When looking for running backs in this draft class, their are so many options out there that some important names aren’t mentioned as much. One guy that has not gotten the attention that he deserves is Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo.
He was a very efficient runner. In the Big Ten, all of the focus has been on Jonathan Taylor. Taylor will be one of the top running backs selected next season if he chooses to declare, but he took plenty of spotlight.
In the draft, the Big Ten running back that is getting the most attention is Penn State Running back Miles Sanders. The attention is warranted, as I believe that he is a solid prospect, but I think Ozigbo could be better.
The stats tell the real story though. When you first check the stats, it appears that Miles Sanders was the clear top Big Ten runner of this draft class. Sanders ran for 1,274 yards this past season, while Ozigbo only ran for 1,082 yards.
This may not seem like a huge difference, except when you check the rushing attempts. Miles Sanders ended the season with 220 rushing attempts, whereas Ozigbo only had 155. This means that Ozigbo averaged 7 yards per attempt last season, just .1 yards short of Big Ten leader Taylor.
Add those yardage numbers to his 12 rushing touchdowns and we have ourselves an extremely underrated rusher.
He is a thick back who can move. While watching Ozigbo, you can tell that he is a big guy. Usually, guys that are this big are not very nimble, but Ozigbo is a home run threat when he gets the ball in his hands. He will often use both his speed and his power to avoid tacklers and blow through them when they get their hands on him.
I'm still struggling to understand why Devine Ozigbo didn't get an invite to the NFL Combine. pic.twitter.com/kbe4zikLQw
— Dan DeYoung (@DanDeYoung80) February 26, 2019
It is not all about speed, though, qs Ozigbo has some of the smoothest cuts of this class. He finds the perfect moment to use that jump cut to gain extra yardage. Ozigbo is one of those guys who finds a way to get yards no matter what.
Uses his power when he needs to. While he does a great job of keeping defenders away from him, Ozigbo uses that big body of his to power through tacklers.
What I see in Ozigbo that is different from Jordan Howard is that sometimes Howard would get tripped up by not a ton of contact and fall before a big play. We really do not see that with Ozigbo, as he does an excellent job of using that frame of his to stay on his feet.
He shows flashes in the passing game. Ozigbo is an odd case for giving him a positive in the passing game, as it seems like he wouldn’t be that kind of guy based on his build and numbers. He has shown subtle flashes though, as he has shown the ability to catch the football and be able to move with it.
The big thing when declaring the passing game as a positive for a running back is what they do with it. Some looked at Jordan Howard and said that he was decent at pass catching because of his lack of drops. The film doesn’t lie though, and Howard was mainly catching dumpoffs.
What impresses me is a guy running over the middle and making the catch, or running real receiver routes. We do not see it a ton out of Ozigbo, but I think that he can do it more if put into a Nagy style offense where the running back lines up all over the place.
— PFDZ (@PFDZ44) March 21, 2019
One Year Wonder. Ozigbo had a huge season in 2018, but his previous seasons were not very inspiring. He was only averaging 3.8 yards per carry in 2017, which is pretty poor in comparison to his 7 yards per carry this season.
This is something to watch for, as it has to be determined what caused him to flip the switch and be that much better this past season.
Did not step up against top competition. One of the biggest issues that we saw from Devine Ozigbo was his lack of big numbers during big games. The Ozigbo highlight reel is primarily from the really bad teams in the Big Ten and that is possibly why he looked so good.
Devine Ozigbo continues to lack the attention that he deserves. From not getting an invite the NFL Combine to not getting much attention from NFL Draft Twitter, Ozigbo is still lurking in the shadows.
When I’m watching Ozigbo, I see Michael Turner. Turner was that stocky runner that you didn’t think would be nimble at first glance, but he does everything that you would want out of a smaller back, but also adds the power element to his game.
Ozigbo continues to be one of my favorite draft prospects for the Chicago Bears and I believe he would be a perfect addition to the team.
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