Free Agent Profile: Jared Odrick
Ndamukong Suh will not be the only former 2010 first round interior lineman to draw attention in free agency, as Jared Odrick is also set to test the open market. Suh’s glittering career and terrific skill set unquestionably makes him the top interior defensive lineman available in free agency, but as competitive as the race to sign him will be, only one team can win it.
For the rest, a player like Odrick should hold real appeal. Something of a poor man’s Suh, Odrick possesses a similar scheme versatility and has enough talent for interior disruption to be a desirable free agent in his own right.
Career so far
Odrick’s rookie season in 2010 was cut short almost before it began, sustaining a leg injury in the season opener against Buffalo which kept him out for the rest of the year. He was fully healthy for the following season and hasn’t missed a game since, putting to rest any potential durability questions. Odrick made a strong impression in 2011 with five sacks, making a name for himself as a pass rushing 3-4 defensive end.
The Dolphins moved to a four-man front for the following season and Odrick spent 2012 miscast as a 4-3 defensive end. While Odrick has the length to fit as a base end in that front , he lacks the burst and skill set of a true edge rusher, leaving him particularly ill-suited to the weakside role he was asked to fill; he graded poorly (-18.2) as a result.
The following year the Dolphins shifted Odrick to a more natural interior role, using him as a 3-technique. Odrick responded with his best season to date (+9.6), proving himself to be a disruptive interior pass rusher with five sacks and 46 total pressures. He caused less chaos in 2014 but still graded solidly and it is in this interior disruptor role that he will draw interest in free agency.
Odrick lacks the outstanding burst or raw power that many great pass rushers possess, however he has a little of both, has good length for an interior lineman and knows how to use that to maximum effect. At 6-foot-5 with 34-inch arms, Odrick has the necessary reach to get his hands onto the body of most opposing interior offensive linemen, before they can get to him. That allows him to dictate the initial phase of the engagement, and the player who seizes the initiative from the snap will often win out.
That can be seen in the Week 1 play below, where Odrick gets his hands on Marcus Cannon right from the snap, shrugs him aside, and closes on Tom Brady forcing the incompletion.
Odrick backs up that length advantage with strong and active hand use, fighting off counter moves and keeping his opponent on the back foot. He is particularly adept at using the swim move to beat his blocker, but can also rip or spin his way past the blocker, while possessing enough power to bull an unbalanced blocker into the backfield.
While he lacked the burst to play as an edge rusher in 2012, Odrick is nimble for an interior lineman, allowing him to wrong foot blockers and get skinny when attacking a gap. Odrick also tends to play with his head up, meaning that even if he is stymied at the line, he can keep an eye on the passer and get those long arms in the air if the pass is coming his way, he had five batted passes in 2014, mostly by doing just that.
Odrick has spent the past two seasons as an effective 3-technique in a four-man front. It is a role he suits well with his ability to deal with a single blockers or attack a gap. However, he has the prototypical size and length to play as a 5-technique, the 3-4 end. That’s exactly what he was drafted to be, and he showed considerable promise in that role back in 2011.
Not all three-man fronts use defensive ends in the same way, two-gap schemes tend to seek ends who excel against a double team and stay stout against the run; Odrick holds his own in run defense but wouldn’t be an obvious choice for that scheme. However, many 3-4 defenses follow Bum Phillips’ lead and utilise one-gap principles. In that scheme the prototype end plays like a 3-technique, but has the length of a 5-tech, making Odrick a perfect fit.
Of course NFL defenses are rarely so vanilla that they operate out of one look exclusively. Instead, they use a variety of fronts depending upon game situation, making positional versatility a highly desirable trait. Odrick certainly has that.
For teams that lack the cap space to make a serious run at signing Suh, there will be few more attractive interior players than Odrick, and unlike Suh, signing Odrick won’t break the bank. The closest parallel from last year’s free agents is probably Jason Hatcher, a similarly long and versatile player who signed a four-year $27.5m deal to play in Washington, with $10.5m of that guaranteed. Hatcher was coming off a career-high 11 sack season, but he was also four years older than Odrick is at this point with some durability concerns, so Odrick may be able to command a similar deal.