Will this sponsored Cowboys rookie become a starter in 2021?

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (75) (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (75) (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

Here’s a word you’re going to hear a lot of after the Dallas Cowboys kick-off training camp next month. That word is “sponsor“. As in some players have a sponsor among the new coaching staff … and others have lost theirs.

This offseason, the Cowboys brass opted to part ways with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to replace him. Quinn, who has been to multiple Super Bowls, went about the business of finding players who fit his scheme and bringing them to Dallas this offseason.

Quinn reached back to his former employer to nab the likes of safety turned linebacker Keanu Neal and safety Damontae Kazee in free agency. His impact extended heavily in the 2021 NFL Draft as well, where the Cowboys used eight of their 11 picks on the defensive side of the ball.

In fact, the team’s first six draft selections addressed defensive needs. Those rookies and free agents brought in under Quinn’s watch have themselves a bonafide sponsor. Players who were already on the roster will have to earn their sponsorship.

The best example of the importance of sponsorship can be found at the defensive tackle position. The Cowboys used their top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select UCF’s Trysten Hill to aid then defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s defense.

The following year, Dallas selected Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore in the third round to help Nolan’s scheme. Now, Quinn has brought in his own defensive tackle in Osa Odighizuwa, the team’s third-round selection out of UCLA this year.

Hill and Gallimore have lost their sponsors in Dallas. The rookie hasn’t. Here’s what the staff over at the team’s official website, DallasCowboys.com, wrote about Odighizuwa and how he could be destined to leapfrog Hill and Gallimore for the starting role.

"“Odighizuwa looked terrific in OTAs and minicamp, where he looked every bit able to sniff out the ball with athleticism and relentlessness. The safe bet would be that he comes into Week 1 as a rotational player, but he’s certainly a candidate to earn a starting job at some point in his rookie season.”"

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The 6-foot-2, 279-pound Odighizuwa is seen as a versatile piece that can be moved all along the defensive line in Dallas. But his best position just might be at the three-technique, a position both Hill and Gallimore are likely best suited for as well. This is where having the sponsorship of Dan Quinn could give the rookie an edge over players drafted for a previous coaching staff and scheme.