Calijah Kancey Draft Profile and Scouting Report
Calijah Kancey Scouting Report: Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh Panthers, #8
2023 NFL Draft Measurements
6’0” / 280 lbs.
Calijah Kancey 40 Time – 4.65 (estimate)
Calijah Kancey NFL Draft Profile
Kancey is a former 3-star recruit out of Northwestern High School in Miami, Florida. According to 247sports, in the 2019 class, he was the 118th-best player in the state. He was also the 66th-best defensive tackle in the nation. While achieving this status, he received 19 Division I scholarship offers. But only seven of these schools were in power five conferences. These schools included Miami, South Carolina, Rutgers, Louisville, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh. After only visiting Pittsburgh, Kancey decided he wanted to play for the Panthers.
Kancey has been a starter for the Panthers for the past 3 seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 1,429 total snaps, where 893 of which were pass-rush snaps. In those 893 snaps, he pressured the QB 111 times. He also recorded 19 sacks, 28 QB hits, 64 hurries, and 2 pass breakups.
Calijah Kancey Strengths
Calijah Kancey is very explosive out of a 3-point stance. This allows him to quickly get his hands in the right position off the snap and gain leverage. I am excited to see what his 10-yard split will be at the NFL Scouting Combine in March. He also shows amazing initial quickness out of a 2-point stance when he transitions to the outside. His quickness allows him to quickly corner the pocket and force the QB to step up.
Although Kancey has amazing straight-line speed, he is even more impressive when moving laterally. When rushing the passer, he does a good job of keeping his hips low so he can quickly perform stunts and twists at the line. His above-average lateral agility also helps him bring down the ball carrier in open field. If his pass rush plan is not working, he can quickly execute other moves to get past the blocker and apply pressure on the QB.
When in the trenches, I was impressed with Kancey’s ability to control his body. As I mentioned earlier, he can keep his hips low. By default, this keeps his pad level low and allows him to drive blockers upward. He also does a good job of staying balanced throughout his pass rush although he is a smaller defensive tackle.
Calijah Kancey has been effective all over the field for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Although he primarily lines up as a 3-technique, he has played all around the defensive line. As I mentioned earlier, when Kancey lines up as a 5-technique he shows incredible quickness out of a 2-point stance. When lined up as a 0-technique, I was impressed with his ability to hold his ground and even win engagements. He does this by placing his hands high and tight on the opposing offensive lineman. This allows him to gain leverage on the lineman and use his lower body to force them vertically.
Regardless of where he is lined up on the field, I am impressed with his strength. I have mentioned how strong his lower body is, but his upper body strength is more fun to watch. When in the phone booth with a lineman, he shows off his upper body strength by manipulating their torso. He can also quickly disengage blocks when he needs to due to his active and violent hands.
Kancey is also very versatile in the way that he has a wide range of pass-rush moves. Unlike prospects such as Lukas Van Ness, Kancey has a broad range of moves to get past blockers. When bull rushing, Kancey does a good job of quickly putting his hands in the right position and keeping his pad level low. This allows him to drive back blockers and apply pressure to the QB. His bull rush alone is a big reason why he had 111 pressures throughout his college career.
Although he primarily lines up on the inside, I was impressed with his rip technique on the outside. Kancey’s quickness allows him to quickly run the arc and force the lineman to drop back deep. His smaller frame then allows him to keep his pad level low and get in the perfect position to pull off the rip technique. The only concern I have about his rip going forward is his below-average body lean.
When the ball is snapped, Kancey does a good job of quickly applying pressure on the QB. As I have mentioned several times throughout this article, he can do so by using many pass-rush moves. When lined up as a 5-technique, he can quickly run the arc and force the QB up into the pocket. Then, he can sink his hips and work back toward the inside to make a play. His bull rush allows him to consistently apply pressure on the QB regardless of where he is lined up. Kancey is also very light on his feet which allows him to quickly execute stunts to confuse the offensive line.
Every time Kancey steps gets in between the sidelines, he is a complete workhorse. When watching his film, I was blown away by his ability to never give up on a play. There was one play against West Virginia this season where he ended up being triple-teamed. He then was able to slip the blocks and chase down the ball carrier in the backfield. After seeing that, he immediately flew up my draft board.
Calijah Kancey Weaknesses
The biggest concern surrounding Kancey’s game is his below-average size. Kancey is 6’0” tall and weighs 280 lbs. This is far below the average size for an NFL level 3 technique. But, producing high-level small defensive tackles is something Pitt consistently does. The biggest example of this is Super Bowl Champ, Aaron Donald. His adequate size can lead to him being absorbed by bigger offensive linemen. Kancey’s below-average arm length can also allow prevent him from being the first one to engage in contact.
Calijah Kancey Draft Stock
As of today, nflmockdraftdatabase has Kancey as the 55th-best player in the draft. Prior to the season, I would have agreed with that. But after watching his tape from this season, there is no way I rank him lower than 40. This makes me believe that he will not fall past the first half of the 2nd round.
Final Thoughts on Calijah Kancey Scouting Report
Calijah Kancey was one of the most gifted players in the ACC this season. DraftDive actually predicted this prior to the season because he made the ACC Pre-Season All-Conference Team. Although Kancey is a little undersized, he plays bigger than his frame. He is also an elite athlete who can play all over the field at any level. His pass-rush move arsenal allows him to be unpredictable and dangerous. Kancey also has a very high motor that will never let him give up on a play. In the NFL, this is exactly the player you want lined up in the trenches.
Calijah Kancey Player Comparison
Calijah Kancey shows me glimpses of two other former Pitt Panthers. These players are Aaron Donald and Jaylen Twyman. He does not have the ceiling that Donald has, but he has the frame and the work ethic. If drafted by the right team, Kancey could be very dangerous in the NFL.
Calijah Kancey Scouting Report and Player Profile Analyst – Matthew Lewis