To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for considering me as an addition to your football team. My name is Emmanuel Ogbah, and I want to be the next leader of your defense.
I know what hard work looks like. I know what it means to sacrifice. My family came to America from Lagos, Nigeria, when I was nine years old. I was amazed by things as simple as traffic lights, which we did not have in Lagos. We were not poor, we just lived in an underdeveloped area. My father had a college degree and made good money as a bank manager, but he wanted his children to have a better future — a better life — so he decided to move us to America.
When we arrived in Houston my father could not get a job as a bank manager. He was told his college degree and work experience from Nigeria meant nothing. So he went back to school. He worked nights as a security guard at an apartment complex, where he was once confronted at gunpoint by a robber. On his days off, he worked as a correctional officer. He started over from scratch and did whatever he had to do to build a new life and support his wife and five children.
And he did all this at 40 years old.
He started over at the bottom, earned his degree and got a job as a technician for an oil company. In doing so, he gave my brother, my sisters and I the very thing he sought when he brought us to this country: the opportunity for a better life. And he did it with pure grit and determination. So nobody had to teach me about hard work, discipline and humility. I saw them firsthand. My father never took a vacation. Every day, he was working.
He is someone I look up to.
That is how I approach the game of football. I work. And I am my own biggest critic. I do not just study and watch film of the other team. After games, I go back and watch film of myself. Nobody’s perfect, including me, so I pick apart my own performance and I look more for the negatives than the positives because I always want to know what I need to improve on. It is about getting better every day, every game.
As a sophomore, I received the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year award for my play against some of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country. This past season, as a junior, I received the honor of being named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was named a Sporting News first team All-American. As a defensive end in the Big 12 — where offenses run high-flying, hurry-up systems — I usually played over 100 snaps a game, which is around double what most defensive ends might play. Without a relentless motor and a tireless work ethic, I would not be able to pressure and chase down Heisman finalists like Trevone Boykin and Baker Mayfield for a full 60 minutes.
If you draft me, you will get a productive player who works hard at everything he does, like he learned to from his father. You will also get a humble player. It is not about the sack numbers for me. It is not about the attention. I look back at my senior season at Oklahoma State, and I feel like my best game came against Kansas State, even though I only had one sack.
Not a lot of defensive ends would call a one-sack performance one of their best games. But as a team, we had five sacks, and I felt productive on just about every play. I got a lot of hits and pressures. I was disruptive.
Don’t get me wrong — I love sacking the quarterback. But I also take pride in the ways I can impact a game that may not show up in the box score.
I worked hard to get to this point, as every player in this year’s draft class has. I have taken on every challenge thrown my way, including the scouting combine, when I was told by scouts that my draft stock could be determined by my combine performance. I was told I needed to prove I had the speed to track down ballcarriers in the open field, and the explosion to get off the line and beat the best tackles in the game.
I took that to heart. I went down to Florida and worked with one of the best speed coaches in the country. I got gritty. I got prepared. And come combine day, I showed out. I put up the second-best 40 time among defensive linemen, along with the third-best broad jump and vertical jump.
Because I was prepared.
Because I was challenged to do so.
My next challenge will be to help lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl victory. It could be your team. And if you draft me, I want you to know that I am ready and willing to put in the work to make sure that together, we do just that: win a Super Bowl.
For more NFL Draft Cover Letters and additional draft coverage, visit our 2016 NFL Draft page.