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    Gabe Jacas’ Draft Profile | Illinois, EDGE Scouting Report

    A high school state wrestling champion and Freshman All-American, where does Gabe Jacas rank in the 2025 NFL Draft with his scouting report?

    He was a true freshman All-American two seasons ago, but now, where does Illinois’ Gabe Jacas stack up in the 2025 NFL Draft with his scouting report? Can he keep the Fighting Illini’s representation strong in the early rounds next April?

    Gabe Jacas’ Draft Profile and Measurements

    • Height: 6’3″
    • Weight: 265 pounds
    • Position: Edge Rusher
    • School: Illinois
    • Current Year: Junior

    In the past three NFL Drafts, the Illinois Fighting Illini have had six defensive players drafted total, and five selected within the first three rounds.

    Three of those players — Devon Witherspoon, Nate Hobbs, and Kerby Joseph — have already become impact starters for their respective teams, and hopes are high for Johnny Newton as he joins the Washington Commanders.

    Illinois has quietly become a reliable producer of defensive talent, and there’s still more to come. Playing alongside Newton and 2024 NFL Draft UDFA Keith Randolph Jr. was Jacas — originally a three-star recruit out of Fort Pierce Central High School who chose Illinois after first committing to Tulane.

    Jacas was woefully under-recruited, but the Fighting Illini got the scoop on how good he could be. Not only was he an easily recognizable talent, but he also won the Florida state wrestling title two years in a row to close out his HS career.

    Jacas’ raw talent, work ethic, and natural feel for trench play earned him early playing time as a true freshman, and he thrived in his first taste of action. He logged 35 tackles, four sacks, and five tackles for loss in 2022, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in addition to his other accolades.

    In 2023, Jacas’ production stagnated, and he only matched his sack total from the previous year. But the flashes of high-level play remained. And now, with Newton and Randolph gone, he’ll be relied upon even more to be a transformative force for Bret Bielema’s defense.

    Jacas’ Scouting Report

    Strengths

    • Sports an extremely dense, compact, well-leveraged, and well-proportioned frame.
    • Has solid long-track explosive capacity off the snap and is a fleet-footed accelerator.
    • Has the lateral agility and explosiveness to be weaponized on stunts across gaps.
    • Despite non-elite length, has a stellar power profile with his compact frame and burst.
    • Very naturally leverages himself and acquires proper pad level, and can stack and shed.
    • Loads and exerts with efficiency on bull-rushes to maximize knock-back power in hands.
    • With energized athleticism, can plow into tackles and attack inside the torso with force.
    • Flashes elite ankle flexion and hip flexibility for his size when cornering the apex.
    • Has a good physical profile as a rusher and shows glimpses of superb sequencing work.
    • Showcases great depth discipline, angle IQ, and footwork efficiency as a stunt operator.
    • Flashes high-level pass-rush nuance, supplementing dip-and-rips with euro-steps.
    • Actively baits tackles into extending with feigned swipes, then attacks torso with power.
    • Relentless motor rusher with a fighter’s mentality, who seeks to wrench through contact.
    • Has the take-on strength to slab pulling blockers and occlude outside rushing lanes.
    • Shows glimpses of good pursuit speed in open field, and hustles on the chase.

    Weaknesses

    • Initial explosive capacity, while good, is not elite, as runways are often necessitated.
    • In spite of size, length is closer to average than elite, exposing him to longer tackles.
    • Middling length does put a slight cap on his maximum raw power capacity.
    • Sometimes loses his base load after initial contact, allowing blockers into his frame.
    • Doesn’t quite have the elite power profile to forklift up and sustain rushes long-term.
    • Can improve at identifying when power rushes are stalling, to adapt more swiftly.
    • On occasion, is a tick late to time the snap, causing slight delays on the attack.
    • Hand precision on initial moves can improve at times, to fully channel hand strength.
    • At times, succession from initial moves to pass-rush counters can be a bit quicker.
    • Is at times aimless with hands past initial power and can be prone to snatch-and-traps.
    • Doesn’t quite have elite torso flexibility, which can impact his ability to pry around blocks.
    • Despite flashes of bend, doesn’t dip into his finesse arsenal as often as desired.
    • Non-elite space athleticism shows up at times when asked to drop into coverage.

    Current Draft Projection and Summary

    Entering the 2025 NFL Draft cycle, Jacas grades out as a fringe top-100 and priority Day 3 prospect with the potential to rise into the top-100 range by next April. A strong EDGE class works against Jacas, but he has the well-rounded profile to potentially ascend.

    Playing alongside several draft-worthy talents on Illinois’ defensive line in 2022 and 2023, Jacas was at times overshadowed. But once you get your eyes on No. 17, it’s not hard to see the talent that’s there. At just 20 years old, he’s already the real deal.

    At 6’3″, 265 pounds, Jacas is at least “good” in just about every physical category — explosiveness, bend, power, strength, and agility. And he’s also impressively well-leveraged in all phases, as one would expect from a former Florida state wrestling champion.

    As a pass-rusher, Jacas’ terse knock-back power can be devastating for unsuspecting linemen, and he also has the burst and agility to be utilized on stunts as well as the ankle flexion to corner at tight angles while sealing the apex with rip moves. Meanwhile, in run defense, he’s a sturdy edge setter and pull patrolman with great energy in pursuit.

    For Jacas, the deflated grade comes from two areas: A non-elite physical profile, and an existing need for increased consistency as a pass-rusher. While Jacas’ physical foundation is universally good, he’s not elite in any one area, and this dilutes his ceiling. Aberrations with hand precision, counter work, and adaptability only make this more glaring.

    Having said all this, if Jacas can expand on the flashes of high-level pass-rushing nuance and solidify his counter plan on a consistent basis, he has enough physical talent to be an early-round pick. He has the versatility to play in odd, even, or hybrid-front schemes, and his red-hot motor will endear him to NFL teams.

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