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Cowboys 2015 Draft Targets: UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, it's important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you, BTB offers a series of detailed scouting reports on these players, compiled from the work of top draft analysts. Today, we look at UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Owamagbe "Owa" Odighizuwa (Oh-DIGGY-zoo-wuh) was the No. 1 prep player in the state of California coming out of high school, and chose to attend UCLA amid much fanfare. His career in Westwood began with great promise; as as a true freshman in 2010, he started six games, recording three sacks and earning the team Rookie of the Year honors. And then the bottom fell out: Odighizuwa started only two games the next two years, in part due to an early-season injury that required surgery on his left hip. In 2012, he sat out spring practice as he healed, only to injure his right hip over the summer, forcing another surgery and a medical redshirt in 2013. In 2014, Odighizuwa bounced back, tying for team lead with 11.5 tackles for loss and finishing second with six sacks, earning Second Team All-Pac 12 honors and receiving a Senior Bowl invite.

Although he didn't put up showy stats, scouts like his tape just fine. They see a stout force on the outside who plays with active hands against the run, but who also can flash inside, knifing across the OT's face to pressure the quarterback.Still, "O-diggy" remains largely a mystery. Because he missed so much time, Odighizuwa missed out on numerous opportunities to hone his game. So, he's still very much a work in progress; as NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote of him, "Odighizuwa has some scheme versatility, but he's not necessarily a versatile player." That said, he's a pretty nice piece of marble for a good sculptor to go to work on.

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Want to scout like a boss? Let's start by looking at his measurables:

Height Weight Arms Hands 40yd 10yd Bench Vert Broad 3Cone 20ss SPARQ (%)
6' 3" 267 33¾" 11" 4.62 1.62 25 39" 127" 7.36 4.19 142.4 (95.6)

If you're wondering how those numbers compare to those of his peers, you can see exactly that in this spider graph, courtesy of the folks at Mockdraftable.com:

He's certainly a top-flight athlete. How does his tape stack up? Over at Draft Breakdown, they only have four of his games available - but since three, they say, is enough to form an opinion on a player, that should do just fine. Check him out in the season opener vs. Virginia, a Texas and Arizona State double dip and, finally in action against cross-town rival USC. You know the game: click on the link to watch the video.

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Let's see what our esteemed panel of scouts has to say about Odighizuwa's game:

Gary Horton (ESPN.com) 5th-ranked DE; 48th overall:

Pass Rush Skills: Has good upside in this area due to skill set. Above-average snap anticipation. Fires off the ball with quality leverage. Quick and heavy handed. Flashes explosive upper body power and has some shock with punch when executing speed to power. Very active hand fighter and flashes an effective swim and rip move. Shows ability to dip shoulder but doesn't have great torso flexibility to skin the edge and finish at the top of rush. Quick redirect when executing stunts and has an above-average closing burst when getting a free run at the quarterback. Instincts are adequate but still developing as a pass rusher.

Versus the run: Above-average point of attack skills. Wide base and strong anchor. Fires off the ball with quality pad level and leverage. Possesses above-average power in upper body. Heavy handed and has some shock with initial punch. Quick hands to disengage and shed. Flexible lower body and has good torque in mid-section to give ground in upper body while anchoring down in lower body. Instincts are still developing and will be a split second late finding the ball at times. Adequate lateral agility and overall range.

Versatility: Versatile defender that can line can be utilized in multiple positions along the front line. Ideal fit appears to be as a LDE for base 43 scheme. Has the ability to reduce inside on passing situations where he can use his quickness to disrupt from the interior. Enough point of attack to hold up as a 5-technique but lacks ideal length. Lacks experience and fluidity in space and may struggle if asked to convert to a 3-4 OLB.

Instincts/Motor: Highly competitive and motor is constantly running. Aggressive and plays with a violent demeanor. Does not back down. Good fight at the point of attack and willing to mix it up. Relentless and loves to chase.

Intangibles: Respectful and polite individual. Outgoing personality and well respected by both his teammates and coaches. Relentless work ethic and gives 100 percent in everything he does. Solid student. Elected as a team captain as a senior.

Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) 3rd-ranked DE; 47th overall:

Strengths: Absolute Greek God with the pads off. Shredded physique with very little body fat. Strong at the point of attack. Plays with desired anchor and strong lower body. Run defender who can close down creases. Gets off ball with good pad level and has potential to convert speed to power. Hands are violent and active. Relentless and competitive. Never gives up on a pass rush. Expected to be a core special-teams talent. Can play 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker.

Weaknesses: Not skilled as a pass rusher. Won't win around the edge often and must prove he can counter back inside. Has dealt with two surgeries on his hip and missed all of 2013 because of it. Lateral agility is limited. Range in pursuit in question. Could be mismatched if forced to cover in space. More unit fit than talented player.

Sources Tell Us: "He's not Courtney Upshaw, but he could be used kind of like that. I can see him playing in both 4-3 or 3-4, but he can't be counted on as a pass rusher and you have to know that he will be limited to just being a run stopper." -- AFC national scout

NFL Comparison: Sam Acho

Dane Brugler (NFL Draft Guide) 2nd-ranked DE:

Strengths: Body beautiful with long arms and proportionate thickness...natural bend, flexibility and greasy joints...light on his feet with average movement skills for the position...stays balanced with his athletic lower body to square, take on blocks and be disruptive...uses his length to attack blockers before they can get hands on him, shooting his punch with proper timing to shock at the point of attack...understands leverage and uses his knee bend to drop his butt and sit in the chair with his arms engaged...physical to hold the edge as a run defender...looks to impose his will as a bull rusher, putting blockers on their heels...versatile experience lining up inside and outside, playing most the 4i and 5-technique spots - also lined up as a three-technique and stood up outside at times...well-rounded and high character individual with the work ethic traits needed for the NFL.

