Level up | Isaiah Foskey

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There were 12 edge defensemen taken in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. Isaiah Foskey might have made 13, but he decided to return to Notre Dame for one more season.

If the goal is to be a first-round pick, then this was the right move in my opinion. While I’m sure NFL scouts love his measurements and sack production, he’s still not as polished of a pass thrower as the other top prospects who were selected in the first 32 picks.

This is the scary part. He finished with 11 sacks last season, the most for the Irish since Stephon Tuitt in 2012, and still has plenty of room to improve. I went back and looked at every bag he had in 2021 and his phenomenal physical talent surged. You can check out my thread with snippets of each bag on my Twitter feed, but I’ve included a few specific examples here.

He won by converting speed into power with a scramble against Toledo.

He won with a great first step and speed around the corner against Purdue, Cincinnati, North Carolina and Oklahoma State.

He showcased the use of a long arm tactic against USC.

No sack was more impressive than when he showed he could run the hoop during a stunt, then when he initially missed, ended the game because of his engine against Virginia Tech.

The best way to know that what Foskey did was not a fluke at all was that the majority of his sacks came from his one-on-one victory. Some guys put numbers in because the game is made by someone else and they’re there to clean it up. Foskey created most of the bags himself, which says a lot about his talent.

It will likely be harder for him to do that much in 2022, though. It has a lot to do with the extra attention that will come its way. Much like the Virginia game last year, he can expect plenty of double teams and protections to stop him. That means his teammates need to take advantage of their matchups, like Rylie Mills did against Virginia, and also that Al Golden will have to move him around more to create favorable matchups and make it harder to overtake him.

It could be anything from overloading his side with rushers to possibly putting him one-on-one against a back or a tight end (he only had one sack like that in 21) or more what we saw with this bag from Virginia Tech. He was lined up in a two-point stance in a three-technique lineup (outside of the guard’s shadow) and he did a few reps dashing from that spot in one-shot running drills. against one this spring. We may see more of him rushing there this fall than we did last season.

While he’s going to have fewer one-on-ones this year, the best way to maintain that same level of sack production and increase his pressing percentage is to add more to his pass rush repertoire. He can win with speed around the edge, but must develop an extra initial move or two to win consistently with as well as counter-moves from that.

Some tackles can be over-set to try and manage his speed and if he can add some form of inside counter-movement to combat that, it will make him a nightmare to block for anyone.

That wasn’t the reason he was returning to Notre Dame, but Foskey will have the opportunity to break Justin Tuck’s career sack record if he puts in another double-digit effort this fall. If he’s an even better version of the player we saw last year, then we should expect him to accomplish that.

Men’s Black ND Slides

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