The first question that Odafe Oweh got after being drafted was about not getting any sacks last season. Talk about a welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
Oweh's physical attributes are off the charts. He's 6-foot-5, 257 pounds and he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds – faster than fellow Ravens first-round pick, wide receiver Rashod Bateman.
What didn't jive is that Oweh didn't record a sack last season in seven games. He had 6.5 tackles for loss, but a premier first-round pass rusher didn't have any sacks. Oweh was asked whether he thought that hurt his draft stock.
"No, because I knew that people that really understood and watched football, understand what I was doing out there, and that sacks weren't where it ended with me," Oweh said.
"I was very disruptive; I caused a lot of havoc; I was very stout in the run game; I was beating my man; I was always there. So, people really understood that the zero sacks thing, that had no definition of who I was as a player."
It's not like Oweh never got to the quarterback. He registered seven sacks in 17 games the previous two seasons at Penn State, even though he started just one of those games.
Oweh is still relatively new to the game, as he started playing it just five years ago. He's learning the game's nuances and developing his pass rush plan, but all the tools are there and Oweh has certainly flashed them.
"You look at the stat … That's something we talked about, but we also watched the tape," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's an aggressive player. He runs to the ball very fast. He's in the backfield constantly. He's knocking people back into the backfield. He's beating tackles into the backfield. He runs things down from behind. I think he's a perfect fit for our defense."
Oweh didn't have the premier college production that the Ravens have often placed a high value on when drafting pass rushers in years past. Jaylon Ferguson (2019) set the NCAA career sacks record and Matthew Judon (2016) led the nation in sacks as a senior at Division II Grand Valley State.
But the Ravens believe Oweh is just scratching the surface of his potential, and the stats will follow. His Penn State Pro Day emphasized that he has what it takes.
"Myself and [Outside Linebackers Coach] Drew Wilkins were there, and we were able to watch him perform right in front of us," Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz said. "To watch him bend, watch him explode [and] to turn the corner through the bags, it was really impressive. It just kind of matched up with what you're seeing on tape in terms of athleticism."