Zo huddle
Photo Credit: Daily Bruin

FSM Presents: Zo Huddle –West Coast Sleepers Come Draft Day – Osa Odighizuwa

Franchise Sports Media

The Zo Huddle loves two seasons: Football season and draft season. With the 2021 NFL Draft a month away, the Zo Huddle will unveil the top sleeper prospects out west in his eyes…

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: Bruins Nation

And we’re going to Rose City and dive into the UCLA trenches for our next west coast sleeper.

This versatile defensive lineman played bully and scrapper ball in the Pac-12 trenches…all 6-foot-2, 280-pounds of him.

But did this Bruin do enough to catch the attention of potential NFL employers?

Along with a breakdown from veteran defensive line trainer and College of the Canyons defensive line coach Eddy McGilvra (who has worked with multiple NCAA Division I linemen), here is my next west coast sleeper for the 2021 NFL Draft:

 

OSA ODIGHIZUWA

Hometown: Dayton (Oh.)

High School: Portland (Ore.) David Douglas High

Star ranking: Three-star (No. 3 best overall prospect in the state of Oregon for the 2016 class according to 247Sports)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 280-pounds

No. of seasons playing collegiately: Four (took a redshirt year in 2016)

Personal accolades: All-Pac-12 First Team selection in 2020, second-team conference selection in 2019, also was a three-time state wrestling champion in Oregon

 

Before he was a Bruin…

 

Odighizuwa was a three-sport star at Douglas High, though he’s best known for his dominance on the gridiron and the wrestling mat (Osa grappled in the 285-pound class).

And he thrived so much on the football field that he was rated higher by 247Sports than future Pac-12 rival and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who was the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation’s 33rd state.

He went on to continue a family lineage: Older brother Owa (now with the New York Giants) signed and starred at UCLA before the younger Odighizuwa came along. Cal offensive line coach Angus McClure was the point man in luring Odighizuwa to Westwood during a time he was coaching the Bruins defensive line.

 

FIELD WORK

 

Snap explosion: We have to start here. When it comes to evaluating defensive linemen, the first thing I look for is their get-off. And Odighizuwa has one of the fastest snap explosions I’ve seen in this draft class. “Slow” doesn’t describe Odighizuwa at all. He’s relentless the moment the ball starts gravitating toward the quarterback. And his first step is a prelude of what is to come for opposing QB’s and linemen responsible for him.

Reaction after contact initiation: Odighizuwa then gets into scrapper mode after the snap – he’s swiping, bull-rushing, or squeezing through gaps to disrupt plays. He’s not one to stop his feet or freeze himself after a guard or center locks horns with him. He’s bullish from snap to whistle.

Leverage consistency: With his wrestling background in tow, Odighizuwa has the advantage in winning battles below the shoulders and neck. He’s skilled at bending at the point of attack and in keeping his legs moving. His leverage advantage has often driven blockers back to the QB. This stunt versus USC is a prime example of his leverage strength. Lined up as the nose tackle, Odighizuwa crosses and clashes with 6-foot-5, 315-pound Jalen McKenzie but still puts McKenzie on roller skates.

 

 

Pass rush repertoire: Odighizuwa relied heavily on four pass rush moves: The bull rush, the club-and-rip, the arm over, and the long arm. Along with his burst in shooting gaps, Odighizuwa is masterful at using hand technique. Although, in the Senior Bowl, Odighizuwa beat opponents using a wickedly timed spin move and then disrupting the play.

Playing trench mind games: The moment he gets into the three-point stance, his frontal lobe starts going to work. Odighizuwa enters the trenches with a plan of attack for blockers – attacking with a mix of speed and power or knowing what hand technique can work to evade opponents along the line of scrimmage. Psychology also comes into play for the guys lining up across from Odighizuwa and the opposing offensive coaches. If you watched the UCLA trenches closely, Odighizuwa commanded a lot of attention from guards and centers.

Schools like USC often threw two OL’s at him to keep him at bay. Odighizuwa, though, still kept himself upright and used his leverage and arm extension to prevent getting knocked off of his feet.

Teams that pull the guards have had their plans of springing running backs loose only to be thwarted by Odighizuwa. He immediately identifies the gap and crashes through it. Sometimes, UCLA allowed Odighizuwa to stunt. And when he circled around the line of scrimmage, he gained enough penetration to force the incompletion.

 

 

Lane clogging ability: Despite the fact Odighizuwa doesn’t have a larger, nose tackle-like frame when lined up inside, he’s managed to fill gaps off his low pad level and mashing his frame into the gap – causing running backs to redirect. Here, while lined up across 6-foot-6, 320-pound left guard Andrew Voorhees, Odighizuwa shoots the gap and immediately seals the lane, forcing the play to bounce inside.

 

 

Matching power with power: This is where Odighizuwa struggles the most. When he tries to rely on pure strength against linemen with a 20 to 40-pound advantage, he gets redirected and pushed away easily from the play. This was often seen when he was placed as the one-technique (head up on center).

