Film Room: Larry Ogunjobi Brings Strong, Disruptive Presence to Pittsburgh Defensive Line

On Tuesday evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed DL Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Financial terms of the deal are not currently known at this time, but one would think that Ogunjobi likely signed for an average yearly value less than the three-year $40.5 million deal he agreed to with the Chicago Bears, but the deal fell through due to Ogunjobi failed his physical due to a foot injury at the end of last season in the playoffs that had not fully healed when Chicago was initially made the move.

Given that Pittsburgh is comfortable signing Ogunjobi to a one-year pact, his foot injury either must be healed or close to 100% for the two sides to come to terms. Several members of Steelers Depot, including myself, were clamoring for an Ogunjobi signing after the surprise retirement of DL Stephon Tuitt should Ogunjobi be healthy. The 28-year-old defensive lineman is listed at 6’3, 305lb with 32 5/8” arms, 10” hands, and tested well at the NFL Combine back in 2017 with 4.97 40, 9’8” broad, 32” vert, and 26 reps on the bench.

The Cleveland Browns selected Ogunjobi in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and started three seasons with the team. Ogunjobi recorded 11 sacks across 2018-2019 before seeing his numbers dip in 2020 to just 2.5 sacks. However, Ogunjobi bounced back in a big way on a one-year deal with the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals in 2021, posting 49 total stops (29 solo), 12 TFLs, 16 QB hits, seven sacks, and an overall grade of 50.3 from Pro Football Focus.

The Film

When watching the tape, what immediately sticks out about Ogunjobi is his ability to penetrate and disrupt the interior of the offensive line. He does a great job shooting gaps as a pass rusher as well as a run defender, having his motor run hot as an energizer bunny on the defensive line. On this play back with the Browns, we see Ogunjobi align inside shade of the LG and fights pressure against the C who tries to reach block him, working down the LOS to take down the runner in the backfield for the TFL.

On this rep against the Saints, we see Ogunjobi kick inside to the NT spot head up on the center. On the snap, Ogunjobi displays impressive burst off the line as he hits the C with the club/rip combo around the blocker’s left shoulder, clearing the block and tracks down #9 Drew Brees in the pocket for the sack.

Ogunjobi is an extremely strong DT that fits as a 3-tech or 4i in given his size and athleticism, but he has proven to be a versatile defender hat can play inside shade of the tackle to head up on the center. He had to play out of position in previous seasons with Cleveland and Cincinnati due to injury upfront but still held his own well as you can see from the clips above when playing inside. Here is another example with the Bengals from last season where Ogunjobi lines up as the NT and uses his strength to walk back #77 Bradley Bozeman in the pocket, eventually shedding the block to a scrambling #8 Lamar Jackson and take him down for the sack .

As mentioned earlier, Ogunjobi can beat blockers not only with brute strength inside but also with quickness. Here against the Vikings, we see Ogunjobi as the 1-technique inside shade of the guard and shoots the A-gap between the RG and C, penetrating into the backfield takes #33 Dalvin Cook down for a loss of yardage.

Ogunjobi made his bones as a run defender in Cleveland to start his career before seeing his pass rush production flourish in his lone season in the Queen City. On this rep against San Francisco, we see Ogunjobi align inside shade of LT #71 Trent Williams on a pivotal third-and-short situation. Ogunjobi manages to chuck Williams to the side on the inside run, filling the gap the runner is coming to and holds him up in the backfield. He could’ve done a better job staying on his feet and preventing the runner from spinning off, but the fact that Ogunjobi manages to toss arguably the best tackle in football aside to fill a gap is impressive to say the least.

Here is a similar play made by Ogunjobi against the Chiefs last season where he lines up just on the inside shoulder of the RG and absorb the punch of #65 Trey Smith on the snap, keeping his feet and long arms the blocker to sit in his gap where he then gets into the backfield and wraps up #87 Travis Kelce on the keeper for the goal line stand.

Ogunjobi showed flashes as a pass rusher during his time with the Browns, but he really came into his own as a war daddy upfront with the Bengals last season. Not only is he a successful gap penetrator as a pass rusher, but he also wins with good hand usage, utilizing a club/rip like seen above as well as a dip/rip move that we see on this play against the Broncos last season, getting into the pocket and bringing down #3 Drew Lock for the sack.

Former Steelers OL Matt Feiler is well-acquainted with Ogunjobi’s abilities as a pass rusher as we can see on this rep against the Chargers last season as Ogunjobi gets his hands inside Feiler’s chest and rips through the blocker’s outside shoulder as he turns the corner and takes down #10 Justin Herbert for the sack, getting up and stunting on them for good measure after.

Conclusion

Overall, Larry Ogunjobi provides the Pittsburgh Steelers a disruptive presence upfront that has the strength to hold his own at the point of attack as well as the quickness to penetrate into the backfield and cause havoc as a pass rusher along the interior. He has been in the past for needing to be a more consistent player, having times where he often goes unnoticed, then suddenly flashes on splash plays. In Pittsburgh, Ogunjobi likely won’t be leaning on as a full-time starter along the defensive line, but rather a moveable chest piece that can share the load with Tyson Alualu at the while also providing quality play as 3-tech/4i as a base DE or sub package DT in Pittsburgh’s system.

The signing of Ogunjobi presents a low risk/high reward scenario that GM Omar Khan was wise to do, having an open roster spot sit available for a while now, likely pointing to a potential big-name signing that came to fruition in Ogunjobi. He would’ve earned a lucrative deal with the Bears if fully healthy at the start of the offseason, but saw that deal fall through, settling for a one-year pact with Pittsburgh.

If fully healthy, Ogunjobi should be able to provide quality play upfront on the defensive line for Pittsburgh, having played 724 defensive snaps in Cincinnati the year prior. From there, he could either play himself into a big contract elsewhere in 2023, or potentially become the replacement for Alualu or Wormley in Pittsburgh should Alualu retire after the season or Pittsburgh opt for a player like Ogunjobi over Wormley as a starting DL with both scheduled to hit FA after the season.

What are your thoughts on the signing of Larry Ogunjobi? Do you think that Pittsburgh got a bargain signing with him at this point in the offseason? How do you think he will factor into the DL rotation in 2022? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below and thanks again for reading!

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