which he can improve, and most revolve around the executional portion of his game.
Most notably, Ojabo’s hands are still a work in progress. The Michigan DE doesn’t always have a pass-rushing plan, and that lack of a plan can sap away at his momentum and exerted power. Moreover, his hands can stall quickly at times when he doesn’t win off his natural traits. He needs to be more consistent capitalizing on displacement, or his rushes fade out at the apex.
When Ojabo does actively utilize his hands, he doesn’t always strike cleanly. He can tuck his elbows more to maximize force. He can also improve his stance at times to incorporate more lean and potential energy, further maximizing his burst off the line. Additionally, Ojabo isn’t yet proficient at stacking counters. His play strength also isn’t elite. Thus, he can be suffocated by stronger tackles.
Among other things, Ojabo can be inconsistent in run defense as well, and he doesn’t play full-time in that phase. Furthermore, he’s not great at reading and reacting to option plays when unblocked. He can also improve his efficiency of motion in space at times.
David Ojabo’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
As draft evaluators, we’re supposed to analyze what prospects can be — not just what they are right now. The best part of Ojabo’s evaluation, however, is that he’s already a menace on the defensive line. And there’s still plenty of room for him to get better.
Physically, Ojabo checks every box you look for. In elite quantities, he’s proven to have explosiveness, lateral agility, flexibility, and length. He also has great power capacity, and he’s also shown he can multitask — using multiple traits at once to generate disruption.
That multitasking ability is rare, and vital in high-level pass rushers. And when you see it in such a talented player like Ojabo, it’s impossible to ignore.
There’s still much Ojabo can improve upon. As mentioned above, he can be inconsistent in both phases. Especially as a pass rusher, his hand usage has room for further refinement. But already, the Michigan DE has shown he can capitalize on his searing explosiveness with violent, calculated rushing moves. His elite physical profile and astronomical upside, combined with his constant growth in 2021, makes him worthy of early first-round consideration. He’s a top ten prospect on my board.
David Ojabo’s Player Profile
Ojabo draws attention in droves with his eye-popping pass-rushing reps. But his journey to football and through football is just as eye-opening, though in a different way.
Ojabo was born in Nigeria in 2000 and moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2007. He lived in Scotland until his high school years when he finally came to the United States. In high school, Ojabo quickly distinguished himself as an elite athlete. He was a track star, with a personal-best 100-meter dash time of 10.93 (for reference, Devin Hester had a 10.62 in college). Ojabo started playing football in 2017. And from there, he was hooked.
In testing drills during his recruiting cycle, Ojabo logged a 4.75 40-yard dash and a 33.3-inch vertical jump — impressive numbers for a 6’5″, 233-pound prospect who was still maturing. As a result, Ojabo earned four-star recruit status in the 2019 class. He fielded scholarship offers from Clemson, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Texas A&M. But Ojabo ultimately chose to don the Maize and Blue.
He signed with Michigan in July of 2018 and enrolled the following spring.
Ojabo’s career at Michigan
When Ojabo arrived at Ann Arbor, he quickly fell underneath a deep EDGE rotation. But the Michigan product didn’t let that discourage him. He worked hard behind the scenes and gained valuable experience on the scout team. At the end of the 2019 season, he was named Michigan’s Scout Team Player of the Year. That work led to game action the following season.
In 2020, Ojabo played in all six games, mainly as a special teamer. Although he only logged 1 tackle, he still gained valuable on-field experience in multiple phases. Along the way, he was able to earn Academic All-Big Ten honors. This year, however, Ojabo has made it clear that the NFL is in his future.
On a team that starts Hutchinson, Ojabo has broken out on his own accord. That’s not easy to do. He logged 11 sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 14 games, and declared for the 2022 NFL Draft after Michigan’s playoff loss to Georgia.
David Ojabo’s 2022 NFL Draft ascension
Ojabo has always had the talent. In high school, he was compared to Carlos Dunlap by Rivals. Ojabo himself tries to model his game after Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones. His talent has always been apparent, and in 2021, he applied it better than ever.
The hype around Ojabo has crescendoed to unforeseen levels. And now that he’s declared, he’s selling his stock at its highest point. The 22-year old is ready to ascend, and take his talents to the NFL.
Readiness, of course, is a relative term. Is Ojabo ready to go toe to toe with Trent Williams or David Bakhtiari? No, probably not. But he’s shown he can win against collegiate opponents on his physical traits alone. He’s shown he can apply rushing moves in conjunction with his physical traits. And he’s shown that, while he’s still somewhat unrefined, he has the capacity to grow.
Ojabo is ready to be an NFL player, and each week in 2021, he proved it one more way. In a stacked EDGE class, Ojabo could very well have one of the highest ceilings. He’s a worthwhile Round 1 investment for a team in need of a blue-chip pass rusher.