As pre-draft buzz continues to heat up, Jayson Oweh's name is on fire.
The edge rusher from Penn State should have done a mic drop after his impressive Pro Day in March. He put up numbers that had scouts murmuring in appreciation – a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical leap and a 134-inch broad jump.
Oweh didn't start playing football until age 16, and considering his freakish athleticism, he could only be scratching the surface of his potential. His draft stock is rising despite not having a single sack in seven games last year, although he did make 6.5 tackles for loss. The lack of sack production is puzzling, yet Oweh's physical gifts give him potential to develop into an elite NFL pass rusher.
If Oweh is on the board when the Ravens pick at No. 27, he will pose a conundrum for General Manager Eric DeCosta and the team's decision-makers. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah sent Oweh to the Ravens in his latest mock draft, but Jeremiah admits Oweh would be a risk-reward kind of pick.
"They've always been an organization that values production," Jeremiah said on “The Lounge” podcast. "When you look at Jayson Oweh, this flies in the face of that. He didn't have a sack this year, as everybody knows. But to me, while the production might not be there, the disruption is, and he's someone that just creates a lot of havoc.
"He can collapse the pocket. You see him convert speed to power, which is huge, and he plays really, really hard. And then you add on top of that the character stuff is off the charts, so you feel very comfortable from that standpoint. He's not a finished product. He still needs to develop a plan as a rusher. But to me, I think the canvas you have to work with here is really good."
Oweh is not just a pass rusher but an excellent run defender. He often barged into the backfield at Penn State to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Teams looking for a pass rusher cannot be certain that Oweh won't be gone by Round 2. So will the Ravens take a chance on Oweh at No. 27 if he's still on the board? A former Ravens scout, Jeremiah is curious to find out.
"You don't make a habit of making exceptions," Jeremiah said. "You get yourself in trouble. But every now and then I think you can strategically say, 'Ok this one maybe fall outside the lines.' This is a pretty special talent."
Measurements: 6-foot-5, 257 pounds
2020 stats: 7 games, 38 tackles, 0 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss
2019 stats: 11 games, 21 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss
Why he makes sense: Baltimore is in the market for pass rushers after losing Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward in free agency. Oweh's quickness gives him a chance to have an immediate impact as a situational pass rusher, and as a run defender who can make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Ravens are looking for someone who can help them pressure quarterbacks with just four rushers, and Oweh could fill that role.
Scouting report: "Explosive, undersized college defensive end with great athleticism. Plays with terrific pad level, effectively uses his hands, and has good strength for his size. Jolts opponents with terrific punch, plays off blocks, and gets behind the line of scrimmage making plays against the run. Smooth and fluid moving about the field or dropping off the line to play in space. Has a stout build and rarely gets off his feet. Fast moving in every direction, gets out laterally in pursuit of the ball handler, and gives effort. Lacks bulk and gets easily out-positioned from the action by a single blocker. Has average instincts and is slow location the ball. Occasionally stands over tackle but isn't as effective as he is in a three-point stance." – Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network
Backstory: Oweh didn't play football until high school, and he had to be coerced into joining the team. He entered Blair Academy (New Jersey) focused on playing basketball, but the boarding school had a rule that you had to play at least two sports. Oweh chose football as his "backup" sport, but quickly developed into one of New Jersey's top prep players.