Jesse Luketa, EDGE
Weight: 247 lbs
School: Penn State
A former four-star recruit from Erie, Pennsylvania, who attended Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Luketa was recruited as a linebacker and played most of his 2019 and 2020 snaps in the box. (He also played nickel for the Nittany Lions.)
His versatility stood out in 2021, where he predominantly aligned as a defensive lineman (from a 1-technique in passing situations, all the way to a wide-9).
Luketa’s versatility, and tweener status, are unique, and it speaks to his overall desire to find the football field. He always performed the task that head coach James Franklin assigned, which is why he was a team captain.
Luketa has said that wants to be the next Micah Parsons, the former Nittany Lion turned Dallas Cowboy being Luketa’s best friend. Parsons's versatility in the NFL (and in college) spawned desire in Luketa, who first displayed his ability to play consistent snaps at defensive line against Wisconsin in 2021.
Luketa pivoted from defensive line to linebacker the next week against Ball State because Ellis Brooks took a targeting penalty. It was against Ball State where Luketa intercepted Drew Plitt with one hand and returned it for a touchdown. Luketa’s impressive college career wasn’t filled with eye-popping stats, but his ability to win in a variety of ways earned him a trip to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
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- Versatile defender who can play multiple positions (LB, EDGE, DL, Nickel)
- A balanced, compact, player with a good frame
- Competitive toughness is through the roof, never gives up
- Good tackler with physical demeanor
- On shorter side, allows him to use natural leverage as a pass rusher - wins pad level
- Longer arms allow him to keep his chest clean
- Violent hands at the point of attack, allows him to shed blocks easier
- Can stack and shed as a linebacker/can set edge as EDGE defender, good low COG
- Leverage plus lower body flexibility to bend around punches at top of arc
- Smart player who understands offensive intentions
- Was a team leader (Captain in 2021)
- Isn’t an exceptional athlete
- Lacks sideline to sideline NFL speed for LB position
- Not very explosive as a LB or at the EDGE position
- First step is only adequate as EDGE rusher
- Won’t bend the corner through contact as EDGE rusher (can dip low around punches)
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Overall, Luketa’s ability to execute multiple roles at a solid level will be valuable at the next level. He packs a punch, plays with good balance/leverage and he can hold his own against blockers much bigger than him in the run game. He isn’t a dynamic athlete and doesn’t have the type of burst to consistently win at EDGE.
I love his long arms, his ability to win with his hands, his motor, and his ability to quickly diagnose from multiple positions, but his lack of high-end athletic traits will lead him to day three in the 2022 NFL Draft.