From now until the 2022 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, I’ll be profiling an edge rusher that has saw his draft stock skyrocket over the last few months following a strong 2021 season along with a steeler week at the Senior Bowl and impressive Combine performance.
#34 Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (R-Sr.) – 6036, 261 lbs.
Senior Bowl/Combine Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Boye Mafe||6036/261||9 7/8”||32 5/8”||80 3/4”|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Possesses the length and frame you look for in an edge rusher
— Twitched up, explosive athlete that displays the conversion of speed to power on his bull rush
— Has a good get off and can play in a two-point stance or with his hand on the dirt
— Does a good job jamming the TE at the LOS and squaring up blocks on the edge
— Will close down space on the LOS with his shoulders square to the backfield
— Builds momentum as a pass rusher as he closes in on the QB
— Has flashed the ability to win with leverage on the long arm/stab as a power rusher
— Does a good job utilizing the two-hand swipe/chop move to get blockers hands down off his frame
— Has enough flexibility and bend to get around the corner into the lap of the passer
— Lateral movement skills as sound on his jab steps to set up offensive tackles
— Can stack and shed blocks as a run defender to make plays
— Strong tackler that will finish his target into the ground with authority
— Still learning the technical side of things and developing his football instincts, suggesting he has more room to grow at the next level
— Play comes in flashes, but lacks overall consistency
— Can get too far up field at times as he tries to win with speed around the corner
— Will get in his own way on occasion as a pass rusher instead of taking the most direct angle to the football
— Can be slow to rip off blocks and disengage, causing him to get neutralized for the rep
— Needs to be more cognizant with his hand usage to prevent blockers from getting on his pads
— Can do a better job fighting pressure as a run defender to keep outside contain responsibilities
— Comes off as more disruptive than productive as a pass rusher, getting a lot of pressures, but leaves plenty of sacks on the table
— Redshirt Senior prospect from Golden Valley, MN
— His older brother, Dami, played football for Minnesota State-Mankato
— His mother, Bola, passed away from pancreatic cancer on Mother’s Day 2018
— Scout and 247Sports gave him three stars as a recruit while he received All-State Second Team Defense honors as a senior in high school
— Also lettered in track and field as a high school athlete
— Redshirted his first year on campus in 2017
— Played in ten games as a redshirt freshman where he totaled 12 tackles (seven solo), 0.5 TFL, and 0.5 sacks along with a PBU
— Played in all 13 games as a sophomore in 2019 and notched 14 total stops (eight solo), 3.5 TFLs, and three sacks
— Played in all six games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and recorded 27 tackles (18 solo), 5.5 TFLs, and 4.5 sacks along with two forced fumbles and two PBUs
— Started nine of 13 games as a senior where he recorded 34 total stops (26 solo), ten TFLs, seven sacks, and a forced fumble
— Announced on Dec. 27, 2021, that he was forgoing his remaining eligibility after the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft
— All-Big Ten Second Team (2021), Academic All-Big Ten (2021, 2020), All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2020)
— Senior Bowl National Player of the Game, elected a team captain at Minnesota
—Business and Marketing Education Major
Boye Mafe paid his dues as a lightly recruited prospect that committed to the in-state Golden Gophers and had to redshirt before being able to see action at the college level. However, the uber-athletic 6’3 6/8, 261lb edge defender showed improvement every season, culminating in a second team All-Big Ten nod this past season and capitalized on a dominant week at the Senior Bowl and stellar Combine performance to vault his name into Day One consideration. When you watch Mafe, you see a big, fast, and explosive athlete that can wreak havoc off the edge.
When you watch Mafe’s tape, you see a guy that wins with a variety of pass rush moves. He has a strong chop move when coming off the edge to knock down tackles’ hands like we see on this rep against the Cornhuskers, putting pressure on the QB to throw the football early.
Mafe also likes to utilize the two-hand swipe move to knock down blockers’ hands to clear a way to the QB. Here in the same game, we watch Mafe line up as a 3-technique between the LG and LT and crash outside on the twist with the outside linebacker, swiping the LT’s arms down and rips through as he turns the corner and puts the heat on #2 Adrian Martinez as he releases the football.
