Thursday’s EDGE rushers are arguably the deepest group on the team.
2023 NFL combine It opened its on-field practices Thursday, starting with the defensive linemen and linebacker groups. By convention, one group began running 40-yard dashes, then switched to stance drills, while another group completed agility drills and measured jumps.
Let’s take a closer look at the edge rushers who stood out as quantifiable numbers from skill drills slowly roll out.
Before: 7 defensive tackles
Note: Some edge rushers projected for SAM role (ie James Houston) will be grouped with linebackers at the combine and included in that article.
Atedomiwa Atebawore, Northwestern, 6-foot-2, 282
40-yard dash time/10-yard split: 4.49/1.64
Vertical jump: 37.5, broad jump: 10-feet-5
A sub-4.5 40-yard dash at 282 pounds is next-level impressive.
His jumps are equally rare.
He’s not a traditional pass rusher, but has quick feet when moving laterally, shows great balance in transition, and chews up space when attacking vertically and gets upfield in a hurry. He delivers his pass rush without losing speed, and when his moves connect, they come with power. He also showed the ability to drop and maintain control during linebacker drills, showing scouts his range on the field.
For Detroit, Atebao will be considered a tight end who has the range to push inside the 3-technique and has a sneaky ability to drop into zone coverage.
Yaya Diaby, Louisville, 6-foot-3 1/2, 263
Vertical jump: 37, broad jump: 10-feet-0
Diaby entered the day with relatively low expectations, but he ended the day as the player who most improved his role. Not only did he run faster in the 40, but he also showed quick feet when moving laterally and the ability to execute drills at high speed when under control. As a pass rusher, he has power in his punch, swings with poise, and uses perfect placement with his hands. A very good day.
Nolan Smith, Georgia, 6-foot-2 1/4, 238
Vertical jump: 41.5, broad jump: 10-feet-8
A sub-4.4 for an edge rusher is impressive regardless of his size, but when you factor leaps into the equation, his day becomes even more impressive. Unfortunately, he is rehabilitating from a chest injury and has not been participating in on-field drills.
Lucas Van Ness, Iowa, 6-foot-5, 272
Vertical jump: 31, broad jump: 9-feet-10
Van Ness looked the part of a first-round edge rusher at the combine. He showed almost zero wasted motion in every drill, hugged the edge in rushing drills, moved together, had great power at all times and never looked out of place when dropping into coverage. Solid day.
Byron Young, Tennessee, 6-foot-2 1/2, 250
Vertical jump: 38.0, broad jump: 11-feet-0
The acceleration he showed at 40 translated on the field in drills. His ability to position his hips and get movement through his legs shows how balanced he is moving laterally and vertically. His only downside was being asked to string together several pass rush moves, but overall, it was an impressive workout.
Thomas Income, Central Michigan (6-foot-2, 262) has very quick feet laterally, but lost some balance when trying to speed up in pass rush drills. String Bass regains his balance as he hears Rush move together.
Will McDonald, Iowa State (6-foot-3 1/2, 239) has long enough limbs to see his arm bend the corner while still on the other side of the bag. He didn’t run, which may account for his slow start, but he got better as the drills wore on.
Caleb Murphy, Ferris State (6-foot-3, 254) showed great ability to execute drills with his head up and balanced footwork. He has so many traits that teams will be willing to take a flyer early on Day 3.
Tuli Tuipolutu, USC (6-foot-3, 266) checks in significantly smaller than his college size (under 25+ pounds), but he shows good balance, footwork and power in his hands.
Isaiah Foskey, Our lady (6-foot-5, 264) looked tough most of the day, but when it came time to put a move together he was calm, smooth, under control and had little wasted movement. It talks about how he will be used in the next phase.