CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
While Colorado hasn’t had a winning football season since 2005, the Buffaloes are off to a 2-0 start in 2016 behind the play of a strong senior class. Perhaps the leader of this Colorado squad is standout corner Chidobe Awuzie. Heading into his senior season, Awuzie started off with a bang, totaling 8 tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception in Colorado’s 44-7 blowout of rival Colorado State in their opener.
Similar to both Desmond King and Jourdan Lewis, whom I previewed in early Draft Watch articles, Chidobe Awuzie can more than stand his ground in run support. In fact, Awuzie packs a punch and can deliver some jarring hits in run support. Awuzie takes fantastic angles in pursuit, and as a result he is an extremely reliable open field tackler. Additionally, Awuzie has no problem getting off blocks due to his physicality.
In coverage, Awuzie excels at multiple positions on the field. Awuzie does it all for Colorado, locking down receivers as an outside corner, from the slot, and as a safety. Awuzie thrives at these positions due to his quickness and footwork. As a corner Awuzie mirrors his target’s movements and rarely allows separation. Perhaps what is most impressive about Awuzie’s coverage abilities is his excellent eye discipline. Awuzie always has his eyes in the backfield, which allows him to read the quarterback and break on passes. This allows him to anticipate throws and jump routes on a consistent basis, making Awuzie a legitimate turnover threat.
Another fantastic aspect of Awuzie’s coverage ability is how he uses his hands to disrupt WR’s timing. From press coverage Awuzie routinely delivers a strong jam off the snap, and redirects his target to the sideline. Overall, Awuzie uses his physicality in coverage to frustrate opposing wide outs and lock down his targets.
There is not much to dislike about Awuzie’s game. Awuzie is an experienced, hard working prospect who has improved each year at Colorado. However, Awuzie’s stock may be negatively affected by his program. Colorado is by no means a College Football powerhouse or yearly producer of NFL talent.
Therefore, Awuzie will have to prove to evaluators that his production is no fluke. Many NFL scouts will be closely watching how Awuzie defends these three WRs: Michigan’s Jehu Chesson, USC’s Juju Smith-Schuster, and Washington State’s Gabe Marks.
Awuzie’s fit is fairly obvious on the Steelers’ roster due to his physicality and coverage skills. Awuzie could help fix two of Pittsburgh’s biggest defensive issues: missed tackles in the secondary and defending premier WRs. Awuzie will surely be on the Steelers radar in the 2017 NFL Draft.