NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Buffalo EDGE Malcolm Koonce

From now until the 2021 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Malcolm Koonce/EDGE Buffalo – 6’2/2 249

The Good

– Good frame and plus length, little bit on the lean side
– Above average athlete, quick first step
– Best trait is bend, great hip/ankle flexibility, able to flatten and turn the corner with ease
– Plus hand use, able to chop hands down and turn the corner, shows effective, go-to pass rush
– Uses length well in run game, holds point of attack when he plays with proper leverage and pad level
– Didn’t drop into coverage a lot but fluid with loose hips moving backward, looked natural in zone coverage
– Able to disengage and slip blocks in run game
– Good hit power and finish, impactful tackler
– Experience playing left and right side, spent lots of time playing on his feet

The Bad

– Needs to get stronger overall
– Will get washed in the run game when he plays too high
– Power/bull rushes aren’t much of a threat, NFL tackles will sit on speed
– Should develop more inside counters, flashes inside spin but needs to add another move to toolbelt to make speed rush more effective
– Didn’t see to have a lot of experience dropping into coverage, even less in man coverage
– Only moderate production despite lower level of competition
– Played just one career game against Power 5 school


– Two-year starter for Buffalo
– Career: 109 tackles (22.5 TFL) 17 sacks, 4 FFs
– 2020: 30 tackles (6.5 TFL) 5 sacks
– Named MVP of Bahamas Bowl in 2019 against Charlotte
– Two-star recruit out of HS, Buffalo was only offer
– Played rugby and football growing up

Tape Breakdown

In a sub-par pass rush class, a talented EDGE rusher like Malcolm Koonce should be getting talked about more. The numbers might not show it, and that is one concern, but he’s an athletic edge rusher with some of the best bend and flexibility in this class.

That’s the #1 reason why you’re drafting him. For Koonce’s ability to bend and flatten at the top of of rush. Even when tackles sit on speed, he’s still able to win and make his way to the QB when most pass rushers would be sealed upfield. He combines that with good hand use, a go-to chop to knock the tackles hands down as he’s bending. Couple of examples.


I wish Koonce would’ve worked out at his Pro Day but he didn’t due to a foot injury. His three-cone time would’ve been great, I bet.

Koonce also shows the ability to finish. He’s a good athlete who runs hard to the ball and packs a punch on contact. In the 2019 bowl game against Charlotte, for which Koonce was named MVP (playing against Alex Highsmith), Koonce had this big hit and forced fumble at the end of the half.


Overall, he shows good hand use in the pass and run game. The biggest problem with him is play strength. He has long arms and he can hold up against the run but he needs to win with leverage. He won’t get by on pure strength. Great compare/contrast of it. In this clip, he’s the lower man and he holds the point of attack. In the second, he doesn’t have leverage and he gets washed.

Here’s the good.


Compared with the bad.


And if you notice, these plays occurred back-to-back. So a really strong contrast.

I want him to be able to threaten with bull rush. His speed/dip & rip is potent but it’ll be even better if he can also threaten tackles with speed or a better inside move/counter. The concern is he might be a little maxed out at 6’2, 250. Hopefully he can add more muscle in an NFL weight room. An article I read about him admitted he didn’t have a good understanding of weight room training until he got to college.

The other concern is just general middling production. 17 career sacks, only more than five in a season (though he had five in six games last season). But generally you want a MAC guy to have some overwhelming numbers to feel confident about the jump in competition.

Koonce is an interesting “toolsy” guy with upside if he gets stronger and a little more refined. But the bend alone is worth taking a long look at and a worthy Day Three flier. On the high end, he could be the next Bruce Irvin. But that’s a lofty goal. More realistically, I see some Eli Harold in his game. But there’s always the chance he flames out the way former Steelers’ draft pick Chris Carter did years ago.

