Welcome to Finding Broncos, our annual prospect-by-prospect series deep-diving on the coming NFL draft class. The scouting continues with Texas edge rusher Joseph Ossai, a talented prospect — but does he fit the Denver Broncos?
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Weight: 256 pounds
- Arms: 33-7/8 inches
- A multi-positional athlete still growing
- Exceptional hand fighting technique
- Excellent first-step burst
- Doesn't allow blockers to latch on
- Can play in multiple fronts
- Solid tackler
- Non-stop motor
- Fast learner at the position with quick refinement in techniques
- Explosive athlete
- Uses great leverage when he holds his ground
- Versatile in alignment but where to play him?
- Functional strength is an issue in the running game
- Not overly bendy
- Looks lost at times/doesn't identify well
- Not a twitchy athlete so hip fluidity is a concern
- Can overrun plays and leave running lanes underneath at times
Ossai is a versatile player possessing a red hot motor that has experience playing off-ball linebacker as well as on the edge and he's a quick learner who can play in multiple fronts. However, there is a major question of where he plays at the next level. Ossai never settled into a true role until his junior year, where he played in every game as a primary edge rusher.
As a pass rusher, Ossai has a nice first-step explosion and uses high-quality hand fighting techniques that keep blockers out of his chest plate, but his side-to-side athleticism is incredibly lacking. He doesn't have a lot of bend to him, so he really has to set up blockers with that explosive first step to create counter move angles or to beat them around the corner.
Despite his limitations as a not very twitchy athlete, Ossai still found a lot of success in forcing pressure and getting to the quarterback. He understands his own limitations and uses high-quality technique to win one-on-one battles.
In run defense, Ossai has some functional strength issues and a lack of awareness at times that makes him overrun his blocker and leave the edge vulnerable to cut-back lanes. When he does hold his ground, he uses nice leverage to keep blockers at bay and separates easily with his hand-fighting technique.
Ossai's non-stop motor and explosiveness allow him to track down runners from behind, and there are flashes all over his tape of stopping long gains from behind. As an off-ball linebacker, he has enough athleticism to hit his landmarks easily and can turn and run with most running backs and tight ends. He isn't a true athlete with fluid hips, but he understands coverage angles and gets to his spots well enough that he could have some success at the next level.
In run defense, he comes downhill well and scrapes with relative ease. He is a tremendous blitzer off the edge, especially as a delayed green dog where he can use his explosive first step to his advantage. However, because he lacks good hip fluidity he isn't a true sideline-to-sideline off-ball linebacker and is more of a chase and tackle player.
Fit with Broncos
With position versatility a big key for Vic Fangio, Ossai is a perfect fit for the Broncos, especially in the second round. If the Broncos do trade back from the No. 9 overall selection to the mid-20s, targeting a prospect than could fill the Leonard Floyd-type role as an edge defender that is tasked with more coverage responsibilities, would make a lot of sense.
Ossai could even step in as an off-ball linebacker in year one as well, helping in pass coverage as he has more coverage ability and athleticism than Josey Jewell. The Broncos are one of the better NFL fits for Ossai's talent.
Grade: Round 2
Where he Goes: Round 2
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