A positional group looked upon by many to represent the deepest of any spot in the entire class, as we look back to the week that was in Mobile, there are a multitude of new names to become aware of and a talent who solidified his spot as a day-one selection at EDGE. Let’s dive right in.
Jermaine Johnson (Florida State)
Jermaine Johnson was in a class of his own all week long. For context, he was so dominant in Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices, the former Seminole opted out of the last day of work and Saturday’s game, solidifying his status as a day-one talent. Under the ultimate pre-draft spotlight, Johnson won the week.
Jesse Luketa (Penn State)
A speed threat off the edge, Jesse Luketa had a heck of a Senior Bowl. While he and Penn State teammate Arnold Ebiketie—who I'll get to later—were physically overpowering at times in one-on-ones throughout the week, Luketa saved his best performance for last, recording a strip-sack late in the first half of Saturday’s game.
With quick speed-to-power conversion and heavy hands, Luketa presents a tall task to attempt to keep out of the pocket at a stout 260-plus pounds. Impressive enough in Happy Valley this year competing sub-250 pounds at points during the season, if he’s able to sustain his burst and flexibility off the edge at that mass in the NFL, he’ll enjoy plenty of success from day one.
Boye Mafe (Minnesota)
Whether he was bull-rushing with brute force, bending the edge with pure speed, or providing a counter to the counter from opposing offensive tackles, Boye Mafe’s deep bag of traits have him on the rise heading into the combine, pro days, and separate team workouts over the next few months. While one week shouldn’t sway multiple years of work and hundreds of snaps pocketed in the depths of an evaluation process, his performance was substantial and should hold weight.
Named the National Team MVP for his multiple-sack performance, a talent that has slipped under the rug during the evaluation process due to the high-end skill set and premier depth of the EDGE class had a multitude of plays that won’t show up in the box score. A physically imposing defender from the opening kickoff on Saturday, Mafe flashed an array of pass-rush moves, counters, and an ability to anchor in the run game all game long. One of the “freak” athletes in college football who’s expected to jump north of 40 inches in the vertical at the NFL Scouting Combine, Mafe single-handedly made himself a substantial amount of money with his showing on Saturday afternoon.
Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State)
A twitched-up pass-rusher who’s received comparisons to Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge threat Shaq Barrett due to his premier blend of length (34” arms and 82 ⅛” wingspan) and speed, Arnold Ebiketie was fun to watch this week. While he enjoyed his lumps, the pros massively outweighed the cons in all sessions, and he shouldn’t have to wait long to hear his name come off the board in April.
Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina)
While Johnson stole the show, Kingsley Enagbare was hard to ignore all week long. With pterodactyl-like length with a near 84-inch wingspan, it was hard to get around him and impossible to limit him in pass rush reps. Still relatively raw where he will need to work on his bend and counters when offensive linemen are able to get in-between his pads, Enagbare is a heck of an athlete with one of the highest performance ceilings in the class.
Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati)
Myjai Sanders turned heads in Mobile. A rangy defender who projects well as both a situational pass-rusher on third down and a prospect who has the skill set to improve in his run defense on early downs, Sanders is a charismatic athlete who bluntly explained to me how he will counter against some of the bigger tackles at the NFL level.
“Catch me if you can.”
DeAngelo Malone (Western Kentucky)
Whether he aligns with his hand in the dirt or standing up, DeAngelo Malone is a toolsy defender that reminds me a lot of Odafe Oweh of last year’s class. While Oweh entered the draft as one of the freak athletes of the class, Malone will present teams with an exciting developmental prospect that could progress into one of the steals of the class. He popped all week long and capped off his Senior Bowl performance with a sack in Saturday’s game.
Although Michigan’s Aidan Hutchison, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Purdue’s George Karlaftis have headlined the group, the play of the aforementioned talents has stocks soaring on league-wide draft boards.