For the next month, we’ll be looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)
#4 - Chidobe Awuzie - Cornerback - Colorado - 6-0, 202
Games Watched: Washington, USC, UCLA, Colorado St., Stanford
Pros: Four-year starter with great versatility, has experience playing outside on both the right and left side, as well as in the slot. Ideal physical profile with height, bulk, and speed. Comfortable in press, off, zone, and man coverages. Excellent instincts in zone coverage, shows a natural feel for when to come off his primary receiver when he sees the ball in the air, also does a really nice job of reading through receivers to see where the ball is going, then driving on it to make the play. Fluid hips that allow him to open up and play trail technique from an initial press position, as well as carry receivers across the field laterally. Very smooth and light on his feet, changes direction easily with good lateral agility and side-to-side quickness. Polished footwork/backpedal. Shows good awareness to get his head around and locate the ball in the air. Impressive ability to blitz off the edge. Matched up really well when in coverage against John Ross in the PAC-12 title game. Astounding 18 TFL and 8 sacks over the last two seasons.
Cons: Lacks ideal length with relatively short arms (under 31 inches). Has a bad habit of consistently going high/around the shoulders for tackles, this must be corrected in the NFL or he will give up plenty of broken tackles. Not aggressive in run support, he usually is around the pile but seems content to let his teammates make the tackle, much more aggressive when it comes to attacking receivers as ball-carriers vs. running backs. Jam at the line is inconsistent, must improve in that regard if he is to play press/man consistently. Loses concentration at times when a receiver is at the top of their route, allowing them to beat him out of their break. Would like to see more than 3 interceptions over four seasons of extensive playing time.
Conclusion: Following the injury to Sidney Jones there seems to be no consensus as far as who is the best cornerback in the class behind Marshon Lattimore, ask five different people and you’re bound to get five different answers. There are a few highly-touted cornerbacks (Gareon Conley, Kevin King, etc.) that I have left to study but at this point I feel comfortable saying that Awuzie is at least a very strong contender for that spot due to his size, versatility, polish, and instincts.
It is rare that you find a cornerback with the prototype physical traits (minus the long arms) to play the outside press role that the league has fallen in love with recently, while also being able to cover and blitz out of the slot. His lack of aggressiveness in run support gives me some pause, but it’s a common complaint for most college cornerbacks. He might not be the flashiest name at 28 but he could end up being one of the more practical selections the team could make depending on what the board looks like.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.