2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: San Jose State EDGE Viliami Fehoko

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, I will be profiling the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.

#42 Viliami Fehoko, EDGE, San Jose State (rJR) — 6035, 267 lbs.

Shrine Bowl/Combine/Pro Day


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Viliami Fehoko 6035/267 8 7/8 33 78 3/8
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press

The Good

— Experience in 2- and 3-point stances
— Showed success as a pass rusher with multiple moves
— Solid up burst and good pad level
— Good punch and placement on power rushes
— Can slip through gaps and swim over blockers with quickness
— Strength to set the edge
— Good tackle power
— Good speed in chase mode
— Potentially scheme versatile

The Bad

— Pass rush plan still a work in progress
— Countering when first move is unsuccessful
— Hand placement of swipes and chops
— Consistency setting the edge
— Staying square; gets turned away from the ball
— Disengaging from blocks
— Energy/effort; wanted to see more


— 2022 – 69 tackles, 41 solo, 19 TFL, 9 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF
— Career – 191 tackles, 103 solo, 47 TFL, 23 sacks, 12 PBU, 2 FR, 5 FF
— 48 games, 43 starts
— 2022 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year
— Second Team All-American (Sporting News, PFF)
— First Team All-Mountain West (2020, 2021, 2022)
— East West Shrine Bowl Invitee
— Speaks Tongan and can communicate effectively in sign language
— Second cousin of Vita Vea of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— Birthday 12/16/99 (age 23)

Tape Breakdown

Viliami Fohoko comes with a lot of experience and is a well-decorated player from the Mountain West. He played primarily as the left defensive end in college but also kicked inside to line up as an undersized 3 technique. Experience playing on his feet and with his hand in the dirt can make him an option for odd or even fronts.

Against the pass, he was not always allowed to just let it rip. He lined up over the tight end often and once he determined pass versus run he then got after the quarterback. When he was able to fully pass rush, he showed good snap quickness and solid upfield burst. His hand placement on power rushes is good with heavy hands and has plenty of play strength to push the pocket with bull or stab rushes. He has displayed a variety of moves with success including a spin, dip, and rip, push/pull and club/swim. Shooting gaps and getting skinny began to work its way into his game more successfully as well.

At USC, Fehoko (42) on the left end with use a club/swim to win against the right tackle and get the sack.

At Western Michigan, he will hesitate and use a club/rip bouncing off the chip of the running back to make the sack and cause the fumble.

Vs Fresno State, he’ll blow through the blocks, cause the fumble, recover the fumble, and show off his running agility.

Vs Eastern Michigan, they let him rush and get after the QB more and he won in several ways. Play one, he wins on a spin against the right guard. Play two, he uses a push/pull to discard the right tackle. Then on the third play he comes with power and puts the tackle on his back.

Against the run, on the front side of the play, he has the play strength to set the edge and keep his outside arm free. He can also stack and shed by yanking the blocker out of his way. From the backside, he is solid sliding inside to guard against the cutback. Shooting a gap has shown successful to penetrate and disrupt by turning his body and/or swimming the blocker. He has solid footspeed and when he squares up a tackle it is jolting to the ball carrier. Against double-team blocks, he showed solid play strength to hold his ground.

Here he shows his pop when making a tackle. If he gets someone lined up, they are going to feel it.

In 2022, he was better as far as setting the edge and playing from the backside. Here are a few plays showing his work on the edge. He will shed the TE, crash the edge, string out the play on the left edge, and shedding the right tackle to make the stop.

Overall, his pass-rush plan is a bit jumbled. He will lead with his shoulder and will look like he is unsure what type of rush he wants to execute. Improving how he counters with his hands and his placement on speed rushes will go a long way. He should work on the flow from his first move to his second when the first is unsuccessful. Disengaging from blocks unsuccessfully is something that shows up against the run and pass. His bend around the edge is adequate. Not a lot of experience in coverage but I did see him pick up a running back out of the backfield.

At Utah State, on this play, it seems like he is reading run. He then jumps at the line of scrimmage before going after the quarterback. He looks a little tight-hipped and shows no change of direction on this play.

Consistency when setting the edge is adequate and improving. He will give up the edge by going inside. He will take his eyes off the ball while engaged in a block. Inexplicably, he will try to spin out of block and either take himself out of position or end up with his back to the blocker. He must stay square against blocks. There were times in games when I wanted to see more effort and energy from him.

Vs USC in 2021, here are a couple of examples of what not to do on the edge. On both plays, he is the left defensive end and on both plays, he ends up with his back to the ball.

At Western Michigan, here he is again as the LDE and he gets turned around with his back to the ball.


Overall, Fehoko is an Edge player with good play strength, solid quickness, and a lot of experience. He can play on his feet or with his hand in the dirt. While getting after the quarterback, he has displayed the ability to have success with different moves. He is a solid run defender when keeping to the script.

Consistency in all aspects of his game needs to improve. His use of hands and counters along with a better pass-rush plan will aid him at the next level. Quickening the ability to shed blockers, keeping his eyes up and staying square against blocks will help him in the run game.

Fehoko was an interesting player to evaluate because how he was used in college may not be how he was used in the NFL. In fact, teams could see him in several roles. When he was allowed to get after the quarterback, he showed some promise. He has the skills to play the run, but he is inconsistent.

Option one for teams is to keep him at his size and make him a strong side defensive end in a 4-3. The second option would have him add weight and become a rotational 3 technique in a 4-3. I think that is unlikely. Option three would be to probably ask him to drop 10-15 lbs. and use him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

I think he can play on the Edge in either defensive alignment but option three would fit the Steelers. I think he could keep his strength and gain a little quickness to play on the edge playing closer to 255 lbs. He would be a developmental linebacker to back up the starters and play on special teams. He has the tools to play it is all about the consistency to play his role and not go off script. For a comp, I decided to go with D.J. Wonnum of the Vikings. Coming out he wasn’t polished but was slippery as a pass rusher with some inconsistencies in his run defense.

Projection: Mid-Day Three

Depot Draft Grade:  6.8 Backup/Special Teamer (5th Round)

Games Watched: 2021 – At USC, At Western Michigan; 2022 – At Fresno State, At Utah State, Vs Eastern Michigan

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