Devine Ozigbo – Nebraska
22 years old
6’-0” - 219 lbs. (per Shrine Game)
NFL Draft Projection: Day 3
Senior year: 155 carries, 1,082 yards (7.0 YPC) and 12 touchdowns, with 23 receptions for 203 yards.
Ozigbo is starting to make more and more of a name for himself since the end of his senior campaign with the Cornhuskers. Nebraska essentially utilized a “running back by committee” approach throughout his four years in Lincoln, but his attempts and usage increased each year. It was reported that Ozigbo wasn’t satisfied with his playing time and output, so he met with his coaches to figure out what it was he needed to do to get on the field more, and produce more when on it. He took all of their input and put it into action and it truly paid off in his senior season. He even earned the title of “Football Lifter of the Year” within the teams lifting program this past year, which further backs up he dedication to better himself.
Ozigbo has the frame and build to be an every-down back in the NFL. He also has the hands and receiving ability to keep him on the field for third down work. Not only did he grab 23 receptions in 2018 but he looked great doing it. Seeing how the receiving back is often a change of pace, smaller back, it’s a huge bonus when they are 6’0, 220 lbs, and do not have to leave the field for a smaller back more capable of the receiving work.
I was really impressed with his vision, and footwork, both in the hole and in the open field. His open field work was actually very impressive for a larger back.
Nebraska is clearly going through a rebuild at the moment and they aren’t the running team of old that we grew up with. So Ozigbo’s 7 yards per carry, 13th in the nation, is even that much more impressive to me.
Most scouts are saying his biggest knock is that he lacks top-end speed. Is he getting caught by defensive backs after breaking through the line and getting up the sideline? Yes. Is he breaking through the line and breaking up the sideline? Yes. Not all bigger backs can be Saquon Barkley. However, Ozigbo showed plenty of top-end speed throughout 2018. If speed is his biggest knock, I’ll be just fine with that.
Best Landing Spots: Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs:
His vision, size, and agility make him a great fit in the zone schemes run by the Texans, Bears, and Chiefs. The Bears’ relationship with Jordan Howard makes Ozigbo a very interesting play here. If they move on from him this offseason via trade as some rumors allude to, the pairing of Ozigbo with Cohen could make fantasy gold. Chicago was very much in the conversation for signing Kareem Hunt, and although I’m hesitant to compare Ozigbo to Hunt, they do have more than a couple of similarities.
I could also see him as a great fit in Houston. Lamar Miller is 27, Alfred Blue is just a guy who has had small flashes but cannot be a centerpiece, and D’onta Foreman, although I like him, isn’t guaranteed to even be on the field as of week 1. There was a lot of talk of adding someone like Le’Veon Bell during free agency, but that came and went with no free agency action. With the young offense group that they are assembling there now, Ozigbo could be a great late round addition to that outside zone scheme offense, especially with his pass-catching abilities as a safety valve for Deshaun Watson.
I would also love to see Ozigbo in a Chiefs’ uniform. The outside zone, RPO (Run Pass Option) they are running with Patrick Mahomes makes Kansas City a prime destination and for good reason. Damien Williams has shown talent, but I can see him falling into a Duke Johnson, pass receiving/third-downrole, similar to when the Browns added Carlos Hyde in free agency and drafted Nick Chubb this past offseason. Ozigbo has the making to be an every-down back in the NFL and could make a great addition to an explosive offense.
To the surprise of many, Ozigbo wasn’t invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis this spring. Which on one hand, doesn’t help his NFL draft stock, but on the other, makes him a more attainable asset in the later rounds of your dynasty drafts. With a Day 3 projection (more than likely rounds 6-7), his offseason hype which started to buzz will hopefully calm down some. As of today, you should be able to get him in the early to mid-3rd of rookie drafts. If you are drafting after the NFL draft, this could move his draft position from the early to mid-2nd to the mid-4th depending on the spot.