Where will Emmanuel Ogbah line up for the Cleveland Browns?

Sep 12, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) tackles Central Arkansas Bears wide receiver Blake Gardner (80) during the second half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Cowboys won 32-8. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) tackles Central Arkansas Bears wide receiver Blake Gardner (80) during the second half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Cowboys won 32-8. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns will be looking to maximize Emmanuel Ogbah’s athleticism to help solve their pass rush problems.

The Cleveland Browns went into the 2016 NFL Draft in need of help for the defense, especially when it comes to rushing the quarterback.

There was considerable pre-draft chatter that the Browns would look to Ohio State defensive Joey Bosa or Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, but once they went off the board the team turned to a player that many consider a first-round talent in Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.

National Football Post tagged Ogbah as one of the four best edge rushers available

"At 6’3 – 273, Ogbah has position versatility. His Combine numbers were excellent, running the 40 in 4.63, leaping 35 ½” in the vertical, 10’1” in the long jump and a quick 7.26 in the 3-cone. Ogbah is a natural pass rusher with 28 career sacks. He has the hand use and redirect skills that all good pass rushers have."

While there is no question about Ogbah’s ability to get after the quarterback, after playing exclusively as a 4-3 defensive end at Oklahoma State, there has been some discussion about why a “3-4 team” like the Browns would draft him. We’ve also seen some jibber-jabber on Twitter about how there is “no way” that Ogbah will play anything other than defensive end because of his size.

“Whatever they want me to do. I’ll do.” – Emmanuel Ogbah

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton uses the 3-4 as his base defense, the Browns, like most teams, are not locked into just that one defense, but rather will switch between defenses based on the situation. If it is a passing down and the Browns choose to rush four down lineman, then Ogbah should have no problem putting his hand on the ground as a defensive end.

“I think the defense we’ll play here will be a little bit different for him, we’ll ask him to do a little bit of different things,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said. “But we’re confident in the things Oklahoma State asked him to do that he’ll be able to do under Ray … we absolutely anticipate that he’ll be able to meet all our expectations.”

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Cleveland didn’t select Ogbah at the top of the second round to make him a situational pass rusher – at least not longterm – which means he is going to have to make the transition to an outside linebacker when the Browns are in a 3-4 alignment.

It is not unprecedented, even for a player of Ogbah’s size. Current linebackers Paul Kruger and Armonty Bryant were college defensive ends at the same size as Ogbah and made the transition to linebacker at the pro level.

It is also a move that Ogbah has been preparing for and embraced as he went through linebacker drills – including dropping back in coverage and quick changes of direction – at his Pro Day.

“It will be something I’ll have to adjust to because I’ve always been a down guy, three-point stance,” Ogbah told The Oklahoman. “I’ve also stood up and rushed a couple times. It’s just an adjustment I’ll have to make. I’m working on getting better at it. A couple teams say I look natural doing it, so that’s a plus.”

Of course, as athletic as Ogbah is, and as productive as he was at Oklahoma State – did we mention his 26.5 sacks in three seasons? – he still has work to do in his game. Stephen White of SB Nation was not overly impressed by Ogbah’s performance against the run:

"First of all, Ogbah is by far the least physical of any of the defensive linemen I’ve broken down so far. He gave up the edge too often and when he stunted inside or lined up inside, Ogbah was much more likely to get washed down on running plays than to get penetration and force the issue."

He also pointed out that Ogbah needs to come up with more than one move if he wants to consistently get to the quarterback at the pro level:

"I may not love arm overs, but a guy of Ogbah’s height probably could have mixed in a few more of those to change things up a bit. I would have liked to see him try more power moves as well, but the few he did do weren’t all that promising. He also didn’t do many counter moves, like ever."

Although, as a counterpoint to White’s criticisms, Ogbah may not have displayed any additional moves simply because he didn’t have to.

“When the one you have leads the Big 12 in sacks and (is good for) top five in the nation, it’s hard to go to the second and third moves,” Joe Bob Clements, Ogbah’s position coach with the Cowboys, told The Charlotte Observer.

That is certainly an over-simplification, and White’s concerns should not be dismissed, as we’ve seen players struggle to make the transition from college defensive end to stand-up rusher before, most notably with Kamerion Wimbley and Barkevious Mingo. But Ogbah’s combination of talent and willingness to work to get better should leave Browns fans confident that he can succeed where others before him may have failed.

And if he can learn to harass quarterbacks in the NFL the way he did in college, the Browns will be happy no matter where he lines up on the defense.