Every NFL team is striving to do what the Kansas City Chiefs just did, and that is ending the season by winning the Super Bowl. Speaking of the Super Bowl, this past one featured teams that were first and second in the league in sacks. Do you know what team tied for third in this department? If you guessed the Dallas Cowboys then you’d be correct.
This past season, the Cowboys featured four pass rushers with at least six sacks by seasons end. No surprise, but Micah Parsons was the leader in the clubhouse with 13.5 sacks in 2022. The player that came in second on the team in sacks with 8.5 was former fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Dorance Armstrong. With Armstrong entering the league as a fourth-rounder, this meant that the tools were there and that he just needed a little seasoning.
Prior to the 2022 NFL season, the team invested their second-round pick to address the edge rusher position by using the 56th overall selection on Sam Williams. Although Williams did not start a game for Dallas in his rookie campaign, he still finished the year with four sacks. Williams showed flashes of good play, and his production is expected to rise for the 2023 season.
While finishing tied for third in the entire NFL in team sacks last season is a very good development. Developing more players, and having more depth on the edge is paramount in sustaining successful seasons as each year passes. There are other needs that should be addressed in the draft prior to drafting another edge rusher, but adding another developmental prospect along the edge would be a good way to go prior to the conclusion of this year’s NFL Draft.
Here are three names to be on the look out for as we tick closer and closer to the 2023 NFL Draft:
Thomas Incoom, Central Michigan
Thomas Incoom was very much an under-the-radar player coming out of the state of Georgia. As a two-star prospect, Incoom’s options were limited which led him to join the Valdosta State Blazers of the Gulf South Conference which plays at the Division II level. As a freshman in 2017, he didn’t suit up for the Blazers as he redshirted. The following two seasons with Valdosta State, he would suit up in 25 games and started in 12 of them. By the time he was done at Valdosta State, Incoom would have 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Due to the 2020 Covid situation, Incoom would not play football but would then join the Central Michigan Chippewas for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. After those two seasons with the Chippewas, he would tally 15 sacks with 11.5 of those coming in his final season on campus which left him tied for third most in the nation.
Incoom is a very explosive player that also possesses a good feel for when the ball is being snapped. Although he is a very good pass rusher, he is even better against the run at this moment because of his lower pad level and heavy hands. His frame allows him to be deployed in various ways without him losing his effectiveness. Due to his good length and power, he can shed blocks fairly easily as he has plenty of slick moves in his arsenal.
Even with all the natural gifts the he has been afforded, he is still a fairly raw prospect due to the lack of technique in his game. Incoom also can be a little bit out of control which leads to over aggressiveness that will take him out of a play unnecessarily. Age could also pose as a concern because he is already 24 and will be closer to 25 when the NFL season begins.
Regardless of his age, finding naturally talented pass rushers like Incoom doesn’t come easy. He is a little bit of a project from a technical perspective and will need to be coached up. However, with a little patience, coaching, and an already established edge rushing group will help him learn the tools of the trade in hopes of becoming an elite edge rusher at the professional level.
Viliami Fehoko, San Jose State
As a member of the 2018 recruiting class, Viliami Fehoko wasn’t being heavily recruited by the big time programs in the college football landscape. Even though Fehoko was listed as a three-star prospect, he only received a hand full of scholarship offers which featured schools like Hawaii and Arizona. He would ultimately join the San Jose State Spartans ahead of the 2018 season. During his freshman season, he would appear in four conference games as a reserve lineman while still maintaining his redshirt status for the season. The next four years Fehoko would see plenty of game action for the Spartans as he would appear in 42 games and start in all but one. He would end up having 23 career sacks with nine of them occurring in his final season at San Jose State.
Productivity for Fehoko has been steadily increasing from year to year as noted by his final season in school where he would finish tied for 20th in the nation in sacks. He produces as much as he does from his great combination of size, strength, and versatility. It also doesn’t hurt to come from a family who’s ties lie in the NFL as his second cousin is former first-round pick Vita Vea. Bloodline aside, Fehoko has enough quickness and bend to sack the quarterback at a decent clip. He as an excellent feel for the game, and is a very savvy pass rusher that can attack the offensive line in a multitude of ways.
For as many natural gifts that he possesses, at times he has issues shedding blocks which means he is not fully utilizing his length and hands. His overall reliance on snap timing could limit his success in the league if he isn’t able to shed blocks at a higher clip. Setting the edge in the run game can also be a weakness at times, and he will need to be more consistent in that area.
There are plenty of things to like about Fehoko’s game, and much of his success comes down to finding the coach and system. If he can pair that up with an improvement in the technical side of his game, then he has a chance to do well and become a productive player.
Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern
Adetomiwa Adebawore was a three-star recruit and was ranked as the 75th best strong side defensive end in the nation, holding offers from the likes of Washington State and Tulane prior to committing to the Northwestern Wildcats. As a true freshman, he was able to get on the field in eight games where he recorded his first career sack against Indiana. In his second year on campus, Adebawore finished the season with six tackles for loss which was fifth on the team in 2020. Following up a solid sophomore season, his junior year would come and go with a team high 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also gained an honorable mention nod from the Big Ten conference as well. In his senior year, he would set career highs in sacks with five, nine tackles for loss, and 38 total tackles. By the time his days were done in Evanston, he tallied 97 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Each season that he played under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, he made an improvement in his game which is very important as he strives to become a professional football player.
Adebawore is a very explosive player with a wicked first step that makes his bull rush very effective. Even at his size, he is very much a natural athlete as he shows plenty of agility out on the edge while stopping the run. His foot speed and effort allow him to chase plays downfield. Not only can he bull rush well, but he is quick off the snap and gets around the edge in a hurry which translates well at the next level.
Even though he is a tremendous athlete, he has a unique frame that is considered to be a bit on the short side. In addition to being shorter than the average player for the position, he also lacks the ideal length as well. His heavy reliance on bull rushing could pose issues at the next level unless he gets coached up on having an array of pass rush moves.
As a bit of tweener, due primarily to his weight, he is an intriguing option as he can be deployed as a pass rusher on the outside as well as the inside. He is a very coachable player with a good work ethic and motor. Having a motor and being coachable will give him the best chance for success in the NFL.