It’s been over two weeks since the 2022 NFL draft concluded and the hype for the Baltimore Ravens’ impressive 11-man haul is still high. Often overly optimistic and sometimes unfair projections are placed on first-year players entering the league, before they even take a snap in the preseason.
With that in mind, the return of my annual realistic expectation article series has arrived.
EDGE David Ojabo
Round 2, No. 45 overall
The former Michigan Wolverine was a first-round lock and likely wouldn’t have fallen out of the Top-20 had he not suffered a torn Achilles at his Pro Day. He was frequently projected to land with the Ravens in countless mock drafts prior to his injury. The team’s brass even admitted that he would’ve been in strong consideration for the No. 14 overall selection had he been healthy.
While he certainly has the potential to be one of the greatest value picks of the draft, expecting him to recover in time to have a significant impact as a rookie isn’t very realistic. Contrary to what Los Angeles Rams’ running back Cam Akers’ quick return from the same injury last year suggests about the timeline, the Ravens will likely be overly cautious with Ojabo’s recovery
The more likely scenario that might play out will be that he misses most of and potentially all of his rookie year to ensure he makes a full recovery without the pressure of feeling rushed to get on the field. If he can return to his pre-injury and given the year of experience and familiarization that he already has with Ravens’ first-year Defensive Coordinator, Mike MacDonald’s scheme from their time in Ann Arbor, Ojabo will be set up to hit the ground running in year two.
The most optimistic view on a potential 2022 debut may be in late November or sometime in December, at the earliest, and his role would likely be limited to a situational pass rusher. In this case, he would probably see just a handful of snaps each game as the team makes their final push for the postseason and hopefully a division title.
Reuniting Ojabo with MacDonald and his former high school teammate, Odafe Oweh, is an investment that the Ravens might not see huge returns from until 2023. He possesses an extremely rare blend of speed, explosiveness, and athleticism that could make him a perennial double-digit sack artist when he is fully healthy. However, the odds of that happening in 2022 are slim to none.
Taking into account the timing of his injury, as well as and how long it will take to heal and build up the strength in his injured leg, patience will need to virtue exercised by all parties involved. The Ravens have another outside linebacker currently recovering from the same injury in Tyus Bowser, who tore his Achilles in the 2021 regular season finale. So, the path to follow will be laid before Ojabo as far as what it will take to get back to full strength.