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2020 Draft Profile: Iowa Edge A.J. Epenesa is a 'skilled pass rusher with outstanding size, strength and effort'

Iowa Edge A.J. Epenesa

Height / Weight: 6'5" / 275 lbs

2019 stats: 13 games, 49 tackles (32 solo), 11.5 sacks, 14.0 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three passes defended

Accolades: Freshmen All-Big Ten (2017), 2x First-Team All-Big Ten (2018, 2019)

2020 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50 - #24

Giants current depth at Edge: Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Kyler Fackrell, Kevin Wilkins's Daniel Jeremiah: Epenesa is a skilled pass rusher with outstanding size, strength and effort. He has average get-off quickness, but he boasts strong hands, can flip his hips and is a reliable finisher. He has a variety of hand techniques, including a violent club move, swipe move and a push/pull move. He also will flash a long-arm move with his inside arm. He has a great feel when an OT is leaning outside, which creates an opening for his up-and-under inside-counter move. Against the run, he can hold the point of attack easily. His effort on the back side is outstanding, but he lacks the burst to make a ton of plays from distance. Overall, Epenesa has a very high floor as a prospect. He should be a consistent 8-to-10-sack performer at the very least.

View photos from the college career of Iowa EDGE A.J. Epenesa’s Lance Zierlein: The size and production should force all evaluators to dial their focus in on what he's best at rather than any perceived areas of concern. He has average instincts against the run and is a step slow to shed, but he's strong at the point and he does his job. Epenesa won't just out-run tackles to the edge, but he's a skilled rusher whose diversity of attack, skilled hands and unique bull-rushing instincts could help him deliver his college sack production in the pros. He can play end in a 4-3 or 3-4 and could leap from good to great with additional work on technique and explosiveness.

ESPN's Mel Kiper: Epenesa ended the season on a high note, which included Iowa's win over Minnesota in which he dominated with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. After a slow start this season, he finished with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. As a sophomore in 2018, he led Iowa in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (16.5) despite playing only 30 snaps per game. As Epenesa has taken on a bigger role, there has been an adjustment period, but he has shown that he can bring inside and outside pressure. With a massive frame, Epenesa could play tackle in a 4-3 defense or end in a 3-4.

The 2020 Draft Profile series:


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