The tried and true belief in the NFL is the games are won and lost in the trenches. Finding quality players for your defensive line is a priority for every team, every year. The fastest way to the quarterback is a straight line, and teams who can generate consistent interior pressure fare quite well in the biggest moments.
YaYa Diaby is an NFL draft prospect from Louisville hoping some team feels he can be a piece that comes in and provides the ability to disrupt the opponents’ rhythm. If all goes well, the defensive lineman may hear his name called during the middle rounds of the NFL draft. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about Diaby in his scouting report.
YaYa Diaby NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Defensive End
- School: Louisville
- Year: Senior
Diaby is a 260+ pound defensive end who took the JUCO route to Louisville. He played for Bert Williams at Georgia Military College and was rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports. He also ranked as the fourth-best strongside defensive end in Georgia. He went on to be the 21st-highest-ranked JUCO player nationally.
At GMC, he recorded 77 tackles and seven sacks in two seasons. His defensive prowess allowed him to be credited with 20 tackles for loss. As a sophomore, he registered 58 tackles, following a freshman campaign where he recorded 19 tackles and a pair of sacks.
He was recruited heavily out of GMC. Diaby chose Louisville over Arizona, Florida State, Colorado, Kansas State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UCF, West Virginia, and Utah. There was no shortage of big-name programs looking to bring him in.
In his first year at Louisville, Diaby appeared in eight games, making seven starts. He ended the year with 18 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. In 2021, closed the regular season with 39 tackles and three TFLs. He also had 1.5 sacks and seven QB hurries.
Diaby saved his best for last at Louisville. Starting all 13 games at defensive end, his efforts earned third-team All-ACC honors. He finished with 37 total tackles and was second on the team in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (nine).
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for YaYa Diaby
Strengths: Undersized edge rusher coming off a terrific senior campaign. Gets leverage on opponents, plays with outstanding pad level, and uses his hands exceptionally well. Plays faster than his 40 time, shows speed pursuing plays from the back side, and gets a lot of momentum going up the field. Fluid if asked to twist or stunt and chases the action hard.
Weaknesses: Easily knocked from his angle of attack or out-positioned from plays. Has a thin build. More of a first-step lineman.
Overall: Diaby was a productive defender for Louisville the past two seasons and totaled 14 TFLs and nine sacks as a senior. He must add bulk to his frame and get stronger while keeping his athleticism, but Diaby possesses enough ability to be a late-round pick and a pass-rush specialist early in his NFL career.
YaYa Diaby Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 263 pounds
- Arm: 33 7/8″
- Hand: 10 3/8″
- Bench Press: N/A
- 40-Yard Dash: 44.51
YaYa Diaby Current Draft Projection
According to Tony Pauline’s big board, Diaby is projected to be a fifth-round pick. He received a 3.45 grade, putting him firmly in the fifth-round territory. He is rated as Pauline’s 14th-best available defensive end and 159th-rated overall prospect regardless of position.
Diaby’s Relative Athletic Score of 9.86 makes him one of the elite EDGEs athletically. He is the 24th-ranked defensive end out of 1600 measured since 1987. His size was rated as “okay.” His height is on the lower end for the position, and his weight is on the higher end. But make no mistake; he is a powerful defensive end. What really stands out is his speed and explosion at that weight.
Diaby ran a blazing 4.51 40-yard dash with an incredible 1.51 10-yard split. His 37″ vertical is also on the “elite” end of the spectrum. To be that big, fast, and explosive has to be enticing to many teams. One interesting comparison is Tyquan Lewis for the Colts. Lewis has carved out a solid career as a power end who can move and can play 5-tech and 6-tech. Diaby and Lewis are nearly identical in height and weight, but Diaby is faster and more explosive.
Former Colts and current Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is a big believer in the Tampa 2 and aims to limit the movement of the inline tight end into the seam. He likes defensive ends who can play 6-tech.
The 6-tech aligns head-up on the tight end, and no matter what, his physical cue is to get hands on the TE off the line while visually cueing in on the offensive tackle. If the tackle sets back off the line, he knows it’s pass and can pursue his pass rush. If the tackle comes forward, he knows it’s a run and can set the edge on the tight end. Diaby has the weight and power to play that game and the athleticism to still rush the passer.
I could see the Bears grabbing him with pick No. 133 at the end of Round 4 or at no. 136 at the top of Round 5. Depending on how the board falls at the EDGE position, there could be a run that moves him into Round 4, and I think Chicago is the perfect fit for his skill set. They have a massive hole at EDGE, and that was a position Eberflus failed to manage in Indianapolis. Diaby fits the type he looks for and has success with.
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