Indianapolis Colts EDGE Dayo Odeyingbo recorded 2.0 sacks in their Week 2 preseason defeat to the Detroit Lions. Odeyingbo was arguably Indianapolis’ most impressive overall player on the field.
It was an eye-opening performance that appropriately built on his Week 1 showing in which Odeyingbo led all Colts defenders with five quarterback pressures, via Pro Football Focus. Odeyingbo appears poised to carve out a legitimate role for himself across the Colts’ fierce defensive line this season.
The No. 54 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Colts general manager Chris Ballard drafted Odeyingbo with a premium second-round selection despite him suffering a torn Achilles in January of last year while preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft and the NFL Scouting Combine. Odeyingbo returned in late October and saw limited action in 10 games, but he only recorded six tackles, 0.5 sacks, and a forced fumble while acclimating to the league. A healthy offseason has appeared to work wonders for Odeyingbo.
It’s easy to understand why the Colts maintained their faith in Odeyingbo as a prospect. The Brooklyn, New York native enjoyed a breakout season leading into his draft year, totaling a career-high 5.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss in just eight appearances for the Commodores in 2020. Odeyingbo has exceptional reactive athleticism and agility as a pass rusher. His length and closing quickness to the quarterback opens a variety of possibilities for Odeyingbo to string together pass-rush moves. He’s still refining his overall arsenal, but 2022 may be the season that Odeyingbo’s natural abilities come together.
Odeyingbo is playing for a new defensive coordinator in 2022, and with that comes change. Gus Bradley replaced the outgoing Matt Eberflus, who accepted an offer to become the new head coach of the Chicago Bears. Bradley often tasks his front-four with applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks without much support from sending extra rushers or creative blitz packages. Bradley’s defense comes with specific designations and Odeyingbo is versatile enough to play multiple roles.
Odeyingbo is a natural fit for Bradley’s “BIG END” position. This spot is usually reserved for power rushers who are tasked with both applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stuffing the run. The position best fits a larger, big-bodied defensive end. The 276-pound Odeyingbo is both athletic and powerful enough to thrive at the position. Tyquan Lewis, who re-signed with the Colts via a one-year contract, is another candidate to earn reps at the “BIG END” position.
Versatility is partially what makes Odeyingbo so interesting. The former Vanderbilt product also flashed while playing reps at the “LEO” position against the Lions on Saturday from a wide-nine alignment, which is the weak-side defensive end in Bradley’s hybrid defensive front. It’s a bit of an unexpected development. The recently acquired Yannick Ngakoue is expected to start at the “LEO” given his history playing for Bradley in that position, but Odeyingbo has proven he can at least earn part-time reps at the position. Odeyingbo can also kick inside on obvious passing downs. The possibilities are endless.
The Colts possess a pair of intriguing second-year pass rushers in Odeyingbo and Kwity Paye. Ballard reshaped the future of Indianapolis’ pass rush by drafting both players in 2021. The results Ballard envisioned may come to fruition in 2022.
The Colts are counting on a second-year jump from Odeyingbo to improve a defense that ranked 25th in sacks (33) last season. Indianapolis’ new-look defense is relying on Odeyingbo to produce sacks. The Colts showed plenty of faith in Odeyingbo by drafting him despite his limited year-one availability. We’ve already witnessed flashes of the impending payoff throughout the preseason. Health, better fortune, and a new defensive play-caller could help Odeyingbo enjoy a breakout sophomore campaign.
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