Weaknesses: Nice job beating up blockers with his length, but needs to better work off the block to make a play on the ball - too reactive and needs to improve his anticipation in the run game...active hands, but his pass rush arsenal is a work-in-progress with his arms often flailing out of control...needs to improve his snap anticipation and better time up his get-off, eliminating the offsides penalties...tends to get wild once he penetrates the pocket and needs to better control his momentum and break down on the ballcarrier...doesn't consistently generate movement with his punch and needs to attack with the same physicality from snap-to-snap...strong durability concerns after two hip surgeries in 2013 - medical says he is fully healthy, but long-term questions marks still exist...only eight starts over his first four years at UCLA, finishing with 21 career starts.

Summary: Odighizuwa, who was born in Ohio, grew up in Nigeria and returned to the U.S. in 2001, arrived at UCLA with a lot of fanfare and his freshman year in 2010 was promising, but he struggled to make a significant impact during his sophomore and junior seasons - played under five defensive coordinators for the Bruins and couldn't get comfortable within the defense. Odighizuwa physically looks like he was built with a NFL starter kit and does an excellent job using his length to initiate at the point of attack and control blocks. However, he doesn't affect the pocket as much as expected and his impact hasn't matched the traits. Odighizuwa needs work with his pass rush moves, but he wasn't asked to consistently rush off the edge in college so the low career sack total (12.5) is deceiving. He has the versatile skill-set to fit a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme as a base end with the ability to wear different hats in the front seven - first round pick if my trainers and doctors give me the thumps up regarding his hips.

Bob Sturm (Dallas Morning News):

What I liked: When watching this player do his work, you can see there is a lot to like.  He appears to be very versatile in many regards with his ability to do things that help you up front.  First, he rushes from that RDE spot and can get some things done there with his array of moves.  He can turn the corner reasonably well and is helped by his relentless battle.  Then, you can line him up at the strong-side (LDE) where his ability to deal with the run is put on full display and that might be where he is really better than his size would indicate.  He squares to the line and then can shoot gaps and anticipate the snap with speedy "get-off" and demonstrate some great athleticism.  Additionally, he is moved inside on pass rush downs and can get isolated with a guard and push the pocket up.  He has really long arms and uses them well with a push/pull technique that is too much for many of the college linemen he faced.  His motor and his dimensions both really work in his favor.

What I did not like: When you see a player who missed an entire year with hip issues in college, that surely gives you pause.  There is no question that the version of Odighizuwa in September and the same player in November were two different players, so his recovery might mean that he is available a bit deeper in the draft if all things were equal health-wise.  He also doesn’t show the bend to turn the corner that someone like DeMarcus Ware had. This means that his angles to the Quarterback are not as sharp, meaning he cannot get there as quickly.  This is not a major issue, just an admission that he might not have as high a ceiling as those above him, but still very solid.

Summary: Overall, I really like this player for the Cowboys in the late 1st or 2nd.  He is perfect for their scheme and he possesses the tools that Rod Marinelli values with a high motor and a relentless battle level.  He seems like the type of young piece that you could add to Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence and feel pretty solid about, provided he passes all of his medical exams to make sure the hip is not the sort of thing that is recurring.  His production has not been quite as high as I might like at UCLA (6 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss in 2014), but keep in mind that he really was working his way back and had a quiet first month.   After that, his production was pretty solid for the remainder of the year.  You don’t always find defensive ends who appear to have better than average ability at pass rushing and run stopping, but I think Odighizuwa can be that type of guy. He appears to be a piece that Marinelli could really mold into another edge rush option that could offer reasonably-priced sacks for years to come.  I would keep an eye on this guy in the Cowboys range.

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The two panelists who rank Ogighizuwa cluster him very tightly: 47th and 48th. In addition, Brugler sees him as a second-rounder. So, in that regard, all of our draftniks are in agreement: he's a second-round talent. And that's where I'll put him on my "little board." That said, I don't think he'll last until the middle of the second frame, due to a combination of his athleticism and the fact that the talent in this draft should flatten out from about the 25th to the 45th pick.

Oh, and there's also the matter of his other suitors. Check out the teams that have expressed interest in the former Bruin, be they workouts or pre-draft visits: Philadelphia (20); Baltimore (26); New Orleans (31, 44), New England (32); and the Giants (40). Looking at this list, I think it's safe to say that  the Cowboys will have to draft him at #27 if we're going to see him wearing the star in 2015, since even a small trade down exposes him to several interested clubs.

It's funny; early in the draft season, we were all a-flutter about O-diggy. Now, perhaps as a result of the Greg Hardy signing, Cowboys Nation seems to have cooled on him. It's important to remember that Dallas still desperately needs talent on the defensive line, regardless of whether Hardy plays well, stays beyond 2015, etc. Since we seem to have forgotten this, I think we've also forgotten a player that is almost certainly one of a handful of Dallas' first round targets. If he ends up being the pick, it would mean that he has alleviated any injury concerns the team might have. Should that proves to be the case, Ol' Rabble would be juuuuust fiiiine...

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Next up: LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter