The 'Role' Will Be The Key to Osa Odighizuwa' Cowboys Draft Grade

The selection of UCLA's Osa Odighizuwa gives the Cowboys a versatile pass rusher. But what exactly will his role be in Dallas in 2021?
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The Dallas Cowboys selected UCLA DT/EDGE Osa Odighizuwa with the No. 75 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Friday. Below we provide our instant grade on the selection.

DT/EDGE Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA, 6-foot-2, 280 pounds

NFL Draft Bible Scouting Overview: The younger brother of another UCLA star defender, interior defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa, is an impressive athlete who should garner a lot of interest as an interior penetrator. At just 280 pounds with below average height/length, Odighizuwa is an undersized defensive line piece who is extremely flexible. He has flashed the ability to win early in reps with surprising bend from the inside. His hand usage is nice, showing the ability to win inside and gain leverage on a down-to-down basis. Odighizuwa will be extremely scheme specific and might lack the ideal physical profile to play a high volume of snaps. He can’t counteract physicality at the point of attack consistently with even less success working through double teams. His best role early on could be as a sub-package 3-technique who makes his impact on obvious passing downs. With his lack of length, teams running mostly odd fronts will not be as high on him as others. Odighizuwa is an interesting athlete and with his ability as a penetrator, there is a role for him at the next level, maybe just not for a high volume of snaps early on in his career.

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How he fits: The Cowboys, legitimately, have one consistent pass rusher right now in DeMarcus Lawrence. Sure, when Randy Gregory is on the field, he can be a factor. Dorance Armstrong made some strides at the end of the season. Tarell Basham is a good free-agent signing in that he’s good depth, but he could be displaced as a starter (or even a backup). Bradlee Anae is a second-year end who may need more time to get into the rotation. The tackle position is a work in progress with Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins, Trysten Hill and Brent Urban, among others. The Cowboys need pash rush help. Period. The Cowboys can’t go into 2021 with just one reliable pass-rushing option on the outside. And if the Cowboys see him as more of a lighter tackle — something many scouts see him as — then he’s probably not getting to the quarterback that much.

What the Cowboys passed on: One prominent name is Washington DB Elijah Molden, but the Cowboys addressed the cornerback need in Round 2 with Kelvin Joseph. Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins was also sitting there when the Cowboys came on the clock.

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Grade: B-minus. Is he a tackle or is he an edge rusher? Or is he both? He’s versatile and he has a great motor when you watch his tape. The pursuit and the effort is there. But do the Cowboys want him to gain weight and move inside or slim down a bit and step outside? I honestly see him fitting better as a left defensive end opposite Lawrence, where he can use his larger frame to take advantage of right tackles, which are typically slower than left tackles off the snap. That’s why I spoke more about the ends than the tackles the Cowboys have on the roster. I see him fitting better outside. There, he could be a 20-to-30 snap player right away. But defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a reputation for using linemen in unique ways, and when some of the players they’ve signed are 305 pounds, like Watkins, and listed as defensive ends, you have a lot of questions about roles. To me, Odighizuwa is a player whose role isn’t defined right now, and that drives the grade down a bit.

You can follow Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.