For some peculiar reason, the Atlanta Falcons have inconsistent seemingly forever when it comes to getting after the quarterback. In each of the last four seasons, the team ranked 23rd, 29th, 22nd, and 14th in total sacks. Bringing down the quarterback has been more of an art than a science for Atlanta in recent years, but it hasn’t been pretty art.
Understandably, adding to the pass rushing element this offseason was on the to-do list for Atlanta. In the 2021 NFL Draft, the team somewhat surprisingly waited until the fifth round to address it, selecting Notre Dame edge rusher Adetokunbo Ogundeji, a prospect who is raw but shows nice upside. Let’s discuss Ogundeji’s ability and how he can help the Falcons defense.
Ade Ogundeji Scouting Report
Weight: 260 pounds
Career stats: 71 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, five forced fumbles
Games watched: 2019 vs. Louisville, 2020 vs. Clemson, 2020 vs. Alabama, 2020 vs. North Carolina
I’ll start things off by noting that Ogundeji looks bigger on tape than his listed frame. He entered the Norte Dame football program in 2018 as a raw 225-lb weakside defensive end. To see Ogundeji add in the neighborhood of 35 pounds of solid mass is a definite plus. With that NFL size, Ogundeji has a very swift get-off at the snap. He rushes the passer with strength and eye discipline and wins many of his battles with those two elements. Ogundeji’s development started to accelerate in 2020, when he led the Notre Dame defense in sacks and was tied for fourth in tackles for loss.
When Ogundeji is able to get his strong mitts within the frame of an opposing blocker, he is fairly tough to deal with. On top of that, Ogundeji has plenty of leg drive in his arsenal and is able to walk back linemen into the pocket. His overall ability is that of a prospect who is capable of being inserted in a number of spots on the defensive line with a number of responsibilities.
His 85-inch wingspan shows on tape, both when he is able to keep blockers away from his frame and when he is capable of reaching the quarterbacks with his closing speed. Coaches and teammates will appreciate his motor, and Ogundeji showed considerable improvement in his production and overall tools in each of his three seasons with the Fighting Irish.
Ogundeji is not an elite athlete at the edge rusher spot. With his stiff hips, there is a concern as to how Ogundeji moves laterally. His tape shows the lack of agility at times and it may cap his overall development going forward. As Ogundeji rounds the corner as an edge rusher, the lack of bend, fluidity in his lower half, and ankle flexion is quite noticeable.
During games, Ogundeji shows a tendency of being absent for long stretches and not making a considerable impact. He’s still essentially raw currently as an edge rusher in terms of many of his tools, and is in need of much needed refinement at rushing the passer and anchoring in run defense.
It was interesting to see the Falcons wait to 182nd overall to address the edge rushing position. Ogundeji does enter the Falcons organization with plenty of upside. This could also turn out to be one of those late round diamonds in the rough that the team has stumbled upon in recent drafts. Players such as Grady Jarrett, Foye Oluokun, and Russell Gage have outplayed their draft position so far and have been very good additions to the Falcons roster, albeit under a different regime.
Ogundeji was also a participant in this year’s Senior Bowl and earned positive reviews there. Amongst most draft circles, Ogundeji has developed a positive reputation as a developmental pass rusher who has yet to hit his peak as a defender. Luckily for him as a rookie, he has a defensive coordinator in Dean Pees and a solid defensive line coach in Gary Emanuel who seem capable of molding and establishing him as a reliable asset for the future.
Time and patience will be required with Ogundeji, but the potential may pay off sooner than later for Atlanta.