Epenesa appears early on 2020 NFL mock drafts

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has some lofty expectations surrounding him entering the 2019 season.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa celebrates after making a play during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Wyoming in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

The 2019 NFL Draft just concluded (on April 27), but that didn’t stop some NFL Draft analysts from churning out their predictions for next year.

Despite being slightly fewer than 365 days away from the 2020 NFL Draft, it seems as if analysts think Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa will be ready to make an impact at the next level. A big one.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Epenesa going No. 3 overall to the Miami Dolphins, and CBS Sports put him at No. 4 to the Buffalo Bills. Sports Illustrated slated Epenesa to go No. 31 to the Los Angeles Rams, and Walter Football put him at No. 7 for the Baltimore Ravens.

“After adding quarterback Josh Rosen in a trade, the Miami Dolphins are free to fill other needs with the No. 3 overall pick. Getting a top-tier power pass-rusher on the edge for Brian Flores’ defense is a must,” Miller wrote about Epenesa on the Dolphins. “Epenesa is 6’6, 280 pounds and a dominant right-side defensive end for the Hawkeyes. He can play with the power Flores wants and is versatile enough to line up anywhere on the defensive line. Plug Epenesa in next to this year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, and this is a high-character, high-impact duo.”

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson thinks Epenesa could make a similar impact alongside the Bills’ line.

“The Bills had a great 2019 draft but didn’t take an edge rusher till Round 7,” he wrote. “Epenesa playing alongside Ed Oliver would make Sean McDermott very happy.”

Despite not being listed as a starter in 2018, Epenesa led the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally with 10.5 sacks. He also forced 4 fumbles.

Now entering the 2019 season as a starter, Epenesa will attempt to live up to the hype.

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