The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have a handful of Penn State Nittany Lions on the team - both as players as well as working behind the scenes. There’s no question that someone the caliber of Jayson Oweh could not only be an impactful player in the NFL as a rookie, but he could be a big part of the Buccaneers both in their bid to repeat as Champions as well as into the future.
With Shaquil Barrett back on a multi-year deal and Jason Pierre-Paul with at least one more year in red and pewter, the Bucs need a little help in terms of a player that can enter the rotation and give the two Pro Bowlers a play or two off throughout games. Not being called upon to start immediately will only aid Oweh in his growth to becoming a feared pass rusher in the NFL.
JAYSON OWEH’S COLLEGIATE CAREER
Oweh was a heavily recruited prospect in 2018, being sought out by programs like Ohio State, Alabama, and Notre Dame to name a few. A top prospect out of New Jersey, Oweh stayed as close to Hackensack as he could, committing to Penn State University - a three hour drive from his family.
Finding playing time to be scarce in his Freshman year, Oweh maximized his opportunities but still fell under the eligibility restrictions to be red-shirted. In his first season as a full time player, Oweh appeared in every game racking up 21 tackles, five tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, and one pass defensed. In 2020, Oweh played in seven games - four fewer than the previous season - and finished with 38 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and one pass defensed. The glaring omission there is that Oweh had no sacks in his final year with the Nittany Lions. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t effective, however. According to the Pro Football Network, Oweh had an 18% win rate as a pass rusher which was at the top of the Big Ten.
What Oweh showed was that even though the numbers weren’t there like they were in 2019, he was still extremely disruptive in the passing attack, hurrying opposing quarterbacks and creating positive plays for the defense. Much like how we saw Shaq Barrett’s sack numbers go down but he was as impactful as ever when getting pressure on the quarterback.
"He's gonna be a future All-Pro player once he gets his opportunity."— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) April 16, 2021
Buy stock now in @JaysonOweh.
The rising @PennStateFball star EDGE is poised to make a splash in the @NFLDraft. pic.twitter.com/HTYChXNcXB
PRO DAY DATA AND ANALYSIS
Coming in at 6’5”, 257-pounds, Oweh still ran a 4.36 40-yard dash showing off insane speed. His other measurables of note were a 39.5-inch vertical, a broad jump of 11’2”, and 34.5-inch arms.
The combination of size, speed, and strength is what Bruce Arians and Jason Licht mentioned they would be looking for in the upcoming draft. When Arians spoke with the media at the end of March, he said the biggest area of need is speed on defense. You’ll be hard pressed to find a pass rusher to come off the edge with more speed than what Jayson Oweh put on display.
Bruce Arians said the biggest area of need in the draft for the Bucs would be speed on defense. He says he would like to address both lines of scrimmage with physical players. Finally, a young quarterback if one presents himself.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) March 30, 2021
Pro Football Focus named Oweh their “biggest winner” stemming from the Pro Days. PFF analyst Michael Renner said;
“He had the single best 40-yard dash time (4.39) as well as broad jump (11-2) of any defensive end ever in our database. And he’s not simply explosive in a straight line; his 6.84-second three-cone is an elite number, as well. He’s raw, but he has everything you could want to work with.”
WHAT HE BRINGS IN 2021
Oweh brings a mix of raw, freakish athleticism that will not only bring speed but also power to the pass rush of the Bucs. He also brings with him some limitations that can be developed while the full workload of a starter isn’t thrust upon him from the jump.
As a rotational piece, Oweh can be almost like a “change of pace” pass rusher that will keep offensive tackles on their heels. This will create opportunities to sack the quarterback or pressure him into throwing too soon, allowing the secondary to create turnovers. His quickness and strong hands allow him to shed blocks, but he lacks consistency in that area - something that the coaching staff can help him continue to develop.
One of the other questions is how quickly he can improve his stand-up game. He’s better out of a three-point stance, but with the Buccaneers he would be asked to play outside linebacker and play out of a stand up position. One of the knocks against Oweh is that he isn’t as effective standing over the tackle and that part of his game would need some work.
That’s not to say he can’t do it. He fits the profile perfectly, it just isn’t a part of his game that has been developed to its peak potential quite yet. His run defense would also need some refining, so he projects to be a player that sees the field early on in passing situations while the rest of his game becomes fine-tuned.
PSU EDGE Jayson Oweh— YinzNationSport (@YinzNationSport) April 18, 2021
(6-5, 257) freakish athlete w/burst off the line, lateral mobility, motor. Likes club/rip & works down the line in run D
This could be a solid pick up in the 2nd or 3rd rd for Pittsburgh
Bud Dupree to the titans is a huge loss
The obvious hope would be that within three years, Jayson Oweh is the starter opposite Barrett. With Pierre-Paul only having one year left on his contract, no one knows what the future holds for JPP. The Buccaneers could absolutely bring him back and keep Oweh as a rotational player. However, if JPP were to move on or retire, the Bucs would want to see Oweh as that long term guy on the outside of the defense.
There’s also the possibility that if Oweh’s stand up game doesn’t improve, there would be an opening next to Vita Vea following the season when Ndamukong Suh becomes a free agent again. With Oweh, the Bucs have the luxury of testing him out at outside linebacker or as a 3-4 defensive end. That would allow him to come out of the three-point stance where he is currently more comfortable and effective. The Bucs could then get a feel to his ideal fit in Todd Bowles’ defense before calling upon him to be the every down starter.
If Oweh is the pick for the Bucs, it would be in the first round. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has him ranked 33rd on his top-50, making him a borderline late first/early second round pick.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Oweh to Bud Dupree with a first round projection. Zierlein graded him at a 6.44, making him a “starter within the first two seasons” type player but also notes he has “Pro Bowl rush linebacker ability.” This, again, lines up perfectly with what the Bucs would be looking for in terms of needs in 2021 as well as needs in 2022 and beyond.
As a consensus top-five edge rusher in this year’s draft, Oweh could slip to the Bucs at 32 or be gone by time the draft gets to the 20’s.
ON THE CLOCK...
With all that said, it’s time for you to make the decision. Is Jayson Oweh the guy if he’s sitting there when the Buccaneers go on the clock? Vote in our poll or let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
For Jayson Oweh, the Buccaneers should...
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...draft him at current projection (round 1)
...draft him early (trade up in round 1)
...take a better player earlier
...draft this position, but later
...not draft this position group at all