Joseph Ossai - EDGE, Texas
By the numbers:
6'4", 253 pounds
2020: 55 tackles (15.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks. First-team All-Big 12 selection.
Joseph Ossai is an athletic pass-rusher whose transition to being a full-time or primary EDGE prospect didn't take place until his junior season. A true speed rusher, his athleticism stands out on tape. His motor revs high at all times and against tackles that are slow to react, he's simply too much to handle. The anticipation, burst and speed don't just show up against the pass, though. Ossai is a willing run defender capable of tracking down ballcarriers and blowing plays up in the backfield.
Ossai's potential is obvious and legitimate. Not only does he offer positional versatility as a stand-up 3-4 off-ball linebacker or even with a hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end, but he has plenty of room to grow both in coverage and as a pass-rusher. He's already very quick with strong hands at the point of attack, but it's hard to think about what he could become and not get excited.
The downside of Ossai's potential is banking on him to reach that ceiling. He isn't the most polished pass-rusher and needs to develop his plan a bit further. This is evident on tape, as offensive linemen with strong grips and good hand placement can slow him down. Ossai can counteract this by adding strength to a frame that would undoubtedly benefit from it without compromising much quickness.
One of the few other knocks on Ossai is whether he has a true position. He shows enough in zone coverage to project as an outside linebacker, but needs to work on his skills in man coverage. He offers immediate value as a third-down defensive end, but is he strong enough to operate from a three-point stance full-time? Deciding on a position — and the right one — could either hold him back or maximize his future value. There may be a bit of a learning curve early on.
How Ossai fits with the Chiefs:
Ossai's tantalizing potential makes him an intriguing option for the Chiefs. The team needs a pass-rusher across from Frank Clark, and Ossai should be able to fill that void in the future. Steve Spagnuolo has been patient with his rookies in the past unless forced to throw them into the fire, which plays to Ossai's advantage. He's underweight for a Spagnuolo EDGE but if he adds around 10 pounds, that would make a huge difference. With another unique offseason on the horizon, he would likely be brought along slowly as a defensive end.
If the Chiefs are willing to be patient and temper their early expectations for Ossai, he could certainly reward them in the long haul. He has the ability to become a very good player at the NFL level and as soon as a team commits to him having one specific position, he will only improve from then on. The Chiefs should have continuity in their system for the next few years, making them a great fit for a player like Ossai. He grades out as a late first-round pick, although he may be drafted right in the middle of Day 1.