Prospect To Know: Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Nebraska v UCLA

While Defensive End isn’t on the top of the Panthers needs, it’s closer to a priority than it is a luxury. All signs point to 2013 All Pro Greg Hardy leaving, but there’s an even bigger question looming. What is Charles Johnson’s long-term future in Charlotte? With an astronomical cap hit in 2015 and gigantic cap savings in 2016 if he’s released, his status is anything but secure. While ultimately I expect his contract to be restructured in the Offseason, you still have to plan for the worst. There’s also the question of how much longer Charles Johnson will be playing at an elite level. Johnson’s game isn’t as reliant on athleticism as some other 4-3 Ends in the league, but he will still see a drop-off as the athleticism starts to go. Preparing for the future is never a bad thing, and with a division that is likely to include Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston for at least the next three years….it could be critical.

There’s also the wild card of Dave Gettleman, who has shown the first two years that he’s not afraid to go against “need” drafting in favor of the best player available. He did it in 2013 by doubling up on Defensive Tackles despite play making Wide Receivers being on the board, and again in 2014 by ignoring Offensive Tackle altogether. So while “Diggy” as he’s known in Westwood isn’t the perceived need, he could be the best player on the board or dare I say, a “Blue Goose”.

Strengths

Power: One of the biggest parts of Odighizuwa’s game, is his power he uses when rushing the passer. He’s not huge by any means, but he’s got a powerful punch that often jars Offensive Lineman on first contact. He uses his power to win the leverage battle early off the snap, and has also shown the ability to shed blockers with ease.

Odighizuwa jolts the Tackle off the snap with his initial punch, putting the USC Lineman on skates. He then uses a powerful move to rip inside the Tackle and burst to the QB.

On this fourth down Odighizuwa uses his power to stop a run in its tracks. Again he wins initially with a strong first contact, and this time stands the Right Tackle up straight. He’s able to push the RT back and shed with ease. He finishes the play by dropping the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage and creating a change of possession on downs.

On this play Odighizuwa again wins the snap, and easily out-muscles his opponent. He’s able to rip the blocker away with power and pursue the Quarterback. The Guard is forced to grab and hold Odighizuwa so that his Quarterback has more time. USC converts the play, but the holding call brings it back.

First Step: Another area where Odighizuwa stands out, is his initial burst off the snap. He’s often the first Defensive Lineman out of his stance on pass rush downs, and his burst allows him to get on Offensive Lineman before they’re even out of their stance at times.

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These three plays illustrate this perfectly. In the frames Odighizuwa is the first man off the ball. Not only that, but he’s almost fully out of his stance and rushing before another Defensive Lineman even gets their hand out of the dirt. Those fractions of a second can make a huge difference.

The extra burst off the line gives Odighizuwa just the fraction of a second he needed to impact the throw. His pressure forces a tough throw that’s incomplete. By comparison, the other Lineman are around three yards further up field, and cannot impact the play.

Length: One trait in pass rushers that doesn’t stand out on film, but is a huge asset is length. While Odighizuwa isn’t incredibly tall, he does have good arm length. Because of this, he’s able to get to Quarterbacks from further out.

Here we’ll see Odighizuwa’s length contribute to points on the board for UCLA.

Odighizuwa gets a good rush, but the LT does a decent job making him work. When he gets close enough, he’s able to reach with his arm and hit the shoulder altering the throw. The result is an easy Interception and walk in Touchdown for Ishmael Adams.

Needs Work

Rush Moves: While Odighizuwa possesses the physical tools to be an exceptional pass rusher, he’s still a little rough around the edges. His technique can have lapses at times, resulting in poor pad level and his bag of tricks for rushing the passer is more of a fanny pack. He relies heavily on winning with power then working to either shoulder of the Lineman. He does flash some ability to bend and finish on the edges, however he needs to become more consistent in this area. He has shown a spin move on several occasions, but it seems to just waste precious time rather than help him win matchups.

Dancing At the Line of Scrimmage: Odighizuwa wins many of his matchups with a combination of initial burst and a powerful punch. However when he’s caught in a stalemate, he has a tendency to dance with the opposition. He needs to improve on consistently working throughout the play, instead of becoming an observer if he doesn’t have instant success.

Finishing Plays: One more area that Odighizuwa could improve is finishing plays when he’s in situations to make a tackle. Too often I have seen him have a 1-1 situation with an opportunity to make the stop and whiff. The result is stats that don’t match his impact on the field.

This is the same play I used to illustrate the power that Odighizuwa has, but it illustrates both the good and bad of Diggy. He does an excellent job winning off the snap and forcing the Guard to grab. He even beats the hold and has an easy sack waiting for him. But he doesn’t wrap up. Instead he makes a lazy tackle attempt and Quarterback Cody Kessler is able to evade the sack and complete the pass.

On this play Odighizuwa again does an excellent job to win inside the Tackle and set himself up with a 1-1 situation with the Quarterback. It’s a nice move by Kessler, but it’s too easy for him. Odighizuwa should be able to finish this play in the backfield.

Final Thoughts

Odighizuwa is a talented pass rusher who with a bit of refinement could turn into an exceptional three down Defensive End. His combination of athleticism and power would be an instant asset to the Panthers pass rush, and his length is something that’s coveted at the position. He still needs to round out his rush moves, as well as improve at finishing plays. He’ll also need to become more stout in the run game to play every down. Odighizuwa looks to be a top 60 selection this April, however he’s the type of player who could fly up the boards with a strong combine. Ultimately I expect him to end up as a late first round to early second round selection, and he could end up being too good to pass up for Gettleman and the Panthers.

Please  and feel free to email me at danguy013@gmail.com

 

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