Physical UCLA Specimen “Owa” Likely On Steelers’ Radar

When the Pittsburgh Steelers go on the clock come pick 22, many draft analysts love to peg them taking a cornerback or a pass rusher to help restore some pride on a defense that the team used to hang it’s hat on. With the team choosing not go corner in round 1 since 1997, a pass rusher is the more likely of the two, and a key name to keep an eye on is UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who’s tongue twisting name make’s former Green Bay Packers’ sack artist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila look like child’s play.

When former Steelers’ pass rushers come to mind, one thinks of intimidation and trash talk, the Joey Porters, the Greg Lloyds, the James Harrisons. They were wrecking balls, and judging by fellow UCLA defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes’ description of “Owa” it seems like he’d be a perfect fit in the Steel City.

“There are people, and then there’s Owa. You’ve got humans, and then there’s Owa.” said Vanderdoes. “You look at him and he’s like a physical specimen. He’s built. He’s 275 pounds of solid muscle. He runs like a DB. He’s just — I don’t know. I can’t explain it. He’s just a monster.”

Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 267 pounds, he is without a doubt a physical marvel, as UCLA defensive line coach Angus McClure said Owa is right around 6 percent body fat.

“When he steps on the stage at Indianapolis, people are going to think they’re at a bodybuilding competition,” McClure said. “He’s going to blow everyone away.”

He did just that at the combine, posting a 4.62 in the 40, the second-fastest for a defensive lineman, and also posted 25 reps and an explosive 39 inch vertical. Owa played the “Buck” end position for the Bruins’ defense, a spot McClure says where they play the most athletic defensive ends. It’s the same spot that former Bruin and first round pick of the Packers, Datone Jones ,played.

“At this point in their careers, he’s a little bit stronger than Datone,” McClure said. “He probably has a little bit more upfield speed than Datone.”

Owa’s strong point is his play against the run, where he uses his exceptional lower body strength to anchor at the point of attack. He finished 2014 with 61 tackles, including 11 and-a-half for loss, but his sack numbers were low, finishing with only 5. McClure admitted that his defensive end’s pass rush needs some fine-tuning and is raw at this point, but says he’s more than able to add some moves to his skillset.

“I think he will continue to evolve as a football player when he gets to the NFL,” McClure said. “He’s certainly a student of the game.”

This is the type of versatile and chaotic defender the Steelers could utilize, with the promise of more hybrid looks from the defense than in year’s past. Think Pernell McPhee, Courtney Upshaw or Anthony Barr. McClure also credits the passion and preparation that Owa, a philosophy major, puts into the game as well, which should be music to defensive coordinator’s ears league-wide.

“The thing with Owa is he wants to know the entire scheme,” McClure said. “Not only what everybody’s doing on the defense. But he likes to know the entire scheme, offensively, what they’re doing. He wants to know everything. He’s going to take the time to learn it.”

At Tuesday’s Pro Day, Owa stood on most of his numbers at the combine, but he did participate in both linebacker and defensive line drills, showing off his versatile skillset. He reportedly looked very fluid in linebacker drills, dropping into coverage, and showing his eye-popping numbers from the combine will translate onto the field come Sundays.

“Today I wanted to show my versatility and that you can throw me into a drill and I’m going to execute it exactly how they want it done,” he said. “I could play like an Anthony Barr-position outside rusher as a linebacker  and play as a defensive end as an outside rusher.”

Despite only 11 sacks in his four seasons, and multiple surgeries on a hip that caused him to miss all of the 2013 season, he flashes the immense talent that a coach like Keith Butler would love to have for their defense. He’s an explosive chess piece capable of putting his hand in the dirt but also comfortable enough to drop into coverage.

“At 270, I’d use him inside at times knowing he’d hold up against any offensive lineman we see,” said McClure. “Owa can play anywhere on the line of scrimmage and he has. He can line up anywhere from the 9-technique to head up on the tight end to outside an offensive tackle on a 5-technique.”

He is a true jack-of-all-trades player, and one that could find himself holding a black and gold jersey come draft night.

“I bring a lot to the table and I can be a valuable asset to any organization that drafts me. The way I carry myself, I want to make sure teams know they are drafting a first class athlete.”

  • Vinhudd

    A little early at #22? Just wondering.

