Will anyone challenge Alabama’s Will Anderson in the 2023 NFL Draft EDGE class? Right now, Anderson looks untouchable. But if any NFL draft scouting report is going to put pressure on the Crimson Tide star, it’ll be that of Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey.
Isaiah Foskey NFL draft profile
In a separate timeline, Foskey might have joined teammate Michael Mayer in the tight end room at Notre Dame. That was the other position that Foskey played as a two-way athlete in high school. And he found some success at De La Salle in Concord, California, catching 26 passes for 367 yards and six scores during his varsity career.
But college teams saw Foskey’s brightest future on the other side of the ball. He was a four-star recruit in the 2019 class and a top-250 recruit on ESPN’s board. He fielded offers from powerhouses like Alabama and Clemson, but the interest from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was equally alluring.
Foskey signed with Notre Dame. And after redshirting in 2019, he began to emerge as an ascending young talent. 2020 saw him put up 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in a rotational role.
In 2021, the Notre Dame EDGE took a massive step up, accruing 10 sacks and six forced fumbles in a campaign that earned him All-Independent and All-American recognition. Returning for his redshirt junior season, does Foskey have what it takes to go from All-American to All-Pro in the NFL?
- Position: EDGE
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’5″, 260 pounds
Isaiah Foskey scouting report
There are a number of edge rushers in the first-round discussion in the 2023 NFL Draft class. But as of now, the pecking order is still murky. Does Foskey have the tools to supersede most of his competition? Let’s discuss.
Foskey almost looks like he was built in a lab. He’s listed at 6’5″, 260 pounds, but he sports a lean, streamlined, and compact frame that carries his weight incredibly well. He also brings excellent length with that frame, which helps him in multiple phases.
At his size, Foskey also brings visibly elite explosive capacity. He’s an immediate accelerator off the snap who covers ground with awe-inspiring quickness out of his stance. His fast, long strides can be very hard to match. It also helps that Foskey reacts quickly to the snap. He gears up instantly and puts sudden pressure on blocking angles.
Foskey’s burst grants him great speed as a rusher as well. When blitzing from space, he can load up intense speed-to-power energy. And around the edge, he can also build up the necessary speed to surpass the apex and gain space inside from wide alignments. His ankle flexion only compounds his appeal in this regard.
Foskey can sustain curvilinear acceleration around the edge, as he has the necessary ankle flexion to dip and accelerate around the apex. His bend capacity most often shows up when he has a bit of space to work with, but he can also pinch the corner in congested situations. Additionally, with his ankle flexion, Foskey can loop around the formation as a stunting lineman.
Foskey’s package of high-end length and athleticism affords him excellent power capacity. The Notre Dame EDGE can blast blockers back on full extensions, and he can effectively drive power through blocks with acquired leverage and constant leg drive. With brutal long-arms and extensions, he can send linemen reeling off-balance, and he’s then able to capitalize. With his leg drive, Foskey can channel his base through power rushes. He can also generate hip torque by extending and rotating through power exertions.
Explosiveness is a primary trait for Foskey, as is his agility. He is an amped-up mover with visible twitch, allowing him to build momentum heading into contact. He’s a fleet-footed athlete whose fast foot movement can make him highly adaptable and unpredictable for blockers in short ranges.
Foskey has shown he can quickly plant and divert inside after scraping past the tackle at the apex. He can also throttle down after surpassing the apex to pinch the corner with more control. And with his lateral agility and twitch, he’s able to freely stunt across alignments and generate displacement quickly on reps.
Not only is Foskey powerful, but he’s also strong and fairly well-leveraged. He has the play strength to set the edge on running downs, fully extending and absorbing power with his base. He can use his hand strength to force himself free from anchors on the move, and he can forklift blockers and demolish running lanes.
In run defense, Foskey leverages himself very well. He can sink his pads and extend, then sidestep blocks and square up runners. But his leverage acquisition extends to other phases as well. As a pass rusher, he’s shown he can effectively lower his pads and load up power from his base. He can also dip underneath extensions and attack the torso while leaning to keep himself clean.
There are many impressive parts of Foskey’s game, but his hand usage might be chief among them. Foskey has a tremendous foundation as a hand fighter with his traits. He can effectively load up his hands to build potential energy and launch into contact on power rushes. But he’s also a very advanced rusher for his age, stacking violent swipes, extensions, and moving in rapid succession, effortlessly using his upper and lower body in sync.
Diving into the details, Foskey can bait linemen outside with initial rushing angles, then roll his hips and surge inside with a speed-to-bull move. He frequently multitasks around the edge, stacking quick extensions and hand moves while dipping his hips and breaching the apex. Foskey can long-arm with his inside hand to displace tackles, then club-rip quickly on the outside. He’s able to combine rip moves with bull-rushes and long-arms and time those moves effectively to win around the edge.
