The Iowa Hockeyes’ talented defensive end is someone the Detroit Lions will consider as a plan B to Chase Young.
A.J. Epenesa is a terrific talent, but with how good Chase Young is, this pick would never really feel right. He’s regarded as the nation’s second-best edge rusher, and that automatically will garner plenty of attention from head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn.
Detroit has struggled mightily to cause havoc in the backfield, Epenesa is a player that will fit perfectly on the offside of Trey Flowers. He’d likely see plenty of single blocking with teams deciding to double up Damon Harrison or Trey Flowers instead.
Epenesa is a player that should dominate single blocking even at the NFL level. With Iowa this season, he’s recorded 11.5 sacks, and a whopping 14 tackles for a loss. He’s forced 4 fumbles, accounted for a career-high 49tackles, 32 solo, and 17 assists.
He stands 6’6 and plays around 280-pounds – the ideal pass-rushing frame that can play with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up edge rusher. He can play in either a three or four-point stance and excel but doesn’t maintain the same power as Chase Young.
The difference between the two is Young’s ability to flat out bullrush along with scream off the end with speed and agility. Epenesa doesn’t have the pure strength of Young but should be able to improve that working out with fellow NFLers. Epenesa’s speed is a bit of a concern, but being the second-best edge rusher is a candidate to be selected by the Detroit Lions.