Scouting Obum Gwacham

The Jets announced yesterday that they had signed two new players. We already took a look at Ed Stinson earlier but now we're moving on to look at edge defender Obum Gwacham.

The 26-year old Gwacham is listed as 6'5" and 246 pounds and was a sixth round pick out of Oregon State back in 2015. He has played in 10 NFL games, all with the Saints, registering eight tackles and 2.5 sacks.


Gwacham started off at Oregon State as a wide receiver, catching 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown in his first three seasons. However, he converted to defensive end in his senior year and showed real promise with 28 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble.

The Seahawks drafted Gwacham in the sixth round but he didn't make the team and was picked up instead by the Saints. He didn't play much as a rookie but showed promise in limited action, recording 2.5 sacks in less than 100 snaps. However, his second season was cut short after he suffered a season ending injury in his first game of the year.

Gwacham didn't make the Saints roster after preseason, but the Cardinals signed him to their practice squad. He'll need to remain on the Jets' roster for at least three weeks because he was signed directly from their practice squad.

Let's take a closer look at what Gwacham brings to the table, divided into categories.


Gwacham has good length and had an impressive combine workout, as you can see. He has speed, explosiveness and agility but would perhaps need to bulk up for a full time role on the edge.

Gwacham also excels at the high jump and displayed his athleticism in a dunk contest at Oregon State, where he dunked the ball having taken off from near the free thrown line.


Gwacham was used almost exclusively in pass rushing situations and with his hand in the dirt while in New Orleans. He hasn't been used as a linebacker much at all at the NFL level despite the fact his size would mean that's the role he projects best to.


Gwacham is relentless in pursuit and works hard in the trenches, even when overmatched due to his lack of size. He hasn't shown much evidence that he can handle a starter's workload, but perhaps would be limited to situational duties anyway. He did play 47 snaps in the first preseason game this year.

Pass rush

Gwacham's athleticism makes him a threat off the edge, although he's considered as a raw pass rusher and doesn't have much in the way of pass rush moves.

This was his bread and butter in college. A head fake to the inside is all that he needs to get around his man with pure speed off the edge:


As noted, he is relentless in pursuit. On this fourth down play, he continues to chase Cam Newton out of the pocket after having beaten both his man and the blitz pick-up around the outside. Unfortunately, Newton completes the pass anyway:


Once he gets there, Gwacham has displayed the ability to finish, which he manages to do here:


Run defense

Gwacham hasn't really played against the run much in regular season action because he lacks strength and can be easily redirected if he shoots into the backfield.

Of his eight career tackles, none of them came against the run, although he has made some stops against the run in preseason action, but graded out poorly.

On this play he meets the fullback in the backfield, but is quite easily driven off his spot, even though his teammates still rally to stop the runner:


On this play, he is easily driven off the line and to the ground by a tight end to set up an easy short yardage touchdown:



As noted, Gwacham hasn't had a lot of production on defense so the fact he also has no missed tackles is rendered unimpressive.

In college, he once again impressed with his effort in pursuit. He makes a nice touchdown-saving tackle on Christian McCaffrey here, in a situation where many defensive ends would have given up on the play:


Gwacham had one forced fumble as a rookie.

Batting Passes/Coverage

Oregon State would often run firezone blitzes and Gwacham looked relatively comfortable dropping into coverage, although he perhaps lacks natural instincts in terms of positional sense and overpursued badly after giving up a completion on one play.

He has batted two passes down at the line in preseason action and was unsuccessfully targeted having dropped into coverage once.

Special teams

Gwacham has shown some promise as a special teamer, contributing on several different units and racking up four special teams tackles in nine games as a rookie, along with two more in preseason action.


Gwacham was considered raw in terms of his hand placement techniques and his gameplan as a pass rusher, which is hardly surprising having only moved to defensive end a few years ago.

He was a three-time all-academic selection in the PAC-12.


Gwacham is described as having exceptional character and was praised for how he approached the position change in college. He seems to be a fun-loving and laid back guy who is a popular teammate.


With many Saints fans hoping he would build on his promising rookie year, Gwacham missed virtually the whole 2016 season with a severely sprained ankle. However, he had been a healthy scratch to start the season, so it wouldn't be accurate to say that robbed him of a definite chance to start contributing more.

Scheme Fit

Gwacham likely fills the role vacated by the injured Dylan Donahue. He's a limited player who primarily would be employed as a situational pass rusher.


Gwacham had some nice production with the Saints in 2015 and who knows how he would have performed had he been given more chances to contribute since then. Perhaps he will be able to make contributions right off the bat as David Bass has been able to.

He's likely still somewhat raw and a little one-dimensional, but the Jets will be benefiting from the fact that he'll have already been working on those parts of his game that need refinement. They have room for him and it will be interesting to see how he responds, given the opportunity to get some snaps.

This move complements the Ed Stinson signing nicely because both of them can play on the edge but Stinson's strength is against the run, whereas Gwacham has more to offer as a pass rusher. Hopefully, the pair of them will replenish the front seven depth adequately in the short term.