Cardinals Urged to Draft Edge ‘Terror’ Compared to Bears’ Pro-Bowler

Robert Quinn

Getty The Cardinals have been urged to draft an Edge "terror" compared to Robert Quinn.

Filling the Chandler Jones-shaped hole at the edge of their front seven remains a priority for the Arizona Cardinals headed into the 2022 NFL draft. General manager Steve Keim has resisted going the free-agency route to replace the franchise sack leader, so a marquee member of a rookie class deep in skilled pass-rushers looks like a safe bet with the 23rd-overall pick.

There are several options, and one name in particular has become a popular choice during mock-draft season. Yet, the Cards have been urged to roll the dice and take a chance on another edge defender who has been described as a “terror” and compared favorably to the Chicago Bears’ single-season sack record-holder.

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‘High-Upside’ Pass-Rusher Likened to Robert Quinn a Fit for Cards

In his latest mock draft for CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson looked at “what teams should do” with their prime picks. When it came to the Cardinals, Wilson made an interesting, if risky, recommendation the team take David Ojabo in the first round: “Ojabo tore his Achilles at his pro day in March and that will undoubtedly affect his draft stock. But he is a terror off the edge and he’s only been playing football for five years. He’s a high-upside prospect who could see the field late in his rookie campaign.”

The risk is obvious given it’s barely over a month removed from Ojabo suffering a serious injury. Yet, Wilson isn’t the only one who believes the 21-year-old Wolverines standout is still worth first-round consideration.

Another such optimist is NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who believes Ojabo could be ready to play “as soon as October.” That’s not a long time to wait for a prospect whom Pelissero refers to as a “surefire first-rounder before the injury.”

There’s no denying Ojabo has a natural talent for wrecking offenses when he’s healthy. He practically lived in the backfield during his final season at Michigan, making 12 tackles for loss and recording 11 sacks, per Sports Reference.

The most telling statistics regarding Ojabo concern his performance on third down. Numbers from PFF Draft show he was at his best in the moments when teams most want their pass-rushers to show up:

Sure, it helped to be playing on the same defensive line as Aidan Hutchinson, but Ojabo’s numbers were far from shabby for somebody who only turned to football as a 16-year-old.

Ojabo may have arrived late to the party, but his playmaking flair and obvious upside have encouraged some lofty comparisons. One of the best is from The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs, who likened Ojabo to Bears’ edge-rusher Robert Quinn.

That’s high praise indeed since Quinn logged 18.5 sacks in 2021, breaking the single-season mark set by Bears icon Richard Dent during the 1984 season:

It’s a good comparison because like Quinn, Ojabo has the core skills that transfer well to any defensive front.

Ojabo the Pure Edge-Rusher Cardinals Need

Quinn enjoyed a Pro-Bowl season in the Bears’ version of the 3-4 defense, where he mostly operated as a standup rusher. Crabbs envisions the same role for Ojabo, describing his ideal fit as a “3-4 outside rush linebacker (long-term) and a designated pass-rush specialist (rookie season).”

Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph runs his own version of the 3-4, but honestly, most fronts are merely schematic semantics in today’s NFL. Teams want versatile edge-rushers who can move around and create pressure from anywhere along the front.

Ojabo fits the bill, with this draft profile highlighting how he rushed from either side at Michigan:

Plays like these not only resemble Quinn, they are also reminiscent of Jones, who was rushed from multiple spots in Joseph’s system. In this context, Ojabo makes more sense for the Cardinals than another draft edge who has often been mentioned in mocks.

Purdue’s George Karlaftis is a popular pick for the Cards, with NFL Network’s Rhett Lewis and James Fragoza of Pro Football Network among those who think Keim will go in this direction.

It wouldn’t be a terrible pick, but Karlaftis, who never notched more than 7.5 sacks in a season during his collegiate career simply isn’t as consistently explosive as Ojabo. That’s what the Cardinals lost when Jones joined the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency.

Ojabo is the best candidate to replace Jones, something worth waiting for, especially since the Cardinals can rely on Markus Golden and J.J. Watt to generate pressure in the interim. Keim could also add a mid-rounder edge-rusher like San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas to provide Joseph with more insurance while he waits on Ojabo.

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