Dallas Cowboys: The most important rookie of the class has changed

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Dallas Cowboys concluded their 10-man draft haul this past May there were a number of draft picks who could logically be deemed, “most important.” Their first pick in the draft has a chance to be an instant game-changer and All-Pro at the linebacker spot. After witnessing the entire Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps fall flat on their face in 2020, Micah Parsons could be seen as the most important rookie.

After letting veteran starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie leave an already weak CB group, a great case could be made the Dallas Cowboys second round rookie, Kelvin Joseph, is the most important rookie on staff.

But now things have changed and who seemed to be the most important rookies just weeks ago, pale in comparison to the most important rookie today…

With the injury to DT Neville Gallimore in the preseason, Osa Odighizuwa becomes the most important Dallas Cowboys rookie.

The position group the Dallas Cowboys could least afford to suffer injury did just that last week vs Arizona. In what’s being called a hyperextended elbow, starting defensive tackle, Neville Gallimore, was lost for what appears to be somewhere between 4-6 weeks.

While we can rejoice the injury was not as bad as it could have been, it makes arguably the weakest defensive unit on the team all the more weaker. Dallas top pick from 2019 Trysten Hill remains out, leaving just Brent Urban, Carlos Watkins, and Justin Hamilton as the only proven veterans on the roster.

Since none of them profile as even a modest pass-rusher, the pressure falls on a rookie to be the lone pressure player inside.

Thankfully, Osa Odighizuwa appears up to the task. His performance against Arizona was a thing to behold. Of those with five or more pass-rush snaps, Osa finished with the highest pass rush win rate of the team. PFF gave him an 81.3 grade matched up against some top-flight competition.

Odighizuwa has the kind of size, strength, length that make a complete player and tantalizing prospect inside. And he’s not coming out of nowhere either. The Cowboys third round pick came to the NFL with a fairly impressive resume. Among Pack-12 DTs last year, Odighizuwa rated first in both pressures (25) and stops (19), per PFF.

As you can see in the clip above, Osa has the speed and twitch to get off the line and penetrait the backfield, as well as the size and strength to make the play. This injury which forces him into the starting lineup could also be a blessing in disguise. Look below and tell me he doesn’t have the physical skills to be an all-around 3-down DT in this league…

The former wrestler seems up to the task and will be given every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately he’ll also be given every opportunity to fail as well. The need is so great there just aren’t many options internally.

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One thing working in the Dallas Cowboys favor here is Dan Quinn’s ability to give multiple looks up front. He’s shown in camp he can play with two or three down linemen on defense. Doing this they can line up two 2-gap players inside and let the edge players operate in space. It also opens things up for inside linebacker blitzes (something Micah Parsons and Jaylon Smith would welcome) and keep opposing O-lines on tilt.

In nickel formations, Dallas could have DeMarcus Lawrence reduce inside and take those interior pressure snaps as well.

If Neville Gallimore is lost for six weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have some work-arounds to ease the pain, but they still need one guy to step up and take that traditional under tackle role. And again, the only guy built for that job is the rookie Osa Odighizuwa.

light. Must Read. The Cowboys have quite the predicament at LB this season

Next. Zeke realizes the workhorse running back is dead. dark

These are dangerous waters the Dallas Cowboys are in right now because they are ultra-thin at DT.

  • Published on 08/18/2021 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 08/17/2021 at 18:24 PM