Vikings Draft Profile: David Ojabo — EDGE (Michigan)

Vikings Draft Profile: David Ojabo -- EDGE (Michigan)
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After departures by both head coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman, the Vikings are a ship adrift at sea with nobody at the tiller. That isn’t going to stop our team here at Purple Territory Media from speculating on possible avenues of improvement via the NFL Draft.

The Vikings hold the 12th overall pick in April’s 2022 NFL Draft. Whoever the new GM/Head Coach tandem is could do themselves a lot of favors by hitting early in this first draft under the new regime. At 12, the Vikings won’t be picking from the “can’t miss” and will be faced instead with choosing those who have shown they are ready for the pros and those who have incredibly high upside but little certainty. 

David Ojabo is in the latter camp and an incredibly intriguing physical specimen. Despite having never played organized football until his junior season in high school, Ojabo landed at the University of Michigan. In 2019, Ojabo wouldn’t see the field as a Freshman but did receive honors as the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. Ojabo played on special teams in all six of Michigan’s games in 2020 and recorded a single tackle.

In his Junior season, Ojabo put on a show playing opposite of likely top-3 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson. Recording 35 total tackles (11 ast, 24 solo), 12 TFL, and 11 sacks, Ojabo played his way to All-Big Ten first team and Second Team AP All-American honors. On January 4th, he announced his decision to forgo additional eligibility with the Wolverines and declare for the NFL Draft.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The film on Ojabo is incredibly impressive and concerning for any team considering Ojabo in the first round. On one hand, his physical tools make the mouth water. Ojabo is a former track star, and his athleticism is incredible. On the other, his game lacks polish, and it could be a few years until he’s fully NFL ready.

When allowed to attack on obvious passing downs, he causes havoc and uses his athleticism fully. Blockers have trouble setting a deep enough edge to keep him from their quarterback. Ojabo’s speed allows him to go deep past the quarterback and still close the gap in time to hit either the quarterback or the ball. His move set as a pass rusher is a bit limited, but he does have some wrinkles (change of pace and spin move) that puts blockers on the wrong foot.

Ojabo can struggle in run defending and really needs to figure out how to use his length to keep defenders off of him. Could improve functional strength with an NFL workout regiment. Once blockers get inside his pads, he gets neutralized pretty quick and can only hope to use his incredibly long arms to grab a runner. Despite his length, he doesn’t close as many passing lanes due to late decisions to get his hands up.

This last small detail is really where Ojabo can stand to grow in the NFL. His technique is incredibly raw, and he can look a bit lost when asked to drop in coverage or when the situation necessitates more than just a straight run at the quarterback. This makes him little more than a pass rush specialist, at least to start his NFL career.

Ojabo is certainly an interesting option and one that has incredible upside. However, the downside is steep on a guy like this. If he only ever pans out to be a rusher in passing situations, it feels like a first round pick isn’t worth it. If he can get a good coach and perhaps a veteran rusher to show him the ropes, he could be a guy who goes for 10-15 sacks/season. The question is, do the Vikings want to wait while he matures into what he could be?

Projected Draft Position: Top-15

Strengths: Speed, LengthWeaknesses: Limited NFL ready skills, Instincts, Technique