Ravens edge defender Odafe Oweh voted to PFWA All-Rookie team

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Edge defender Odafe Oweh was the lone Ravens player to be voted to the 2021 Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team after finishing second on Baltimore in both sacks and quarterback hits.

The 31st overall pick out of Penn State was selected as one of the four defensive linemen despite officially being listed as an outside linebacker in the Ravens’ multi-look defense. The first outside linebacker drafted in the first round by Baltimore since Terrell Suggs in 2003, Oweh became the fifth rookie in franchise history to register at least five sacks, joining Suggs (12 in 2003), Peter Boulware (11 1/2 in 1997), Pernell McPhee (six in 2011), and Za’Darius Smith (5 1/2 in 2015).

In addition to his five sacks and 15 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles to lead the Ravens, the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Oweh led all rookie edge rushers with 49 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Despite Oweh recording just two sacks and one forced fumble after Week 5, his flashes of playmaking ability were promising, especially after the pre-draft concerns about him not registering a sack in 2020 and collecting only seven over three seasons as a Nittany Lion.

The 23-year-old also finished with the best run defense grade among Baltimore edge defenders and was 35th among the league’s 118 qualified edge defenders against the run, per PFF.

“He’s done a lot of things. He’s dropped [into pass coverage] for us. Of course, he’s rushed [the quarterback]. He’s playing the run well. He’s setting the edge well,” head coach John Harbaugh said in mid-November. “He’s playing like a spy-type thing. We use him in a lot of [defensive line] games. He’s a very versatile player, and I’m excited about the future and present.”

With the Ravens in search of a new defensive coordinator after parting with Wink Martindale last week, a priority for the new hire will be helping Oweh take the next step in reaching his high ceiling. That becomes even more critical now with top outside linebacker Tyus Bowser sustaining a torn Achilles tendon in the season finale, which leaves both his availability and effectiveness in question ahead of the 2022 campaign. McPhee and fellow veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, leaving the Ravens thin at the position.

The PFWA also voted Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons — Oweh’s former Penn State teammate — as their Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year and Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase as the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Below is the entire 2021 PFWA All-Rookie team:

Offense
QB – Mac Jones, New England Patriots
RB – Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers; Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
WR – Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals; Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
TE – Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
C – Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
G – Trey Smith, Kansas City Chiefs; Alijah Vera-Tucker; New York Jets
T – Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers; Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions
Defense
DL – Christian Barmore, New England Patriots; Odafe Oweh, Baltimore Ravens; Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts; Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins
LB – Nick Bolton, Kansas City Chiefs; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns; Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
CB – Greg Newsome II, Cleveland Browns; Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos
S – Jevon Holland, Miami Dolphins; Tre’von Moehrig, Las Vegas Raiders
Special Teams
PK – Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals
P – Pressley Harvin III, Pittsburgh Steelers
KR – Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota Vikings
PR – Demetric Felton, Cleveland Browns
ST – Nick Niemann, Los Angeles Chargers