Dallas Cowboys: Why Chidobe Awuzie is a rising star
By Nathan Jones
One young Dallas Cowboys‘ defender is coming into his own and has quietly put some great performances together. Let’s take a closer look at Chidobe Awuzie.
The whole nation is praising the success of the Cowboys, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Players like defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and cornerback Byron Jones have been playing so well they were named Pro Bowl defenders this week. Even the young linebackers, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, are making plays across the field.
But, one young defender is coming into his own, and quietly puts great games together. This player is cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
Awuzie often referred to as “Chido”, was drafted in by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Yet, due to several injuries, he was limited to just five games his rookie year.
This year, Awuzie is often overshadowed by Jones, the safety-turned-corner that is perhaps the number one cornerback in the entire league. At the beginning of the season, Chido showed his ability to stick with receivers but fell short in finishing plays and causing incompletions. However, as of late, Awuzie is locking receivers down.
In the last four weeks, Awuzie has allowed a low 31.25 yards per game, a 48.33 percent catch rate, and a total of only 14 yards after the catch! Additionally, he has tallied four pass breakups to his résumé, per Pro Football Focus.
The only real faults in Awuzie’s game is his consistency and ball skills. Early in the season, he was cursed with receivers making great catches in traffic against himself. Fans across the Twitter-sphere blamed it all on tough luck. But, the root-cause of Awuzie’s inability to finish plays was because he was slow turning his head to the ball, and he was not aggressive at high-pointing the ball.
Nobody is expecting a cornerback to be the like former wide receiver Dez Bryant from 2014, out jump everyone, and catch 16 interceptions. However, when the ball is in the air, a defensive back has to believe he has an equal right to the ball as the intended receiver. The greatest cornerback of all time, Deion Sanders, tracked the ball with this mindset and made millions because of it.
This one upgrade to Awuzie’s arsenal could turn himself to a perennial Pro Bowler, and the Cowboys into Super Bowl contenders. Dallas is extremely blessed to have two cornerbacks who can cover, but also tackle. Keep in mind, both Awuzie and Jones played some safety in college. They are not afraid to cover top-tier receivers or come downhill for the tackle.
If the Cowboys wish to make a postseason push, they will rely on the outsides of their defense to hold their own. Byron and Awuzie are not the most popular pair of corners in the league, but they keep on making plays. Awuzie is an underrated player on this star-studded defense.
But these “under the radar” type of players are what make championship teams great. The Pro Bowlers can make explosive plays, but if the role players can not do their part, all is for not. Chidobe Awuzie is playing his role and is growing every week. Chido has a bright future.
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