Having had to deal with him the last five seasons twice a year in the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers know all too well just how talented defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi is. After a surprising move by standout defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt to retire on June 1 after missing the entire 2021 season due to injury and a personal matter, the Steelers and new GM Omar Khan moved quickly to sign the standout Ogunjobi, taking advantage of the veteran remaining on the market.
Prior to signing with the Steelers on a one-year deal worth up to $8 million, Ogunjobi had previously agreed to a three-year, $40 million deal with the Chicago Bears early in free agency coming off of a career year with the Cincinnati Bengals in which he recorded a career-high 7.0 sacks. However, a Lisfranc injury suffered in the Bengals’ Wild Card win over the Las Vegas Raiders led to Ogunjobi failing a physical with the Bears, resulting in Chicago negating the deal, putting the standout defensive tackle back on the market with a medical red flag.
With the Bears pulling out of the deal, Ogunjobi remained on the market while recovering from surgery. Once Tuitt retired, the Steelers moved quickly to ink the standout defensive tackle, rebuilding depth and experience quickly on the defensive line alongside All-Pro Cameron Heyward and steady veteran Tyson Alualu.
Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar certainly seems excited about the addition, telling Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Ogunjobi — when healthy – provides everything teams and coaches look for in the position, giving the Steelers a ton of options in the trenches defensive in 2022.
“He’s a strong young man who is good at stopping the run,” Dunbar said to Rutter, according to original reporting from the Tribune-Review. “You look at his body type with the big hips, thick ankles and strong hands. As a D-line coach, that is what you like to have.
“I think he’s a strong force at the point of attack, and the sucker can rush the passer,” Dunbar added, according to original reporting by Rutter for the Tribune-Review. “Sometimes it’s going to take two guys to block him. That’s always a good thing with T.J. next to him or Alex (Highsmith), players who are going to demand that guys block them.”
Ogunjobi can certainly rush the passer from the interior, recording 21.5 career sacks in five season, including three seasons with at least 5.5 sacks on the year, while playing less than 80% of the defensive snaps every season in the league, including the third-lowest number of snaps in his career last season at 68%.
Adding that type of talent in the trenches is a huge boost for the Steelers. He’s a legitimate mismatch on the interior for offensive linemen due to his overall quickness and explosiveness off the football. Pairing him with Heyward inside and guys like T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith outside should be a relative nightmare for opposing offenses.
Plus, if he can draw some double teams and free up more one-on-one matchups for guys like Heyward, Watt and Highsmith, that’s a huge win for the Steelers overall.
There’s no denying that once he’s fully healthy and back on the field that Ogunjobi is going to make a major impact for the Steelers defender under Dunbar’s guidance.