Whether it be due to circumstance for occasional false steps, Mafe tends to be more disruptive than productive at this point of his development as a pass rusher. He did record a career-high seven sacks in 2021, but he had the chance at plenty more opportunities, but just couldn’t get home. That could be taken as a negative, as he should look to finish more plays. However, it could also be seen as a positive as he is still impacting the play and with further technical development and situational awareness, he should be able to turn more of those hurries and pressures into sacks.
During the Senior Bowl, Mafe dominated the competition during practices all week long, coming hard off the edge with speed and power. His hand usage and speed around the corner made it difficult for blockers to keep the pocket clean, leading Mafe to be one of the key standouts on the week which included a two-sack performance during the exhibition game that earned him National Player of the Game accolades.
Mafe plays with heavy hands and has impressive strength and power in his game. Thus, he can send blockers backward if he lands his strike. In the case of this play, we see Mafe’s strength and hand usage on display as he stabs the LT’s chest and then yanks him forward as he swims through, tossing him to the turf as he buries the QB into the ground for the sack.
His well-built frame and play strength allow him to play with good leverage as a run defender and take on blocks at the LOS, being in position to work off the block and make plays in the backfield like we see on this rep against Nebraska as he goes through the TE to get in on the tackle.
When playing the run, Mafe does a great job closing down space on the edge and will keep his shoulders square to the LOS, ready to trigger downhill and go. Here is a perfect example of both as he gets right on the outside hip of the LT and then sees Martinez take off to the left, showing quick burst forward as he commits to pursuit of Martinez who he brings down in the backfield for a loss of yardage.
It may not always be conventional with Mafe, but he showcases the effort paired with the athletic traits to pursue the football and make the play. Check out this rep against West Virginia where he engages the LT on the snap but gets caught too far inside as the running back attempts to get the corner. Mafe manages to spin out of the block and takes off to the sideline to cut off the back and take him down for a modest gain.
Not only is Mafe a capable run defender and a skilled pass rusher, but he also has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He can complete zone drops to the flats, but he also has run with backs and tight ends up the seam or along the sideline like we see on this rep against Ohio State.
The big knock on Mafe as mentioned earlier is that he is still developing as a football player to match his immense physical gifts as an athlete. He often will take false steps and get himself out of position, as well as can be a tad slow to shed blocks against the run. Here against the Buckeyes, we watch Mafe shoot too far to the side, allowing the tackle to take him up field and away from the play as Mafe fails to get off the block and the runner goes through his gap for a five-yard gain.
Overall, Boye Mafe is an intriguing player that has flashes that pop on tape, but his inconsistencies in stringing together a full game in terms of execution can be frustrating. He possesses all the physical tools you look for in an edge rusher as well as the mindset and work ethic you want to bet on. Still, he is a fifth-year senior and just had his best season to-date, leaving some meat on the bone when it comes to production. Ultimately, teams must decide whether to grade the flashes and what Mafe can be with improved technique or see him as a splash player that can have hot and cold streaks as a pass rusher.
When watching Mafe, my mind immediately went to another redshirt senior edge rusher from the Big Ten: former Michigan Wolverine Kwity Paye. Paye too showcased impressive athleticism at the position that is almost identical to Mafe (4.52 40, 35.5’ vert, 9’10” broad) on a similar well-built, stocky frame. Both defenders played inside and outside on the defensive front and had impressive flashes as pass rushers yet struggled to provide consistent production at the college level. The Indianapolis Colts opted to bet on the flashes and athleticism and select Paye #21 overall last season, and Mafe has an argument to be a similar, if not better overall prospect being a tad longer and showcasing more pass rush moves coming out of Minnesota.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a meeting with Mafe at the NFL Combine, suggesting that there is interest, albeit could be just due diligence if Mafe is indeed selected on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, Pittsburgh could use another pass rusher to compliment T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and if Mafe were to somehow fall to #52, the value combined with the upside as a pass rusher could be too good to pass up.
Projection: Mid-Day One to Early Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 8.7 – Year One Quality Stater (1st Round)
Games Watched: vs Ohio State (2021), vs Nebraska (2021), vs West Virginia (2021), Senior Bowl (2021)