Additionally, Foskey’s upper-lower synergy makes him even more appealing as a rusher. The Notre Dame EDGE can use a quick euro-step cross-chop off the line. That euro-cross-chop helps him gain outside leverage, where he can then transition to a club-rip around the apex, using his ankle flexion to penetrate the pocket.
There are other impressive moves and counters visible on Foskey’s tape, including a long-arm, club-swim combination. The bottom line is this: Foskey consistently comes with a pass-rush plan and doesn’t delay in executing it. His hands are fast and constantly active. He’s never idle, quickly processes leverage, and stacks advanced counters, using every tool at his disposal.
Foskey is a budding technician, but his hot motor is a fusing agent, both during and after application of rushing moves. Foskey consistently closes rushes, actively extending his arms as he closes on the QB. He seeks to disrupt plays in any way possible and is a constant threat for deflections and strip-sacks with his exhaustive use of length. He’s ruthless in pursuit of the QB and closes with intense speed and voracity.
For his size, Foskey shows off above-average change-of-direction ability and impressive functional athleticism in space. This helps him a great deal as a pursuit defender. The Notre Dame EDGE also flashes the necessary patience to read options and delayed handoffs. And once he commits, he explodes toward the ball. He’s a strong tackler in pursuit, engulfing opponents with his length and athleticism, and he chases plays to the whistle.
Expanding on his pursuit, Foskey can quickly recognize screens and sell out to the sideline. Moreover, he has the long-strider speed and athleticism to drop out to the flats and seal off short passes. In pursuit on running downs, he can shed moving blocks and has the short-area athleticism to manage space on option plays. Moreover, he can stonewall pulling blockers, then shed and redirect his hips to match runners outside.
Foskey’s areas for improvement
Foskey is an extremely well-rounded prospect, but he isn’t perfect. Most notably, the Notre Dame EDGE doesn’t have elite bend. His hips have some flexibility but aren’t the most fluid. His midsection can get locked up at the apex at times, preventing him from dipping under and sustaining acceleration. He can’t always roll his hips through the apex and sometimes needs to decelerate and reset inside.
Moving onward, Foskey’s frame is a bit high-hipped, which sometimes forces him to gather himself before making tight direction changes. He doesn’t always show the torso flexibility to consistently capitalize on burst and squeeze through gaps when stunting inside. Furthermore, in space, he can be a bit stiff when changing directions with his tall frame. He has played off-ball before but should be primarily on-ball in the NFL.
Elsewhere, Foskey doesn’t have elite play strength. He can be worked off his spot in run defense and can’t always wrestle himself free from anchors when pressuring the apex. His leverage can also improve at times. His power rushes sometimes stall out when his pads drift too far up after contact. Once his pad level drifts too high, it can be difficult to recover. He also struggles to manage his pad level on approach at times.
Occasionally, Foskey extends past his base and lurches into contact, neutralizing his lower body and stalling his momentum. He can also lurch and lose his balance when his hands miss their mark. While Foskey is a formidable hand fighter, his hand strikes can be more precise, and his placement can be cleaner at times. The Notre Dame EDGE’s hands sometimes slip past their targets and fail to channel maximum force.
Finally, in pursuit, Foskey sometimes drifts backward when faced with misdirections and exposes himself to blockers moving upfield. He’ll also occasionally overpursue option plays and commit to the QB prematurely.
Current draft projection for Notre Dame EDGE Isaiah Foskey
Foskey is one of the names often referenced when describing a strong 2023 NFL Draft EDGE class. He needs even more respect than that, as he surpasses most of his counterparts on tape. Foskey is a worthy first-round edge rusher and arguably a blue-chip prospect. An early first-round draft slot is not out of the question, especially with his positional value.
While Foskey doesn’t quite take the EDGE1 mantle away from Alabama’s Anderson, he comes closer than any other prospect on the circuit. Foskey is actually larger than Anderson, has greater power capacity, and is just as explosive off the line. One could also argue that his hand arsenal is more refined. It’s a small group at the top, and Foskey is perhaps the most legitimate challenger for Anderson’s crown.
Foskey will need to minimize the drift of his pad level after contact and keep honing his precision as a rusher. Additionally, he doesn’t have elite flexibility in his hips, which slightly dilutes his ceiling. All told, however, these are fairly minor flaws in what is an incredibly complete and all-encompassing EDGE profile.
Foskey has everything you need — size, length, explosiveness, power strength, active hands, bend, and a red-hot motor. It’s a profile destined for disruption. Another year should only steepen his ascent. The Notre Dame EDGE is a potential top-five prospect in waiting.