Last Updated: 30/04/22 10:58am
Scotland’s David Ojabo was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old linebacker was raised in Aberdeen – after moving from Nigeria aged seven – and had been projected as a first-round pick before tearing an Achilles tendon in March.
Ojabo suffered the injury during a pro-day workout drill at Michigan University and it proved enough for teams to pass on him on day one of the NFL’s annual event.
Elsewhere on the night Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was taken by the Tennessee Titans as a potential long-term replacement for Ryan Tannehill, while the Atlanta Falcons selected Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder as quarterbacks fell into the third round.
The Green Bay Packers traded up early in the second to acquire North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson, the New York Jets claimed the first running back of the draft in Iowa’s Breece Hall and, to widespread surprise, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean fell as far as 83rd overall where he was reunited with college teammate Jordan Davis by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Ravens underlined their belief in Ojabo’s potential beyond his injury as he was selected with the 45th pick on Friday.
“It was just a bump in the road,” Ojabo said about his Achilles. “It was my first-ever injury and just another obstacle I’m going to conquer.”
Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said that doctors have given a pretty promising timetable on when Ojabo could help the Ravens.
“They’re optimistic, that at some point this year, he’ll have a chance to play,” DeCosta said. “There might be a delay, but we think he’s going to come back with a vengeance and play outstanding football.”
Ojabo had not played the sport when he moved to America to go to a New Jersey high school, where he competed in basketball before being encouraged to give American football a go aged 17.
He learned quickly and a year later was playing for the University of Michigan’s team, the Wolverines. Last year he starred, making 11 sacks and helping his side win the Big 10 Championship.
There are plenty of connections between Michigan and the Ravens. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh’s brother Jim is the coach at Michigan.
Mike MacDonald, the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator in 2021, was hired this off-season to fill that same role in Baltimore.
“That’s just how I know that it’s all part of the plan,” Ojabo said.
“What are the odds that the person who comes in and gives me a chance to play [at Michigan], ultimately is the guy I’m following to the next level as well? I just know that it’s all written, man. It’s meant to be.”
Ojabo’s team-mate and fellow defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was selected by the Detroit Lions with the second overall pick on Thursday.
Ojabo had his parents with him for the draft, after they were flown out from Aberdeen to surprise him.
On a night when many anticipated a second-round run on quarterbacks, NFL teams instead waited until the third round of the draft to turn their attention to signal-callers.
Teams that seemingly needed a young quarterback such as the Seattle Seahawks and Falcons both passed twice on drafting a QB in Round 2.
That left the likes of Liberty’s Malik Willis, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell all waiting to hear their name called as the Las Vegas event moved into Round 3.
Friday’s development came after only one quarterback was chosen in the first round – Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20.
Ridder finally went off the board to the Falcons 10 picks into the third round, No. 74 overall.
“They’re going to get everything out of me – a Super Bowl out of me,” Ridder said on ABC’s draft broadcast. “I’m not leaving until I get a Super Bowl.”
Willis, once considered a potential top-10 pick, was chosen by the Titans a dozen picks later.
“He was the best player on our board,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson told reporters, adding that Willis “has a lot of work to do, obviously, like all the young kids do, but we’re excited to add him to the team and let him compete.”
Corral went to the Carolina Panthers with the 30th pick in the third round (94th overall). Howell, among other prospects, will have to wait until the draft concludes with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began Round 2 by choosing Houston defensive end Logan Hall. The pick originally belonged to the Jacksonville Jaguars before they moved up six slots in a trade with Tampa Bay on Thursday evening, allowing the Buccaneers to kick off Thursday night’s action.
The Green Bay Packers then traded up to select Aaron Rodgers’ newest weapon, North Dakota State wideout Christian Watson. The Packers sent two second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 59) to the Minnesota Vikings to move up for Watson.
“If you love a player, you just find a way to get him,” Packers director of football operations Milt Hendrickson said.
Two picks later, the New York Jets traded up with their crosstown rival Giants to choose Iowa State’s Breece Hall, the first running back off the board in the 2022 draft. Thursday marked the first time since 2014 that no running back was selected in the opening round.
Many expected Seattle to choose a quarterback with either the 40th or 41st pick with Russell Wilson now in Denver. However, the Seahawks opted to go with a pair of Big Ten standouts – Minnesota linebacker Boye Mafe and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III.
Meanwhile, Atlanta had a pair of second-round picks and chose two defensive players – Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie at No. 38 and Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen 20 picks later.
One of the most popular positions Friday once again was wide receiver, as seven were picked in the second round after six wideouts were chosen Thursday.
The New England Patriots (Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton at No. 50), Steelers (Georgia’s George Pickens at No. 52) and Kansas City Chiefs (Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore at No. 54) chose wide receivers in Round 2.
Moore will be part of a wide receiver committee that attempts to replace the production of Tyreek Hill, who was dealt to the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason.
“The one thing that stood out with this kid is he is smart,” Kansas City director of football operations Mike Borgonzi said of Moore. “If you watch this kid on film, he’s not the biggest guy, but he is fearless across the middle. Dependable. For a smaller guy, he really goes up and gets the ball. We feel really good about fitting him into this offense.”
©2022 Sky UK
2022 NFL Draft: Scotland's David Ojabo selected by Baltimore Ravens in second round, Malik Willis lands with Tennessee Titans as quarterbacks fall – Sky Sports