Finding Broncos: A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa | How he Fits, Where he Goes

Erick Trickel

Measurements

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 275

Arms: 34-1/2 inches

Hands: 10-1/8 inches

Combine Results

40: 5.04 seconds

Bench Press (225 lbs): 17 reps

Vertical Jump: 32.5 inches

Broad Jump: 117 inches

3-Cone: 7.34 seconds

20-Yard Shuttle: 4.46 seconds

Stats

Snip
Sports-Reference.com

Pros

  • Has good size & length
  • Strong at setting the edge against the run
  • Can widen the B-gap for a blitzer
  • Slides laterally very well to hang with moving blockers
  • Gets full extension to get strip-sacks
  • Has good power rush moves around the edge
  • Hand technique is fantastic
  • Has a lot of physical tools to work with
  • Plenty of rush moves in his arsenal
  • Takes advantage of unbalanced blockers
  • Brings power into first contact
  • Solid change of direction to couple with powerful hands

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Cons

  • Speed isn’t ideal for the NFL edge
  • Not the most agile
  • Doesn’t have the bend to turn the corner
  • Technique against double teams needs work
  • Could be quicker with his reads of blockers getting set up
  • More urgency to shed blockers as a run defender

Overview

There is a misconception that A.J. Epenesa is purely an edge prospect, which isn't exactly fitting. He's actually a true defensive end and the base alignment doesn't matter. He has plenty of power in his hands and good technique to be a 3-,5-, or a 7-technique in the NFL. 

Epenesa's Combine numbers were a little disappointing — primarily his 1.78-second 10-yard split at 275 pounds. If he was 285-290, it would be less concerning. He isn’t a super athletic prospect, so his overall speed isn’t a concern either. 

This is one prospect many may find themselves overthinking based on the Combine but you can see exactly the type and caliber of player he is when you turn on the tape. Two of Epenesa's best comparisons are Niners' DL DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

Fit with Broncos

*See video above. 

Grade: Top-15

Where he Goes: Top-20

Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel and @MileHighHuddle. 

Comments (4)
B'wana Beast
B'wana Beast

I could get behind this move with a trade back. I still feel the broncos are in an odd spot with the draft. Most of the top talent I assume will be gone. I also see less potential QB selections to allow players to fall. If the WR is not there that we want (I still do not feel trading up is necessary) this pick could save the possibility of reaching for a Blacklock (Need more info on btw),Elliot, Lynch or Foto.

No. 1-2
Brew77
Brew77

I couldn’t agree with you more on this dude if the Broncos miss out on the top 3 receivers this guy is the one I would look at first. He is a way better fit than Kinlaw for this defense and most have him mocked somewhere between 16 and the early 20’s so it wouldn’t be a reach. I could totally get on board with this guy being drafted by the Broncos it could bring back the days of Malik Jackson Wolfe Ware and Von Miller. Now you would have Dre Mont Jones Espenesa Chubb and Von Miller that’s the kinda pressure teams hate to deal with.


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