Two separate hip surgeries kept Owamagbe Odighizuwa on the sidelines for the 2013 season, but based on his 2014 performance, he appears fully recovered as he reclaimed his weak-side rush end job. Before the injuries, he had 75 tackles with 13.0 stops-for-loss as a Bruin. He used the time away from the field to add over thirty pounds of bulk and muscle to his frame. As a senior, he posted 61 tackles, fourth-best on the team, as he led the Bruins with six sacks, broke up five passes and tied for the squad lead with 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Odighizuwa coils up into his stance well and for his size, he has an above-average first step, but, he is a linear rusher who doesn't quite possess the closing speed to threaten the edge consistently and struggles to drop his pad level around the corner. He does a nice job at times extending his arms, creating pop, but isn't the type of laterally gifted athlete to quickly shed and explode up the field. However, he has the ability to change directions, as looks natural on tight end stunts coming inside, extending his arms, being violent and working through the play.
The Bruin is a better tackler in pursuit and from the backside than when working in the pile. He shows adequate strength to lock up and drag down the ball carriers. When he gets a head of steam going, he can delivering crunching tackles on the move, but needs to use his hands better to wrap. He lacks great tackling technique, as he is more the type that will collide rather than wrap and secure.
When given the opportunity to slant or jump around blocks, he shows good efficiency. He is best when in pursuit after he finds the ball. He can run and flashes the ability to get around trash, but gets tied up too much working the inside gaps. When given a free lane, he shows enough burst to close on the quarterback off tricks and games.
Odighizuwa possesses good size, strength and the athleticism to be an intriguing prospect who is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential, evident by what he did the second half of the 2014 schedule after dealing with hip problems the previous two seasons. His agility and straight-line speed might be enough to convince scouts that his future position could be as a “Sam” outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.
Regardless of his pro position, teams will have to judge how likely it is that he's fully recovered from two hip surgeries. Those that remember UCLA’s Datone Jones undergoing the same procedure and the end of Bo Jackson’s career might want further medical evaluation before they exercise a draft pick and hand him his first NFL paycheck.
What Odighizuwa does well is rush the passer, as he flashes a quick burst off the snap. He can pressure the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle and has good flexibility to get under his reach and turn the corner. He has a quick counter move to spin back inside, but he must use his hands more consistently to break free from blockers once engaged.
The Bruin has capable rip and swim moves, but neither is effective enough to be a go-to move in the NFL. Still, he makes good use of his strength for the bull rush and has a good closing burst when he enters an open lane. There are times where he will still struggle to locate the football, as he tries to get up field with so much urgency, that he will run right by the action on inside running plays.
The best way to describe Odighizuwa is that he is a developing power-to-speed rusher. He anticipates snap count well and gets off the ball quickly. He knows he has to stay low and flash a violent initial punch that can rock the offensive lineman on their heels, as he does give up bulk and can’t afford to stay on those blockers too long or he will be neutralized on the play.
Odighizuwa’s time away from the game benefitted him, thanks to long hours in the film room watching other defenders. In 2014, he did a very nice job of changing up pass rushing moves and he has developed more effective spin-&-rip moves inside to keep the offensive tackles off-balance. He shows no ill effects from the two hip surgeries, as he ran a tight loop inside on twists and showed above-average closing burst as the 2014 season progressed.
Odighizuwa plays with good leverage, but must remain conscious for using his hands to disengage from offensive linemen. He fights hard to gain outside leverage when holding the edge and with his balance he can fall back into play when caught too far up field. His closing burst gives him good overall range, but while he is a strong tackler in confined areas, he will struggle when caught in one-on-one situations in the open field.
Odighizuwa needs to do a better job of protecting feet against cut blocks and when he drops his hands and short-arms, he fails to hold up at the point of attack and the result is he gets engulfed and pushed back. He is quick enough laterally to extend the edge and knows how to ride the tackle outside and keeps containment. His lateral agility is also good enough to play in space and handle the pitch vs. the option, making him also a viable candidate for “Sam” backer in a 3-4 base defense.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-3/267 (4.62 forty)
33 3/4-inch arm length
39-inch vertical jump
127-inch broad jump
7.40 3 cone drill
4.19 20 yard shuttle
11.75 60 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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