Steve: Saints rookie profiles - Chidera Uzo-Diribe
Right off the bat, I’m rooting for this guy to make the roster just so I can hear the Bobby Hebert butcher his name all the time. Hopefully talent runs in the family, because Uzo-Diribe is cousins with defensive end Osi Umenyiora who has appeared in 2 Pro Bowls, and holds the NFL record for forced fumbles in a season with 10.
Let’s get back to Uzo-Diribe though. The outside linebacker signed with the Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Colorado. He appeared in 49 games for the Buffaloes and totaled 118 tackles (99 solo), 32 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 6 passes defended. He had an outstanding year as a senior, posting 46 tackles (11 for loss), four sacks and five forced fumbles (second in the nation) and was named a captain by his teammates.
Uzo-Diribe really opened eyes with his explosiveness and athleticism at the Shrine Game practices according to the NFL Network’s Buck Brooks. The 6-foot-3 250 pounder displayed a devastating speed rush move in 1-on-1 practice drills which he complimented with an inside spin move. Where Brooks saw room for improvement was Uzo-Diribe’s inconsistent pad level and hand usage against the run. Sometimes he has difficulty shedding blocks, especially on running plays when offensive linemen get into his pads.
Making the Saints’ roster is a steep uphill climb for this kid. He is too small to play his college position of defensive end in the NFL so he’s trying to adjust to playing outside linebacker.
Playing LB in the pros means you need a variety of skill sets including run stopping, pass rushing and dropping back in coverage. Attempting to adjust to those new responsibilities while playing in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s complicated scheme makes life as a “rook” even that more difficult.
We shall see if Uzo-Diribe can carve out a role for himself on special teams. That is always the best chance for a player to make any teams’ final roster.
Chidera Uzo-Diribe Highlights from CU Football Video on Vimeo.