Why the Slide?: David Ojabo, DE, Michigan

This series was created in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

With Aidan Hutchinson producing a phenomenal 2021 season for Michigan, the Wolverines superstar attracted a lot of the blocking attention, which helped Ojabo, who was facing one-on-ones on the other side from Hutchinson, to break out. The speed rusher Ojabo collected 11 sacks, 35 tackles, five forced fumbles and three passes defended in 2021. He was a consensus first-round prospect before suffering a torn Achilles at the Michigan pro day, and that was a huge blow to his draft stock.

NFL team sources told WalterFootball.com the Achilles injury was the biggest factor that caused Ojabo to slide. He could miss all of his rookie season, and a lot of teams want their early-round picks to be immediate contributors. Aside from the injury, some pro evaluators felt Ojabo’s game had some raw elements, especially as a run defender. They felt he needed a lot of development for the NFL. Being a 1-year starter, it makes sense that Ojabo was seen as a raw prospect.

The Baltimore Ravens ended Ojabo’s slide in the second round, and they were a great landing spot for him. The Ravens were in need a of a young edge rusher to go on the other side from 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh, and a healthy Ojabo will give them two fast quarterback hunters. Baltimore has some veterans in house, like Tyus Bowser, to give them time for Ojabo to rehab, but once healthy, Ojabo figures to be a starter. The Ravens have been superb at player development, and Ojabo has good veterans to learn from like Calais Campbell. While Ojabo suffered a disappointing injury that cost him a lot of money over his rookie contract, he ended up in a great situation and landed with a team that could turn him into a good starter.

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