2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Defensive Line (Part 1)

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Aug 30, 2014; Charlottesville, VA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa (94) and Bruins linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) line up against the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

Another potential second rounder is UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, just another product of Jim Mora’s excellent Bruin defensive system that is sending plenty of talented players to the league. Odighizuwa is most like Dante Fowler on this list, measured at the Senior Bowl – where he had a good week – at 6’3.5″ and 266 pounds with great speed, perhaps even a step faster than Fowler. Odighizuwa is a great edge player who does not project as a 3-tech, but he has the strength to be either a 4-3 end on either side, or even a 3-4 defensive end, though he would likely be of more value as a stand-up pass-rusher in a 3-4 system.

Odighizuwa is phenomenally built, with long arms (33.35″) and massive hands (11.25″) and a very strong, muscular physique. He was used in a variety of ways in UCLA’s hybrid defense last year, seeing reps as a 3-4 end, a 7-technique end and a 5-tech end and even slid over into the 3-tech spot on some passing downs. He plays with great strength at his size, and uses his long arms to generate good leverage and separation then follows with great acceleration and speed to track down runners or get to the quarterback. He is, however, a better edge run defender than a pure pass rusher, with a somewhat slow first step and a limited range of moves to beat pass-blockers and get clean shots at the QB.

Still, he has the strength to often simply overpower offensive tackles at the college level, and his measurables suggest he could be developed into a very capable pass-rusher at the next level.  He also missed the majority of the 2013 season with a major hip injury, which may have limited his flexibility and also raises concerns about his durability. Here are some things he can do at the Combine to improve his draft stock and show teams his potential value.

1. Medical/Physical: like with Leonard Williams, teams will want to know more about Odighizuwa’s hip injury and how it still affects him, if at all. While not quite as important for a potential 2nd-rounder as for a clear-cut top 5 pick, teams will still want to know that he has healed, and that he can come in and play and stay healthy for them for at least the next four years. The results of his physical and medical evaluations will be a key event for him.

2. Pass Rush Drill: since the knock on Odighizuwa is that he doesn’t have a good skill set as a pass rusher – or that all-important explosive first step – teams will want to see him in action against the stand-up bag on a drill designed to simulate a pass-rush. If Odighizuwa can improve his first step and show scouts a strong rip technique, it will show that he has been working on this facet of his game and can improve it with coaching at the next level.

3. Body Control Drill: while Odighizuwa is very athletic and plays with good feet and body control, he still struggles with that hard first step and exploding to full speed. This drill will test his ability to fire out of his stance quickly and then explode quickly in either direction before turning it upfield. Again, he wants to develop his quick first step ability and reaction time to succeed in this drill and show improvement over his tape.