2022 Draft: Michigan’s David Ojabo should be at top of list if Cowboys go shopping for edge-rush help

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The Dallas Cowboys will have many important decisions to make this offseason, one of which how they will address the defensive end position. The primary concern is the free agency of defensive end Randy Gregory, who had six sacks in 12 games but backup Dorance Armstrong, Jr. chipped in with five sacks in 13 contests himself. Gregory was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, but has been suspended for 21 games in that time frame in addition to being made inactive in six more of them.

Gregory has had his struggles off the field related to marijuana, but with the NFL relaxing their rules, it appears he has finally put them behind him and is able to simply focus on football. Armstrong, a former fourth-round pick, finally was able to put it all together under the tutelage of Dan Quinn and DL coach Aden Durde. Did the season both had possibly price either or both of them out of Dallas’ range?

If that’s the case, the good news is that edge rusher is one of the deepest positions in the 2022 NFL draft class. Michigan’s David Ojabo could still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock at the end of the first round, so a film study is a necessary piece of the offseason to-do list.

Measurables and Stats

Listed Height: 6-foot-5

Listed Weight: 250 pounds

Games Played in 2021: 13

Jersey Number: 55

Tackles: 36 total tackles, 25 solo tackles, 12 tackles for loss

Impact Plays: 11 sacks, 3 pass deflections, 5 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery

Film Study Information

Games Watched:

Wisconsin (2021), Michigan State (2021), Penn State (2021), Georgia (2021)

Best Game:

Wisconsin (2021)

Worst Game:

Georgia (2021)

Physical Skills Evaluation

First Step: Isn’t always the most explosive out of his stance, but gets to top gear very quickly, forces tackles up in their pass protection arch quickly.

Bend: Has some real bend to his game. Has the necessary ankle flexion to bend the corner, and dip and rip through a tackles arms.

Motor/Effort/Physicality: High motor player, chases ball carriers down to the sideline. Doesn’t give up on a pass rush and benefits from a cleanup sacks as he has Hutchinson rushing opposite of him.

Lateral Mobility: Very light on his feet, effective on twists and stunts. Can change which gap or shoulder he is attacking in a moments notice. Can rush standing up or with his hand in the dirt. Diagnoses play action bootlegs quickly and chases down the ball carrier. Can make up for missed containments on the backside. Lateral mobility allows him to stab inside and counter with a lethal spin move. Clear and decisive about picking a pursuit point to meet the ball carrier at.

Athletic Ability: Very athletic player, has no problem rushing with his hand in the dirt or standing up. Possess natural hip coil. Has crazy good closing speed.

Play Strength: Would label him more as a finesse rusher but that doesn’t mean he is no slouch when it comes to his power.

Performance Evaluation

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Hand Usage: Fantastic hand usage. Has a full arsenal of pass rush moves and counters. Moves I’ve seen include the dip and rip, spin, two hand swipe. The key to his success seems to be getting hands on the OT first, if he does that he usually wins or causes some kind of pressure.

Pass Rush Plan: Sets up tackles over the course of the game with his pass rush plan. Attacks with a clear and concise plan. Capable of adjusting it if he gets shut down for a play or two. Gets tackles leaning one way before he counters to his spin. Strings together moves very well. Can give stutter steps and hesitation steps in his pass rush. n:

Run Defense/Anchor: Able to stand up and offensive tackle and set the edge vs the run. Forces the QB to make a decision on read options, explodes towards the ball carrier either way. Isn’t on the field on obvious run downs or for bear fronts. Has the arm length and utilizes it well to two gap. Doesn’t always keep the best containment on runs that bounce backside but has enough lateral ability to make up for it.

Versatility: Versatility is no concern for Ojabo, can have success as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB. 0 concerns here. Even saw him take a rep at MLB. Saw him drop in coverage and cover shallow hooks. Doesn’t have the weight to hold up inside, best suited as an outside rusher.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: Bendy rusher, very athletic. Can rush with his hand in the dirt or standing up. Has plus lateral ability. High motor player, has a wide toolbox of pass rush moves.

Weaknesses: Functional strength is a bit of a concern, was often subbed off on obvious running situations. Has the length to two gap, but not sure he’s strong enough to hold his own against a pulling guard or a crashing tackle.

Fit with the Cowboys

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By the time the Cowboys are on the clock, Ojabo will most likely have been long gone, but players do fall for unexpected reasons, so the need for due diligence is there. If he was somehow to slip into the Cowboys lap, he would be the perfect replacement for Gregory.

Dallas found a steal in Micah Parsons, and they could potentially move him to a full-time edge role, but should next year’s coordinator (be it Dan Quinn or someone new) want to keep his insane versatility, then a full-time edge solution opposite DeMarcus Lawrence will be necessary.

Ojabo has active hands, a wide toolbox of pass-rush moves and is loose in the hips. He can bend the edge with finesse or use his arsenal of moves to win in a more refined way.

Ojabo projects as a first-year starter and a high-impact player who would no-doubt flourish if given the opportunity to rush opposite of Lawrence on a regular basis.

Prospect Grade

First Step (15)

13

Lateral Mobility (10)

9.8

Bend (10)

9

Run Defense/Anchor (10)

8.75

Hand Usage (10)

9

Athletic Ability (10)

9.2

Pass Rush Plan (10)

9

Strength (10)

8.2

Motor/Effort/Physicality (5)

4.75

Versatility (10)

9.2

Final Grade:

90.50, 1st round player

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