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Projecting Where Calijah Kancey Will Land With Final 2023 NFL Mock Drafts



If there’s one thing we know for sure about Calijah Kancey’s NFL hopes right now, it’s that we have no idea where he’s going a little over 24 hours before the draft kicks off.

It appears that Kancey, one of the top-ranked defensive tackles and a first-round talent according to most Big Boards, will be a first-round selection.

There are still some prominent mock drafts that will be submitted Wednesday night or Thursday morning, just a few hours before the 2023 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m., but we are getting a look at where draftniks believe Kancey will land.

Mock drafts are a very, very imprecise science, of course, but in looking at a lot of mock drafts from a lot different sites, we can see where Kancey is being projected.

If the late whispers are to be believed, it appears the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints are teams to watch Thursday night.

ESPN’s NFL Nation: Round 1, Pick 18, Detroit Lions

Here’s another strong pick to upgrade the Lions’ defense. On paper, this isn’t a luxury pick like some of the other skilled prospects who were on the board during the first round, but the Lions would be building on a strong foundation of young guys to help improve the run defense, which allowed the most yards before contact per rush (3.4) of any team in the league. Kancey is explosive as a pass-rusher and disruptive against the run.

ESPN’s Matt Miller: Round 1, Pick 18, Detroit Lions

At 6-1 and 281 pounds, Kancey doesn’t have prototypical defensive tackle size, but his speed off the snap is rare. He posted a staggering 4.67-second run in the 40-yard dash with a 1.64-second split. “You’d worry more about his size if there weren’t guys like [Aaron] Donald and Grady Jarrett having success with a similar makeup,” said one NFC scout.

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer: Round 1, Pick 28, Cincinnati Bengals 

I’ve heard the Bengals are looking for more interior pass rushing, and the reality with this class is that once you get past Carter and Kancey, it’s slim pickings on true defensive tackles who can do it for you. So as much as I like the idea of Gibbs here, and as much as I think it’d be a consideration if he’s on the board, Kancey would be a sensible pick, if a small reach in the first round.

The Athletic Staff: Round 1, Pick 23, Minnesota Vikings

Kancey made the most sense here. He is undersized for a defensive tackle, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing only 281 pounds, but Brugler did not rank him as the 26th-best player in this class for no reason. Kancey is violent and explosive. Kancey uses his hands effectively and wreaked constant havoc on quarterbacks this past season. Comparisons to Aaron Donald have and will always be unfair, but they exist for a Pittsburgh product at his size. It would be a major swing, but the Vikings’ defense could make a leap under Brian Flores with a player capable of applying interior pressure.

PFF Staff: Round 1, Pick 22, Las Vegas Raiders 

The Raiders send Pick Nos. 38, 100 and 109 to the Ravens to move up to No. 22 and take Kancey. The Pittsburgh product gives Las Vegas a dynamic interior pass rusher who can lighten the load on Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.

PFF’s Cris Collinsworth: Round 1, Pick 18, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

His size is a little bit of a concern for me, but I’m in love with that first step. It makes him almost impossible to block, and he has a wide receiver-like release. I’m not sure if he can play in obvious run situations, but just get him in a position where he can stunt and move and he can make things happen.’s Daniel Jeremiah: Round 1, Pick 18, Detroit Lions 

Detroit doubles up on defense after taking a cornerback at No. 6. With Kancey added to the mix, the Lions will have one of the best young defensive lines in the NFL.’s Bucky Brooks: Round 1, Pick 29, New Orleans Saints

Putting an energetic defender beside Cam Jordan could help the Saints’ defense spark a playoff run in 2023. Kancey is a relentless pass rusher with the first-step quickness and burst to create problems on passing downs.

CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones: Round 1, Pick 29, New Orleans Saints 

The Saints pounce on a fantastic defensive tackle with short arms but loaded with everything else.

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: Round 1, Pick 26, Dallas Cowboys

He isn’t a big player inside, but he can rush the passer. If the Cowboys can get pass rush inside to go with their outside rushers, that unit will be that much better on third down. Kancey has an explosive first step.

CBS Sports’ Will Brinson: Round 1, Pick 29: New Orleans Saints 

The Saints pounce on a fantastic defensive tackle with short arms but loaded with everything else.

FantasyPros’ Andrew Freedman: Round 1, Pick 18, Detroit Lions

The Lions pass on DT Jalen Carter at No. 6 but still get a potential difference maker at the position. A physical marvel, Kancey might be Aaron Donald 2.0.

KOA’s Ben Allbright: Not in first round

NBC Sports’ Peter King: Not in first round

**this list will be updated as additional final mock drafts come in**

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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