Coming into the 2016 Collegiate season, most scouts and writers knew the name Chidobe Awuzie. After a stellar junior season at Colorado, Awuzie was put on the Thorpe and Nagurski watch lists, which are awarded to the nation’s best defensive back and defensive player respectively. Although his Senior season didn’t go as well as he had hoped, Awuzie is still one of the top defensive back prospects in a very deep draft.
Coming out of high school as a receiver and cornerback, Awuzie was rated as a three star recruit and received scholarship offers from schools such as Utah and Washington State. After deciding to play at Colorado, he then went on to appear in 48 games for the Buffaloes. In those 48 games, Awuzie tallied 265 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, and 9 sacks. He also accounted for 25 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles in his career. Those career totals were good enough to earn him All-Pac 12 Second Team honors in 2015 and All-Pac 12 First Team honors in 2016.
After being hyped up as one of the better cornerback prospects coming into the season, Awuzie’s hype has seemed to die down for a multitude of reasons since. Perhaps the strong play of Ahkello Witherspoon and Tedric Thompson in that Colorado backend has made people think that Awuzie was a product of other players. Another main reason why people may be down on him is his poor performance against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl (which really shouldn’t count against him because he played through a turf toe injury in that game). Although his stock is much lower than what it began as, I still believe that Awuzie’s versatility and aggressive play makes him a fringe first round talent.
Name: Chidobe Awuzie
Size: 6’0”/ 202 lbs/ 30 5/8” arm length
Comparison: Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills)
Draft Grade: Early 2nd Round
Combine Results: 40 time: 4.43 seconds, Vertical: 34.5”, Broad: 132”, 3 Cone Drill: 6.81 seconds, 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.14 seconds
Strengths: Very fluid player, has the suddenness in his movements that you look for. Movement skills combined with his mentality and mirror and match ability could make him a very solid outside cornerback. Tracks the ball very well in the air. Best in zone coverage where he can attack the ball carrier/ receiver in front of him. Recognizes screens and bubble routes very quickly and loves to fly downhill to make a play. Extremely versatile player. Has the man to man ability and physicality to play as an outside corner, the quick feet and tackling ability to play as a slot or nickel corner, and even has the ball skills and aggressiveness to lineup as a safety. Also a very dangerous blitzer from the slot which may lead to teams placing him there early in his career. Tough player who tends to play through injuries to help his team. Great leader and locker room presence, also does a lot of work within the community.
Weaknesses: Fairly injury prone throughout his career. Missed games due to a lacerated kidney in 2014 and was ailing down the stretch this past season with a turf toe injury. Although he loves to come downhill and attack, he does have some problems with his technique. Often times he comes in way too high or he is lunging for the ball carrier’s feet, needs to really sure up his tackling technique to succeed in the pros. Playmaking ability is a question mark, three interceptions in 48 collegiate games is concerning. Gets lost in man coverage way too often, gets caught with his eyes in the backfield which in turn leads to big plays for the other team.
Overview: Chidobe Awuzie is everything a defensive coordinator could dream of. He is extremely versatile and also possesses the athleticism to play multiple positions in a base defense. I think when classifying what position Awuzie could/ should play at the next level, teams should just write down “weapon” next to his name. Personally, I think the best position for him immediately is as a slot corner in a zone scheme where he can play to his strength with his eyes in the backfield and also occasionally blitz off the edge. But like I said before, he is so versatile that a team will find a spot for him at the next level.