When you get drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, you’re immediately put under the NFL’s biggest microscope. Many have and will continue to crack under that pressure, don’t count on Chidobe Awuzie being one of those guys.
Going into his senior year at Colorado in 2016, he was coming off his best collegiate season. Tallying 90 tackles (78 solo), 4 sacks (a program record for defensive backs), 2 interceptions, 10 pass breakups and an unreal 13 tackles for loss. Impressive enough to earn him second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
He would find himself on the Jim Thorpe watchlist, given to the nations best defensive back, as well as a spot on the Nagurski watchlist, given to the nations best defensive player. He finished strong with 60 tackles (48 solo), 4 sacks, 1 interception, 12 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles, as well as another second team All-Pac-12 selection.
When the 2017 draft rolled around, he wasn’t as coveted as other corners such as Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey or LSU’s Tre’Davious White, much to the delight of the Cowboys draft room. His ability to play both corner or the nickel position had the organization salivating when the 60th pick in round 2 came about, and his card was turned in. Not to mention, the now infamous announcement of his selection by Cowboys great Drew Pearson in Philadelphia no doubt put more eyes on the teams newest corner.
Going into his rookie campaign he would battle for a starting spot against Orlando Scandrick, Nolan Carroll, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. It didn’t start off well though, because he would miss most of training camp with hamstring and ankle injuries, putting him fourth on the cornerback depth chart.
By week 2 he earned his first start against the Broncos but injured his hamstring which sidelined him for the next two weeks. After returning against the Packers, he would re-injure his hamstring and miss the next 4 games. The season would end on a high note, however, as Awuzie supplanted Anthony Brown as a starter for the final 5 games. Giving him all the confidence needed heading into year two.
2018 saw Awuzie start 14 of the 15 games he played in, missing the only one due to an ankle injury. His production, much like his availability, went up tremendously, increasing his tackles from 25 his rookie year to 71, and his pass breakups from 7 to 11. Cementing him as the team’s second corner opposite All-Pro Byron Jones, which moved Anthony Brown to be the units nickel corner.
As the new season approaches, an all to familiar roadblock stands in Awuzie’s way of reaching his full potential, injuries. Currently, he’s dealing with a hip flexor that will sideline him for a while. Definitely, something to monitor considering he’s had several injuries already during his short career. His health is paramount to having the Cowboys defense remain a top 10 unit in 2019.
There’s no shortage of talent when it comes to Chidobe Awuzie. Sure tackler, excellent ball skills, speed, and a high motor, he has it all. Experience is the best teacher, and his 2018 season proved that, as his numbers went north substantially. All that’s left now is hopefully getting the injury woes under control. Once that’s done, I have no doubt he’ll continue to earn his nickname, “Chido Clamps”.