  • Michael Amaro

    Player s like this make trading back seem like a nice move take more players in the second or third to fit our future needs.

  • SnoopDogg123

    IMO, Diggy is exactly what the Steelers defense needs. Strong, versatile & has the ability to dominant the line of scrimmage. I’d love to see to him a black & gold uniform and would have no issues with him being picked at #22.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I’d be surprised if he makes it past Baltimore at #26.

  • Jason Vancil

    Maybe in Round 2 or 3. He has had 2 hip surgeries. That worries me.

  • Brian Miller

    Round 2 would be great!! I believe his ceiling is lower than someone like Dupree but his floor is higher, and I think there is a higher chance that he will become a full time starter then some of these other OLBs. Just my opinion…

  • CaSteeler

    Yeah 22 is a reach for him but if he’s there for the 2nd round then he’s the pick

  • Jason Vancil

    Yea if he lasts to our pick in 2nd, he has to be considered. His strength is undeniable. I just wonder about his lack of sack production. Was it due to scheme or are his pass rush skills that raw?

  • Devon Day

    Supposedly the most well rounded of all the pass rushers with tremendous upside? Not as explosive as Ray, not as freaky like Greg or Dupree, not as powerful with hands like Beasley or Fowler, but jack of all trades with enormous upside? Mike……

    Do YOUR, and I stress your fans a favor, and pick him up.

  • SnoopDogg123

    It depends on which analyst or draft site you read. Some people think he’s a 1st round pick, others think he’s a 2nd-3rd round prospect. Personally, the eye ball test tells me he’s a top 25 prospect.

  • Melly

    If they take him at 22, I hope he is not another Huey Richardson?!? Now that I’m thinking of it, I hope JJ isn’t!?!?!??!?

  • Matt Manzo

    I’ve been talking about him all off season and everything I hear is that he’s not quite a 1st rounder.
    I keep hearing that he can’t bend around the edge or might not even fit as a 3-4 OLB?
    I love him and if the coaching staff wants him at 22 I’d be happy! But I still can’t get a good grasp of where he belongs?
    I’d say he’s a back end of the first round, but really depends on how the draft goes?
    If Dupree is gone and The top corners are gone, we could be looking at a choice between Kevin Johnson, Maxx Williams, or Diggy! That would be tough!!!

  • Axe Skot

    Dupree in the first, Owa in the second. A guy can dream…

  • Paddy

    Thats the pick

  • PapaJuju

    You guys crack me up. How many years do we say “He’d be good for the 2nd round, but not in the 1st.”

    Then those players end up going in the first round to another team. This dude will end up a Raven in the first and we’ll be screaming about missing on him.

  • Bob

    Double hip surgery and low sack production makes him fall out of the 1st IMO, but he’s about the only OLB prospect that doesn’t include “needs to get stronger” and “doesn’t play the run well” in their usual description. Probably more ready to play than most, would love it if he lasted until our 2nd.

  • I believe Steeler Nation would have a collective wet dream if that happened.

  • falconsaftey43

    Seems every year it is said that every prospect is not good enough for us to take with our 1st, but he wont make it to our 2nd….We always pick in this mystical nowhere land. I think he is a 1st round talent, doesn’t mean he’ll be the best guy available, but I’d have not problem taking him at 22. Owa WILL be at least a good starter quality player.

  • LucasY59

    I really dont want them to pick Diggy, and I dont think they will, already have Thuggs, Elvis, and Upshaw, they need WR, CB, RB, TE and S

  • Joey

    Yes, if I am correct in believing, he will be picked up before 22. He is that talented. I watched almost all UCLA games for the past few years, he is a disruptive force, and a freak of nature. It is mainly why Eric Kendricks did so well for UCLA last year.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Therein lies the downside of being consistently successful, or at least competitive. You’re always picking in the 2nd half of the round. The likelihood of getting a pro bowl player drops exponentially with each pick, which makes scouting all that more important for successful teams.

    When you finally have a poor year and get, say, the 11th overall pick, you take a big, strong-armed QB out of Miami, OH and pray you hit on a guy who can win you a couple of Super Bowls.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Pluses. Great against the run. strong like a bull and ready to play now. Concerns……not enough sacks and hip surgeries. I absolutely love a beast like this as long as the doctors think his hips are ok. When I see him play and move i can’t see any evidence of injuries.

