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Dallas Cowboys Draft 2023: DT Calijah Kancey scouting report

Scouting report series on this year’s draft prospects with player projections and comparisons. This review is of Pittsburgh Panthers Calijah Kancey.

Rhode Island v Pittsburgh Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

We continue with our 2023 NFL Draft draft prospect review of players that could interest the Dallas Cowboys. Today we look at a defensive tackle Calijah Kancey from the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Previous prospect reviews:

DT Bryan Bresee
CB Kelee Ringo
LB Andre Carter II
CB Joey Porter Jr
WR Jalin Hyatt
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
RB Bijan Robinson
C John Michael Schmitz
RB Devon Achane
CB Devon Witherspoon
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
TE Darnell Washington

Calijah Kancey was rated a 3-star high school recruit by 247 Sports. He received 19 offers but ultimately chose to join the Pittsburgh Panthers.

In 2019 Kancey spent the entire season as a redshirt.

In 2020 Kancey finally got to the field in Week 2. He played 398 snaps on defense for Pittsburgh, mostly as an inside defensive lineman. He made 27 tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and managed to swat the ball twice for two pass break-ups. Adding to his tally he also managed to create 26 pressures with one and a half sacks.

As a redshirt sophomore in 2021 Kancey got more playing time. He played 492 snaps on both defense and special teams. He was improved as a defender getting 33 tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss, 23 defensive stops and caused a forced fumble. He also got 30 pressures and eight sacks.

In Kancey’s junior season in 2022 he played on 454 defensive snaps for Pittsburgh. He once again looked stronger as an interior defender and recorded 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 21 defensive stops. He also recorded 47 pressures which ranked 6th most in the FBS among defensive tackles, and he also produced seven and a half sacks. Against Virginia in Week 11 Kancey had his best game with 11 pressures, four defensive stops and three sacks.

Calijah Kancey
Pittsburgh Panthers
3-star high school recruit
Height- 6’1”
Weight- 281
Hands- 9 1/8
Arm Length- 30 5/8

NFL Combine:

10-Yard Time- 1.64s
40-Yard Time- 4.67s


2022 All-American
2022 ACC Defensive Player of the Year
2022 First Team All-ACC

2021 First team All-ACC


Overall- 86.1/100
Tackling- 68/100
Run Stopping- 85/100
Pass Rush- 91/100
Speed- 90/100
Strength- 84/100
Acceleration- 82/100
Agility- 81/100


  • A highly athletic defensive tackle that moves with amazing speed and strength. With his size, speed and burst he almost looks like fellow Pittsburgh defender Aaron Donald.
  • He doesn’t allow his stature to dictate the tempo.
  • Plays the A and B gap in both run and pass plays with great efficiency.
  • Strong and solid hands with incredible grip strength.
  • Always wins as the lowest man. Helps him to consistently get leverage.
  • Shows good strength to anchor in the middle as a one-technique defender on run plays.
  • Has good nuisance and understanding to stack rush moves. Has a full toolbox of pass rush techniques.
  • Incredible snap anticipation and burst off the line. Quick feet help him to make tight angles off the snap.
  • His body control looks fantastic for the position helping him be even more agile to miss blocks or get to a hole quickly.
  • Solid motor from start to finish.
  • Good speed to chase down the ball carrier from behind.
  • Was effective on special teams.


  • He played primarily as a nose tackle at Pittsburgh but may be seen more as a defensive end or three-tech in the NFL.
  • Size is the biggest concern. His weight will be the biggest struggle and this will see him getting bullied by bigger bodied NFL offensive linemen.
  • Will be viewed more as designated pass rusher limiting his versatility.
  • Can take exaggerated angles to win on run plays.
  • His frame is maxed out.
  • Lacks length with short arms.
  • Everything he does is based on speed and technique, if he fails on either he has no backup plan.


Calijah Kancey is an athletic demon as an interior defensive lineman. Most see him similarly as Aaron Donald and not just because of playing for the same team. He’s fast, quick and produces the same way and rate as Donald did. But at the same time he’s also as small and underweight as Donald was (let’s not forget that players like Donald are unicorns that play at his size). His size along with his traits and how that translates to the NFL are extremely difficult to predict and due to that the question becomes how consistent he can be as a defensive tackle. He needs a defined role and plan in his first season in the NFL for which ever team plans to draft. This will help him to hopefully develop into something more and for this reason it makes him an extremely enticing prospect.

Early second round value.

(All scout consensus ranking: 24th)

A faster, quicker and smaller Maliek Collins

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