Bengals: What fans can expect from Joseph Ossai in 2021

Joseph Ossai #46 (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Joseph Ossai #46 (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Texas linebacker Joseph Ossai with the No. 69 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6’4″, 253-pound linebacker/defensive lineman decided to forgo his senior season and enter his name into the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Bengals, who just finished a 2020 season with a pass rush that was unnoticeable, would be looking to improve their defensive line in the draft and did so with the selection of Ossai.

Ossai is a mirrored image of Carl Lawson, who the Bengals just lost to the New York Jets in free agency. Cincinnati, more than likely will utilize Ossai just like they did with Lawson, a pure pass rusher. Expect to see Ossai sub in for Hendrickson or Hubbard for a boost in the pass rush during certain downs.

Rookie Bengals linebacker Joseph Ossai was a difference-maker during his time at Texas.

During his three-year career at Texas, Ossai racked up a total of 165 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions, and five forced fumbles.

Ossai became a national story and a focus of NFL scouts after his incredible performance in the 2019 Alamo Bowl. He had a team-high in tackles with nine and won Defensive MVP. Ossai carried his momentum from this game into his junior season.

In 2020, Ossai ended with 55 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, five and a half sacks, and three forced fumbles. He had the most tackles for loss in the Big 12 and the third-most in the FBS. Ossai also went on to be awarded 2020 consensus All-American, First-Team Associated Press All-American, and First-Team All-Conference selection.

Joseph Ossai brings that specialized third-down pass rush much like Carl Lawson did during his time in Cincy. Ossai will become a sack specialist at some point during his career and that is exactly what the Bengals needed after quarterbacks had all day to throw last year.

The Bengals have to make sure their pass rush is better this year and losing Lawson was a big blow considering he was their leader in sacks. They did bring in Trey Hendrickson but he came out of nowhere for the Saints last year and there’s a chance he doesn’t bring that same level of nastiness to the Bengals defense in 2021.

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Hopefully, the Bengals pass rush is better this year and Ossai could very well play a big part in that.