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Rookie Reflection: Larry Ogunjobi competing for role on Browns DL

Posted Jul 10, 2017

Ogunjobi was the 65h overall pick in the NFL Draft

Over the next two weeks, we’re breaking down the Browns’ 2017 NFL Draft class — from Myles Garrett to Matthew Dayes — and how they might contribute next fall.

Of all the Browns’ rookies, Larry Ogunjobi might have the most interesting backstory.

The son of Nigerian parents who settled into Greensboro, North Carolina, Ogunjobi likes to recount how he went from a self-described couch potato to the first player ever drafted from UNC Charlotte.

Now, he's part of a young but promising Cleveland defense trying to turn things around head coach Hue Jackson and new coordinator Gregg Williams.

How was his spring?

Ogunjobi took reps with the second- and third-team defense and will have the chance to earn a starting job later this month in training camp. To be sure, the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Ogunjobi showed why the Browns tapped him with the 65th overall pick.

“There are certain things that you can control, and certain things that you can’t. What I control is my attitude and my effort, and that every day I have to come out here and understand that every day is an interview,” Ogunjobi said in OTAs.

“What I put on tape is what is going to be used to scale if I can play or not. That is how you build your résumé, not talking and sounding good in front of everybody else, but by actually going out there and making plays.”

Ogunjobi, who was roommates with No. 1 overall pick and defensive end Myles Garrett, also showed off his versatility this past spring.

“Larry is one of those cross guys. He can play nose tackle, and he can play 3-technique,” defensive line coach Clyde Simmons.  

“He’s still young and learning the business and how to play football. If you think about it, he has only been playing football for six years. He has a lot of work to do, but he is putting the work in, he’s studying and trying to learn the craft of being a defensive lineman and he’s getting better every day.”

They said it:

“My mom always tells me a story that I was in front of a TV screen when I was like two, yelling, ‘I want to play football.’ It’s crazy that now this is what I’m doing. When I got to Charlotte, I just had this chip on my shoulder that I wanted to be the best and I wanted to prove to everybody that it's not where you go; it is what you do there. You don’t have to be a victim of your situation. You don’t have to be put into this box that everybody says that, ‘If you go to this school, you won’t be able to do these things. It really wasn’t about proving everybody else wrong. It was about proving myself right and believing in myself. When my body started transforming, I started becoming a better player and realizing that this goal was attainable. I just knew that if I was the best and if I worked at it, then the NFL would be something that would have to come, and it did.”

— Ogunjobi’s reflecting on his journey to the NFL

What to expect in the fall?

Ogunjobi should compete for a role on the interior defensive line and gives Cleveland another physical, powerful presence in the trenches.

“He is big. He is strong. He is tough. He has great initial quickness,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “He can knock guys back. I think he’s going to be a tremendous football player for us.”

Along with the likes of Garrett, Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Ogbah, Desmond Bryant, Nate Orchard, Cam Johnson and Carl Nassib, the Browns’ defensive line is poised to improve after a year in which they finished second-to-last in sacks and run defense.

Ogunjobi, whom NFL.com compared to Sheldon Rankins, should help Cleveland in both aspects.

“Ogunjobi uses leverage, quickness, and strong hands to counter his average size. Size and below-average length will work against him for some teams,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote, “but others who covet disruptive defensive tackles who can play in the backfield and generate some pressure will be studying him closely. Has starting NFL potential."

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