    Just like last year. I have the solution. Trade down and grab an extra pick. there is always some team with extra picks that does not mind dealing. imagine picking him up later and also getting just an extra 3rdrounder. You are talking about a good RB or a decent quality player in round 3. With all the holes I would love them to do this. I too can dream.

  • puCrepeaP

    The downfalls of being mediocre. But I much rather be that way than perennial top 5 pickers like the Browns, Jags, Bucs, Raiders….

  • puCrepeaP

    We need someone that can rush the QB though. It’s hard to spend a 1st round pick on a guy that maybe can learn to be better at rushing the QB. I’m just wondering with his bum hip, if he’ll ever be able to get the bend needed to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL. His size and stregth does help him take on NFL tackles though, so bonus there.

  • Jollyrob68

    Draft him, sign James and put his locker right next to him. I believe Dave said that and at this point I’d be ok with that.
    In fact it’s the only reason I’d want them to bring James back.
    However he is a little old compared to what The Steelers normally draft.

  • PapaJuju

    Not that simple. You have to have a trade partner that wants to move up to you’re spot.

    The position you would probably move-up for in this draft is for a pass rusher. If we want one we will have to take him at 22. Personally I think it will be Eli Harold or Owa in the first. In the second it could be a Danielle Hunter.

  • falconsaftey43

    I get you, but not exactly my point. Seems no matter where we pick (15th last year, 22nd this year, 30th a few years ago). Every prospect that is discussed is either too good or not good enough, it’s as if everyone thinks there is only one prospect that can possibly both be there when we pick, and represent proper value. The mythical 22nd ranked player in this draft.

  • Toddy Bravo

    It’s not just us guys. Just about every source I’ve seen has him as a fringe 1st rounder, most likely early-mid 2nd round player. If you don’t think the Ravens reach, ask them what Michael Oher and Terrence Cody are up to these days.

    Also, here’s a fun stat: Ravens’ draft picks have one Pro Bowl selection over the last 6 years (2009 draft to 2014 draft)—CJ Mosely last year. In that same time span, Steelers’ draft picks have 10 Pro Bowl selections (Bell-1, Pouncey-4, Sanders-1, AB-3, Wallace-1). Granted, Sanders made it after he left, so let’s call the score 9-1. In the words of the great Charlie Sheen…WINNING.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Yea man, I understood what you’re saying. My point was just that the sure-fire high value players are usually found in the 1st half of the round. The lower you go, the more “value” questions you get (Should we take him that high or not? Will he be there in the 2nd or not?) It can be a difficult task to continually pick 15 or later. That’s all I was trying to convey.

  • keith evans

    I love this guy, I watched tape highlighting him against Virginia and he was immense. He is a proper football player! Reminds me of Greg Lloyd. No way he lasts out the first round.

  • SnoopDogg123

    Baltimore seems to go with the BPA available & they like to rotate their pass rushers. They lost McPhee & I don’t think Suggs or Elvis will be on their team much longer. Diggy just looks like the type of prospect that Ozzie would draft if he fell into their laps.

  • SnoopDogg123

    You could be right that he’s picked before #22. I’ve only watched UCLA play a few times, but Diggy did look like the alpha male on their defense.

  • PapaJuju

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Ravens have won a Super Bowl, and been to three AFC championship games in the last four years. I don’t care about pro-bowls. I care about success.

    I love the Steelers, but two one and done playoff appearances in four years isn’t WINNING compared to what the Ravens have done in the same time period.

  • SnoopDogg123

    Teams aren’t measured by pro-bowl players. Baltimore has been to the playoffs 6 times in the past 7 seasons with 3 conference championship appearances & a Super Bowl.

  • SnoopDogg123

    Amen brother. I shared a similar thought about Diggy being a 1st round talent & drafted by Baltimore.

  • Rob H

    Just take him at 22 and be done with it, he’s the kind of nasty, never takes a play or practice, or film session off monster that this defense needs. ROLB will be set for the next 6-8 years.

  • Joey

    “Thuggs” imagine Samuel L. Jackson saying that with a lisp!

  • Toddy Bravo

    He wasn’t talking about team success in that comment. He was talking about draft success, implying that we pass on great players in the draft that the Ravens then scoop up. Clearly, not true.

