Lagos, Nigeria-born 6’4” 300-lb defensive tackle David Onyemata came to the Saints in 2016 as a 4th round draft pick who didn’t start playing North American football until he attended the University of Manitoba. 2019 was Onyemata’s fourth season with the Saints, and his rookie contract is set to expire at the end of this league year on March 18.
In a season during which he was expected to continue to develop as a player and flourish on a strong DL (especially with the early season absence of Sheldon Rankins), Onyemata started a career-high 15 games while producing snap counts and statistics consistent with his previous two seasons.
Both boxes above courtesy profootballreference.com.
It’s also worth noting that he logged more defensive and total team snaps than any of the other DTs on the roster this year. (courtesy rotowire.com)
Here are his 2019 game logs (courtesy profootballreference.com)
For those of you into player grades...Onyemata notched his lowest grade from PFF in 2019 - 55.5 - after making double digit improvement between his first three seasons.
Sadly, it seems his most prominent moment of 2019 came in early February. A tip from a narcotics agent about a package for Onyemata that was seized by the Customs and Border Patrol in Buffalo, NY, on January 28 led to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office search of his apartment that found him in possession of “personal use” amounts of marijuana, THC oil, edibles, and hemp powder.
In May, Onyemata completed a pretrial diversionary program in lieu of prosecution, and then in late June he was officially suspended by the NFL for the Saints 2019 season opener.
And to close this out, I surveyed some Saints internet experts to bring you...
ONYEMATA’S 2019 IN ONE SENTENCE OR LESS-ish
“Unfortunately Onyemata will most likely miss some games this season, as he was cited for possession of marijuana in the off-season and will face a probable suspension. But with Rankins recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Onyemata should be able to help secure the line until Rankins returns.” - Don Kellum (from his 2018 Year in Review piece on Onyemata published on CSC 3/21/2019)
“Onyemata really started the season fast and I felt like he was establishing himself as a premiere NFL player, but as the season wore on and the Saints settled into a rotation that featured Tuttle, Rankins, Brown and Edwards - Onyemata seemed to flash less. Good season overall but to me he’s still knocking on the door of what his full potential could be and I start to wonder if he’ll ever be more than a really solid rotation guy.” - Andrew Juge, co-host, Saints Happy Hour Podcast and amateur Saints Player Grader.
“He’s been a mainstay on a defensive line that went through a lot of injuries this year, and I wouldn’t say he’s a huge difference maker, but he’s been good value for a 4th round pick and one of the more underrated contributors on the defense.” - Andrew Bell, CSC contributor.
“Onyemata has broken my heart. I’m resigning as President of Onyemata Fan club.” - Ralph Malbrough, co-host, Saints Happy Hour Podcast and wwltv.com LSU/Saints columnist.
“Onyemata has impressed every year and I was originally skeptical, to say the least, of his draft selection (I mean, Manitoba?), but he, along with Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, and Sheldon Rankins, make the 2016 draft class right up there with the 2017 class as one of the best in Saints history.” - Chris “get the DUNZ to get it DONE in court” Dunnells, Managing Editor, CSC.
“Onyemata is a very valuable player for the Saints and needed for depth on the defensive line so, I fully expect coach Payton to let him get away and then him have a HOF career on another team.” Clayton “Chad” Leblanc, CSC Cajun Commando.
“Onyemata’s ability to step in and provide depth on the defensive line has been invaluable to the Saints’ defensive success the past few seasons. He was able to ease the injury to Rankins, and while he still has some work to do as an NFL DT, he’s continued to improve and look more comfortable.” Kevin Skiver, CSC contributor.
OK, CSCers. Now it’s your turn...
What did you think of Onyemata’s 2019? Should the team keep him or move on in 2020?
Feel free to take more than one sentence/comment or less-ish!