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Cowboys beef up defensive line with UCLA DT Osa Odighizuwa in third round

The Dallas Cowboys continued to bolster the defense with the selection of UCLA defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa with their first selection in the third round

With the 75th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Osa Odighizuwa, a big man for the defense from UCLA. Despite the rumors that the Cowboys were trying to trade up in the second round, possibly using this pick as currency, the team stayed put and grabbed a defensive tackle to help plug the middle.

Odighizuwa was the third defensive player that Dallas selected with the first three picks, and his selection made it one for each level of the defense after linebacker Micah Parsons (No. 12 overall) and cornerback Kelvin Joseph (No. 44 overall) were tabbed in the first and second rounds respectively.

With that commitment of early draft capital to the team’s weakest side of the ball, Dallas is showing that they are serious about rebuilding a porous unit from last year. With Odighizuwa, the Cowboys get a versatile defensive lineman who was a First-Team All Pac-12 player in the 2020 season.

The Cowboys had a need at the interior of the defense to help keep their athletic linebackers clean and Odighizuwa has traits that can make him the new version of the recently retired Tyrone Crawford. At 282 lbs, Odighizuwa has the ability to stuff the run in the middle, as well as get after the quarterback. The former UCLA star had 11.5 career sacks, including four during his COVID-shortened senior year.

Coming into the offseason, the Cowboys had little depth and major needs along their defensive line, and especially so at tackle. The team signed three veteran linemen in free agency, but still felt it was essential to add some youth in the draft.

For the second draft in a row, the Cowboys picked a defensive tackle in the third round. After selecting Neville Gallimore in round three in 2020, Dallas double-dipped with Odighizuwa this spring. Expect Odighizuwa to immediately compete with Gallimore, 2019 second-round pick Trysten Hill and veteran Antwaun Woods for playing time.

Odighizuwa brings a physical presence with an impressive wingspan to the table. His scouting report also shows that the Pac-12 standout has great hands from his background as a wrestler and a powerful punch that comes from a well put together frame. Odighizuwa was a three-time state champion wrestler in the state of Oregon.

The Cowboys needed more pass rush production from the inside of their defensive line and Odighizuwa has the ability to push the pocket which could prove to be an under-the-radar asset.

Heading into Day 2 of the draft, Dallas didn’t have enough elite talent on the defensive line and Odighizuwa offered potential to help improve the interior of the defense. By selecting him with their first of three third round picks, Dallas is certainly counting on Odighizuwa to develop his upside and turn into an eventual starter.

In the interim, expect Odighizuwa to provide insurance on the line for Hill, who is returning from a major injury in 2020. 

The Cowboys now have a strong rotation of young, athletic defensive tackles with many Day 3 picks still left on the table.

Do you like the Odighizuwa pick for the Cowboys as they continue to add to their interior on defense? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.