The Dallas Cowboys had one thing in mind during the 2021 NFL Draft. Defense. Defense. A little bit more defense, too. Their first six picks were on the defensive side of the football. Eight of their eleven total selections were defensive players. Their pick at 75th overall was UCLA defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa.
There are a few aspects to consider about Odighizuwa to understand his profile as a prospect and an NFL rookie.
In 37 games as a Bruin, Odighizuwa recorded 27.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. He tied with Colorado’s Nate Landman for the fifth-most sacks in the Pac-12 in 2020 with four of them.
Nobody in the trenches for the National Team has impressed me like Osa Odighizuwa who has been unblockable all week. He can win in any way whether that’s with power and length or with his quickness and hands. BIG Winner of the week!! pic.twitter.com/BDrMp3aCxV
— Lorenz (@ScoutingLenz) January 29, 2021
Odighizuwa projects to be a versatile defensive lineman at the next level. He has interior/edge flexibility, and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn likes to be multiple with his big fellas on defense.
Coming out of college, he was measured at 6’2″ and 280 pounds. That size lends itself to being a hybrid because he wasn’t quite big enough to be a full-time interior lineman. If he’s put on some weight in training camp, though, then it could be a different story.
Most of his upside comes in the form of pass-rushing as of right now. Although, he has the capabilities to make his game more balanced with his technique. Ideally, the Cowboys will want him to develop a couple more pass-rush moves. A lot of his “wins” in college came with power. He’ll need a more diverse set of moves to be a consistent producer in the league.
He’s willing in the run game which can go a long way in his development, too.
Osa Odighizuwa knife down inside to help stop the run 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/uWB7aunEfh
— Law Thomas (@LawsNation) August 7, 2021
The opportunity is absolutely there for the UCLA product. Second-year lineman Neville Gallimore is projected to be the top DT on the depth chart. He’s followed up by Carlos Watkins, a steady piece that Dallas grabbed for depth during this off-season.
The keyword is depth there. With a strong start to the season, it is possible for Odighizuwa to overtake Watkins to get meaningful reps at DT. Any sort of interior line injury will almost certainly thrust him into a starting role as well.
On the edge, the starters are set in stone. It’ll be DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Behind them, there is a bit of uncertainty with the depth, though. If the Cowboys believe in Osa’s versatility, they may give him some snaps there when one of those two players has to come off the field for breathers.
Sorry for the 1999 video quality 😔
But, here’s rookie DL Osa Odighizuwa with what would have been his first NFL sack 😁 pic.twitter.com/xHGSRhMaIb
— jesus flores (@tvjflo) August 8, 2021
He’ll battle other unproven D-Linemen in Dorance Armstrong and Tarell Basham for backup roles at defensive end. Second-year edge Bradlee Anae could have a limited role as well, but he is a bit deeper on the current unofficial Cowboys depth chart.
There’s no doubt that Odighizuwa will have a role on the Dallas defense this season. Behind Kelvin Joseph and Micah Parsons, he could have the most rookie impact in their 2021 draft class.
Featured Image via USA TODAY-Sports