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Arrowhead Pride takes swing at edge rusher by picking David Ojabo at No. 29

With the first of two first round selections in SB Nation’s annual mock draft, a very talented pass rusher lands in Kansas City.

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In this year’s SB Nation NFL community mock draft, I get the honor of making two selections for Arrowhead Pride: the Kansas City Chiefs’ selections at 29 and 30. Check out how the rest of the draft went up to this point.

With the first of the two picks, I’m drafting Michigan edge defender David Ojabo.

The position won’t surprise anyone; it is the thinnest group on the team, with Frank Clark, Mike Danna, and last year’s fourth-round pick Joshua Kaindoh as the only options at the moment. When you consider the reworking of Clark’s contract making it easier to cut him before 2023, it becomes a very important long-term need as well.

Unfortunately, we know the first rounder won’t be able to make an immediate impact: Ojabo tore his Achilles at Michigan’s Pro Day on March 19th. In today’s world, that doesn’t mean he can’t play at all in 2022 — but it will set him back in his first offseason as a professional. There are a lot of on-field opportunities to learn from between now and the start of the season — especially for rookies.

So there are ways to poke holes and disagree with the selection, but I’m here to convince you it’s the right pick.

The player

For a thorough, in-depth breakdown of Ojabo, staff writer Talon Graff wrote a draft profile with film evaluation.

Ojabo’s natural abilities as a pure edge rusher are what make him such an intriguing player. He can fly off the ball and is such a smooth mover in all aspects of being a rusher; he can impressively bend the corner and accelerate to the quarterback simultaneously, but he also has a good feel for countering back inside with good quickness or an effective spin move.

All of that is noticeable when you watch, but it’s even more impressive when it’s coming from a player who measured in at 6’4 and 250 pounds — although he does have an average wingspan and third-percentile hand size for defensive ends historically.

His athletic testing results were very impressive, and are the foundation for what makes him such an intriguing pick. He’s still relatively green as a football player, starting his junior year of high school. The soon-to-be 22-year-old played only one full season of college football; after redshirting his first year on campus, he played 26 snaps in all of 2020.

For what he has already shown, there’s reason to believe Ojabo has only scratched the surface of his abilities. If he had stayed in school and progressed at all, it’s likely he would’ve been one of the top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Why it makes sense for the Chiefs

The last point made in the previous section is exactly why this pick makes sense: a perennial contender like Kansas City will very rarely be in position to take an edge rusher of Ojabo’s talent in any draft. More than most positions, the likelihood of finding a top-tier edge rusher later in the draft is very low. If you want a true difference maker, it pretty much has to be an early first-round pick — and that’s what Ojabo would have been before injury.

The Chiefs have made a point to get younger and cheaper this offseason, prioritizing the long-term vision of the organization rather than just 2022. Picking Ojabo would be another example of that being the case, sacrificing depth at edge in 2022 for the chance at a top-tier pass rusher for 2023 and beyond.

Plus, the Chiefs have enough draft capital to address the position with another draft pick soon after this one — a player that may not have the same ceiling as Ojabo, but a solid enough foundation to play snaps immediately.

The bottom line

Kansas City needs to revamp their talent at defensive end, and selecting David Ojabo is a great way to start that overhaul. Even if he doesn’t have first-round impact in 2022, he could be the team’s most impactful defensive linemen in 2023 and beyond.

Amid an offseason that proves Kansas City is thinking about the long term more than the short term, this selection would fall right in line.

Best Players Available:

  • S Daxton Hill, Michigan
  • LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
  • C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
  • EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  • S Lewis Cine, Georgia