Southern California Senior
40: 5.15 (estimated)
Has good size in the middle and plays with good pop off the snap as a run blocker. Can wall off the defender and create the alley up the middle. Initiates contact and flashes decent hand use to get position as a run blocker. Shows some quickness into his pass set. Effective getting on the second level to get the seal block. Also flashes some potential as a cut blocker. Shows some feistiness and mean streak.
Doesn't get much push as a run blocker and struggles to stay locked on. Needs to improve his hand use and placement in a short area. Will duck his head at times. Will miss some assignments and whiff on blocks because he doesn't take great angles. Not great when asked to pull. Loses leverage and get pushed off the ball by the nose tackle. Gives up too much ground in pass protection and susceptible to the bull rush. Not great when operating out of the shotgun.
O'Dowd has tools you look for in a center prospect, but for a guy his size he gets pushed around a bit too much. Durability was a major issue while he was at USC, particularly his junior year. He was a three-year starter at center, logging 3 starts as a true freshman, and then starting 13 games as a sophomore. But he had arthroscopic knee surgery right to that year, and then had surgery to fix a torn labrum after the year. He then dislocated his knee cap prior to his junior year, missing the season opener, but came back to start 5 games at center before the soreness in both his shoulder and knee forced him to miss most of the next 5 games. He finished the year starting the final 2 games. Came back and had a fairly healthy senior year with 13 starts. For his career, he logged 36 career starts at center.
O'Dowd plays in the zone blocking scheme of USC, which relies heavily on that style of blocking. He's effective, but not great there. Despite having good size for a center, he's not as powerful as a run blocker or in pass protection. He's better run blocker, and has the potential to be good there. But he really needs to improve his hand use, which will allow him to better take advantage of his pop and be more consistent at the point of attack. In pass protection, he's okay, but he's not the type of guy that will shine going up against AFC 3-4 nose tackles. He might also be able to play some guard if he can bulk up, and at this point I think ultimately that may be his better position if he can improve. And while he'd be a work in progress there for the same reasons he is at center, I'm not sure he has the tools to be anything more than an average starter at the pivot. I would compare him to a guy like Alex Stepanovich, who was a highly touted center at a big school in college (Ohio State), but ultimately proved to be just an average pro and was a nice utility backup that could play both guard and center. O'Dowd has potential, but I think he's probably at least two or three years from reaching it. And even if he does, i think he'll only be an above average center and an average guard. He adds depth to a lineup, but he's only a long-term option at center and will probably be limited to playing in a zone-heavy blocking scheme.
O'Dowd has potential to develop as a center for the Falcons, but I'm not sure he provides anything that Hawley doesn't except more size. Instead, I think he would be more likely to be a nice backup in the middle for the Falcons because of his potential to play both guard and center. He would be a decent insurance policy for the future if Hawley doesn't really take off as the starter in 2012, but he's probably not going to be give him much competition until 2013 or 2014.
O'Dowd is a nice backup center prospect in a zone blocking scheme, that could make a decent sixth or seventh round pick for such a fit.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Blocking: 2.5
Run Blocking: 3.0
Mean Streak: 3.0
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