It has been a stellar season for Pittsburgh Panthers defensive tackle Calijah Kancey. The unanimous All-American and ACC defensive player of the year was wrecking offensive game plans all season long in route to being one of the best interior defensive linemen in college football. Kancey was always projected to be taken in the NFL draft but now we see just how high he can go.
In Mel Kiper Jr’s latest NFL mock draft, the former Pitt standout will be having his name called early. After being an unranked prospect in Kiper’s big board, Kancey is now projected to go 10th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
The Eagles, one of the NFL’s four best teams, gained this first-rounder from New Orleans last year, and now they have a chance to add a premium prospect to their loaded roster. They don’t have many current needs, but they do have several decisions to make in free agency, including whether to bring back defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Robert Quinn, Brandon Graham, and Javon Hargrave. Let’s use this pick to help them get younger.
Kancey’s 2022 tape is extremely impressive, and I moved him way up my Big Board. He wreaked havoc the past two seasons, racking up 13.5 sacks when lined up as a defensive tackle, the most in the country. At 6-foot, 280 pounds, he’s undersized, but so was former Pitt tackle Aaron Donald. (To be clear, he’s not Donald, but he’s still pretty good.) We know Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman invests heavily in the D-line, and Kancey would fit next to 2022 first-rounder Jordan Davis.
It was only last month that Kancey was viewed as the 9th-ranked defensive tackle in the class according to Kiper and 64th overall according to Todd McShay. Fast forward to now and Kancey has skyrocketed up the big board. The unanimous All-American is now the second-ranked defensive tackle, behind only Georgia’s Jalen Carter who was the projected number-one overall pick to the Bears. Kancey is also the 11th-ranked player overall and was drawing comparisons to a Pitt legend.
11. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pitt
HT: 6-0 | WT: 280 | Previously: NR
Here’s the first new addition to my Big Board, a penetrating tackle who is going to be compared to Pitt legend Aaron Donald, even though they’re not the same type of player. Kancey is undersized like Donald, but he doesn’t have the same type of strength and explosion. He’s a tick below Donald. As I noted in my debut mock draft, though, Kancey put up 13.5 sacks when lined up as a defensive tackle over the past two seasons, most in the FBS. He has some upside as a pass-rusher. I really liked his 2022 tape.
Kancey is gaining momentum after recording 31 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks in 11 games this year. While Kancey was unfortunately unable to play in the Sun Bowl after sustaining a shoulder injury, the defensive tackle will look to make his presence felt for the defensive front on an NFL team and could get starting minutes sooner rather than later.