When it comes to evaluating prospects for the NFL draft, it is often a matter of weighing a prospect’s floor against their potential ceiling. The truly elite prospects not only have high floors, but high ceilings as well, but few prospects fit into that category. Most prospects will either be high-floor players who should be good — or at least serviceable — but never great, or will be a player who could be a game-changer but also has a higher chance of busting.
Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh could well fall into that second category. He has the kind of size, athletic tools, and versatility that gets scouts and coaches excited over what he could be, but as of now he’s an unfinished product. Oweh is a former basketball player and only started playing football as a junior in high school. He is still developing as a player, but the flashes are tantalizing.
The New York Giants need to add an EDGE rusher, could Oweh prove to be a value if he slips out of the first round?
Prospect: Jayson Oweh
Games Watched: vs. Memphis (2019), vs. Minnesota (2019), vs. Ohio State (2020)
Games Played: 20
Tackles For a loss: 13.5
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 2
Games Played: 7
Tackles For a loss: 6.5
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 1
Best: Length, athleticism, first step, discipline, competitive toughness
Worst: Technique, consistency
Projection: Developmental EDGE with starting upside in multiple schemes.
Jayson Oweh is a long, athletic, and toolsy EDGE prospect from Penn State.
Oweh typically aligned as a defensive end in Penn State’s 4-man front, playing on both the left and right sides of the defensive line. Oweh generally lined up as a 7 or 9-technique, though he occasionally played from an interior alignment as well.
He shows good lower-body flexibility, settling into a compact stance and keeping his pad level low through the early part of his rush. He shows the ability to bend the edge as a pass rusher and carry his speed into the backfield. Likewise, shows very good short-area quickness and change of direction skills. Oweh can easily stop his rush and explode in a new direction to pursue quick-hitting passes.
Oweh is a disciplined run defender, showing good patience to prolong the mesh point in read-option plays, as well as delay the quarterback’s read on run pass option (RPO) plays. He is able to delay his commitment in those situations, trusting his athleticism to make up the difference, which allows his teammates time to get into position or overcome responsibility conflicts.
Oweh shows great competitive toughness as a player. He is willing to take on bigger offensive linemen, as well as double-teams, and fight through their blocks. Likewise, he is a high-effort player in pursuit, with a high-revving motor to pursue plays through the whistle.
Oweh flashes the traits necessary to be an impact starter at the NFL level, but doesn’t yet have the consistency necessary to play at that level on a down-to-down basis. Teams will want to work with Oweh to develop his technique and mental processes. Oweh flashes the use of a variety of pass rush moves, but coaches will need to help him develop a coherent arsenal of moves, as well as a plan on how to employ them over the course of a game. Likewise, he can occasionally need a beat to process what he is seeing before acting. More experience and work in the film room should help with that.
Overall Grade: 8.5 - This prospect has the physical and athletic tools to be an impact starter at the next level, but will need development to consistently play at his potential.
Penn State’s Jayson Oweh projects as a developmental EDGE prospect early in his career, but has the potential to be an impact starter in a variety of schemes if he realizes his full upside.
How quickly Oweh becomes a contributor for a defense could largely depend on the situation into which he is drafted. Teams will want to do what they can to get him playing as fast (not just on the field soonest, but at the highest game-speed) as possible as a rookie. To do that, they would likely want to work on perfecting just two pass rush moves, a go-to and a counter, such as a rip move and a long-arm. Helping Oweh to be consistent in his hand usage will go a long way toward unlocking his prodigious athleticism and making him a more effective rusher. Likewise, teams will want to refrain from putting too much on his mental plate early on in his career. Oweh is still relatively new to football, with just five years’ experience between high school and college, and asking him to process as many concepts as a player with a decade’s more experience will only slow him down further.
But when everything lines up for Oweh, he is capable of a stunning first step and overwhelming blockers with speed or successfully converting speed to power and forcing bigger blockers into the backfield.
The good news is that he already shows good competitive toughness in all areas of his game. He is willing to fight through blocks, get his hands dirty in run defense, and pursue plays through the echo of the whistle. If he can bring that mentality to the classroom and practice field, he stands a good chance of hitting his ceiling.