The buildup to the NFL draft every year is an extremely grueling process for the prospects.
They have college football all-star games, intense workouts, and meetings with NFL teams in person. With so many things going on, these players are more prone to potential freak injuries and sadly that is exactly what occurred this week.
Michigan defensive lineman David Ojabo was doing a routine workout at his Pro Day when he crumpled down to the turf clutching his leg.
Just like that Ojabo tore his Achilles a mere month before the 2022 NFL draft and now his draft stock is very murky.
This could be a perfect opportunity for the New York Jets to take advantage of a very unfortunate situation.
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A Very Unique Strategy That Could Work
Prior to the injury, Ojabo was widely considered at worst a top-20 pick, if not inside the top-15.
Now after this devastating news, his stock is falling rapidly. Peter King of NBC Sports said this will “probably push him to round two.”
Fortunately, the Jets have two picks in the second round with No. 35 (their own) and No. 38 (thanks to the Sam Darnold trade to the Carolina Panthers).
A scout recently told me that if you select Ojabo and are patient with him, he could develop into one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.
He is a one-year wonder after an explosive season in 2021 racking up 11 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles. With a limited football background naturally Ojabo is incredibly raw, but he also possesses things you can’t teach with elite traits and immense upside.
So if Ojabo slips and slides down the board to the Jets in the second round, it would have to be a very deep conversation.
“He is still going to play in his rookie season. Someone is going to come back up in round one to get that fifth-year option on Ojabo. You don’t take hurt developmental guys without the five-year security. A team will get the luxury of the draft-and-stash strategy here.”
That fifth-year option comment is a very interesting one.
For folks who are unaware, the CBA states that a player that is selected in the first round will have a standard four-year contract with a team option for that fifth year. Players that are selected after the first round only have four-year deals with no option included.
It would behoove a team, like the Jets, to sneak back into the first round to select Ojabo so you get that bonus year. If he is as good as everyone thinks he can be, then you’ll be getting Ojabo on an incredible discount for that fifth year instead of possibly thinking about the franchise tag or a lucrative long-term extension.
Can Gang Green Even Do That?
Most NFL teams historically that have pulled off this “draft-and-stash” strategy are contenders. Teams that already have really good rosters and can afford the luxury of selecting a player that doesn’t have to help out immediately.
With that in mind, can the Jets even afford to do this?
They need players that can help right now, not in 2023.
Although the reason to have optimism that this could happen is general manager Joe Douglas. GMs aren’t on the same timeline, typically as head coaches are.
A head coach is always thinking of the present, how can they win the next game? That is juxtaposed with the general manager who is always trying to think multiple steps ahead.
In a perfect world, a GM will try to compete in the present and build for the future, but as Jets fans are painfully aware that is easier said than done.
Ojabo is still only 21 years old (will be 22 by the start of the 2022 season). You don’t select players in the first round just for a single season, you do it for the length of their respective careers.
If the Jets are willing to risk it to get the biscuit, they could finally solve their pass-rushing woes.
Robert Saleh loves EDGE players and Douglas loves value, this could be a perfect pairing of philosophies on draft day.