OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale is not the least bit worried about the sack numbers for rookie Odafe Oweh.
"I know the sacks will come – and when they come, they’ll come in bunches – because there’s been plenty of players who have been All-Pros and Hall of Famers if you will," Martindale said. "I mean, [Hall of Fame linebacker] Lawrence Taylor, his junior year, he had two-and-a-half sacks – that’s just one [example]. [Former defensive end] Richard Seymour for example – he had a sack-and-a-half coming out from [Georgia]. [Vikings defensive end] Danielle Hunter had a sack, I think, coming out [of LSU].
"That’s the biggest thing that everybody is asking – that they’ve asked me about, so far. But what he does when you put on the tape, is there is no one that I saw at that position that gets to the football as fast as he does, and plays as hard as he does. And I think the thing that this city is going to really love it when he gets there, he’s not in a good mood."
Oweh did not manage a sack in his final season at Penn State. He still managed 38 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, over seven games as a redshirt sophomore. The prior year, Oweh finished with five sacks over 11 games.
Oweh, 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, is an impressive athlete who ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and had a 39.5 vertical leap and a 134-inch broad jump during his Pro Day.
"The thing that stood out to me with Odafe is his play on first and second down is so much further ahead than most guys that you watch coming out of college, because you can tell that he made it a priority that he was going to set the edge of the defense – that’s big in any defense, but especially ours – and how competitive he is," Martindale said. "You could just see on every play; he was going to compete. Like I said, it’s just one of those things now that we just can’t wait to get rolling and get him in here and get going. We’re finally getting close to playing football again.”
Moments after Oweh was selected by the Ravens with the 31st overall pick in the 2021 draft, Oweh also scoffed at the notion that his sack numbers would not hurt his draft status.
"I knew that people that really understood and watched football, understand what I was doing out there, and that sacks weren’t where it ended with me," Oweh said. "I was very disruptive; I caused a lot of havoc; I was very stout in the run game; I was beating my man; I was always there. So, people really understood that the zero sacks thing, that had no definition of who I was as a player.”
After losing Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Jihad Ward in free agency, Oweh fills a huge need for the Ravens. He will have an opportunity to start as a rookie. He's looking forward to seizing that opportunity.
"I still have so much in the tank, so much untapped potential that, me, I don’t even know, and the people that drafted me don’t even know yet," Oweh said. "I feel like I can be the most dominant defensive end, the most dominant player – defensive player – in this draft, just off of me learning how to get better, learning the scheme better, and just getting more experience as a player. I’ve only been playing for five years. A lot of these other guys have been playing their whole life, so you can do with that what you want.”