Penn State defensive end Jayson Oweh did not record any sacks last season.
He doesn’t think it matters.
“As far as the zero sacks thing, it’s obviously there,” Oweh said at his Pro Day last week. “But if you really are a savant of the game, and really understand what is going on in the game and you watch film, you don’t just look at the box score, you understand that’s not even who I am, that’s not even the type of player I am.”
For Oweh, there are other factors to consider such as teams played against. He maintains that statistics from one season are not representative of the whole athlete.
“If you go off Indiana, I would have five sacks that game,” Oweh said. “It was just a split second off. I feel like even if I did have five, six sacks, people still would come up with things to say. My best series of football is ahead of me. This is probably the best thing that could have happened to me because I’m using that as motivation. People have said that I was a pass-rush specialist the year before that, and now they say I can only play the run. So I use all this stuff as motivation, and it’s helping me become a more complete football player.”
As the edge rusher prepares for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, he is focused not on what he didn’t do in college, but on what he is doing now. Oweh turned in a stunning athletic performance at his Pro Day that has swiftly made him the draft’s fastest riser. Some mock drafts now have Oweh cracking the top 10. His Pro Day numbers are below:
- 40: 4.36-4.39
- Vertical jump: 39.5
- Broad jump: 134
- Short shuttle: 4.15
- 3-cone: 6.84.
New York Giants coach Joe Judge was in attendance to witness Oweh’s freakish athleticism. Representatives from 31 teams were present. There remains a strong likelihood that Oweh is available when the Giants pick at No. 11 and he would fill an important need at edge rusher.
Oweh is a former All-Big 10 Teamer, but only recorded 63 tackles (13.5 for a loss) and 7.5 sacks in his college career. He posted 5.0 sacks in 2019 and zero last season. Any doubt about Oweh’s talent due to his college performance likely lessened after his Pro Day. Oweh surpassed many expectations, except his own.
“In the 40 I wanted a 4.35,” Oweh said. “So I came a little short on that. In the shuttle, I coulda got under 4. Three-cone I wanted a 6.73. I’m kinda mad on that one. Then just some technical stuff on the conditioning drills.”
Oweh maintained that while the growth might not have been visible in his 2020 stats, he is a much-improved pass rusher following last season.
“It helped me to understand what I have to really hone on,” Oweh said. “I focused on trying to add an extra move. Now I can really hone in on speed to power, hone in on timing the hands better, hone in on confronting the tackle instead of running around him. That’s only going to make my game better. It was bittersweet that I had zero sacks. But I just know it’s going to be crazy once I know what to get to work on.”
Since the end of the 2020 season, Oweh has been training alongside Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who is also projected to be picked early in the 2021 draft. Together, the two have pushed each other to improve.
“I feel like there should have been a documentary on how we worked in Santa Ana, California,” Oweh said. “It was so intense, so every single day, every single session it was just P.R., P.R., P.R. He has this thing where whoever goes first, the second person is going to have a better time because they have to take it up a notch. It was so competitive, so intense. Probably the craziest thing I saw him do, we were doing 10-yard starts and at this point none of us had cracked a 1.5 10-yard start. He P.R’d twice in a row and got like a 1.5. It was like mid-1.5s and I was like, wow. I went after that and couldn’t get it. After that I wound up beating him. After that I said I have to take it up a notch.”
The work has paid off as Oweh said that he has probably spoken to all 32 teams at some point throughout the draft process.
“They’re running me through plays, running me through schemes I’d potentially be in,” Oweh explained. “It’s nice to see where they could plug you in and it lets me know little things I could work on.”
For example, Oweh has learned not to rely too much on his pure athleticism - as impressive as it might be.
“Just using my athleticism in the right places in the right ways,” Oweh said. “Obviously, I’m very athletic, sometimes I tend to lean on it little too much. That can be bad because people can watch if you’re rushing too fast and you don’t have a counter move. Also relying more on my technique as well. I’m an unorthodox guy and can get things done my way but when you’re on the next level you gotta do things a specific way and be effective with it. So just tightening up the technique and my general knowledge of the game.”