The Louisville defense will be heavily represented in the 2023 NFL Draft, but does EDGE Yasir Abdullah have a chance to be the first Cardinal off the board with his scouting report? He’s been the defense’s central playmaker for years on end, but sustaining that production in the NFL is a bigger ask.
Yasir Abdullah NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Edge Rusher
- School: Louisville
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 242 pounds
Abdullah came to Louisville as a three-star linebacker recruit under 200 pounds. He left as one of the team’s most prolific career producers behind the line of scrimmage and a first-team All-ACC LB selection in 2022.
Louisville has had its ups and downs as a program over recent years, but Abdullah has been a steady constant on defense. Often, production can be a secondary indicator for success at the NFL level. And if that’s the case with Abdullah, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Some players wait their entire careers before earning starting opportunities, but it’d be quicker to list the years in which Abdullah didn’t start. He was primarily a special teamer as a true freshman in 2018. But from that point onward, Abdullah earned a role as a starting outside linebacker, and he didn’t disappoint.
Across four seasons as a starter, Abdullah logged 201 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 23.5 sacks, three interceptions, seven pass deflections, and eight forced fumbles. But his production truly took off through 2021 and 2022. Across that span, Abdullah was an absolute menace in the backfield, with 31 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks.
You simply can’t argue with the statistical résumé that Abdullah has compiled. However, his size makes his NFL projection a bit more complicated. Here’s how he stacks up as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.
Yasir Abdullah Scouting Report
- Fairly explosive athlete with great build-up speed and closing burst in pursuit.
- Has a strong combination of natural leverage and proportional length.
- Can use his burst, natural leverage, and length to generate surprising power.
- Has power-rip combos, as well as a dip-and-rip around the edge.
- High-motor defender whose sheer urgency makes him a constant threat.
- Can reduce his surface area and pry around the apex with high-level bend.
- Has the constant leg churn to drive power and corner tight angles.
- Can drop back and play in space if needed.
Areas for Improvement
- Severely undersized rushing the edge, with a lighter base than preferred.
- Lacks quantifiably elite burst and long-track speed around the edge.
- Lacks elite hand strength against larger tackles and can struggle to deconstruct.
- With lighter base, leg drive can be stalled more easily by larger blockers.
- Sometimes displays slight hip stiffness at the apex and when attempting to shed.
- Not an overly natural coverage defender and will grab to compensate for technique.
- Can be more consistent stacking counters on top of power rushes.
Louisville EDGE Yasir Abdullah Current Draft Projection
At 6’1″, 242 pounds, Abdullah’s size is a notable outlier on the edge, even with his proportional length. But in spite of his size, Abdullah grades out as a quality early-to-mid Day 3 selection. In that range, he could go on to become a steal for teams that present the right scheme fit.
With his size, Abdullah naturally doesn’t provide the desired play strength as a run defender head-up against tackles. His lighter base can make him easier to displace for blockers, and it also limits the maximum amount of drive he can channel through reps.
Having said all this, Abdullah does fit a growing niche in the modern NFL — the niche of the situational pass rusher. Undersized on-ball defenders like Josh Uche and Lions rookie James Houston thrived as situational pass-rushing threats in 2022, and Abdullah could flourish in a similar role.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Abdullah has great burst and bend, and couples that ability with a surprisingly strong power element. He generates quick momentum with his burst, and his hands have visible knock-back power at the point of attack.
Abdullah’s combination of leverage and proportional length helps to counteract his smaller frame, and once he gets inside tackles, he can finish reps with his flexibility, explosive leg churn, and relentless motor.
Even with his experience, Abdullah could still seek greater consistency with his hands, and he doesn’t offer overwhelming utility stunting inside. But as a designated stand-up pass rusher who’ll be tasked with winning 1-on-1 matchups in crucial situations, Abdullah’s toolbox of burst, bend, and power could be invaluable.
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