The Giants landing Ohio State DE Chase Young is unlikely, seeing as the Washington Redskins are slated to select 2nd overall. An impact rusher off the right side could still be imperative to Big Blue improvement in 2020. That brings us to Iowa defensive end A.J Epenesa.
The 6’6 280 lb prospect is expected by many to land in the middle to late first round of April’s draft. It would not crazy to be crazy to see the Giants trade down from the 4 slot and select him. Now, Epenesa is not as dynamic as some of the impact edge rushers that have come out in the last 5 years, which is why he isn’t a shoe in top five selection like Chase Young is. Epenesa’s game is more predicated on power rather than speed. He uses his big frame and length excellently and has good fluidity and smooth movement but lacks first step explosiveness. He makes up for it with incredible power at the point of contact, using his big hands and good placement to beat blocks there. These skills are accompanied with a good motor and he stays with the play until the whistle. In run defense, he struggles with lateral movement but when he gets to the lane uses his long arms for efficient arm tackles and can lock and release with good power. On outside moves, Epenesa can struggle with getting beat off his lead shoulder and doesn’t possess the lateral quickness or mobility to recover and make a play on the ball.
At the end of the day, Epenesa is not a complete or finished prospect by any means, but has incredible, power and vertical speed to mold into a wrecker off the end. His agility must be improved to get the edge against athletic NFL tackles, he can’t out muscle everyone and although bendiness is a given gift he can make up for it by crafting that shoulder drive and improving his lateral movement. But north to south Epenesa will reek havoc on bull rushes and will be suitable in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.
2020 Draft Profiles: A.J EpenesaTweet