Last year Micah Parsons was obviously the best rookie the Dallas Cowboys drafted last year. However, there was another player they drafted who had an under-the-radar type of a season. That player, is former UCLA Bruin defensive tackle, Osa Odighizuwa who was drafted in the third round.
When Osa was drafted he was looked at as an athletic, explosive but undersized defensive tackle and possibly a solid rotational piece behind Neville Gallimore. In training camp, he exceeded that expectation, made his mark in training camp, and in the preseason was named the starting defensive tackle next to Gallimore. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about who Osa Odighizuwa is.
Osa Odighizuwa Pre-NFL
Osa attended David Douglass High School in Portland, Oregon where he was named Defensive Player of the Year in his junior and senior seasons. However, football wasn’t the only sport he succeeded in. Osa also was an All-State wrestler winning three state heavyweight championships. In his last two years of high school wrestling, Odighizuwa was undefeated with records of 46-0 and 45-0. In May of 2015, Osa committed to playing college football at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
Odighizuwa College Days
In his redshirt freshman year, he was a backup defensive tackle racking up 15 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and a sack in 13 games. That year he returned a fumble for a 51-yard touchdown against the University of Washington showing that big guys can run too. As a junior, Osa finally was a full-time starter racking up 46 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss (tied for team lead).
His senior year was reduced to seven games due to the pandemic but it was still a good season for Osa individually. He posted 30 tackles, four sacks, and six tackles for loss. In late December of 2020, Osa announced he was entering his name into the 2021 NFL Draft.
Position- Defensive tackle
Height – 6’2”
Weight- 294 lbs
NFL Combine stats (2021)- 25 reps bench press / 7.57 seconds 3 cone drill / 4.44 20-yard shuttle / 10 ft Broad jump / 31.5 vertical jump
Osa’s Rookie Year For The Cowboys
Going back to the early part of this article, Osa earned his spot as the starting defensive tackle. In the first two weeks of the season, he was getting adjusted to the NFL and only had one assisted tackle for loss. In the third week of the season, he had an excellent game against the Eagles recording his first sack against QB Jalen Hurts. His final stat line from week three was 1.5 sacks, two solo tackles and a tackle for loss.
However, his best game was against the Saints in week 13 racking up four solo tackles and two tackles for loss. Overall, Osa had a solid rookie season posting 36 tackles (21 solo tackles) and two sacks. Osa did hit the rookie wall but he overcame it, solidifying a good rookie season.
Expectations For Osa In 2022
Having one year under his belt as a starting defensive tackle, the expectations for Osa to take the next step is there. Osa has shown the ability to shoot the B-Gap as a three-tech due to explosiveness and quick hands. Don’t let his size fool you, he has shown the ability to bull rush and gain leverage against opposing linemen.
Now that he has been in an NFL weight room, it will be beneficial for Odighizuwa to make that next jump. Another year in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s system will be helpful. Osa fits the 4-3/3-4 hybrid system due to his versatility to play as a three-tech.
That ability to be versatile and apply pressure to opposing offenses and wrap up on his tackles is huge. All are recipes for him to succeed in this defense and become a dominant defensive tackle. That is a role the Dallas Cowboys have been needing for a while. The time is now for Osa and the cards seem to be setting up perfectly for him to be an impact player for the Cowboys in 2022.
Will Osa Odighizuwa step up in 2022? Comment below and join the discussion!
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