Ravens: Odafe Oweh is proving that he’s far from a project

Ravens, Odafe Oweh (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Ravens, Odafe Oweh (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens‘ decision to select Penn State pass rusher Odafe Oweh with the 31st overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft was one met with plenty of criticism at the time.

The Ravens had recently traded away Orlando Brown Jr. and many believed the team could address the offensive tackle position as soon as the first round of the draft.

Instead, they opted for a Matthew Judon/Yannick Ngakoue replacement in Oweh. Although, there was a lot of skepticism around the pick.

Oweh was coming off a junior season in which he recorded zero sacks and many saw him as more of a developmental project in the NFL. However, just two games into his rookie season, he’s proving to be anything but.

Odafe Oweh has proven to be one of the Ravens best overall players already

Oweh was your typical developmental pass rusher coming out of college —  at least that was the national consensus.

He possessed elite athletic traits including an explosive first step and freakish length and agility that gave him sky-high potential in the NFL. But many believed that Oweh would need some time to iron out some of the kinks in his game.

The narrative around Oweh was that he could fill a role as a situational pass rusher earlier in his career, but that he would be too much of a liability in run defense to receive substantial playing time.

Below is a quick quote from Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network about Oweh in the pre-draft process.

"“[Oweh] needs to mature both technically and physically before taking on a high volume of snaps. Oweh’s athletic ability will grant him sporadic reps, even as a rookie, to serve as a designated pass rusher, but I wouldn’t advocate for a high workload on early downs until he’s more filled out with his frame. Oweh is lean and can give up valuable real estate as a run defender; he’s lacking in the core and lower-body power to hold ground and stack up tackles.”"

That wasn’t an unpopular opinion at the time — far from it. But Oweh is proving that he’s a much better run defender than he was given credit for.

And that’s probably an understatement.

Through two weeks, Oweh’s 89.9 Pro Football Focus run defense grade is second-best among all edge defenders in the NFL. Not among rookies, among all players.

Only two players on the entire Ravens roster have a higher PFF grade over the first two weeks —  Marquise Brown and Calais Campbell. He’s been one of the Ravens’ best players, and they’re not using him in a situational role either.

Oweh played 75 percent of defensive snaps in Week 2 which was the most among all outside linebackers on the team. Even in Week 1, he was still on the field for over 50 percent of snaps.

He has a sack, seven pressures, three QB hits, a pair of tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in just two games. And it was his crucial forced fumble (and recovery) that essentially led to a Ravens victory on Sunday night.

If not for Oweh, the Ravens don’t win that game.

It’s hard to believe an individual who many believed was one of the rawest players in his draft class is contributing at such a high level right now. But it’s reality.

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Odafe Oweh is a star in the making, yes. But that star is shining bright much quicker than anyone could have anticipated.