The Philadelphia Eagles signed Central Michigan defensive end Joe Ostman in undrafted free agency. In order to learn more about the new Eagles defender, I reached out to SB Nation’s Mid-American Conference blog: Hustle Belt. Chippewas writer James Jimenez (@AVKingJames) was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
Joe Ostman was absolutely a marked man whenever he lined up on the defensive line. He was the only player from his freshman class to not get redshirted, which is an indication of how impressed CMU’s coaching staff at the time with his abilities on the field. He contributed early and often in a backup role at first before taking over as a full-time starter his sophomore season. Joe finished his career with 160 tackles, 28 sacks, 46.5 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles in the Maroon and Gold, cementing him as one of the best defensive products to come out of Mt. Pleasant.
If it weren’t for an unfortunately timed injury in his true junior season, Ostman could have been talked about as one of the best defensive end prospects in collegiate football. He ended his senior season in style, sitting among the top five DE’s in the nation in sacks forced (14) despite missing two games in the season, while picking up 20.5 tackles for loss and a (nice) 69 total tackles.
2) What are his strengths?
He’s an aggressive pass rusher with great instincts who has a high motor and the absolute inability to give up on a play. He’s got decent size with the potential for growth as well, standing at six-foot-three, 257 lbs. Joe’s specialty is in creating chaos; in CMU’s defensive scheme, his specialty was to attack the backfield as an edge rusher and get to the ball, whether it resulted in a sack, a TFL or a forced fumble and he did so to shrewd efficiency with solid tackling technique and a nose for the action. He’s an absolute athlete who has plenty of power, strength and enough agility to be able to flow through blocks and not get held up. You won’t find Joe on the ground unless he’s making a tackle, to say the least.
3) What are his weaknesses?
He’s not the prettiest edge rusher in the world to watch, especially in the running game. For as good as CMU was at containing the pass, they struggled mightily with rushing attacks. He’s still raw with those rush moves as a result, making him look awkward at times. He’s not built like most other DE’s in the NFL are, either, with one anonymous NFL scout describing him as having “legs like a penguin.” Joe played linebacker in high school at St. Ignace LaSalle, a small school at one of the lowest classifications in Michigan high school football, due to necessity before arriving at CMU and it would make sense if you looked at his body and his speed of play. He’ll have to perfect many edge techniques and learn the right angles of attack to make up for his body type at the NFL level.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
I’m not surprised, per se, but I am disappointed. Joe had a very impressive showing at the Shrine Game which I thought would perhaps catapult him at least into a Day 3 draft pick. He’s also got an impressive pedigree in terms of being one of the best at his position in his conference, earning All-MAC honors in three of the four full seasons he played, including first-team All-MAC in 2017, second-team all-MAC in 2016 and third-team all-MAC in 2015. NFL Network analyst Lance Zierlein had him as a 5th-or-6th round selection as well, which makes it slightly more disappointing. If you look at his tape, he jumps right off the screen as a pro-ready talent who could make a 53-man roster or practice squad for the right football squad. I felt he deserved to hear his name called.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
He’s going to need some work, for certain. But Philadelphia proved to be excellent on the defensive line front last season, so I’m sure he’ll take well to instruction from coaches and develop quickly. Going forward, I could see him making a roster potentially, whether that’s Philadelphia or elsewhere. He’ll likely see a lot of special teams and special package play for the majority of his career if he sees the field. I think he’ll be a welcome addition to any locker room and work hard to stay there. More often than not, I’ve noticed, the one-scholarship-offer guys tend to stick around for a long time out of college and into the NFL.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
He’s really a great student and, from all accounts, is an excellent person. He got his degree in marketing with a 3.66 GPA from CMU, which is certainly pretty great. He was a selection for the All-Academic MAC Team as well, and is known for being a noteworthy humanitarian, winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Humanitarian Award this past season for his work with Isabella County’s Special Olympics organization and Eagle Village, a home for disadvantaged children. He was also a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is essentially the student-athlete Heisman trophy.
Out of St. Ignace LaSalle, a school with a population of 225 persons per U.S. News and World Report, he was a three-time state champion in wrestling, owning the school record for consecutive wins, win percentage and wins in a season. He also ran track and field and played both linebacker and tight end on the football team, gaining a place on the Detroit Free Press Fab 50 as the #32 prospect in the state and was selected to multiple first-team all-state football lists coming from the 7-8 division in the Ski Valley Conference. He was an excellent scholar as well, finishing near the top of his class with a 3.8 GPA. Oh, and I’m sure he’s bringing the best desserts in town, as his parents own a bakery in Mackinaw City.
If you’d like to read up more on his background, CMU’s media division did an excellent profile of his story prior to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which you can read here.