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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Ravens bank on upside of Odafe Oweh

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Jason Oweh
The Baltimore Ravens used their second first-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft on Odafe Oweh who is arguably the most athletic edge rusher in the entire draft. Joe Hortiz, Ravens director of college scouting was at Oweh’s Pro Day at Penn State and took notice of his explosive athleticism. Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Every year there are a few prospects that test extremely well and cause an NFL team to disregard a prospect’s lack of production in their college career. “He has all of the traits!” That’s what you’ll hear when teams explain why
they selected a player even though his collegiate resume isn’t exceptional.

This year, there wasn’t an NFL Combine for prospects like Odafe Jayson Oweh to show off his freakish athleticism. Oweh put all of his traits on display when he worked out at Penn State’s pro day. At 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds, Oweh posted a 4.39 second time in the 40-yard dash. He finished with a 39.5-inch vertical leap and broad jumped 134 inches. All of those numbers are eye popping.

Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz was at Oweh’s pro day and took notice.

“A lot of us didn’t have a chance to go out and see these guys physically,” Hortiz said after day one of the draft. “Myself and [outside linebackers coach] Drew Wilkins were there, and we were able to watch him perform right in front of us. To watch him bend— [to] watch him explode [and] to turn the corner through the bags, it was really impressive. It just kind of matched up with what you’re seeing on tape in terms of athleticism.”

The traits were clearly there for Oweh. However, not being able to get a single quarterback sack despite all of the speed and explosiveness was a concern for many draft analysts. Not for the Ravens, especially coach John Harbaugh.

“That’s something we talked about, but we also watched the tape. Then you look at his athletic ability, and just for that very fact, we feel like he’s a great fit in our defense,” Harbaugh said last Thursday. “He’s an aggressive player. He runs to the ball very fast. He’s in the backfield constantly. He’s knocking people back into the backfield. He’s beating tackles into the backfield. He runs things down from behind.”

Oweh wasn’t worried about not having a sack last season and how it could impact his draft status. He instead chose to point to other parts of his game that made him a well-rounded prospect.

“I knew that people that really understood and watched football, understand what I was doing out there, and that sacks weren’t where it ended with me. I was very disruptive; I caused a lot of havoc; I was very stout in the run game; I was beating my man; I was always there. So, people really understood that the zero sacks thing, that had no definition of who I was as a player,” Oweh said.

Oweh joins a group of pass rushers that includes Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser as likely starters. Both of those players are more powerful players and Oweh will add a speed element to the outside linebackers helping to round out the group.

Using a first-round pick on a player is a clear sign that the team feels they’ll get a boost by adding him to the roster. That’s a tall task but Oweh is up for the challenge.

“I’m ready to be everything I can be and unlock my full potential with Baltimore,” Oweh said.


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