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30-Day, 30 Prospect: DAY 4 – Pittsburgh Panthers Two-Time AP All-American DT Calijah Kancey

Calijah Kancey is a stout, compact, yet powerful defensive tackle who utilizes these attributes to the maximum level. At 6′ 0″ and 280-lbs, Kansey plays primarily as a B-gap/3-technique, utilizing his explosive first step and lower center of gravity to cause havoc on larger interior offensive lineman. 

Kansey is well decorated during his time at Pittsburgh, earning 3rd-Team AP All-American and 1st-Team All-ACC honors in 2021 with 35 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks in 14 games. In 2022, he earned 1st-Team All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well as a finalist for the Outland and Nagurski Trophies, given to the best interior lineman and best defensive player in the country, respectively. In that season, he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 games. He also solidified his dominance with 30 QB-hurries at a 22.7% pass rush win rate, according to PFF.

Owning the player comparison to mentor and NFL All-Pro, Aaron Donald, as well as NFL great, John Randle, Kansey shows elite pass rushing abilities, often beating interior lineman on the first step. His ability to traverse from his initially lined-up B-gap responsibility to the opposite A-gap is second to none, making it an extremely difficult assignment to execute blocking assignment. 

Kancey’s slight stature is a weakness, however. Many evaluators highlight his lack of prototypical size as a 3-technique for the reason why he gets beaten by very large guards at times where he does not get off the ball first. He also has issues dealing with athletic blockers, as they often sell and set the edge on him during run plays.

If the Raiders are set on giving this defense a complete makeover, as expected, trading back to the mid-1st for their #7-overall would be advantageous. If the asking price is correct, expect the Raiders to make the move to do so, to where a game-changer like Kansey would be an intriguing acquisition. Here’s the caveat to selecting Kancey: having an above average 1-technique lined up next to him has to be a prerequisite. One would hope that the Neil Farrell Jr.’s or Bilal Nichols of the world would step up to fill that role. Otherwise, the Raiders may be placing Kancey in a compromising position.

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