Ravens have ‘big expectations’ for rookie OLB Odafe Oweh

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

After the Baltimore Ravens finalized their roster on Tuesday, the spotlight turns on which players could make the most impact in the 2021 season. Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh is just a rookie, but he could shoulder heaps of responsibility on the Ravens’ offensive line this year.

We’ve previously written about Oweh’s eye-opening camp and what we can realistically expect from him in 2021.

The first-round draft pick starts his career in Baltimore as one of the most promising rookies to rise in the ranks, but his ascent to potential stardom comes at a cost.

Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, Baltimore has selected just two first-round edge rushers in total in the last 25 years. With names like Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs thrown at him, Oweh knows he’s got a long way to go to earn people’s respect.

He’s already got their hopes up, though.

Oweh has dazzled so much that even the slightest misstep could ruin coaches’ “big expectations” for him.

Ravens’ linebacker coach Drew Wilkins recently commented on Oweh’s pivotal role on the team.

"“The thing that [Oweh] has that not a lot of rookies do is a sense of urgency. He understands we have big expectations for him from Week 1. This isn’t a project. This is a guy that’s going to come in and play for us right away.”"

What’s old news at this point is that Baltimore’s previous pass-rushers, Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, left a gaping hole in the outside linebacker position.

What’s new and relatively unproven is Oweh, who’s expected to take that spot in 2021, plugging into Martindale’s defensive scheme as soon as possible.

Oweh joins a solid outside linebacker unit with Tyus Bowser and Justin Houston, to name the potential starters, but he (along with fellow rookie Daelin Hayes) has something the others don’t — a blank slate.

Baltimore Ravens: Odafe Oweh isn’t a “project” for the outside linebacker unit

Oweh did feature in the Ravens’ preseason games as Baltimore tried him out in several roles to see what the rookie was capable of. Looking back on his tape, Oweh looked a bit stiff around the corner, and he hasn’t quite developed the pass-rushing moves of more sophisticated players.

While not as dominant as many hoped and recording just two tackles in the first two games, Oweh’s impact extends beyond the stat sheet.

Wilkins elaborated on Oweh’s need to be versatile and, most importantly, to be present.

"“Whether it’s the run game, whether it’s his one-on-one pass rush, whether it’s anything he needs to do to execute highly in our defense, he needs to be there now. We feel great about where he’s at…We’re going to hit the ground running and he knows that.”"

Oweh continues to show flashes of his potential to disrupt, and given his high ceiling, Wilkins has faithfully endorsed him as an immediate impact player.

The rookie’s projected success will depend on how many weapons he can add to his arsenal as he learns, improves, and adapts in every situation he’s put in this season.

As we said, he’s only a rookie, but he’ll very quickly be called upon to help the Ravens’ defense in every capacity he can.

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Odafe Oweh has been thrust into the Ravens’ spotlight with barely any time to develop or adapt to the pro league (remember, he’s only played the game for a few years).

In a little over a week, his fans, coaches, teammates, and the media will see what he’s really made of.