Cleveland, San Francisco could land one of these 2 defensive linemen whose rankings are up for debate
Of the teams that lack a first-round pick in the upcoming draft, two could use a new defensive lineman, or more specifically, a defensive tackle.
The Cleveland Browns don’t pick until the second round with pick No. 43 overall then No. 99 overall in the third round. San Francisco, meanwhile, doesn’t pick until the third round, where the 49ers own picks No. 100 and the last two picks of the round, Nos. 102 and 103.
Although draft analysts thought the defensive line position could be heavy on premiere talent when the college season started, those expectations have tempered. Now the 2023 DL class is considered somewhat average.
But that doesn’t mean Cleveland and San Francisco can’t come away with a potential starter along the line. Two players in particular have generated some buzz lately – and both could be available on Day 2 of the draft.
DL Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh
The problem with undersized over-performers is that they’re always compared to Pro Bowl-type players with similar size limitations.
That’s why some of the comparisons the 6-foot, 280-pound Kancey gets is a bit eye-rolling. Still, the consensus among draft analysts seems to be that Kancey is potentially a special talent. He’s currently the No. 76-rated prospect in the latest Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board but could rise after the Combine.
That ranking, though, is low compared to other analysts’ assessments of the Pittsburgh junior. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranks Kancey as the No. 35 overall prospect, just outside of the first-round. Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner ranked him as the No. 2 interior defensive linemen in this draft. And CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has Kancey going in the top-10 in his most recent mock draft.
Then there’s the NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, a notoriously tough grader. Here’s what Zierlein had to say about Kancey: “… He’s a nightmare for offenses as a pass rusher. His twitchy feet can slide and reset points of attack. His leverage and motor are often too much for guards to handle alone. Kancey might be most effective as a rotational run defender and full-time, sub-package rusher, but his size will not define him in the NFL.” Zierelein also used the word “terror” to describe Kancey as a pass rusher.
My word…Calijah Kancey…. pic.twitter.com/T0AgOhvPDl
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) January 25, 2023
Edge/DL Keion White, Georgia Tech
The Old Dominion transfer was listed by Georgia Tech at 6-foot-5, 286 pounds. That, however, might be a bit generous, as reports say White will likely measure closer to the 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3 range and around the 255- to 265-pound range.
Still, that’s decent size as a defensive end in a 4-3 or maybe even as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. Teams might also look at him as a pass rushing tackle on passing downs.
But his rankings appear all over the map with draft analysts. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah recently released his mock draft and has White going to Dallas late in Round 1.
Those rankings, though, could be way too high – depending on which draft analysts you follow. For example, White is ranked No. 94 in the latest Fanspeak-Rigdon big board.
Here’s what an AFC area scout said in a text to Walter Football in the most recent Hot Press report:
“(White is) going to test well, so I always get worried about those types of guy, but I would’ve said late Day 2, early Day 3 before Daniel Jeremiah tried to get me fired haha. … I mean, I’m sure (Jeremiah is) getting it from somewhere, but man, that felt really rich.”
Keion White getting to his secondary move, the spin and getting the pressure pic.twitter.com/Sf4hvRxTFD
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) February 13, 2023
Jake Rigdon (@jrigdon73) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak.com. His big board is updated at least once per week during the season and leading up to the draft. Message him on Twitter to receive $3 off your new Ultimate GM subscription.