The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Joseph Ossai
I am currently working on my grading system overall as well as for each position and I am adding more traits to grade for edge defenders. The traits are going to be 1st step explosiveness, flexibility/bend, hand counters, hand power, length, run defending, effort, lateral mobility, versatility, and stunts/twists. Each trait is a more specific area of some of the old traits I used. By adding more areas to grade helps create a better overall that can be used to grade these prospects. Ossai is a very good athlete who has spent time as both an edge defender and an off-ball linebacker. I believe he best projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker where he can be used to rush the passer as well as drop back into pass coverage now and then.
1st Step Explosiveness- Ossai is best as a stand-up edge. When he is in a three-point stance there looks to almost be a delay in his ability to get out of his stance. In a two-point stance though he is quick to get upfield. He shouldn't play with his hand in the dirt as he isn't quick and he doesn't look comfortable.
Flexibility/Bend- Both his body lean and ability to bend around the edge are good. He does a good job with his pad level, dropping his center of gravity while also having solid flexibility in both his hips and ankle flexion to corner at the quarterback.
Hand Counters- Considering this was his first year as a full-time edge rusher is very good. He has shown that he can attack the lineman with initial moves as well as counter moves to win. When his first move doesn't work he has shown that he doesn't give up and can win with a secondary move.
Hand Power- He has powerful hands at the point of attack when rushing the passer and has shown that he can convert speed to power easily. He can attack offensive tackles with a first hit that is explosive and can drive them back. I would like to see him translate this hand power into the run game more. In the run game, he is more prone to use his shoulder to take on pulling linemen instead of his arm/hand and this will sometimes allow blockers to get into his body.
Length- His length is really good, with long arms that allow him to keep the linemen off of him when he uses his length properly. Again just like in his hand power, he will allow defenders to get into his body in the run game which takes away the advantage he has from his length.
Run Defending- Against the run, he is very good. When the run is away from him he does a good job of staying parallel to the line of scrimmage and work across the formation to pursue the ball from behind. His length allows him to make plays on the ball carrier even when he is being blocked. He is very disciplined to hold his edge/gap, especially when playing read options/play action. He can diagnose the play well and find the ball in those situations and always works his way to the ball whether the run is at or away from him.
Lateral Mobility- His athletic ability gets shown off in plays where he has to work down the line of scrimmage to the ball carrier who is running away from him. Ossai's combination of effort, length, and athletic ability allow him to be a rangy player, especially against the run where he can make a play on just about any run.
Versatility- Ossai shows solids versatility as he can rush the passer and drop back in coverage. He can also play as an off-ball linebacker but I believe he best projects as an edge defender in a base 3-4 scheme. His ability to line up all over the line isn't the best as he shouldn't bump inside to a 3-technique and he hasn't shown the ability to play with his hand in the dirt consistently
Stunts/Twists- He has the power to push linemen from the side in stunts/twists but I would like to see him add muscle/functional strength, especially to his lower body, for him to be able to take on double teams and open up lanes from other pass rushers.
Ossai should be taken in the late 1st round/early 2nd round of the draft and I have him ranked in the 3-6 range since I have yet to finish up my scouting reports on every pass rusher. With Azeez Ojulari, Quincy Roche, and Jaelan Phillips in that 3-6 range I am interested to see who I have come out on top to be my 3rd ranked edge rusher.