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ESPN names Owa Odighizuwa a breakout prospect

Posted Aug 3, 2016

Giants DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa was ranked No. 5 on ESPN’s Top Prospects List: 

Prior to the start of every NFL season, ESPN puts together a list of the top young players who have a chance of making a major impact in the upcoming season.

This year, Giants defensive end Owa Odighizuwa comes in at No. 5, rightly so. A third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of UCLA, Odighizuwa was considered a steal when the Giants took him with the No. 74 overall pick.

"Odighizuwa was regarded as a steal by draft pundits after he fell into New York's lap in the third round,” ESPN’s Rivers McCown said in the report. “Odighizuwa's talent is obvious, and that's why he's still on this list. A 4.62 40-yard dash and good jump numbers point to how explosive he is at the line of scrimmage.”

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Odighizuwa, 24, has a quick first step off the line, but injuries to his hamstring and foot caused him to play in just parts of four games last season before being placed on injured reserve. In his time on the field, he finished with three combined tackles.

"Last year, being my rookie year, it was a very fluke injury with my foot. I didn’t get the opportunity to show the Giants what I can do and that’s what this year is about for me,” Odighizuwa said. “Production is really the key. That’s the name of this business. That’s why we’re here. We’re all out here because you want to win. Each player wants to be better at their position so they can produce for the team, so I think in order for them to trust me, I’ve got to be productive on the field, in practice getting better, but showing that I’m not just talking about it, I’m actually getting to the quarterback every day so they can trust that.”

Although he never returned to the field last season, Odighizuwa has plenty of talent to display in 2016. Along with getting to the quarterback, he can also defend the run, closing down creases with ease.

The Giants added Olivier Vernon in free agency and re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul, but the third spot is up for grabs, and it looks to be Odighizuwa’s for the taking.

“That’s an everyday thing for me,” Odighizuwa said. “I believe strongly in my abilities. I’m very, very confident. That’s something I’ve got to do every day, no matter who is in the room. They drafted me with a third-round pick and they believe in my abilities. It’s up to me to perfect that craft every day and that is my goal. My goal is to show everybody that I am that third man that they’re looking for in the pass rush rotation and that’s going to be my mentality every single day.”

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Odighizuwa has also drawn comparisons to former Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who was also drafted in the third round. Odighizuwa, like Tuck, can shift inside and be part of a four-man pass rush.

As Odighizuwa continues his progression, the much-improved Giants pass rush is set to make an impact in 2016.