High School and College Career
Calijah Kancey from Northwestern High School was rated as a 3-star recruit prior to joining Pittsburgh.
Kancey had to redshirt the 2019 season, but he made up for it in 2020 when he saw action in 11 games and played a total of 398 snaps for the Panthers. During this time, Kancey proved himself to be a valuable asset for the team, recording 22 tackles, 4 assists, and 18 stops. As a pass rusher, he added 26 total pressures, which included 15 QB hurries, 9 QB hits, and 2 sacks over the season.
In his sophomore year, Kancey played in 14 games and took part in 577 snaps for the Panthers. He continued to impress with his skills, recording 22 tackles, 5 assists, and 26 stops. As a pass rusher, he chalked up 38 total pressures, including 19 QB hurries, 10 QB hits, and a notable 9 sacks throughout the year.
As a junior in 2022, he played in 11 games and contributed on 454 snaps, keeping up the momentum. He recorded 19 tackles, 4 assists, and made 21 stops. As a pass rusher, he produced an astounding 47 total pressures. Kancey’s efforts included a colossal 30 QB hurries, 9 QB hits, and an impressive 8 sacks over the year.
Calijah Kancey Scouting Report Introduction
Calijah Kancey is a talented defensive lineman who hails from Miami, Florida, but made his name playing for Pittsburgh University in college football. Kancey has developed a reputation as one of the most dynamic players at his position, having earned numerous accolades and awards for his performances on the field. In 2021, Kancey was a first-team All-ACC selection, followed by consensus All-American honors in 2022, and being named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Kancey’s effectiveness on the field can be attributed to his unique playing style, which is characterized by his speed, agility, and intensity. Playing primarily in the interior of the defensive line, he moves quickly and decisively to penetrate gaps and disrupt opposing offenses. He is a physical and imposing presence, willing to engage in direct contact with larger blockers and compete for every inch of the field.
Despite his relatively small stature, Kancey makes up for his lack of size with his quickness and leverage. He is able to use his compact, powerful frame to outmaneuver larger opponents and gain the upper hand in contact situations. He is also deceptively flexible and agile, allowing him to evade blockers and make plays in the backfield.
Kancey’s abilities make him a valuable asset in gap penetration situations, where he is able to use his quickness to create opportunities for tackles for loss or sacks. He has a relentless motor and is always looking to make an impact, using his hands effectively and stringing together moves to beat blockers and get to the ball carrier.
However, despite his many strengths, Kancey’s small size and lack of length do pose some concerns about his ability to succeed at the next level. He must constantly work to maintain good pad level and avoid technical lapses, especially against larger and more physically imposing players. Additionally, his size and build may limit his potential effectiveness in certain situations.
Overall, projecting Kancey’s future potential is a challenging task. While he undoubtedly possesses some unique skills and abilities that make him an exciting prospect, his limitations may temper expectations somewhat. At the very least, he should offer teams an injection of penetration skills on defense, but how he will fare in the NFL remains to be seen.
Calijah Kancey is a highly productive and experienced defensive tackle who has played both the nose tackle and defensive tackle positions. Over the past three years, he has tallied an impressive 19 sacks from the inside of the defense. Kancey’s lower body strength allows him to hold his ground at the point of attack, and his grappling skills are exceptional, as he is able to consistently off-balance blockers and send them to the ground.
Kancey’s superior body control and limited physical stature allow him to maintain a low pad level and optimal leverage, creating an impressive defensive profile.
Kancey’s ability to hold up against the run as a defender speaks to his remarkable instinctiveness. He launches off the line with a quick first step, aided by agile feet to navigate the interior and closing burst to finish plays. Despite largely playing inside at the college level, Kancey demonstrates significant strength in holding his own when facing interior double teams. His lateral movement skills are exemplary, allowing him to slip blocks and cover a significant amount of ground in pursuit.
As a high-effort pass rusher, Kancey exhibits good initial quickness and has the ability to move quickly to the inside to take on blockers. Despite his experience as an interior defensive lineman, he possesses the speed and skill to potentially transition to being an outside rusher at the NFL level.
Standing at just 6-0 and weighing 280 lbs, Kancey is considered too small for the position. The experts are worried he could be pushed around by bigger offensive linemen, which could make him a liability in the running game. The pushback to this would be taking a look at Aaron Donald (also from Pitt).
Despite his lack of size, Kancey has elite upper-body strength. However, this will not be enough to overcome his overall size limitations. As a result, he could be viewed as a pass-rush specialist only, limited to playing on the inside.
His size limits him to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 and excludes him from playing on the inside as a part of a 3-4 scheme.
Overall, Kancey’s lack of size is the experts’ biggest concern. While he has strengths, such as elite upper body strength and the ability to stand up well against the run, his size will always limit him. Experts predict that he could be a liability in the running game and will likely be viewed as a pass-rush specialist, which could impact his opportunities in the pros.
Calijah Kancey is our 79th prospect on our draft big board.