A.J. Epenesa (Iowa)
- Height: 6-foot-6 | Weight: 280 pounds
- 49 total tackles
- 14 tackles for a loss
- 11.5 sacks
Those who double as Gopher fans probably still have nightmares of what A.J. Epenesa did to their championship hopes last fall. As the undefeated Gophers rolled into Iowa, Epenesa was a terror with a season-high 2.5 sacks as the Hawkeyes pulled off the upset at Kinnick Stadium.
But what makes a performance like this a credit to his draft stock is that this was a regular occurrence. Despite not having the speed or burst of some of the other prospects in this draft, Epenesa is just a consistent pass-rushing machine.
The Illinois native collected 26.5 sacks during his career with the Hawkeyes and that includes double-digit sacks in each of his final two seasons. Armed with a powerful bull-rush, Epenesa can disrupt the pocket quickly and have opposing lineman going backward.
Such a prospect would be a solid choice to replace Griffen in the lineup while using Odenigbo in the joker role that Weatherly was originally supposed to occupy last year. Once one of the top prospects in this class, the Minnesota Vikings could be looking at a steal if they select Epenesa in the back half of the first round.