    And if my calculations are correct, the Steelers have won two Conference Championships and a Super Bowl in that time span, so if you’re saying the Ravens are more successful, I’ll disagree.

    I’ll also disagree if you’re implying that there isn’t a very real, concrete correlation between Pro Bowl players and team success. I figured that was a no-brainer.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I don’t know if you noticed, but the Ravens are losing players hand over fist this past week. Their glorious system is falling apart AND they’ve have failed to draft quality PRO BOWL players over the last 6-7 years to take their place, as I illustrated. The Steelers are just as successful as the Ravens over a longer period of time, if not more so. Their veteran turnover and rebuilding years just happened at different times. Our rebuilding has been the last 3-4 years. The Ravens rebuild probably began last year and is in full swing now. Maybe step back and look at the big picture before you criticize your team.

  • Vinhudd

    Funny!

  • Brian Miller

    I really think it was more scheme than anything. He is strong as an ox, he could really improve the run defense for sure.

  • Brian Miller

    Change out Dupree with Waynes and then yes, Farah Fawcett in her prime…

  • SnoopDogg123

    No, I don’t think there’s a concrete correlation between Pro Bowl players & team success.
    Teams like the Eagles, Browns, Bills, & Chiefs all had as many or more pro bowl players than Baltimore. Are they better than Baltimore? Denver had 9 pro bowl players & couldn’t do anything in the playoffs.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Right. You know who else has made a lot of Pro Bowls? Players from the Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Steelers, Giants and all the other Super Bowl Champions over the last half century. Baltimore also had a bunch of Pro Bowlers over the last handful of years, just not their draft picks because their drafts have sucked (as I illustrated). It was their veterans making the Pro Bowls and winning the titles (Ray-Ray, Reed, Rice, Ngata, Suggs, etc.). Good players tend to make good teams. If you want to argue that, go ahead.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I hate to defend Baltimore, but they aren’t going to fall apart. Much like Pittsburgh, their organization is too strong.

  • Brian Miller

    I hear you, they often get the “Belicheck Treatment” during the draft process where the pundits just blindly state they draft great picks without truly looking at the situations. The Steelers required several years to get past the drafts of 2008 and 2009…but IMO and yours I’m sure, they have been doing a much better job these last couple of years sans 5th round CB’s!!

  • SnoopDogg123

    New England had 3 pro bowlers on their ’01 Super Bowl team. The Giants had 2 pro bowlers on their ’11 roster. I’m not sure how they ranked against the other Teams in the league, but my guess would be it’s middle of the pack.

    The one thing those teams do have in common is a franchise QB, but I don’t think you can project a Teams success by how many pro-bowlers are on a team. Especially since the pro bowl is a popularity contest.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Ok. I guess we’ll see. I think you’re underestimating the loss of Ngata and 3-4 other key players. I think it’s their turn for a couple of 8-8 years. They’ve over extended themselves with an enormous contract on an average QB who just happened to go on a run at the right time. Flacco’s contract limits their options greatly and, hate to sound like a broken record, but they haven’t drafted well lately either. As much as people like to criticize the Steelers’ drafts, they’ve been far better than the Ravens.

  • SnoopDogg123

    I think they let Ngata walk b/c they know Brandon Williams is going to emerge as a beast. So in my eyes, they’re actually getting a younger, better NT for cheaper & also got additional draft picks.

    Flacco is clutch in the playoffs & he’s proven that over the past couple years, so I can’t blame them for that contract.

    I’m not criticizing the Steelers recent drafts or downgrading their success.My point is that Baltimore may not draft as many pro bowl players, but they draft very solid role players that fit their system extremely well, especially on defense.

  • Charles Weadon

    I’ll take him in a heartbeat

  • PapaJuju

    Honestly man, pretty weak reply overall. Stop being a homer. Anyone can see the Ravens have kicked our tails the last four years.

    I hate the Ravens, but you have to respect them. They seem to know when to let go of players on the decline and when to sign veterans that can help them.

    1 Super Bowl win, and Three AFC championship games in 4 years.

    Compared to:

    2 one and done playoff appearances, and two seasons on the outside looking in.

    The math is really pretty simple. They’ve drafted well and signed some good free agents.

  • PapaJuju

    Nope, I’m talking about team success due to good drafting and knowing when to sign a free agent and when to let guys go.

