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Breaking Down DT/DE Esezi Otomewo

Penn State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the 165th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Esezi Otomewo (uh-SAY-zee o-TOE-may-woh), 5-tech DT/DE, Minnesota. The Vikings acquired the 165th pick in a trade down with the Raiders from #126, which gained the #169 pick as well.

Otomewo was 221st on the consensus big board, and the fourth-ranked 5-tech DT/DE.

TRAITS

Otomewo played defensive end in a 4-3 front in Minnesota but will likely play 5-tech in the Vikings’ new 3-4 base front, which is more of a defensive tackle spot- typically just inside the offensive tackle. So for a defensive tackle, Otomewo is very athletic but also very light. He’s got excellent length but could use to add another 15-20 pounds- which would detract some from his athletic numbers.

Otomewo turned 23 in March.

COLLEGE GRADES AND STATS

Otomewo was a 3-star recruit out of high school and chose Minnesota after PJ Fleck moved there from WMU. He was Honorable Mention All-B1G in 2021.

College Football Reference

PFF did not produce a full analysis of Esezi Otomewo, but they did assign the following grades:

2021: 79.5 overall, 84.3 run defense, 65.4 pass rush, 67.3 true pass rush set, 13.4% pass rush win rate, 7.8% run stop rate.

2020: 68.4 overall

2019: 71.2 overall

SCOUTING REPORTS

Dane Brugler, The Athletic:

STRENGTHS: Long and physical with a frame that can continue to be molded ... shows a base understanding of how to play the run ... flashes the ability to leverage the point, lock out and track the football ... anchors and maintains his vertical depth when he uses proper sink and pad level ... plays with the initial quickness that surprises blockers ... makes himself skinny to leak through gaps and into the backfield ... uses his long strides to chase from the backside ... keeps his foot down on the gas pedal and stays dogged in his pursuit ... keeps the mental mistakes to a minimum (zero penalties in 2021) ... played on punt return coverage the past four seasons ... added almost 70 pounds since high school and has shown steady progress each season.

WEAKNESSES: Raw as a pass rusher, both in his set-up and execution ... needs to continue adding bulk and developing in the weight room ... plays high and can be knocked backward by tight ends ... needs to better understand leverage points to take full advantage of his length at contact ... late to read and sort through the action, hindering his ability to play out in front ... wasn’t a stat sheet filler in college, and that is unlikely to change in the NFL ... found himself limited throughout the draft process, missing the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine because of a knee injury.

SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Minnesota, Otomewo was the field defensive end in defensive coordinator Joe Rossi’s 4-3 base, also lining up over the tackle or over the B gap. Along with his roommate Boye Mafe, he formed one half of the Gophers “Nigerian nightmares” at pass rusher, honoring the original “Nigerian Nightmare” (Christian Okoye). When he uses proper leverage and timing, Otomewo can stack and shed blocks to make tackles in his gap. However, offenses are not afraid to run at him because his hands, leverage points and recognition skills are wild, giving the advantage to blockers. Overall, Otomewo has disjointed rush moves and must maximize his power with more consistent biomechanics, but he is a toolsy five-technique prospect who has yet to reach his football ceiling.

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Lance Zierlein, nfl.com:

Long-levered defensive end with impressive body composition but limited playmaking production. Otomewo’s lack of range and his two-gapping potential make him best suited for a 4i or 5-technique in a 3-4 front. He is a diligent, team-oriented defender with a focus on executing assignments but could leave a team hungry for more playmaking capability. There is untapped potential still lurking, but Otomewo might be too limited to become more than a rotational end with run-defending upside.

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Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Newtwork:

Minnesota defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo is an intriguing developmental defensive lineman that offers prototypical size, length, and power to serve as a hand-in-the-dirt base end at the NFL level. The redshirt senior (not including added COVID-19 eligibility) prospect is someone I would still consider to be raw as a player, but he’s physically developed into the kind of body that you’d like to think you can find production from. Given his role in the Minnesota defensive front, I’m not sure this is someone who has been given a lot of opportunities to develop his pass-rush skill set and it would appear as though there’s some potential lurking under the surface to tap into. Otomewo is a powerful player with heavy hands and a lot of length. I’d like him best in a gap-control defense that asks him to stack and read blocks before implementing shedding techniques and continuing in pursuit of the football. Teams looking for organic pass rush help are probably going to need to search elsewhere, but as an early-down defender, I see plenty of appeal and even some versatility for Otomewo to step inside and help play as an interior defender.

