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Chris Ojoh Scouting Report | New Mexico State LB | 2023 NFL Draft

Chris Ojoh Scouting Report: Chris Ojoh is one of the most underrated prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is a versatile player.
Chris Ojoh Scouting Report: Chris Ojoh is one of the most underrated prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is a versatile player.

Chris Ojoh, New Mexico State 

Coming out of Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, California, Chris Ojoh was an unranked, undersized inside linebacker prospect who only received two FCS offers during his senior year – one from the Northern Colorado Bears and another from the Eastern Washington Eagles. Ojoh opted to sign with the Eastern Washington Eagles, a decision that would reap instant rewards.

As a true freshman at Eastern Washington in 2017, Ojoh appeared in all 11 games, seeing playing time as a reserve linebacker and on various special teams units. He finished the season with 18 tackles and positioned himself well to earn a starting role during the 2018 offseason.

At the midpoint of the 2018 season, the Eagles were 5-2 and reeling from a close loss to Big Sky rival 13th-ranked Weber State. In efforts to contend with Weber State and UC Davis in the Big Sky Conference title race, the Eagles’ coaching staff decided to start Ojoh in their next game against the Idaho Vandals. In a winning effort, Ojoh collected four tackles and one pass breakup, doing enough to hold down a starting linebacker position for the remainder of the season. After officially inserting Ojoh into the starting lineup, the Eagles went on a seven-game win streak and reached the FCS National Championship game. In his sophomore campaign, Ojoh accumulated 105 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery, signaling a potential breakout season in 2019

However, the 2019 season didn’t go as planned for Ojoh. Despite starting at inside linebacker for the Eagles’ first three games, Ojoh suffered a lower leg injury that kept him sidelined for most of the year. Although he returned a few weeks later against the Montana Grizzlies, where he totaled nine tackles, the Eagles’ coaching staff decided to redshirt Ojoh for the remainder of the season. Ojoh would end his third season at Eastern Washington with a humble stat line of 27 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.

When it was finally time for Ojoh to burst out on the scene in a big way, the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 forced Eastern Washington to push its college football season to the spring of 2021 and shorten its schedule to six games. Still, Ojoh made his mark despite only playing in three of six games for the Eagles. He recorded 24 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, and one sack. Ojoh was also selected as the top player in FCS to wear No. 58 in the 2020-21 season by HERO SPORTS.

After the 2021 spring season, Ojoh entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer, providing him with two additional years of eligibility. After garnering plenty of interest from FCS and G5 FBS programs, Ojoh officially signed his letter of intent at New Mexico State University. Ojoh cited NMSU’s schedule, which featured two road matchups against SEC opponents – Alabama and Kentucky – as the key reason for joining the Aggies’ program.

In his first season at New Mexico State, Ojoh flashed for the Aggies, starting in all 12 games, and led the team in sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for loss. In the Aggies’ biggest game of the season against Alabama, Ojoh had one of the best defensive games in New Mexico State history, logging 13 tackles, three tackles for loss, and one strip-sack in a road loss in Tuscaloosa. Ojoh finished the season with 72 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, six sacks, and three forced fumbles, and earned Second Team All-Independent Team honors after the season.

During the 2021 offseason, Ojoh spent three months in the transfer portal before withdrawing his name a week into spring ball. As a sixth-year senior and the Aggies’ leader on defense, Ojoh went on to lead the program to new heights. With Ojoh shining as New Mexico State’s top defensive player, the Aggies recorded their first winning season in five years, including a victory in the Quick Lane Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons. Throughout the 2022 season, Ojoh accumulated 108 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and two forced fumbles, earning First-Team All-Independent Defensive honors for the first time in his career.

Scouting Report

Chris Ojoh is a productive, hard-hitting WILL linebacker with a relentless motor who possesses excellent burst, closing speed, and tackling ability in open space. Ojoh’s impressive foot speed, ankle flexibility, lateral movement, and twitch allow him to fly around the field with fluidity, covering ground from sideline to sideline.

Though some might cast Ojoh as a prototypical inside linebacker who plays his best football within the box, Ojoh is most productive when he’s able to chase down ball carriers in the open field.

Ojoh’s acceleration, get-off, and read/react ability provide him with the innate ability to blitz the quarterback and find his way into the backfield with ease, often creating negative plays for opposing offenses. Throughout his college career, Ojoh accumulated 40 tackles for loss and 14 sacks, proving himself as a vital weapon when it comes to getting to the quarterback or stopping ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage.

With an explosive lower half, high-contact courage, and tireless pursuit of the football, Ojoh is a true thumper who aims to bring down ball carriers with maximum ferocity and physicality. He’s a sure-handed tackler with strong technique who rarely allows ball carriers to fight for extra yardage once he makes contact.

To add value to Ojoh’s already-versatile skill set, he displays proficient cover ability, particularly in man-on-man coverage against slot receivers. Ojoh sinks his hips well and uses his exceptional closing speed and sufficient balance/body control to close the cushion between him and his matchup. His cover ability efficiency does decrease slightly when he drops into zone coverage, as he can get lost in space when he locks his eyes into the backfield.

Ojoh plays with decent play strength and leverage. His pad level tends to be too high at times, which makes it difficult for him to stack and shed blocks from interior offensive linemen at the point of attack. However, he’s shown a strong use of hands when blitzing off the edge or engaging with smaller receivers on the boundary. If Ojoh can lower his pad level and play with a better bend, he should be more effective when engaging with blockers inside the box.

Ojoh is slightly undersized but plays much larger than his size would indicate. He possesses a well-developed upper half and large, explosive lower half and has proven to be durable during his time at the FBS level.

Ojoh is a true sideline-to-sideline, every-down WILL linebacker with a holistic skill set that enables him to operate in several defensive roles. Ojoh can play within the box, cover slot receivers in open space, blitz off the edge, and does it all with a mean streak.

Ojoh is a tough competitor with high football intelligence and a knack for finding his way to the football. He’s productive, trustworthy, and has the talent and skill set to back up his nasty playstyle.

Ojoh is a true diamond in the rough in the 2023 NFL Draft Class. With some polishing from NFL coaches, Ojoh should be a mainstay in the league for years to come.

Draft Projection

Mid 5th Round-Early 6th Round

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