From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, we’ll be profiling LSU EDGE Ali Gaye.
#11 ALI GAYE/EDGE LSU – 6055, 263 POUNDS
Senior Bowl participant
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Ali Gaye||6055 / 263||9 3/8||33 5/8||81 1/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Good overall body type, with an athletic and lengthy frame
— Good explosion out of his stance, lined up a lot in 3 and 4 point stances but also some snaps standing up out on the edge
— Good play strength to hold his ground against tackles and set the edge
— Solid athlete with good foot speed and good closing speed in space
— Solid tackler, swipes at the ball
— Solid pass rush when aligned wide trying to get around the edge, can threaten with speed to power and bull rush
— Solid use of hands to avoid the tackle’s first punch, batting away or catching punches
— Very good motor, high effort player who will swarm to the ball even when he is very far away from the play
— Gets his hands up into passing lanes, batted down a handful of passes in 2022
— Flashes pass rush moves like the push/pull and inside spin move that make you think he could develop a functional repertoire of moves
— Adequate play strength, stops his legs while he reads the backfield which limits his functional strength
— Marginal mental processing, hesitates after engaging with blocks
— Gets stuck on blocks in part due to the mental processing issues, but also due to a lack of developed counter moves, ends up blocking himself as a result
— Marginal change of direction and lateral movement
— Stiff hips and change of direction issues lead to marginal coverage abilities, though his straight line speed helps him catch up
— Adequate bend at the top of the arc, plays with higher pad level than he should
— Doesn’t use his hands well independently of each other, a lot of two hand strikes which gets him stuck on blocks
— From The Gambia, played at Edmonds-Woodway HS in Lynnwood, WA
— 24 year old redshirt senior prospect, will be 25 in November
— Initially committed to University of Washington, but didn’t end up getting admitted for academic reasons
— Started his college career at Arizona Western Community College before their team disbanded and he transferred to Garden City Community College in Kansas
— Transferred to LSU, receiving multiple other offers, ended up getting three years of eligibility due to covid
— Lost most of his 2021 season to injury, had to have season ending surgery on an unspecified upper body injury
— Team captain in 2022
— Played in 27 games, starting 26
— Registered 87 tackles, 18 TFLs, 7 sacks, 3 FF in his LSU career
— Second Team All-SEC
— Graduated with a degree in communications
As his bio indicates, nothing was ever given to Gaye, having to grind his way up the ranks of college football to get himself in the position he is in now, with a chance to be drafted. His play seems to draw from that mentality with high effort even when he is far away from the play. He has relentless pursuit to the football which may not always pay off play-to-play, but eventually these can result in a meaningful impact to the game. In the first part of the clip, he runs thirty plus yards with no real chance of making the play. You can also see his straight line speed when he gets up into gear. In the second clip, he lunges to try and bat the pass down, before getting up off the ground and sprinting towards the ball. Again, with no real chance to make the play, but the type of effort that eventually pays off.
Here you can see his high motor paying off in a more tangible way, tracking plays down from behind to ultimately make the tackle. On the last clip, he also punches out the ball which showed up throughout his tape. He doesn’t give up on plays even when he stumbles or has to fight through multiple blockers.
When everything goes right for Gaye, his run defense can look pretty good. He is explosive out of his stance and has good enough foot speed to challenge the average tackle. He has good length to land that long arm punch and keep his eyes in the backfield to shed and make the tackle. He also has a solid anchor and doesn’t get blown back often when he stays square.
It doesn’t always go well for him, as he struggles to get off blocks, and has a tendency to run past the play when trying to cut through zone blocking. In the first clip, he is one-on-one in open space against Hendon Hooker who easily cuts back inside for an additional 8 yards. He got caught with his hips fully flipped running east-west giving Hooker a couple different options. To Gaye’s credit, he does get his body back around enough to prevent an even larger gain as he gets just enough to cause a stumble. In the next part of the clip, he does a nice job beating the reach block, but gets his hips flipped perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and he overruns the play.
This goes along with the competitive toughness and hustle play theme from earlier, but if all else fails, Gaye will get his hands up in the passing lane to try and effect throws. He batted down several passes in college. In this clip, you can see him use his speed to cross the tackle’s face before getting his hands up to bat down the pass. In the second part of the clip, he couldn’t bat down the pass, but still limited the throwing angles available resulting in an incomplete pass.
Gaye is currently pretty raw with his pass rush plan, not having a lot of great counters when his first move fails though he has shown flashes with a spin move, push/pull, and inside swim. He achieved varied levels of success with these moves, but they are at least something to build off for a guy with a pro-caliber athletic frame.
Gaye is a football player with a great story of perseverance and overcoming adversity. Some of that mentality shows in his play, having a high motor always playing hard to the whistle. That competitive toughness paired with his raw traits, overall size, length, and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect. The only issue is, he is already 24 years old and will be 25 before his rookie season is complete. If this is a multi-year project of a player, can you afford a slower progression when age is already an issue?
When he is able to put all of the ingredients together it looks pretty good, but there always seems to be one part of the equation missing. There are technique flaws that pop up, and then mental processing issues, and his change of direction issues will be difficult to overcome at the next level. My pro comparison for him is Taco Charlton.
The Steelers have a need at the EDGE position to provide a solid third option behind Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt, but I am not sure that Gaye is capable of playing that much in an NFL setting just yet. He is coming off a Senior Bowl game in which he landed a high quality sack and his athleticism on tape indicates he could run well at the combine. On the other hand, a 24 year old prospect who projects to need a year or two to develop could hurt his draft value and scare some teams off.
Projection: Early-to-Mid Day 3
Depot Draft Grade: 7.1 – Raw Traits/Upside Prospect (4th Round)
Games Watched: vs Tennessee (2022), at Florida (2022), vs Ole Miss (2022), at UCLA (2021)