The Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones is one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles. The team has struggled, however, to find another tackle to play alongside him. Derrick Nnadi has been the most consistent of the players the Chiefs have tried; the 27-year-old is now beginning his sixth season in Kansas City. But with Nnadi’s four career sacks (and deteriorating skills as a run defender), the Chiefs could certainly stand an upgrade on the defensive interior.
Texas draft prospect Moro Ojomo has the potential to be the best player the Chiefs have ever paired with Jones.
Let’s see what he brings to the table:
Morotoluwa “Moro” (MORE-oh) Ojomo (OH-juh-mo) was born and raised in Nigeria. His family first moved to California before arriving in Katy, Texas when he was in the seventh grade. Younger than his classmates (he began his schooling in Nigeria at the age of three), Ojomo made his high school varsity team as a junior, becoming a three-star recruit who received scholarship offers from schools like Alabama, TCU, Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee. He ultimately signed with the University of Texas, where he enrolled at the age of 16.
In five years with the Longhorns (including his redshirt season and a COVID year), he collected five sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He accepted an invitation to the Shrine Bowl, where he stood out among his peers.
Ojomo checked into the NFL Scouting Combine at 6 feet 3 and 292 pounds. He was measured with 34 1/2-inch arms before turning in a 5.04-second 40-yard dash (with a 1.77-second 10-yard split) at the Combine and an 7.45-second three-cone drill at his pro day.
Physically, Ojomo looks like an ideal interior prospect — especially if you are looking for pass-rushing upside.
NFL Draft Sleeper #Texas Edge Moro Ojomo— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) February 27, 2023
Only 6’3 280lbs but plays bigger with some violent hands. High motor guy. Best suited for a 4-3 scheme. 5th year senior who is battle tested.
I think some team will grab a solid contributing piece in the pic.twitter.com/9SL3HvdzGo…
Though he’s a little light for a traditional run-stuffer, his length shines on tape. His raw strength really stands out; he consistently pushes blockers back. He is fluid and agile enough to shoot gaps — and once engaged, keeps his eyes up. He’s stout against the run and can be counted upon to be assignment-sound.
But his tape can also be frustrating to watch.
Ojomo locks up with the RG, and as they shed each other Moro Ojomo then is pretty much tackled by the OT. pic.twitter.com/KSYE5iI9Qs— Mase Riney (@caliking49er17) March 20, 2023
He often seems to be just a step away from making large-impact plays. This is sometimes due to his hand usage and his lack of a pass-rushing plan. He is strictly an effort pass rusher who relies on a bull rush — often relying on his initial burst of athleticism and not much else. He needs to work on his snap anticipation — particularly since he lines up so closely to the ball. His pass rushes tend to be square against his blockers; he needs to work on some better angles. Finally, his lack of weight can sometimes be seen when he’s up against physical interior blockers.
How he fits with the Chiefs
Kansas City currently doesn’t have a defensive tackle under contract beyond the coming season, so it’s reasonable to think the team might invest several picks into the position — and right from Week 1, Ojomo could easily be a role player on the defensive interior. In his pre-draft press conference, general manager Brett Veach alluded to new defensive lineman Charles Omenhiu rushing from the interior on passing downs. So Ojomo would profile as a run-stopping defensive tackle who could develop as a pass rusher.
Over the long term, he could fill the role Nnadi has held with the Chiefs — but Ojomo is more agile than the Kansas City veteran. He posted a 9.10 RAS score at the Combine, putting him in the 91st percentile among historical defensive tackles. Defensive line coach Joe Cullen will certainly want to improve Ojomo’s pass-rushing skills — but he has a body type well-suited for it.
The bottom line
Ojomo is a rare prospect. He has five years of experience at a top college program — but is still not yet 22 years old. While there are reasons to buy into his profile simply as a run-stuffer, it’s also true that the draft has other run defenders who are more stout; in this area, Ojomo’s lack of weight is a disadvantage. But his potential as a pass rusher is ultimately going to decide how highly he goes in the draft. If a team really believes in his traits, he could go early on Day 2 — or could fall to late in Day 3.