New Orleans Saints: First-round NFL Draft prospects worth watching

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Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

  1. Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Oklahoma State

Age as a Rookie: 23 (Birthday in September).

Listed Height, Weight: 6-foot-4, 275-pounds.

Emmanuel Ogbah is among the best pass-rusher draft prospects in this class.  He is leading the Big 12 conference in sacks for the second year in a row with 11.5 after netting 10 in 2014.  A third-year starter for Oklahoma State, the junior has 25.5 career sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles logged in his career.  By every measure he’s earned his 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor and is expected to repeat with his even-better 2015 campaign.

As a player moving forward, Ogbah compares well to Detroit Lions’ Ezekiel Ansah and Minnesota’s Everson Griffen.  The two NFC North defensive ends are some of the most disruptive in the game today and would be great models for Ogbah to look to.

Where He Wins:  Ogbah’s skills translate best to the NFL as a traditional 4-3 defensive end.  He would be a perfect bookend to pair with Cameron Jordan and let Hau’oli Kikaha build off of.  Ogbah has outstanding length and is a premier speed rusher off the edge not unlike Junior Galette.  But Ogbah is bigger and stronger than Galette ever was, though he isn’t as technically advanced.

Ogbah doesn’t have many pass rush moves outside of his bull rush and a devastating rip move, but he is an intelligent player who understands how to be disruptive even when blocked out of the play.  His eight career pass deflections at the line of scrimmage reflect his good habit for getting his hands up into passing lanes.  This article by Justis Mosqueda does an excellent job of breaking down Ogbah’s overall game.

Ogbah won’t need much more development at the NFL level thanks to a maxed-out frame and high level of football intelligence.  He’s a strong run defender, a disruptive pass rusher, and has the tools to compliment Jordan as a right defensive end.  That works very well because Jordan attacks from the left side on 72.1 percent of his pass rushes, so Ogbah wouldn’t be learning a new position in the NFL.

Like many draft prospects, Ogbah has faced some adversity.  He grew up with four other siblings in Lagos, Nigeria until his parents moved the family to Houston.  Despite the immediate culture shock and alienation from their extended family, Ogbah learned about football from friends in his new school and immediately excelled when his parents allowed him to play.  Since then, he has become one of the most prolific players in the Big 12 Conference, and projects to a starring role with the Saints if the junior declares for the draft and they choose to make him their first selection next spring.

Next: 1. Who's the best wide receiver in the draft?

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