Otito Ogbonnia is a native of Houston, Texas where he was a two-time all-district selection and the No. 44 defensive tackle prospect in the country by ESPN. As a senior playing for James E. Taylor High School, Ogbonnia recorded 68 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, five sacks, and two forced fumbles.
As a freshman at UCLA, Ogbonnia also participated on the Track & Field team as a shot putter. Some of his highlights while on the T&F team include a win at the USTF U20 Championships and the Pan American U20 Championship held in Costa Rica.
In his first year on the gridiron for the Bruins, Ogbonnia started six games while seeing action in 12 contests. He finished with 21 tackles and a lone pass deflection at the line. Over the next two seasons, he played in 24 games with 12 total starts, finishing with 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks over that span.
As a senior, Ogbonnia started all 12 games and finished with a career-high two sacks, five tackles for loss, and 30 tackles. He was named a Second-Team All-Pac 12 selection by Pro Football Focus following the season on top of earning an invite to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Ogbonnia would go on to be selected by the Chargers with the 17th pick in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft. As a rookie, Ogbonnia started one game and played in seven total. He recoded 13 tackles and a tackle for loss before suffering a season-ending injury against the 49ers.
Chargers rookie DT Otito Ogbonnia with a positive play.— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) September 13, 2022
Fires off the ball with great leverage & eats up the combo block. RB has nowhere to go. Low man wins in the trenches. pic.twitter.com/uhqVurwwD3
Years with team: 1
“Otito Ogbonnia signed a 4 year, $3,978,880 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $318,880 signing bonus, $318,880 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $994,720. In 2023, Ogbonnia will earn a base salary of $870,000, while carrying a cap hit of $949,720 and a dead cap value of $239,160.” - Spotrac.com
Ogbonnia was a standout at the 2022 Senior Bowl and found himself earning real game snaps before he sustained his season-ending injury. He came out of UCLA with notably heavy hands which can create enough of a pop off the snap to gain an early advantage. Part of me believes he could lose 10-15 pounds to increase his speed while maintaining as much strength as possible. He’s a former shot-putter with explosive hips and that should serve him well along the interior.
Ogbonnia doesn’t offer much in the way of lateral agility for the position which unfortunately forces him into a nose-or-bust role in the NFL. His lack of athleticism also means he’s not likely to ever be a factor as a pass rusher which is tough in a league being overrun by aliens playing quarterback.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?
Ogbonnia will make the roster as a second-year draft pick who will be a key contributor as one of the true nose tackles on the roster. When the Chargers want to plug the middle and stop the run, Ogbonnia will be called upon to use his massive frame to do just that. He may have a chance to work his way into a starting role in the coming years, but for now, he’ll be leaned upon to help turn the run defense around as swiftly as possible.