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Osa Odighizuwa may not be underrated much longer entering his third year

Playing for a defensive coordinator that gets the most out of interior pass rushers, Osa Odighizuwa is due for a breakout season.

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Cowboys made a serious commitment to the defensive tackle position in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, taking Michigan’s Mazi Smith at 26th overall. The excitement for Smith to make an immediate impact is not only about what he brings as a run defender, but how his size and strength on the inside can create favorable matchups for other defenders in Dan Quinn’s scheme. One player that always makes the most of his snaps on the interior, and could find himself rushing alongside Smith plenty, is Osa Odighizuwa - recently named to’s list of underappreciated players.

Odighizuwa is one of four NFC East players on the list, along with Giants WR Isaiah Hodgins, Eagles OT Jordan Mailata, and Commanders RB Brian Robinson. The best division in football from 2022 is well represented here, with the question being which of these players can earn some appreciation and help their team dethrone the Eagles atop the division.

APY: $1.271 million (rookie contract; 111th among interior defensive linemen).

In his second pro season, Odighizuwa had an average pass-rush get-off of 0.96 seconds, per NGS, ranking 11th among defensive tackles. He piled up 26 stops in run defense and 31 pressures as a pass rusher. That latter figure is more than the combined pressures of all other Cowboys defensive tackles (30). He also single-handedly outproduced his Dallas DT cohorts in sacks (four to three). Odighizuwa feels like an exceptional fit in Dan Quinn’s defense.

The Cowboys have stacked up competition for Odighizuwa ever since drafting him, coming out of the 2021 class with Odighizuwa in the third round as well as Chauncey Golston. Golston was drafted as a defensive end, but has shifted mainly to tackle for the Cowboys. The team also spent a sixth-round pick on Quinton Bohanna in the same draft.

The Cowboys tried again to address the run-stuffing DT spot in the 2022 draft with John Ridgeway, who never saw a game day with Dallas. Odighizuwa has made the biggest impact of any DT on the roster over his time in Quinn’s defense, making quick work of guards to create splash plays in the backfield. Only averaging around 50% of the defensive snaps in any given game over his two seasons so far, Odighizuwa has only benefited from being a part of a rotation that’s gotten deeper every year.

Mix in depth like second-year player Sam Williams, veteran Jonathan Hankins, fourth-round pick Villiami Fehoko, veteran Dorance Armstrong, and Neville Gallimore in a contract year, and the Cowboys defensive line is built to take over games with their depth. Odighizuwa can be considered the engine of the tackle group though, constantly playing with a high motor that helps everyone around him make plays.

Doubling his sack total from two as a rookie to four last season, Odighizuwa would tie edge rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler’s production from 2022 by continuing this trend and reaching six sacks. He would also be the first DT to have at least five sacks for the Cowboys since Tyrone Crawford in 2018.

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