The Atlanta Falcons announced the addition of defensive end Efe Obada to the roster. To make room for him the team waived undrafted rookie wide receiver Daje Johnson. The Falcons’ training camp roster count still stands at 88 players, with the potential to add two more before reaching the 90-man limit.
Obada fits the profile of a project, having only begun playing football in 2014 when he appeared in five games for the London Warriors, an American football team in the United Kingdom. Obada’s raw talent and athleticism impressed Warriors defensive coordinator Aden Durde, who served as a coaching intern with the Cowboys last year. That brought the 22-year old Nigerian-born Obada to the attention of that team, who signed him in April 2015.
Obada appeared in three preseason games for the Cowboys last summer and finished with just one tackle. He was released at the end of training camp but finished the year on the Cowboys’ practice squad. He was cut this past March and spent three months with the Kansas City Chiefs before being cut once more in June.
Obada’s impressive athleticism and measurables allow him an opportunity to compete at the pro level. Standing 6’6″ and 255 pounds, his wingspan of 83 inches matched that of 2014 No. 1 draft pick Jadeveon Clowney. He also clocked a 1.53-second 10-yard split, faster than the top pass-rusher’s time at this past year’s combine, Emmanuel Ogbah, who had a 1.58-second 10-yard split. His 121-inch broad jump also matched that of Ogbah, which ranked in the top 10 of pass-rushers at this past year’s Combine.
Obada’s path to the NFL is an incredible story given that he and his older sister were abandoned on the streets of London in 2002 after being trafficked out of their native Nigeria. For the next five years, Obada said he and his sister were nothing more than domestic slaves in the home of a family in nearby Stockwell. They entered social services thereafter and Obada soon found himself attracted the gang life. After seeing the deaths of three of his friends, Obada decided to course-correct his life and discovered football thanks to a program in which the Warriors work with at-risk youths.
Johnson was an undrafted rookie signed by the Falcons after the 2016 NFL Draft. A successful return specialist at the University of Texas-Austin, Johnson average 10.7 yards on 37 career punt returns with a pair of touchdowns. He also averaged 22.2 yards on 44 career kickoff returns. His most productive season as a receiver came as a senior, when he started 11 games and caught a career-high 37 passes for 415 yards (11.2 avg) and a touchdown. Academic issues caused Johnson to face multiple suspensions throughout his career at Texas.