DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa*

6’6” – 280 lbs.

Father also played football at Iowa. Has been a major contributor since his freshman season, in which he posted 15-5.5-4.5. Became a full-time player the following year, posting 37-16.5-10.5 with four forced fumbles. Followed that up with a similar year of 49-14.5-11.5 and another four forced fumbles to conclude his college career, deciding to forego his senior season. Simply put, one of the most polished, well-rounded prospects in this year’s draft class. Plays the right end position on Iowa’s defensive line, typically out of a four-point stance, but will also kick inside on occasion to rush the passer from an inside technique. Ability to anticipate snap counts is outstanding; fires out of his stance low and with much more explosiveness than anticipated for player of his size. Capable of winning on the edge with either speed or power. Tends to start snaps in an advantageous position because of his excellent jumps, and demonstrates the ability to dip his shoulder and bend a smooth arc to the passer. Closing burst is very good for his size, and eight forced fumbles over the past two years suggest he’s adept at stripping quarterbacks from behind. Active with his hands, mixing in swipes and slaps to prevent opposing tackles from locking on. Perhaps at his most dangerous when he’s converting speed to power; uses good arm extension and leverage in his bull rush, with a relentless approach which can jolt opposing tackles and walk them back into the pocket. Makes it look like he’s working against a blocking sled at times. Was also called on to execute stunts and twists, albeit at a much lower clip; sample size as an inside rusher is inadequate to make a detailed assessment. Makes limited drops into zone coverage on rare occasions. Iowa’s defensive front is based on two-gap principles when defending against the run. Was rarely run at during the games reviewed, but sets the edge well with a strong anchor and plus leverage. Disciplined defensive end who does a good job of keeping his head up and locating the football. Looks light on his feet and demonstrates good lateral quickness in pursuit; can locate and shuffle to put himself in position to make plays on the ball. Willing to chase to the sidelines and possesses adequate speed, although he’s not usually the first player there. Would like to see him keep his shoulders square a little bit more, but it didn’t seem to impact his ability to hold his ground. Excellent prospect who should be able to come in and start right away for a team; looks like a cornerstone of a pro defense, probably as a 4-3 defensive end.

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