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2023 Cowboys scouting report: San Jose State EDGE Viliami Fehoko

You can never have enough pass rushers in the NFL.

Mountain West Football Championship - Boise State v San Jose State Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.

Name: Viliami Fehoko
Position: EDGE
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 276 pounds

Viliami Fehoko Career Stats, courtesy of Sports Reference

Combine Results: 24 bench press reps

Viliami Fehoko is the best kept secret of this draft. He had a downright dominant 2022 campaign, leading all EDGE players in this class in pressures and tallying just two less sacks than Will Anderson, arguably the best player in this draft. But when you play at a program like San Jose State - which has just one double-digit win season since the late 80’s - it’s easy to get overlooked.

Fehoko is the real deal, though. He’s got NFL bloodlines, although he’s not related to Cowboys receiver Simi Fehoko. Instead, he’s the second cousin of Buccaneers nose tackle Vita Vea. That didn’t help him land big offers coming out of high school, as Fehoko was lost in the sea of talent that is California high school football.

Fehoko had offers from a few Pac 12 schools, but ultimately chose to stay close to home and play for the Spartans. He saw limited action in his first two years before blossoming into a key piece of a San Jose State defense that was quietly really good over the last three years. Fehoko will have his doubters due to the quality of competition he faced, but the tape shows a fierce talent that could become one of the biggest steals of this draft as a likely mid round draft pick.

Burst: Let’s start with the negatives for Fehoko, which is his below average burst. He doesn’t have exceptional first step explosiveness, and seemed to rely on timing the snap a lot. That said, his high football IQ and refinement in other areas helped Fehoko compensate for his lack of burst in a big way.

Footwork: Footwork is not a strength for Fehoko, but it’s not necessarily a weakness either. He’s fluid enough in his movement patterns for it to not hold him back, but he does have some apparent issues when trying to bend the corner. He’s proficient enough with his hands to compensate, but it does limit his ceiling.

Hand Technique: He is a technician with his hands, incredibly refined in his techniques as both a pass rusher and run stopper. He packs a whole lot of punch and does a great job landing his strikes. Fehoko is very, very active with his hands and knows exactly how to thwart any lineman he goes up against. He’s beaten guys that are better than him overall just because of his expert hand usage.

Pass Rush Moves: Name the move and he’s got it. Fehoko has the deep bag of pass rush moves you’d like to see from someone with as much experience as he has. He has busted out nearly every pass rush move in the book by now, and does a great job of layering his counters to beat linemen even if he can’t win on the first try. There are very few defensive linemen in this draft as refined in this area as Fehoko.

Lateral Agility: Similar to his footwork, he could stand to be better when moving laterally. There are times when he can get washed out of the play while moving side to side, though Fehoko generally does a good job of hustling to get back in it. It’s not something that makes him a liability by any means, but it once again limits his ceiling.

Athleticism: Fehoko doesn’t have “jump out the gym” athleticism but he possesses really good functional athleticism. His heady style of play also helps compensate against more athletic players, evening the playing field for Fehoko.

Run Defense: He was an elite run defender at San Jose State. He’s a beast at the point of attack, which enabled him to set the edge with consistency against the run. Fehoko is great at shedding blocks to pursue the ball-carrier. Of all the EDGEs in this draft, nobody posted a higher run stop rate than Fehoko. As dominant as he was in the pass rush game, he was equally effective in run defense, making him a prospect capable of playing on any down.

Processing: Fehoko is a very smart player, and that’s evident in watching him play. In run defense, he demonstrates a thorough understanding of run blocking schemes and does a great job of reading his keys and diagnosing the play from there. As a pass rusher, Fehoko has well thought out rush plans that are tailored to the assignment he’s going up against.

Intangibles: He plays with a nasty demeanor. He was a rugby star back in high school, and that’s reflected in just how physical he is. Fehoko won’t be the most athletic player at the next level, but his combination of smarts and sheer tenacity will make up for it. He may never reach the level of being a star pass rusher, but Fehoko belongs in the NFL and will find a productive role with a team.

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