Calijah Kancey' NFL Combine instantly compares to Rams Aaron Donald
Oh how we love to 'anoint' NFL rookies as the next best thing. But in the case of Pittsburgh defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, a rookie prospect in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, the comparisons to NFL All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald will be tough to avoid. It starts with the fact that both hail from the same alma mater, but the comparisons go much deeper than that.
To read Calijah Kancey's early NFL Draft Profile, you have to do a double-take to ensure that you are not reading Aaron Donald's NFL Draft Profile from nine years earlier. There are far too many similarities between the two to ignore, and for the LA Rams, who clearly need to address their interior defensive linemen needs in the 2023 NFL Draft, the chance to 'hit' on a defensive lineman who has similar traits to Aaron Donald is just too tempting to blow off.
Both players stand 6-foot-1, and both weigh over 280+ pounds. Both hail from the University of Pittsburgh, and both have eye-popping speed for an interior defensive lineman. Both are touted for their pass rushing ability, and both have been called out for being undersized and an expressed concern that they cannot stop the run in the NFL.
The LA Rams would be ideal for Calijah Kancey's NFL career
Still, seeing Calijah Kancey run his 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, a .01 second faster than Aaron Donald, and you can see why he is getting plenty of buzz right now.
Is it warranted? Who is to say? We know that the LA Rams have got to take a chance on replicating, if not duplicating, the level of production that this team enjoys from Aaron Donald. And those chances will not be obvious, as they will simply attract the attention of other NFL teams who will almost certainly be choosing before the LA Rams in the NFL Draft.
Which is why Calijah Kancey is so very intriguing. Why? Let's discuss the possibilities:
The LA Rams roster needs to address its depth this offseason, and the defensive line is projected to be particularly hard hit in free agency. The Rams are projected to lose four key contributing defensive linemen this off-season. Even if the Rams re-sign both Michael Hoecht and Marquise Copeland to team-friendly contracts, the group will need reinforcements. And that means that the LA Rams could be open to signing another athletic freak to their defensive front
Who better to entrust your NFL career to the best defensive line coach in the NFL, Eric Henderson?
The LA Rams need to emphasize the pass rush. Right now, the overwhelming consensus for Calijah Kancey's numerous draft profiles agrees that is an area that he will bring to the NFL. Will that be enough to attract interest from the LA Rams? We shall see.
Where will DL Calijah Kancey be drafted?
My concern is that he will attract too much interest. After all, the Rams have only two Day 2 picks, and their second round pick will like be used to bolster their offensive line or their secondary. That leaves the first opportunity to select Kancey by the Rams is in Round 3. Will he still be on the board?
Well, the NFL Draft profiles for Calijah Kancey are all over the place. He could be selected as early as Day 1, or as late as the middle of Day 3. With the performance from his 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, his draft stock is likely to climb rapidly. Will the LA Rams rank him higher as his test scores continue to resemble those of Aaron Donald?
Perhaps. My thoughts are that the LA Rams have already ranged him, and his performance is more likely to make me aware of his potential on the Rams roster than to suddenly give a revelation to a scouting department that has tracked him for months. Today, he is the talk of the NFL. But by the end of the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, he will merely be one of 50-80 prospects whose stock is rising. How far will it rise?
Nobody knows at this point. But the LA Rams have enjoyed tremendous success with powerful, swift, undersized defensive linemen. Keep Calijah Kancey on your radar.