Through Sean McDermott’s first season as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, he emphasized the importance of character when acquiring players that would help build a winning culture. So when the team signed defensive end Owa Odighizuwa following some tumultuous seasons that included a suspension, numerous injuries, and reports that the former third-round draft pick was contemplating retirement, many were scratching their heads.
In order to understand the signing, it’s important to look back at some of the things McDermott preached in his first year in Buffalo – family, teamwork, accountability – the list of cliches goes on. But the team certainly bought in.
Owa Odighizuwa a story of hardship to success
Owa Odighizuwa never had it easy. Born in Ohio, the defensive end resided in Nigeria for five years before returning to the United States. He bounced around as his father committed a triple-homicide when Owa Odighizuwa was 10-years old and is currently serving three life sentences. He lived in Virginia and Oregon before ultimately deciding to attend UCLA.
Sure, Owa could’ve givenwas a team captain for the Bruins and graduated early with a degree in philosophy. He was the 2012 Maggie Gilbert Academic Achievement Award winner.
In 2013, Odighizuwa redshirted after undergoing surgery on both hips.
But despite all of this, he bounced back in his senior season, racking up 59 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four pass breakups en route to being named second-team All Pac-12.
Freak athlete, clay waiting to be molded
If you play ‘Madden’ and create a player, chances are that virtual character will resemble Owa Odighizuwa. Standing 6-foot-3, 267-pounds with 33 3/4″ arms and massive 11-inch hands, his movement skills are downright terrifying. At the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, he posted the best numbers among defensive ends in the 40-yard dash (4.62-seconds), vertical leap (39-inches), broad jump (10-foot-7 inches), the short shuttle (4.19-seconds) and ran an 11.75-second 60-yard shuttle.
To put those numbers into perspective, since 2015, only Vic Beasley, Bud Dupree, and Myles Garrett have posted equal or better SPARQ scores than Odighizuwa. Interestingly, he has the same exact score as FSU’s Josh Sweat in this year’s Scouting Combine. For those interested in NIKE’s SPARQ formula – it measures a players athleticism by outputting a single score and Zach Whitman does a fantastic job breaking it down at 3sigmaathlete.com.
Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane covet players that are versatile and have something to play for outside of a check. We don’t know the exact details of what went down in that Giants locker room, but it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the most team-friendly atmosphere in the world. Second – he’s a low-risk, high-reward signing that doesn’t count against the compensatory pick formula.
Third? He can ball.
Owa Odighizuwa Run Support
At UCLA, Owa was utilized up and down the line of scrimmage due to his size and strength and he simply dominated.
Here are two consecutive plays against Utah. First, he’s lined up as a traditional defensive end. He sets the edge, sheds the tackle and brings down the running back for a loss. Next, he’s in a one-gapping technique and his burst is simply too quick for the offensive linemen to handle and he makes another huge play.
Owa. Wow pic.twitter.com/CCVJfl9ya3— BuildingTheHerd (@BuildingTheHerd) March 12, 2018
In the next play, he executes a stunt and stonewalls the running back before can cross the line of scrimmage. It is an incredible show of athletic ability, strength and instincts.
Odighizuwa may not have back-to-back 10-sack campaigns like Hughes did, but he has the athleticism and physical tools that certainly make him an intriguing breakout candidate for the Bills’ in the 2018 NFL season should he perform at a high level throughout training camp.