Trench versatility: The Bruins were clearly confident enough to plug Odighizuwa in multiple alignments. UCLA had him playing from the one to the nine technique along the line. However, given his frame, first-step burst, and speed after the snap, Odighizuwa has the look of someone who will only thrive inside if he’s placed at the three-technique (outside shoulder of the guard) or at both DE spots.

Closest comparison – Ed Oliver, Buffalo Bills: Oliver was another undersized DL who still gave college linemen hell with his burst, range, and feisty demeanor along the line during his University of Houston days. Though I believe Odighizuwa at this stage in his football career has the edge in line smarts coming into the NFL.

From the DL perspective of Eddy McGilvra (Osa’s trainer): “I would say his No. 1 tool that will get him on the field right away is that he understands how to use his leverage really well. He’s a ‘low-man wins’ kind of guy. He did wrestle at a high level – and that translates over in playing the run, being able to fit underneath the linemen, keeping your leverage, and run your feet on contact. He’s extremely elite, in that sense.

“He can come in on day one and play right away because he understands how to stay low. He’s going to demand a lot of attention against the run because he’s so quick-twitch off the ball. He stays low, he uses his hands very well, he’s really disruptive…so he’s going to demand attention.

“The lack of size thing is a bunch of mess. You hear that a lot from guys getting recruited in the high school realms to college and into the pros. Every time someone tells me ‘he’s undersized.’ I’m like ‘Can he play football?’ I don’t really care about what his size is. If I turn on the film and realize the guy can play, I’m done looking at his height and weight. And every time you turn on his tape, he’s in the backfield.”

 

Current Draft projection: Fourth to Seventh round

 

Zo Huddle
Photo Credit: UCLA Bruins

Zo’s most potential suitors: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Buffalo, New York Jets, Jacksonville, and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Rams: The league’s best defense is suddenly getting decimated in free agency. Aaron Donald needs help. Honestly, how scary would it be for Donald to have someone as cat-quick as Odighizuwa next to him? The move can create more field space to shoot through for Donald or free up Odighizuwa when Donald is the focus.

San Francisco: Key rotational defensive tackle Solomon Thomas is now in Las Vegas and the 49ers have five DE’s listed as free agents. If lining up on the edge is the move for Odighizuwa, then the Niners could be a prime fit.

Tampa Bay: The way the Super Bowl LV champs used Ndamukong Suh as a three and five-technique can work very well for Odighizuwa – since he was used in a similar fashion at UCLA. Speaking of Suh, he’s one of three DL free agents along with key reserve Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon. And the champs already spent big bucks on keeping linebackers Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David. So, there is no telling what they have left in keeping Suh or the others. All three will be passed the age of 28 next season. If the Bucs go younger, Odighizuwa can be a strong youthful presence for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Carolina: Four trench Panthers including Kawann Short are free agents. Carolina also struggled with getting an interior pass rush – as the trio of Derrick Brown, Zach Kerr, and Bravvion Roy combined for just five sacks. Oh, new Panthers DC Phil Snow shares a Westwood connection with Odighizuwa: Snow once called the defensive plays for the Pac-10’s best defensive unit in 2001.

Buffalo: The lack of a pass rush was among the things that prevented the Bills from winning a franchise fifth Lamar Hunt Trophy. Despite having 16 defenders record a sack, no Buffalo defender got past five in that category. The Bills also lost Quinton Jefferson to the Raiders. Odighizuwa can provide a jolt here.

N.Y Jets: New head coach Robert Saleh had a hellacious front four during the 49ersSB LIV run. He’ll likely aim to build this unit from the interior on out. He’s worked with DL’s under 6-foot-3 before, so he shouldn’t have an issue with coaching up Odighizuwa.

Jacksonville: Joe Cullen has never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but his area of expertise is D-linemen (he held 10 different DL coach jobs throughout his coaching career, half of his time in the NFL). Furthermore, one former Bruin has done well in Duval County (Myles Jack). Maybe another can too.

Las Vegas: The Raiders have hit the free agency market to bolster the defensive line. I’m still in the belief, though, that guys should be drafted to fit Gus Bradley’s defense…and provide a much-needed QB attack. Odighizuwa has the kind of size, speed, and a motor that fits Bradley’s vision. And why not get an old Pac-12 rival of Herbert to chase him down?

 

Overall Odighizuwa was quite the wrecker between Seattle and Boulder on Saturdays. Obviously, you’ll hear the “undersized” attachment. But honestly, forget his size. He unleashed trench hell from the Rose Bowl to Autzen Stadium. His sack games in 2020 came against three Pac-12 teams that were 2019 bowl representatives (including 2020 conference champ Oregon). The demand for defensive tackles isn’t high in this draft. But when used correctly, Odighizuwa can be a line disintegrator for whoever drafts him.

 

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Lorenzo J. Reyna – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Zo on Twitter: @LJ_Reyna

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