    Despite what you are saying, the Ravens have had more team success than the Steelers over the last four years despite having fewer pro-bowlers.

    Kind of makes your argument pointless.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I’m not trying to project anything really. I’m saying there are certain truisms in sports. Good players tend to make good teams and good players tend to make the Pro Bowl. Not always, but usually. In other words, there is a correlation between drafting Pro Bowl players and team success, like I said two hours ago. That’s as plainly as I can say it. I’m sure we can cherry pick a 2001 or 2011 roster and find exceptions, but I’ll stick by my general rule. Give me 22 Pro Bowl players. You take 22 Non-Pro Bowl players. We’ll see who wins. If it’s just a popularity contest, it shouldn’t matter, right?

    Back to my original point. Over the last 6 drafts, the Steelers have 10 Pro Bowl selections and the Ravens have 1. We will see the difference that makes in the years to come, so enjoy the show…and quit arguing just for sake of arguing, D-O-Double G. You know I’m right.

  • Toddy Bravo

    lol. It’s pointless because you can’t grasp the point. The Ravens’ success over the last 3-4 years had to do with their draft successes 8-10 years ago. We’re talking about the most recent 6 drafts. Over the last 6 years, the Steelers have clearly drafted better. We’ll see the fruits of that in the years to come. I can say it in another language if it’ll help.

  • PapaJuju

    2011: Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith, Pernell Mcphee
    2012: Courtney Upshaw, Kelechi Osemele, Bernard Pierce
    2013: Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams, Kyle Juszcyk
    2014: C.J. Mosley, Timmy Jernigan, Lorenzo Taliaferro

    Three to four players every draft for the past four years who are MAJOR contributors over the past four years.

    Yeah, they suck at drafting. You must be speaking Swahili to yourself.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Weak? I mean, you’re not even saying something responsive to my point. Again, the Ravens’ Super Bowl and AFC Champ games (if you really want to count AFC losses, then fine) were largely due to their core veteran players at the time, which have little to nothing to do with their last 6 drafts. Their last 6 drafts have sucked. Listen closely–YOU WILL SEE THE RESULTS OF THOSE DRAFT FAILURES IN THE FUTURE…not 4 years ago…IN THE FUTURE.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Excellent point. Those 2013 and 2014 drafts really contributed to their 2012/13 Super Bowl.

  • PapaJuju

    What a reductionist argument. Ignore the 2011 and 2012 drafts that DID contribute for your silly point.

    I’m done now; can’t argue with purposeful ignorance.

  • Toddy Bravo

    It was a pleasure owning you, troll. Go Steelers.

  • NinjaMountie

    I don’t like hip surgeries. My grandma got one and she could never get after the QB the same as before.

  • Matt Manzo

    Exactly! I love him, but is he what we need?
    In the past when we could afford to let guys develop, he would’ve been perfect. But we need someone who can make a difference by year 2. I do like the thought of bringing James back to rub off on him!

  • Matt Manzo

    I like Diggy more than Harold!

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m still confused! Are we saying he can be a good OLB now? I thought the consensus was that he was a 4-3 end guy?
    Cuz if we’re talking about him in the 1st and feeling like it’s too high, we could talk about Zadrius Smith in 2 or even 3? I see them as similar players.

  • GoSteelerz

    Alex Kozora thought he looked stiff in linebacker coverage drills at the combine. If indeed he was smooth at his pro day, that says a lot about his work ethic and potential… And it now makes him a viable option for the Steelers to select him to play OLB or DE as we may have a more hybrid look on D… Now Owa is back on my radar to keep an eye on this draft…

  • Matt Manzo

    A good pro day makes sense. I was wondering how he got back in the OLB conversation.

  • pittfan

    Year after year they pick high and year after year they suck.

  • John21

    Is this dude and Armistead pure 4-3 guys in the NFL? Both are physical studs but so were a lot guys whose names we cant recall

  • Steelers58

    He seems like a player the Ravens would like.
    Gotta love his work ethic and attitude

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I think that, if all the bigger name OLBs and CBs are gone at 22, we should trade back a few spots, pick up another pick and draft this kid.
    Sounds like just what we need – the thing that sold me was hearing about how fluid he was in dropping into coverage. Obviously he’s a good run-stopper given his college career.