Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma St - 6'4, 275 - Junior - #38
If you wish to get a good feel for the draft from a national "group think" perspective where a rumor of how NFL people feel affect the overall perception of a player - fair or not - look no further than the case of Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah. For the Oklahoma State product, who has done nothing but dominate at his level for two full seasons (in which he matched up against many NFL prospects across from him), has seen his stock rise and fall frequently over the last year.
Last spring and into the summer, the Nigerian-born Ogbah was thought of as a tremendous prospect who would likely be selected in the Top 10 before it was all said and done. Then, during the season, reports surfaced that Ogbah plays too upright and too stiff and might be the type of guy to really slide in this draft. That was followed by his appearance at the NFL Combine where he was frankly dominant in many of his tests, including a 40-yard dash that beat quite a few wide receivers, a tremendous vertical leap and broad jump, and a great showing from the quickness and agility test in the 3-cone drill.
This is most likely why it is a good idea to avoid the noise as much as possible with the daily news of what one scout or one team thinks or floats out there during the very noisy draft season.
Ogbah is a very interesting player that does have conflicting attributes that make him a complex study. He also plays on a defensive front where - unlike Ohio State or Alabama - he is the main point of attention for any offense. So, he gets double-teamed on a regular basis. The opponent focuses on where he is lined up and deploy troops in his direction. Oklahoma State would counter by moving him around and adjusting his spot from outside to inside; from down with hands in the ground to up and standing. And the sum total of the 26 games in the last two years is a rather staggering 24 sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss, and 113 tackles. He was as productive an edge player as you will find in this draft.
What I liked: He is a very explosive player who is willing to battle hard throughout a play - regardless of how much attention he is getting. He runs down plays from behind and is able to get around the corner from both the LDE and the RDE. He does most of his damage against the RT, but his interchanging from side to side and even from the inside against guards make him the type of player that teams will value as a traditional edge rusher who has ideal size and rare quickness and speed. He runs to the ball and stays plenty active in his play and will use a very effective rip move to work his way into a QB's lap. When he gets there, he arrives with violence by distributing very physical hits and also doing everything in his power to knock the ball loose - which he does with great regularity. He can absolutely ruin games at the college level and that makes a player like Ogbah quite attractive with his ability to average a little more than 2 explosive plays per game from the time he became a starter.
What I did not like:There will be some questions about his strength as a stout DE on the strong side as he can get moved out of the way a bit and appears to prefer to be the penetrator rather than the stand-your-ground type of guy against the run. But, the big issue that is a legitimate concern from NFL teams is whether or not he has a high NFL ceiling. They estimate this by looking for a player that bends well and plays low so when Ogbah comes along and appears to possess some stiffness in his technique, scouts try to project whether this is a coaching issue that can be easily cleaned up or whether he doesn't have the same fluidity of the premier edge rushers in the NFL. Basically, the question is whether they think he is an average pass rusher on Sundays or does he have the chance to be much better?
Summary and potential fit with the Cowboys: I tend to believe Ogbah is worth taking in the 1st round at a certain point. He is very athletic and closes down plays around the pocket with a ferocity that looks like DeMarcus Ware at times. I am not suggesting he is ever going to get 100 NFL sacks, but I do like the traits of a guy like Ogbah in a draft that isn't exactly loaded with pass rushers from DE.
The Cowboys have an interesting opening at this position as it presently stands as their defensive end situation appears to be DeMarcus Lawrence and a number of question marks as we head to free agency. But, if Emmanuel Ogbah can somehow make his way down the board and into Dallas' range, I think this is the type of player that might be a fine player to pair with Lawrence as edge rushers with Randy Gregory fitted as a situational 3rd DE when he returns from his suspension. I definitely acknowledge the scouting questions that exist about Ogbah's technique, but the results he has consistently put up on Saturdays has me bullish on his future. I like his game quite a bit. And we definitely know the Cowboys follow this Oklahoma State program quite closely and are more than happy to convert Cowboys into Cowboys.