Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh could outperform Rousseau in year one

Odafe Oweh #28, (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Odafe Oweh #28, (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Here’s one that you can throw in either the category of way-too-early theories or bold predictions, but fear not. It’s great news if you’re a Baltimore Ravens fan.

Odafe Oweh was the second of the Ravens’ first-round selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was also the fifth defensive end taken, but don’t be surprised if this is someone that’s placed in the category of first-round steals and a potential NFL defensive rookie of the year candidates at the close of the 2021-2022 NFL season.

That is not an exaggeration. This young man is special.

Let’s get some of you Ravens fans caught up.

Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock for the first half of the 2021 calendar year, you probably noticed that Yannick Ngakoue, Jihad Ward, and Matt Judon all left the Ravens in free agency.

By doing so, they took, collectively, 16 starts, 77 total tackles, nine sacks, 32 additional hits on the opposing quarterbacks the Ravens faced, and two forced fumbles worth of production in 2020 with them.

They did re-sign Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser, but Oweh wasn’t a luxury selection or one that was taken to add depth. He was absolutely necessary, and he’ll factor into Baltimore’s defensive plans immediately.

Can the Ravens rookie will outperform a former Baltimore prospect in year one?

One of the most trusted voices around when it comes to Ravens football, Jeff Zrebie of The Athletic correctly deduced that Baltimore would probably take Oweh one pick after the Buffalo Bills snagged Gregory Rousseau during the most recent selection meeting.

He was right and has since said that the Ravens also saw Rousseau as someone they were interested in. You need a premium subscription to read that one, but Kevin Oestreicher of Yahoo Sports dropped the quote recently if you’re interested.

Would the Ravens have taken Gregory Rousseau over Oweh had they had their choice of both? We may never know the answer to that one, but let’s ease a few minds here. Though we won’t know how both of these guys’ careers will shake out until it happens, we can safely state that Oweh has a huge chance of outperforming Rousseau in year one.

Not only is the former Penn State Nittany Lion predicted by ESPN’s Matt Bowen to lead all NFL rookies in sacks after next season, but he’s also battle-tested as he played better competition more regularly in the Big Ten.

Oweh is also more experienced. He appeared in 20 games at the collegiate level as opposed to 14 for Rousseau. He also played seven games for Penn State in 2020 while Rousseau sat out of the college football season due to COVID-19 concerns.

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While no one will blame the former Miami star for making that decision, one has to wonder if it will take him a little longer to get back into the swing of things seeing as how he’s only really started one season of college ball in the ACC.

Again, by the time he’s back in a game that counts against the win-loss total, that will be a little less than 20 months from the last time he’s had to do so. All of that can help one make a successful argument that Odafe Oweh may outperform Rousseau from a statistical standpoint during the 2021-2022 NFL season