The Giants selected defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa from UCLA with the No. 74 overall pick. A second-team All-Pac 12 conference selection, Odighizuwa recorded 6.0 sacks, 11.5 tackles for losses and started all 13 games for the Bruins. Following two hip surgeries which caused him to miss the entire 2013 campaign, Odighizuwa was named team-captain and showed a penchant for wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks this past season.
Coincidentally, Odighizuwa was drafted in the exact same spot that the Giants selected former two-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl MVP Justin Tuck back in 2005. Tuck would go on to have a storied career with the franchise tallying 59.5 sacks in nine seasons with Big Blue. While Odighizuwa isn’t necessarily embracing the comparisons between himself and Tuck, the rookie defensive lineman is looking carry on the team’s great tradition of pass-rushing specialists.
“I know he’s a great player who was drafted out of Notre Dame in the (third) round and I know that I was watching him my sophomore year in high school when they were playing New England in the Super Bowl and the Giants’ defensive line inspired me and made me want to be a better defensive line with Osi Umenyiora, with Justin Tuck, I believe number 94 (Mathias Kiwanuka, who did not play in Super Bowl 42),” noted Odigzuwa.
One remaining playmaker from the Giants championship team in 2011, Jason Pierre-Paul, could serve as mentor for Odighizuwa this summer in camp. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is in his second stint with the team and is looking to rekindle the fire that propelled the Giants into one of the fiercest and feared lines in the league. With Pierre-Paul and Odighizuwa holding down the fort, New York could be on its way to rebuilding a vaunted pass-rush.
“I know the Giants have a great tradition with drafting great defensive linemen. Jason Pierre-Paul is one of them,” admitted Odighizuwa. “I looked up to him coming out of (South Florida). Is it South Florida? I can’t remember. I’m very excited about this opportunity that I get to learn. I think it’s going to help me develop as a football player.”