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Film Room: Dayo Odeyingbo is a risky bet on elite traits

Odeyingbo has the potential to be legit in the NFL

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts seemingly surprised everyone when they selected defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. For all the fans who participate in mock draft simulators and follow the big media names, this pick certainly seemed like a reach. However, I have learned of at least two teams that wanted to take him in the second round; the Carolina Panthers (who had his name on their card before electing to trade down with Washington at 52) and the Kansas City Chiefs (who were dead set on selecting him with their second-round pick until Ballard swiped him). So, while we may have been surprised where Odeyingbo went, the NFL certainly wasn’t.

Odeyingbo is an interesting study on film as he has all the traits and athletic abilities to be a top pass rusher in this league. The biggest issue is that he is currently recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered in training back in January. That is a major injury that has had some positive progress in recent years, however is still one that could go either way with the recovery process. For Ballard to take Odeyingbo as high as he did, he had to have been so sure about the upside that the risk simply didn’t matter.

So today, we are going to look at five of Odeyingbo’s college games and see exactly what he brings to the table for the Colts.

Dayo Odeyingbo vs Texas A&M (2020)

Stats: 7 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and one sack

Analysis: This was the first game I watched of Odeyingbo since January or so and I completely forgot how violent and strong he was. In one on one situations, he is a pain to block as he is a persistent rusher with strong, long arms. He did have quite a few ineffective bull rushes in this game, but he is a raw player so that is to be expected. The flashes are what I am more focusing on. When he had his mind set on a certain move (such as a swim or under move in the last two clips), he looked dominant. His explosion and bend for a 285-pound player are simply absurd.

Dayo Odeyingbo vs Florida (2020)

Stats: 4 total tackles, 0 tackles for a loss, and 0 sacks

Analysis: This game was actually really impressive to me despite the lackluster stat line. There were still some inconsistencies rushing the passer but those elite traits stood out even more in this game. When lined up against a pretty good college left tackle in Stone Forsythe, he was able to use his length and power to bully that match-up. When he lined up on the interior, he used his natural explosion and quickness to run by bigger linemen (the slowed-down second clip showcases his explosion very well). Also, since I didn’t note it in the first blurb, his energy and hustle are insane for a player of his size. He runs down every single play like it's the last snap of football he will ever play.

Dayo Odeyingbo vs Ole Miss (2020)

Stats: 2 total tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss, and 0 sacks

Analysis: This game may have been Odeyingbo’s worst in the 2020 season but there were still a lot of things to like on film. It’s tough for a high-energy pass rusher like him to play against a hurry-up offense that throws the ball 60 times a game. What I did see on film though, was the makings of a really good bull rush/long-arm move off the edge. Robert Mathis teaches his defensive ends to work off of the long arm so if Mathis can help refine that move (along with Odeyingbo’s natural length and power) it could become a truly elite rush move. He also had a really nice swipe on the interior that should have been a holding call on the offense.

Dayo Odeyingbo vs Mississippi State (2020)

Stats: 1 total tackle, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 sack

Analysis: Odeyingbo was in and out of this game with an injury but this game truly showed what he could do as an interior pass rusher in the NFL. The Mississippi State center was truly over-matched when he had to line up against Odeyingbo in passing situations. He showcased elite power at the point of attack and his relentless pursuit was overwhelming. One thing I always like to ask myself when watching pass rushers is would I, in the mindset of an offensive lineman, want to block them? With Odeyingbo, his lack of a pass rush plan and nuance in his moves makes it seem like an easier assignment. However, he is so tenacious and powerful that he seems like an extremely hard player to keep hold of.

Dayo Odeyingbo vs Georgia (2019)

Stats: 4 total tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 0 sacks

Analysis: This game (and other 2019 games that won’t be included here) may be the most important game I reviewed on Odeyingbo, simply because he looked completely different. In 2019, he looked much smaller and struggled to hold up at the point of attack. As a pass rusher, he looked even rawer and struggled to collapse the pocket. The only positives that I saw on the 2019 film were that he is a special athlete with great energy.

The reason why this is important, though, is that it shows how much he can improve in one season. In 2020, he was powerful in his rushes and dominated at times as a pass rusher. He was still raw but he had a completely different body type, strength, and play style. If he could do that in one year at Vanderbilt, imagine what he could be (with his traits) after a few years under NFL coaching? That is why the Colts are so excited about this pick and why I completely understand taking Odeyingbo in round two.

Final Thoughts

I, like most Colts’ fans, was completely stunned when the Colts selected a defensive end coming off of an Achilles tear in the second round of this draft. I remembered liking Odeyingbo’s film the first time I watched it, however, I know it wasn’t enough to warrant that high of a pick, especially after that injury.

After I dove deeper into Odeyingbo’s film, I completely understand the selection and am all for it. He is a freaky athlete with natural strength, size, and arm length. Players like that don’t grow on trees. When you add that he has an outstanding work ethic and motor, he has the potential to be special. It is certainly a risky pick for the Colts as Achilles injuries are generally a tough recovery but I am all for betting on the potential of Odeyingbo in this class.