The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.
Emmanuel Ogbah has been one of the nation’s top pass rushers over the last two seasons, recording 113 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, four forced fumbles and 9 pass breakups in that time.
Ogbah has been one of the toughest players for me to get a feel for, because he has the physical traits you look at—a 6’4” 275-pound frame with arms that hang almost to his knees—as well as the production that you want to see aligned with that.
However, Ogbah was a streaky player that recorded a majority of his sacks on extended plays or breakdowns. In this scouting report I’ll try to highlight all of the positives to his game, as there are quite a few, in addition to highlighting the weaknesses in his game, because there are quite a few of those as well.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Emmanuel Ogbah Athleticism
Before I watched one snap of Emmanuel Ogbah, all I heard was that he was an athletic freak that would be one of Justis Mosqueda’s “Force Players.” “Force Players” is a metric that attempts to quantify pass rushers’ athletic ability based on their combine numbers in relation to their body’s density, or mass. If you aren’t familiar with his work, you really should check it out as it’s been eerily close to a 100% hit rate. Those that qualify as force players are productive players in the NFL, while those that aren’t typically find themselves as a complementary piece.
Athleticism is an absolute must in order to be a disruptive force on the edge. As Ben Natan describes it, Agility is needed in order to bend the edge efficiently and also counter, where straight-line burst and lower body strength are imperative to power through offensive linemen as well as holding against the run. On top of that, strong hands are important, as is physicality, but a good edge defender can be successful if they are just a great “lower body” athlete.
When I turned my first Emmanuel Ogbah game on, I was prepared to see a massive human burst off of the ball, bend the corner and harass linemen and quarterbacks throughout stretches of games. Instead, I saw a player that was not only inconsistent with his get off, but didn’t have the best movement skills either.
Emmanuel Ogbah Pass Rush Ability
It’s tough to explain to people that you want to see more out of a player that just led the nation in sacks and his conference in tackles for loss, while coming close in both categories the previous season as well. However, Emmanuel Ogbah plays as if he’s just been told, “run whoever’s blocking you right through the quarterback.” In the following clip, watch Ogbah’s pad level and his hands.
Right off the snap, the pads shoot straight up into the air. He just lost all leverage against his opponent, as he’s too upright to use his lower base to generate power and drive his man. Now look at his hands. By getting too high out of his stance, Ogbah allowed Laremy Tunsil to close the ground between them, essentially taking control of the entire play. Ogbah tries to fight through it but by the time he shakes free, it’s too late.
That very issue is displayed on consecutive plays against Kansas State as well.
Now, where Ogbah is able to overcome his lack of technique is by relying on his raw strength to beat his man, and when he does, it’s a thing of beauty.
In this play against Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair, a projected first-round draft pick, Ogbah gets off the ball and uses his arms to get inside Whitehair’s pads, before bullrushing him backwards.
It’s a power move, but the play resulted in a completed pass.
Here, Ogbah is again able to move the tackle off the line at will, but without any counter pass-rush moves up his sleeve, he’s incapable of getting off the block and making a sack.
Now, finally Ogbah is able to get home and pick up a sack. He times the snap and gets around the lineman before going to power his way through him. The tackle knows he’s beaten so he goes for the hold and Ogbah rips out of it and brings down the quarterback.
That’s what I expected to see on the first snap of his, let alone the third game. Ogbah appears to be completely unaware of what his landmarks are in his pass rush. It seems as if he just sees the game as a one-on-one matchup with the lineman and hopefully he’ll bully the tackle into the quarterback.
On consecutive plays, Ogbah whiffs on back to back sacks. It’s like he’s surprised to be there.
Now, what Ogbah is able to accomplish with little to no technique, leverage, a pass rush move, let alone a counter move, is extremely impressive. However, in the National Football League, offensive linemen are all just as, if not, bigger, stronger, quicker and smarter than every single opponent he ever faced in college.
Emmanuel Ogbah Run Defense
Ogbah’s play strength at the point of attack makes him a force against the run, even if it doesn’t look pretty. Against Ole Miss, you see Ogbah brawling in a phone booth with multiple blockers and doesn’t shed a foot of ground against the run. It’s a stop for a loss of one.
Ogbah always seems to find a way for the result to go in his favor even when the process to get that result is completely different than the one you’re supposed to.
In the following clip, Ogbah crashes down on the line of scrimmage to defend the rush attempt, but watch his helmet. He has no idea who has the ball, where that ball is going, none of it. He just knows he wants to lay someone out, and that he does. The running back is stopped for a gain of maybe one yard.
Overview/ Potential Fit with the Buffalo Bills
With all “edge” players, particularly in a report for one that would theoretically be landing in a 3-4 defense, you’d want to know their abilities in coverage. After what I’d heard about this insane athleticism, I was intrigued. However, after watching his clunky movement skills when “chasing” down a play, I don’t see Emmanuel Ogbah as an edge rusher within the Bills’ scheme.
As I was looking at my notes, laughing to myself about how horrible everything he was doing was—but was ultimately working, I think moving Ogbah closer to the ball as a five-technique defensive end would be the ideal fit for him within this defense. He might have to put on a couple pounds, but he already has the length and natural strength requisite of the position, so he’d even be able to kick outside the tackle in various subackages as well.
Ogbah was born in Nigeria before moving to the United States when he was nine. He didn’t become familiar with football until his teenage years, so you can attribute a lot of his issues to not understanding the game or it not yet slowing down for him. Yet, he thrived.
Emmanuel Ogbah is an interesting player and I do think he’ll find success in the NFL, but whichever team selects him will have to be on him about three simple things– pad level, hand use and growing aware of his surroundings—in order to turn the “solid” Emmanuel Ogbah we have today into the dominant Emmanuel Ogbah we could potentially see three or four years from now.