Projection: Early Day Three

Games Watched: at Ohio (2018), at Kent State (2019), at Bowling Green, vs Ball State

Previous 2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles
OC Drake Jackson OC Landon Dickerson TE Pat Freiermuth RB Javonte Williams
CB Patrick Surtain II OG Deonte Brown TE Kylen Granson TE Brevin Jordan
OL Trey Smith OT Adrian Ealy CB Jaycee Horn CB Kary Vincent Jr.
RB Elijah Mitchell OT Alex Leatherwood TE Hunter Long RB Najee Harris
CB Tyson Campbell LB Zaven Collins DB Greg Newsome TE Tony Poljan
DL Christian Barmore RB Kenneth Gainwell OT Rashawn Slater WR Kadarius Toney
RB Michael Carter EDGE Joe Tryon CB Thomas Graham Jr. WR Amari Rodgers
RB Demetric Felton C Creed Humphrey C Trey Hill LB Jabril Cox
CB Asante Samuel Jr. S Joshuah Bledsoe OT Samuel Cosmi S Trevon Moehrig
RB Chuba Hubbard S James Wiggins LB Garret Wallow RB Kylin Hill
WR Dazz Newsome RB Khalil Herbert CB Shaun Wade WR Tylan Wallace
RB Rhamondre Stevenson CB Camryn Bynum WR Amon-Ra St. Brown WR Shi Smith
OT Liam Eichenberg EDGE Patrick Jones DT Alim McNeill OT Christian Darrisaw
QB Kyle Trask RB Jermar Jefferson QB Trey Lance OT Jaylen Mayfield
OT Teven Jenkins TE Kenny Yeboah LB Chazz Surratt CB Tre Brown
QB Kellen Mond LB Nick Bolton OL Brady Christensen DL Dayvion Nixon
CB Elijah Molden QB Mac Jones EDGE Rashad Weaver LB Cameron McGrone
RB Trey Sermon LB Pete Werner LB Tony Fields TE Luke Farrell
RB Jaret Patterson LB Dylan Moses TE Kyle Pitts LB Jamin Davis
TE Tommy Tremble QB Jamie Newman TE Shaun Beyer EDGE Azeez Ojulari
QB KJ Costello CB Caleb Farley DB Richie Grant OT Tommy Doyle
OG Jackson Carman WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette LB Baron Browning WR Terrace Marshall
LB/S JaCoby Stevens OC Josh Myers S Hamsah Nasirildeen OT Dillon Radunz
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah WR Anthony Schwartz S Talanoa Hufanga WR Sage Surratt
WR Dyami Brown WR Elijah Moore OT Jaylon Moore WR Seth Williams
NT Forrest Merrill WR Cornell Powell WR Rondale Moore EDGE Jaelan Phillips
S Divine Deablo WR Rashod Bateman EDGE Elerson Smith C Jimmy Morrissey
RB Larry Rountree C/G Quinn Meinerz CB Benjamin St-Juste OT Spencer Brown
EDGE Daelin Hayes WR Tamorrion Terry DL Marvin Wilson OT Walker Little
CB Aaron Robinson WR D’Wayne Eskridge EDGE Joseph Ossai EDGE Quincy Roche
OT Alijah Vera-Tucker WR Tutu Atwell TE Pro Wells RB Pooka Williams
EDGE William Bradley-King S Ar’Darius Washington EDGE Joshua Kaindoh WR Jonathan Adams
DB Trill Williams QB Davis Mills EDGE Greg Rousseau  WR Cade Johnson
ILB K.J. Britt OG Aaron Banks DL Jay Tufele OG Wyatt Davis
CB Kelvin Joseph S Paris Ford DL Milton Williams OT James Hudson
DL Tommy Togiai EDGE Ronnie Perkins TE Tre McKitty EDGE Victor Dimukeje
CB Robert Rochell OT Stone Forsythe EDGE Janarius Robinson DL Tyler Shelvin
CB Rodarius Williams WR Jaelon Darden WR Nico Collins DL Levi Onwuzurike
EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. TE Quintin Morris LB Monty Rice LB Derrick Barnes
EDGE Raymond Johnson III CB Ifeatu Melifonwu OL Kendrick Green OT D’Ante Smith
WR Jalen Camp RB Javian Hawkins DL Jaylen Twyman TE Matt Bushman
OL David Moore WR Josh Imatorbhebe EDGE Hamilcar Rashed Jr. DB Bryce Thompson
CB Ambry Thomas EDGE Jonathon Cooper WR Marquez Stevenson LB Micah Parsons
EDGE Patrick Johnson S Damar Hamlin DL Osa Odighizuwa TE John Bates
WR Simi Fehoko


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