The nose tackle position isn’t a glamorous life. There are few opportunities for highlight reel plays or salary boosting sack totals. For the most part, a good nose tackle goes unnoticed by fans and the position only really gets talked about when something goes terribly wrong.
But good nose tackle play is important for modern defenses, which need to be able to stop the interior runs that offenses like to pair with spread passing games. A good nose tackle, a player who can create a pile and clog both A-gaps, goes a long way toward helping a defense slow down interior runs with a neutral or light defensive front.
And UCLA’s Otito Ogbonnia is a good nose tackle.
Ogbonnia has a prototypical build, long arms, plenty of power, and even enough athleticism to be used as more than just a “two-down run stuffer.” Will that be enough to land him on the New York Giants radar? They very well could be in the market for a new nose tackle.
Prospect: Otito Ogbonnia (91)
Games Watched: vs. LSU (2021), vs. Oregon (2021), vs. Utah (2021), vs. Washington (2021)
Games Played: 37
Tackles For a loss: 8.5
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes Defensed: 6
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 5.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 2
Best: Size, length, leverage, power, run defense, competitive toughness
Worst: Speed, quickness, agility, pass rush
Projection: A rotational nose tackle with scheme diversity.
(Ogbonnia is iDL number 91)
UCLA nose tackle Otito Ogbonnia has a great combination of size, length, power, and competitive toughness to play the position at the NFL level.
Ogbonnia has great size for the position, measuring 6-foot-4, 324 pounds, with 34 ⅜ inch arms and 10-inch hands. He has evident power in his upper and lower halves and carries his weight very well. Ogbonnia is probably best described as a good athlete for a nose tackle, but not a great athlete in the absolute sense. He is flexible enough to get into a compact stance and play with good leverage throughout the play. He generally keys the snap well and gets moving with good quickness in the opening instants of a play.
Ogbonnia is capable of attacking gaps with his initial rush, as well as physically driving blockers backwards. His leverage and play strength make him very difficult for offensive linemen to control in one-on-one situations when he’s intent on disrupting in the backfield.
That said, play strength is Ogbonnia’s calling card and the foundation of his game. He is capable of being a two-gap player, controlling blockers and defending multiple gaps. Likewise, he is also capable of standing up to double teams when he plays with good leverage. Ogbonnia is very difficult to move off the line of scrimmage when he doesn’t want to be moved, and shows a good ability to position his hips in the correct gap to influence running plays.
Ogbonnia uses his hands well to keep himself clean and keep linemen from locking in their blocks. He’s able to make plays off of blockers when runners pass through his gaps. He also shows a great instinct for disengaging from blockers to pursue ball carriers. Ogbonnia shows great competitive toughness in pursuit, often pursuing across – or down – the field and through the echo of the whistle.
He also saw some use in UCLA’s pass rush schemes, often serving as the looper on TEX (tackle-end exchange) stunts. He was also asked to drop into shallow coverage zones on occasion as well, usually as a part of blitz schemes.
While Ogbonnia is capable of being disruptive due to his raw power, and he was useful in scheming pressure, he didn’t add much to UCLA’s pass rush on his own.
Ogbonnia is best described as powerful, but not explosive. He lacks a great burst and his lack of long speed limits his ability to generate pressure over any kind of distance. Likewise, he showed great hustle, but he was often too slow to be an effective pursuit player. Teams could well look at Ogbonnia as a “two-down” player who is taken off the field in obvious passing situations.
Ogbonnia also played through a “right leg” injury in 2021. While he should be commended for his toughness, teams will want to investigate the injury to make sure there aren’t any concerns going forward.
Overall Grade: 7.1
UCLA defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia likely projects as a nose tackle – manning the 0 or 1-technique – at the NFL level. He has the skill set to be an important contributor in that role, but whether or not he is considered a “Starter” will likely come down to the exact scheme he lands in and match-ups on a weekly basis.
Ogbonnia has the potential to be a rock in the middle of a defensive front, occupying blockers, creating opportunities for teammates, and allowing linebackers to flow to the ball. He generally plays with good leverage to maximize his play strength and is remarkably tough for linemen to move when he doesn’t want to move.
He will likely be characterized as a “two-down run-stuffer”, but Ogbonnia does have some upside as a pass rusher. It is, admittedly, limited, but he’s capable of being a disruptive player when attacking individual gaps or driving offensive linemen backwards. Ogbonnia usually played the 0-technique or 1-technique for UCLA’s defense, but he did line up as a 3 or 4i-technique on occasion and was a problem for blockers. He was also used as a looper or in shallow zone coverage to a surprising degree – considering his usual role and relatively lacking athleticism – and that experience could translate to more exotic blitz schemes at the NFL level.
That said, power will be Ogbonnia’s stock and trade, and his limited pass rush upside will likely limit his draft stock. He will however, be a useful piece for just about any defense in which he lands.