5. A.J. Epenesa EDGE Iowa
Off the bat, one of the most impressive things you’ll see when watching A.J. Epenesa is that he’s a massive human being. Listed at 6’6” and 280 pounds, there are few players with his size that are capable of playing on the edge like him. Going into the season, Epenesa was my EDGE1 and although he’s now down to EDGE2, that’s more of a product of how Chase Young exploded onto the scene and less about Epenesa dropping.
While he doesn’t offer as much pass-rushing upside as Young, Epenesa has showcased his ability to blow up the line of scrimmage against both the run and pass. His versatility along the defensive line is intriguing, as I’d say he’s capable of playing defensive end in both a 3-4 and 4-3, while also being able to play a few snaps as a 3-technique in a 4-3. An unrelenting motor is never a bad thing to have on the defensive line, especially from such a talented player.
Missing out on Chase Young is tough, but landing A.J. Epensa would be a solid consolation prize for Big Blue.