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2017 NFL Draft Profile: Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie

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Buffaloes’ cornerback headed to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine on Feb. 28

UCLA v Colorado Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Career Highlights

A defensive back in the Pac-12 is expected to face high-flying offensive attacks from prolific passers. For Awuzie, he made his name shutting down some of the best wide receivers in nation over the past four seasons.

The California native saw action in 48 games (42 starts) in his career at CU, leaving with the most tackles for loss by a defensive back (26) including nine sacks. He finished with 273 total tackles, 22 pass deflections and two interceptions. In his junior year, Awuzie was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection after playing the most snaps (897) on defense with 90 tackles. As a senior, he was a first-team AP selection along with being named a candidate for the Thorpe, Bednarik & Nagurski awards honoring the nation’s best defensive players. He played in the Senior Bowl and was invited to compete at the NFL combine. Awuzie has worked hard on the field and in the classroom by graduating in 3 12 years with a business degree.

Strengths

The Buffaloes pass defense efficiency ranked third in the nation in 2016, allowing opposing quarterbacks an average of 182 yards and a little over one passing touchdown per game. Awuzie’s coverage last season was targeted 68 times for 37 receptions (54.4 % Comp.), giving up two touchdowns and a total of 510 passing yards (36.4 YPG). His ability to read offenses and break on the ball has been a strong suit.

As a defensive back, Awuzie has played ever position in multiple schemes and techniques. He can blitz, swarm the ball as a run stopper, cover slot receivers, play physical as a corner or over the top as a safety. NFL scouts have noticed Awuzie’s game develop from playing as a true freshman and that should progress to eventually being a starter on Sundays.

Weaknesses

Great technique without blazing speed could present a factor. Awuzie has been clocked running a 40-yard dash around 4.5. Enough to stay in coverage while being a step behind in some matchups. He makes up the difference with good size and footwork at 6’0” and 200 pounds, but has been caught in blown coverages by relying on his instincts too much. He’ll need to be careful with his hand placement against receivers as well.

Summary

A solid defensive back who’s versatile by playing many positions, and not immune to mixing it up as a physical athlete.

NFL Comparison: Marcus Peters

Watchlist teams: Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, New York Jets

Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3