At the University of Texas, you can find an elite EDGE rusher in the form of Joseph Ossai. On the field, Ossai displays tremendous acceleration and range to make plays across the field. His breakout season of 2019 put him on the map and established himself as a 2021 NFL Draft prospect.
In this article, I’ll continue the summer scouting series as we take a look at the Longhorns defender. I’ll provide some background on how Joseph Ossai found himself as a top 2021 NFL Draft eligible prospect. Next, we’ll watch some film together as we examines strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we’ll finish with looking at his competition and we’ll predict his future as an NFL edge rusher.
Joseph Ossai was a two-time all-district and academic all-district honoree for Conroe Oak Ridge High School in the greater Houston, Texas area. In addition to the above, Ossai was named a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Houston in 2017. Ossai was also ranked 15th overall in the Houston Top 100 by the Houston Chronicle.
Ossai was a consensus four-star prospect out of the state of Texas. Additionally, Ossai ranked 140th in ESPN’s Top 300. Prior to selecting the University of Texas, Joseph Ossai had offers from LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M. Ossai committed and signed his letter of intent in February of 2018 and enrolled later that year in June.
In 2018, Jospeh Ossai played in 14 games, including two starts, for the Texas Longhorns. He finished the season with 20total tackles, including one sack and a forced fumble. The 2019 season put Ossai on the map as he had a breakout season for the Longhorns. Ossai started all 13 games for Texas and compiled 90 total tackles, 61 of them solo. In addition, he finished with 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks on the season.
Prior to the 2020 season, Joseph Ossai was named to the Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award, and Lott IMPACT Trophy preseason watch lists.
What I Like About Joseph Ossai
Now it’s time to get into a short film session as we breakdown Joseph Ossai. He’ll be number 46 on your screen, but I’ll try to identify him as best I can. For the first game, we stay in Austin as the Longhorns host the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Range and Quickness
On this play, Ossai is playing an inside linebacker role in a typical 3-4 defense. At the snap, he does a solid job of mirroring the quarterback and maintaining contact through traffic. As the quarterback escapes the pocket, Ossai breaks on the ball and displays good range to reach the backfield quickly. While the quarterback delivers an accurate pass along the sidelines, this play is still impacted by Joseph Ossai’s quickness.
Read and Attack From Pass Coverage
Below, Joseph Ossai is an outside linebacker at the second level on the left side of your screen. As he drops into coverage, he does a solid job of reading the running back and keeping his hips pointed at his target. As the quarterback climbs the pocket to escape, Ossai once again displays excellent range to attack on the ball in a hurry. It’s not the prettiest tackle, but it certainly gets the job done.
Outside Run Defense
Joseph Ossai is an inside linebacker on the right side of the screen here. What I really like on this play is his ability to remain balanced as he lets the play develop. He’s not biting on the fake from the running back, but rather, remains patient and, as the back breaks outside, Ossai is there to meet him at the point of attack.
What I Dislike About Joseph Ossai
As is the case with all of our scouting reports, we provide film on the good and bad. I like to provide as much context as I can for you to develop your own opinions as well. In the clip below, we’re once again back in Austin as the Longhorns host Texas Tech.
Defending the Read-Option
You’ll find Joseph Ossai at the second level in the middle of your screen below. Texas Tech executes an excellent read-option as they get Ossai to bite. He misses the handoff and jumps back inside, creating a gap for the running back. If there is a positive, it’s that Ossai is able to use his athleticism to recover on the play and make the tackle.
I’ll be honest – this is just a bad rep in general for Joseph Ossai. He’s lined up on the right hash mark at the 43-yard line. He bites outside as he doesn’t expect the pitch to the opposite side of the field. At that point, Ossai has to play catchup and turns the jets on. However, the running back cuts back the other way and Ossai, as well as most of the defense, are out of position.
I currently have a third round grade on Joseph Ossai. That should, although there is plenty of time for things to change, put him in a position battle with Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham. However, this is really going to depend on how NFL franchises see Ossai fitting into their system. At the University of Texas, Joseph Ossai primarily filled the Jack linebacker role, which is a mix of defensive end and outside linebacker. Although, Ossai saw most of his time as a linebacker rather than a traditional defensive end.
The 2020 season, should we have one, will be key for Ossai. If he can display his versatility on defense, and improve in certain areas, he could sneak into the mid to late-second round.
Joseph Ossai has an elite skillset for the University of Texas. His athleticism and ability to break on the ball quickly sets himself apart from the rest in his class. Even if he drops into coverage, Ossai is still able to make plays in the backfield and is a difference maker.
However, I’d like to see Ossai improve on his ability to read plays quickly and efficiently, especially the read-option. A tendency to overcorrect puts Ossai behind the eight ball, although he’s typically able to right the ship by way of his athleticism and football IQ.
If he can improve in 2020, and show NFL scouts the ability to improve, he could be a long-term starter at the next level. As we get into 2021, and begin the NFL Draft process, Joesph Ossai should be a prospect that jumps off charts due to his measurables at the NFL Combine.