The Green Bay Packers needed depth at edge rusher heading into 2022 NFL Draft, and while they didn’t find any help until the fifth round, the player that they did bring in will be an excellent fit in the defense.
South Carolina outside linebacker Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare was selected with the 179th overall pick in this year’s draft. He finished his college career with 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles over his last two college seasons, earning a first-team All-SEC selection in 2020.
At 6’4” and 258 pounds with nearly 35-inch arms, Enagbare has solid size and length at the position. He’s not an elite athlete, however, posting a Relative Athletic Score of 6.26 according to Kent Lee Platte.
Enagbare more realistically projects to be a similar edge rusher to Preston Smith rather than a super athlete like Rashan Gary who can just dominate when rushing the passer. When turning on the film, there’s some pass-rushing potential and solid help in run support, but also questions about his burst and ability to bend the edge.
The trait that stands out more than anything when Enagbare is rushing the passer is his relentless motor. The South Carolina prospect didn’t give up on plays if initially stopped and would find a way to work a move and get to the quarterback if the QB held onto the ball too long.
Great job getting disengaged from the tackle by getting his arms extended then working a move.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
Good motor to fight through a second block and get to the QB. pic.twitter.com/JgmYp3gs3Z
Enagbare's motor as a pass rusher is one of my favorite traits of his.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
Just relentless trying to get to the QB. pic.twitter.com/zNezhoN4v8
A lot of the reps on which Enagbare wins as a pass rusher come when he cuts inside. The Packers rookie has good lateral agility to burst off of the line of scrimmage before quickly crossing an offensive tackle’s face to find a clear path toward the quarterback.
Cutting inside is where Enagbare most frequently won his pass rush reps that I watched on film.
Those inside pass-rush moves from Enagbare are nice when he catches a tackle flat footed. pic.twitter.com/LNxDc1lUgh— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
That doesn’t mean that Enagbare can only win inside, however. Because he likes to cross the face of offensive linemen on his rush, he has enough football intelligence to set up the outside move as well, and can get blockers to whiff when his footwork is clean.
Enagbare will cut inside on a lot of his pass rushes, but that also lets him set up moves to the outside with good quickness for a thicker EDGE. pic.twitter.com/s998UZsDgN— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
Like we discussed before, Enagbare isn’t going to win as a speed rusher. He lacks the explosiveness and bend to turn the corner, as his 4.87 40-yard dash and 1.67 10-yard split would indicate. Going against more athletic offensive tackles in the NFL will make things even harder for Enagbare to win with speed.
Don't think Enagbare will win as a speed rusher at the next level.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
Just doesn't have the bend and explosiveness to get around the corner. pic.twitter.com/rtYfkZbtIS
Where Enagbare could find himself seeing significant playing time is against the run to keep Gary fresh for passing downs. He’s somewhat of a project in that regard, but his size and instincts should make him a more than capable edge setter.
Enagbare’s intelligence and awareness on the field allow him to recognize pulling blockers coming towards him, and “wrong arming” the pullers to get inside and fill the rushing lane.
Good work here getting inside both pulling blockers to fill the intended rushing lane. pic.twitter.com/OcXOwEQwqg— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
One of the most important roles of any outside linebacker is how they handle their responsibilities when they aren’t blocked. If a team is calling a zone run and an outside backer crashes downfield when unblocked, it leaves a huge hole open for a rushing lane. In a gap scheme, it allows pulling blockers to not worry about you and block other defenders at the second level to potentially open up the way for an explosive play.
Enagbare does a great job of staying square and shuffling down the line of scrimmage when unblocked. Preston Smith and defensive coordinator Joe Barry will need to help Enagbare get better at engaging with blockers.
Nice job staying square and not gaining depth when shuffling down LOS unblocked.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) June 21, 2022
Would like to see him take on the pulling guard with a little more aggressiveness. pic.twitter.com/4oJnr2Yl5T
Fifth-round picks are never guaranteed anything in the NFL, but with the lack of depth that the Packers have on the edge, Enagbare could play a big role in Green Bay’s defense as a rookie.