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Why the Ravens drafted David Ojabo

The Baltimore Ravens selected David Ojabo with the No. 45 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens drafted University of Michigan edge David Ojabo with the No. 45 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Ojabo, who is recovering from an Achilles injury he sustained during his March pro day, was a second-team AP All-American under former Michigan Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald who has taken that same role with the Ravens. With all of that in mind, let’s dig into why the Ravens drafted the former Wolverine pass rusher.

Ojabo was a projected first round pick before suffering the Achilles injury and is now reunited with Macdonald, as well as former high school teammate Odafe Oweh. Considering his injury, as well as the fact that Ojabo needs to continue development when stacking and leveraging blockers against the run, his projection into Baltimore’s defense isn’t as difficult as it could’ve been if he were drafted elsewhere. Not having to learn a new defensive system and the terminology that goes with it will allow Ojabo to get up to speed as quickly as possible once he’s healthy enough. He will already have a concrete understanding of assignments and his responsibilities, making Baltimore the easiest transition possible for the soon to be 22-year-old. That likely gives Baltimore the most confidence of Ojabo being a “hit” in the draft considering how successful he was in that same role, removing a bit of projection.

That’s all nice and dandy, but the main reason the Ravens drafted Ojabo is because he can flat out whoop offensive tackles with a lethal combination of get-off, bend and reactionary counters when tackles overset. The Nigerian by way of Scotland plays with length and translates pressures into sacks frequently with a strong understanding of how to seal himself beyond blockers relative to the quarterback’s location.

The second round pick marries his knees and elbows as pistons when he gets off the ball and loves to use hesi and euro step setups to put tackles in a panic, forcing them to strike first. Ojabo is flexible and can separate his upper and lower half to get skinny and reduce the strike zone for a tackle to land their punch while keeping his feet under him. His long strides eat up ground when running the arc as he dips his shoulders around blockers. Because of his rare movement skills, plan, length and quick processing, Ojabo can pull off moves that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Ojabo needs to continue adding functional strength, especially in his lower half, but is still sudden, long and explosive enough to convert speed to power and keep tackles honest. In terms of versatility, Ojabo dropped into coverage 58 times for Michigan in 2021 and possesses loose hips, awesome pursuit/closing speed and hustles his tail off to track down ball carriers away from the play.

Overall, Baltimore took a shot on someone they’re very familiar with. Ojabo has as much upside as a pass rusher as anyone in this class. The array of outcomes for Ojabo, coming off of a major injury and still needing some development, is extremely wide. The Ravens chose to swing for the fences in hopes that they have found another athletic nightmare to bookend Odafe Oweh and aim to find the pass rushing duo that they’ve desired for years.