Despite being one of the bigger omissions from last week's NFL scouting combine, Nebraska RB Devine Ozigbo could be among the Bears' Day 3 draft targets in April and had his time in the NFL spotlight Thursday at Nebraska's pro day.
Dare we say it? Ozigbo posted some divine testing numbers after a senior season in which he became the first Huskers back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards since former Detroit Lions second-rounder Ameer Abdullah in 2014.
Weighing in at 222 pounds and measuring "just short" of 6-0 (he checked in at 5-10 5/8 and 219 pounds at the East-West game in January), according to Omaha.com, Ozigbo had a 37" vertical, 124" broad jump and ran the 40 in the "mid-4.5 second range."
For comparison, only two backs in Indy weighing over 220 pounds broke the 4.6 mark — Pitt's Qadree Ollison and Kansas State's Alex Barnes — and only five total backs regardless of size at the event jumped higher and/or farther than Ozigbo.
Here's a snippet from PFW draft expert Greg Gabriel's pre-combine report on Nebraska's big back in our 2019 NFL Draft Guide: "He is a strong north-south runner who is quick to the hole, creates after contact and pushes the pile. He has a pick-and-slide run style with some jump-cut skills, including in the hole. He has surprising speed once he gets in the open field.
"... If he had run behind a better offensive line, Ozigbo might have gone for 2,000 yards. It says here he will be a much better NFL back than he was in college. The good news is that he wasn't overused and has a lot of tread left on the tires. Whichever team drafts Ozigbo gets a mid-round steal."
Of course, the Bears are in the RB market because their former late-round steal Jordan Howard doesn't fit Matt Nagy's system and discussions centered on trading the franchise's only back to surpass 1,000 yards in his first two seasons are "ongoing," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday. "Multiple teams" inquired about Howard at the combine, where Nagy described the prototypical back for his scheme.
"A guy that has really good vision that can make guys miss," Nagy said. "And at the same time, there's that balance of being a hybrid being able to make things happen in the pass game too, but yet to where you're not one-dimensional. That's not easy. There are a lot of backs in this draft right now that are one-dimensional, there are some that are hybrids and there are some that are really just scat guys."
Ozigbo wasn't fully unleashed until last season, when new head coach Scott Frost opened up the offense with him in a feature role, producing a 155-1,082-12 rushing slash line. But Ozigbo's receiving numbers improved each season in Lincoln, culminating with 23 catches for 203 yards, and Gabriel cites "good hands and adjusts to the ball" among Ozigbo's strong points.
Could Ozigbo be the "hybrid" back the Bears covet to replace Howard, whose receiving and big-play shortcomings have been well-documented? We won't know for another month and a half, but at least two things crystallized Thursday: Ozigbo definitely has the athleticism to match his strong tape and Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are open to upgrading from Howard with a better Tarik Cohen complement.