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Broncos Player Profile: Eyioma Uwazurike #96 | Interior Defensive Line

The rookie defensive lineman goes under the microscope.

While the Denver Broncos signed a top-tier free agent D.J. Jones to help the defensive line, but needed additional help. Unfortunately, the 2022 NFL draft wasn't the strongest class for interior defensive linemen. 

When the Broncos were on the clock, they passed on some of the higher-rated defensive linemen, much to the dismay of the fans. When it came to the fourth round, the Broncos selected Iowa State's Eyioma Uwazurike. He was an interesting selection because of how he was used at Iowa State, but he fits what the Broncos needed. 

Biography

Eyioma Uwazurike (pronounced E-oh-mah Ooh-WAH-zah-Ree-kay) is older for a rookie, having turned 24 years old on May 6. He was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and was a three-star recruit entering college. 

College Career

For his freshman year, Uwazurike was ruled academically ineligible but got it turned around for the 2017 season and was a key contributor before becoming a starter in 2018. He ended up missing time because of a groin injury. Those first two years on the field, he picked up 20 total pressures and 20 stops.

The 2019 season is when Uwazurike broke out as he picked up 22 total pressures and 17 stops. Over 50% of his snaps came as an edge rusher that season, and he was incredibly disruptive beyond the stats. His 2021 season has similar production with 24 total pressures and 16 stops. 

In his final year, Uwazurike was still used all over the defensive line registering over 200 snaps as a nose tackle and over 200 snaps as an edge. His production as a pass rusher sky-rocketed with 43 total pressures and nine sacks, but he was still under 20 stops with just 19. 

Nevertheless, it was a good year that showed how versatile he could be on the line, and he entered the 2022 draft. 

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Draft

The draft process with Uwazurike started with the Shrine Bowl and then the NFL Scouting Combine. He didn't do a full workout at the Combine, only doing jumps and positional drills. However, he did the rest of it at the Iowa State Pro Day. 

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While he tested alright, Uwazurike's athletic profile mainly was average for a defensive lineman. However, it was good enough for the Broncos to spend the 116th pick on him. 

Professional Career

There are tools to work with for Uwazurike to be a good defensive lineman in the NFL. With what he brings, he has the traits to be a long-term rotational player at the very least. It will be interesting to see where his career goes. 

2022 Outlook

There is no doubt that Uwazurike will make the Broncos roster, barring something extreme. With the capital the Broncos used on him, it's rare not to see top-150 picks make the team's roster, and he was No. 116. 

The question will be about his role as a rookie. While he is the best fit for a specific role used by the Los Angeles Rams, Ejiro Evero may not use that role in Denver. There is also the chance that the Broncos work around that role this year instead of trusting it to a rookie. 

If the Broncos want to use that role, there is a good chance Uwazurike ends up as a starter on the defensive line. However, even in that instance, he may not see a large number of snaps for a few reasons. 

Denver is expected to deploy a lot of two-down lineman looks and a heavy rotation on the defensive line. Whatever the case, Uwazurike does have a battle heading into camp where he will find himself on the rotation for his rookie season. 


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