Ideal role: Base 4-3 defensive end

Scheme tendencies: Gap control defense with ability to kick inside on passing situations

First Step Explosiveness: There is some nice juice here when he’s committed to shooting upfield. He’s a plus athlete and has more penetration ability than what he was able to showcase on the Gophers front. I think his quickness is a true winning trait on the interior—quick-footed tackles likely won’t be too pressed to get set up on their platforms with his speed off the edge.

Flexibility: I would classify Otomewo as a more dynamic athlete in linear situations, but for his size, he’s a pleasantly controlled athlete. I’ve seen some nice ability to open his hips and squeeze through creases or, alternatively, flatten to turn a corner. The coil he shows in his frame to stack the point of attack is a nice layer—he should handle one-on-one situations well if he’s put in the B-gap and asked to hold the point.

Hand Counters: There are some nice flashes in here. He hit Nicholas Petit-Frere with a nice inside counter and arm-over maneuver in the season opener of 2021. Power rushes and long-arm attacks are where he’s going to move the needle the most early on as he looks to continue to build out a more expansive repertoire, which gives his initial quickness a lot of importance to help him project as a winning pass rusher without that added nuance.

Length: His reported 34.5-inch arm length comes in very useful at the point of attack. He’s got ample separation skills when he gets his hands fit and has grown to be consistent with his stacking abilities. As a pass rusher, he has a lot of room for growth in how early he’s able to discard hands and currently projects as a power rusher who will use that upper-body strength to collapse angles and roll back the pocket.

Hand Power: This is an area of Otomewo’s game that I have little concern with. He’s got heavy hands and his stab, long-arm, and two-handed stun are all powerful. His hand counters offer a lot of force and will enable him to produce ‘knockback’ at the point of attack in one-on-one situations.

Run Defending: As a play-side defender, he anchors well and should be effective in holding the point against drive blocks to turn the ball back inside. When he’s slanted, he’s done well to crash and get his head across the frame of the blocker to occupy proper real estate. Against pullers, I would like to see a little bit more sturdy base to help him really slam that inside gap shut. Good backside collapse and flow.

Effort (Motor): I can certainly appreciate the effort that is shown here in both phases. Otomewo does well to scrape down the line of scrimmage and hoof after the play; he’s chased down a number of strung-out runs from the backside. I’ve seen him work outside the numbers in pursuit, too. He’s a try-hard in the best way possible.

Football IQ: I’m encouraged to see him be able to handle so many different alignments as a part of the Gophers front, but I am hoping to continue to see added growth as a pass rusher and pre-snap anticipation to really open up his game. There have been some instances where it appears as though he’s second-guessed himself in space or missed quick action that flashes early in the play and he’s run himself out of some plays as a result.

Lateral Mobility: There’s a pleasant level of mobility to his frame for such a big man. He’s capable of surfing down the LOS and maintaining his run gap integrity. He’s fairly effective in crossing face against oversets and has successfully worked back inside in rush situations. I wouldn’t ask him to be a featured edge contain player unless he’s in wide alignments—I like his forecast better with a linebacker capping him and giving him a smaller area to control.

Versatility: Minnesota did a lot to move him around. He played end, defensive tackle, and aligned in wide angles as well. I think he can fulfill a similar role without the reps in space at the pro level and he’s got the makings of an inside/outside defensive lineman depending on his landing spot.

FIT WITH THE VIKINGS

Otomewo will likely compete for an early-down 5-tech role in the Vikings’ base 3-4 defensive front. He needs to get bigger, but his run defense skills should suit him well for this role, and his length should help in setting the edge and getting off blocks, while his athleticism should be an asset in pursuing ball-carriers. Perhaps in time he can develop more pass-rushing tools to allow him to compete for a passing down role as well.

COLLEGE FILM

Otomewo is #9, most often lining up at DE, but occasionally at DT.

Poll

What level will Esezi Otomewo reach in the NFL?

  • 6%
    All-Pro / Pro Bowl
    (35 votes)
  • 1%
    Top 20% of defensive tackles
    (8 votes)
  • 12%
    Above average starting defensive tackle
    (67 votes)
  • 30%
    Average starting defensive tackle
    (162 votes)
  • 18%
    Below average starting defensive tackle
    (96 votes)
  • 30%
    He will not be a starter
    (161 votes)
529 votes total Vote Now