Chidobe Awuzie Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Good combination of size and speed
Breaks well on the ball
Reads quarterbacks' eyes well
Reads receivers' routes well
Comfortable in off-man coverage
Very good in zone coverage
Willing run defender
Gives up separation
Doesn't adjust well; gives up late separation
Plays smaller than his height/weight
Receivers beat him for 50-50 passes
Grabs a lot on receivers
Could have penalty issues in the NFL
Doesn't have great short-area twitch
Doesn't track the ball very well downfield
Summary: The 2017 NFL Draft is known for being especially strong at the cornerback position, and Awuzie is one of those players who is contributing to that, as he is a talented athlete for the NFL. While Awuzie has an excellent combination of size and speed, he is one of the most love-hate prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. There are teams that love him and have him as a potential top-20 pick, yet others hate him and have graded him for Day 3.
Awuzie saw the field quickly in his collegiate career, racking up 53 tackles as a freshman and 63 tackles as a sophomore. He had a total of nine passes broken up and zero interceptions as an underclassman. As a junior, Awuize had perhaps his best season as he totaled 84 tackles with 12 for a loss, four sacks, seven passes broken up and two interceptions.
For 2016, Awuzie was part of a good Colorado secondary, notching 65 tackles with 12 passes broken up, one interception and four sacks. While Awuzie will probably get drafted higher and has more hype, teammate Akhello Witherspoon was Colorado's best cover corner last season. In his final collegiate game, Awuzie gave the skeptics ammo for their arguments as Oklahoma State picked on him repeatedly. He was beaten for a long pass on which James Washington got late separation and outplayed him for the ball. Washington then beat Awuzie on a quick slant for a touchdown. After Awuzie was targeted and beaten throughout the first half, Colorado had more success after adjusting by putting Witherspoon on Washington.
That game illustrated some of the issues in Awuzie as a player. One, he gives up separation as he can be slow to react and adjust to receivers. He has a hitch in his twitch, and his change-of-direction issue allows receivers to get late separation. Awuzie is better off playing zone coverage off the line of scrimmage since he can break downhill or just turn and run in off-man coverage. Awuzie lacks some recovery skills and plays smaller than his listed numbers. Receivers can outcompete him for 50-50 receivers. Zone also fits Awuzie better because he grabs a lot and tugs at receivers when running with them in man coverage. It wouldn't be surprising if he has some issues with holding and pass interference penalties in the NFL.
The teams that like Awuzie see a few things that has them grading him higher than the skeptics. He does have a nice skill set with size and speed. Additionally, Awuzie breaks well on the ball and has decent instincts. He does a nice job of reading the eyes of the quarterback and reading the routes of receivers. Awuzie also is an excellent blitzer and provided some huge plays for his defense by blitzing off the edge. He is at his best driving hard downhill on routes or chasing down receivers/quarterbacks. Thus, in this analyst's opinion, Awuzie would fit best in a Tampa 2 defense.
There are enough teams that like Awuzie that he could be a first- or second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Davon House. Awuzie reminds me of House. When there was talent around House in Green Bay, he was a solid corner with good size and enough speed to function. However when the supporting cast wasn't good, lik in Jacksonville, House got picked on and allowed separation. That reminds me of Awuzie. House (6-0, 200) and Awuzie are identical in size. In the NFL, I think Awuzie will be a similar corner to House.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Washington, Tennessee, Detroit, Miami, Oakland, Houston, Dallas and Green Bay
There are a lot of potential fits for Awuzie in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. In the middle of the first round, he has a few possible landing spots. Philadelphia needs multiple cornerback upgrades and a No. 1 corner. The Colts need another defensive back to pair with Vontae Davis, and Awuzie could be a fit for them. The Ravens could use a corner upgrade to go with Jimmy Smith. Washington needs a corner upgrade across from Josh Norman.
If the Titans take an offensive player with the fifth-overall pick, they could target a cornerback like Awuzie at pick No. 18. The Lions need a corner upgrade across from Darius Slay. The Dolphins and Raiders have to improve their defensive backs. Meanwhile, the Texans need cornerback help after losing A.J. Bouye. Dallas badly needs help at corner after losing Morris Claiborne. The Packers also could use more talent at the position. The Saints could use more cornerback help for their defense, so they could consider taking Awuzie at pick No. 32 or in the second round.
The Browns need a third cornerback, and he would give them an outside corner and let them move Joe Haden into the slot in the nickel. San Francisco and Chicago both need cornerback upgrades. None of those three teams is likely to select a corner in the first three picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, thus Awuzie could go high in the second round if he slips to Day 2.
The Chargers could use a third cornerback to go with Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward. Buffalo needs a corner to replace Stephon Gilmore. It the Bills don't take a corner with the 10th-overall pick, Awuzie could be in play for them in the second round.