The Green Bay Packers’ defensive line simply was not good enough in 2020. Not even close. In 2019, Kenny Clark made the Pro Bowl following a season highlighted by six sacks, nine tackles for losses and seven quarterback hits. In 2020, Clark, Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster combined for five sacks, five tackles for losses and 10 quarterback hits.
According to Pro Football Focus, Clark had 62 quarterback pressures in 2019. All nine defensive linemen to get playing time in 2020 recorded 77 pressures, led by Clark plunging to 28. Kingsley Keke showed some promise but all four sacks, all three tackles for losses and half of his eight quarterback hits came in two games. Montravius Adams, a third-round flop, signed with New England in free agency. With that, the Packers could use another impact defensive lineman. Unfortunately, it is a paper-thin draft class.
UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa is our No. 3-ranked defensive lineman.
Osa Odighizuwa is one of the best defensive linemen in this draft class. One reason why is, once upon a time, he was the top-ranked high school heavyweight wrestler in the nation.
A native of Portland, he was a three-time state champion who finished his career with 131 consecutive victories.
“I feel like that’s something that a lot of guys who are linemen in high school should do is wrestling in the offseason because it help you with your hands, mental toughness, your footwork, your balance, your understanding of leverage,” he told NFL Network recently. “That’s something that as your developing as a defensive lineman is going to help you a ton.”
Odighizuwa broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore and earned some all-conference honors as a junior. That set the stage for a senior season in which he was first-team all-conference.
“The way he’s been working, man, it’s unmatched,” current Packers linebacker Krys Barnes said of Odighizuwa before the 2019 season. “To see him transition into the role that he has now, it’s huge. I’m really excited for the season to see the breakout year he’s going to have.”
His brother, Owa, was a third-round pick by the New York Giants in 2015. Osa was dominant on the wrestling mat and only a three-star recruit. Owa’s path to the NFL brought the best out of his younger brother. And not just athletically. Osa had a 3.3 grade-point average in high school and made the UCLA academic honor roll, as well.
“He didn’t get the best grades as a freshman,” Ron Holyoak, his wrestling coach, said. “And his sophomore year, we sat him down and said, ‘Listen … do you want to play junior college football or do you want to play, you know, NCAA Division I?'”
Owa preceded Osa at UCLA. They overcame a horrifically difficult childhood. Their father, Peter, shot and killed three people.
Measureables: 6-foot-1 5/8, 282 pounds, 34-inch arms, DNP 40 40, 4.44 shuttle, 25 bench-press reps.
Stats and accolades: In 43 games (27 starts), Odighizuwa had 12 sacks and 27 tackles for losses. In 12 games in 2019, he had career highs of 4.5 sacks and 10.5 TFLs. In seven games in 2020, he contributed four sacks and six tackles for losses. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranks second in the draft class among interior defenders with three holding penalties drawn, third in pressure share (15 percent of UCLA’s pressures) and fifth in pressure rate (8 percent). More than just a pass rusher, his bounce rate (percentage of runs that didn’t go to the designed gap) of 45 percent ranked No. 1. He deflected only three passes in his career and missed a dubious 18 tackles.
NFL Draft Bible says: At just 280 pounds with below average height/length, Odighizuwa is an undersized, but extremely flexible, defensive line piece. 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 consistently counteract physicality at the point of attack, and he has 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.
About This Series
Packer Central is introducing you to the top prospects, both on and off the field, in this year’s NFL Draft. The series is starting with the top five at each position.