The 2021 NFL Draft approaches, tasking the Buffalo Bills with finding the best players for a Super Bowl run. Though it doesn’t have the usual batch of top-ten talent this year, edge rusher stands out as a need for the Bills nonetheless. The team struggled to earn sacks from its high-paid defensive line last season, and the two starters are set to be free agents next year. Picking 30th overall, the Bills may be choosing one of the first two or three edge rushers in the draft, thanks to the lack of top-end talent. One of the prospects on their radar is Penn State’s Jayson Oweh.
Jayson Oweh (Penn State) Scouting Report
- Measurables: 6’5” 257 lbs
- 2020 stats: 38 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, zero sacks
- 2019 stats: 21 total tackles, five tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles
- Year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Pro day testing: 4.37 40-yard dash, 39.5” vertical jump, 134” broad jump, 6.90 three-cone drill, 4.20 short shuttle, 21 bench press reps
Jayson Oweh is a freak athlete with a limited resume from his career at Penn State. A workout warrior, Oweh has the size and strength of a starting NFL defensive end and the speed and agility numbers of a starting NFL cornerback. He appeared in 20 games for the Nittany Lions, and only started eight of them (including all seven in his redshirt sophomore season). Making the evaluation more difficult is that he managed to finish the 2020 season without notching a single sack.
The team that drafts Oweh must be prepared for a high-risk, high-reward player. He doesn’t turn 21 years old until December of this year, and his inexperience is evident on tape. Also visible on tape are his top-tier athletic talents and high level of competitive effort. Believing in those traits, a team could see Oweh develop into a dangerous edge rusher like Brian Burns or Montez Sweat. It’s also possible that ability never translates to the NFL, and he fizzles out.
- Speed and length just eats up turf in the open field—can close to the QB in two or three steps
- Experienced working at both left and right defensive end, and rushing from inside on stunts
- Pass rush arsenal includes an arm chop, a bull rush, and a spin move
- Shows flashes of serious power—his punch can knock the opponent back a step or two
- Great flexibility in his body, making him able to rush the passer from unfavorable angles
- High-effort player, willing to chase 20 yards downfield to make a tackle
- Struggles to “get skinny” when trying to rush inside between guard and tackle
- Doesn’t have a natural dip-and-rip when cornering around the offensive tackle
- High pad level can stymie his bull rush efforts
- Lack of seasoning and production will be major concerns for any team hoping to see an instant impact from their rookies
Draft projection: Late first round to second round
Why he fits the Bills
The Buffalo Bills need a youth movement at edge rusher. Their starting lineup features 33-year-old Jerry Hughes and 34-year-old Mario Addison. Both players are free agents after 2021. Former second-round pick A.J. Epenesa didn’t distinguish himself as a rookie, and former seventh rounder Darryl Johnson hasn’t developed beyond his core special teams role.
The Bills can count on Hughes and Addison to carry their weight this season, which would allow them to bring Oweh slowly along. They used a similar tactic with Epenesa last season. That could give Buffalo a better chance than most to develop Oweh into a high-quality NFL player. His burst and flexibility could make him a fantastic asset defending outside runs early in his career, and he’d be a dynamic pass rushing change-up on third down.