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Chidobe Awuzie, CB: A New Prototype For NFL Slot Defenders?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2017 Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

UCLA v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Chidobe Awuzie, CB
School: Colorado | Conference: PAC-12
College Experience: Senior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 202 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 1st Round or early 2nd
NFL Comparison: Prince Amukamara

College Statistics

Player Overview

It's rumored that several teams love Chidobe Awuzie. He has seen a significant rise on those teams boards in the past few months. The two teams named in the rumors are the Titans and Raiders. Awuzie certainly has the talent, size, instincts, and athleticism to make an impact on the boundary for those teams and others but what's interesting is that some of Awuzie’s projections consider him a slot corner. I know the old hat way of thinking is still around and poses the question “Who would spend a 1st rounder on a corner?” that is “relegated” to the slot. I think the fact that Awuzie is even mentioned in the first round at that position is a change in priority and mentality in the NFL. The slot corner position is just as important as the boundaries and to have a strong secondary you need investments in all 3 starting corner positions. Awuzie is a sticky man cover corner that can keep up with the slot receivers in both AFC West and the AFC south. Should he bring his talent to the NFC East?

Strengths

  • Tactician in coverage, knows when to press or when to bail. Can challenge at the LOS and stay in the receiver’s hip downfield. Has fluid hips and can change direction without much labor.
  • Great vision and anticipation in coverage not easily fooled by complex routes or false steps. Can play both the boundary and the slot.
  • Good size for the position with good athleticism. His speed will let him keep up with most receivers, just decent acceleration.
  • An aggressive player that will try and jump routes and come downhill to make a stop or a deflection.

Weaknesses

  • Always tackles high, horrible technique and habit of wrapping arms around the shoulders or neck of a player. Strong and shifty players will break out of this and gain additional yards.
  • Has a decent weight on paper but could stand to add some mass and strength to add more pop to his tackling
  • Acceleration isn't the best if he gets beat by a speeder off the LOS he could struggle to recover. See Washington tape against John Ross.
  • As usual, his aggression can work against him. He can bite hard on excellent receiver fakes. Will go head first to the LOS to try and make a stop and overshoot the angle.
  • Small hands. I am unsure of how many would be interceptions he has dropped but it helps explain his low interception totals and high passes defended totals over his career.

Let’s see his work:

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

I’m sure Awuzie is on the Redskins board somewhere but if he does go in the first round it will likely be within the last 10 picks of the round which means the Redskins need to trade down to have a shot at him. I really like the prospect of him playing the slot because it takes advantage of his best skills including man coverage, fluidity, and change of direction in short areas. It also gives him increased chances of peaking into the backfield to use his anticipation, instincts, and aggression to create opportunities to make plays. Awuzie’s size and foot quickness would sure fair well against Cole Beasley, Jordan Matthews, and Sterling Shepherd. His aggression and ability to jam and mirror receivers on the outside and over the middle allow him to line up anywhere on the field. Awuzie will also offer extra value on special teams as a gunner. He definitely needs to reign in his occasional false steps and he needs to fix his tackling technique but the team that drafts him will be rewarded with a versatile player than can play all 3 starting corner positions.