Appalachian State EDGE Nick Hampton not only adds to the depth of the 2023 NFL Draft class, but can be one of the more dynamic playmakers off the line when it’s all said and done. Here’s a look at his scouting report for the 2023 cycle, and where he might go off the board.
Nick Hampton NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Edge Rusher
- School: Appalachian State
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’3″, 235 pounds
If production is a priority for you in your evaluations, then you’ll be a fan of Hampton. Not only has he been a team captain and a first-team All-Sun Belt talent over the past two seasons, but he has the raw numbers to back up his tape.
Across his four-year playing career at Appalachian State, Hampton amassed 175 total tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, four pass deflections, six forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
Hampton’s best year came in 2021 when he logged 68 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and two deflections. But he followed it up with another impressive campaign in 2022, adding seven sacks and 9.5 TFLs.
As his production indicates, Hampton was a constant menace behind the line in his time with the Mountaineers. That’s an impact he’ll look to carry over to the NFL level this coming fall.
Nick Hampton Scouting Report
- Brings elite explosiveness off the snap, and can overtake the apex in just a few strides.
- Has elite proportional length, which he can use in tandem with burst to generate power.
- Has surprising knock-back power with his hands, and can load and exert with voracity.
- Provides great overall bend capacity, accelerating through the apex with ankle flexion.
- Extremely twitchy rusher with searing lateral agility and awe-inspiring short-area energy.
- Can pressure blockers by manipulating angles and leveraging twitch into violent swims.
- Amped-up rusher with wicked fast hands and movement capacity on the attack.
- Has shown he can stack counters off speed-to-power and win around the apex with rips.
- High-motor rusher who brings constant urgency, and doesn’t let contact faze him.
- Athleticism, speed, motor, and length allow him to engulf runners in pursuit.
Areas for Improvement
- Has a very light frame, which correlates with below-average play strength.
- Struggles to deconstruct blocks and disengage more often than desired in run defense.
- Can’t consistently set the edge, and may have limited early-down utility in the NFL.
- Can’t always pry himself free after surpassing the apex and breaching the pocket.
- Doesn’t quite have elite bend capacity, as hips occasionally lock up at the apex.
- Plays a bit too tall at times and will bend at the waist, detracting from leverage.
- Upright alignment off the snap can minimize power loaded from lower body.
- At times, can be cleaner and more controlled with initial hand usage.
Appalachian State EDGE Nick Hampton Current Draft Projection
Hampton’s mold is a unique one at the EDGE position. Nevertheless, he grades out as a top 100 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. And when projected to the right scheme fit, he’s easily worth Day 2 value. A strong Senior Bowl showing could move him into the top 75.
At 6’3″, 235 pounds, with 34″ arms, Hampton has an elite combination of explosiveness, twitch, and proportional length, and he can leverage that burst and length into awesome power at the point of attack. His speed-to-power framework is exceptional, but he also has the twitch, active hands, hot motor, and violent energy to off-set tackles and enter pursuit.
Just as Hampton’s frame helps him, however, it also works against him at times. He’s listed at just 235 pounds and could be even lighter. His play strength is visibly lacking on tape, and it impacts his ability to hold ground against the run and splice through anchors in the passing game.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Beyond that, Hampton’s frame is also a bit high-cut, which can impact his ability to properly acquire leverage and load his base into power rushes. He’ll have to align his hips more consistently and get stronger in the NFL, or his margin for error will be smaller.
With his lighter frame, Hampton’s utility on early downs is unclear. However, it’s possible he could line up as an on-ball SAM with his athleticism and length before rotating to the edge on surefire passing downs. Hampton has some projected versatility with his physical profile, and he can be a dangerous pass-rushing threat right out of the gate.
Particularly as a stand-up OLB in 3-4 alignments, Hampton has the tools to become a solid starter, and, at the very least, he’ll be a valuable rotational piece. His mix of burst, twitch, length, power, and urgency can make him very difficult to keep at bay.
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