From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will 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 Pittsburgh EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado.
#87 Habakkuk Baldonado (Senior) — 6042, 251 Lbs.
2023 East-West Shrine Bowl participant
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Habakkuk Baldonado||6042, 251||10 1/2″||33″||79 3/8″|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
-Impressive frame overall; well-built with good length, thick lower half
-Knows how to utilize strength and length as run defender and as a pass rusher
-Powerful player at point of attack to stack and shed
-Athletic player overall with good get-off to threaten edge
-Sound pass rush arsenal with heavy heads at the top of rush to win
-Heavy hitter who strikes and drives through opponent
-Tough, tone-setting defender who plays with a clear edge
-Injury history –he missed most of 2020 season and parts of 2022 — will raise concerns
-Production dropped off dramatically in senior season
-Testing numbers don’t show up on tape; labors to change directions at times
-Gets by on effort more than on technique at this point in his career
-Awareness regarding traps/cuts in run game needs work; can be too aggressive and take himself out of plays
-Very limited experience standing up as a pass rusher and dropping into coverage
-Played in 41 career games at Pittsburgh, starting 23 games for the Panthers
-Finished career with 100 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss, 15.0 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes defensed; blocked a punt in 2022
-Named second-team All-ACC in 2021 after leading Panthers in sacks with 9.0
-Born and raised in Rome, Italy
-Moved from wide receiver to defensive end when he was 16 years old in Rome; later moved to Clearwater, Fla. where he was a member of the Clearwater Academy International
-Fluent in English, Italian and Spanish
-Former 3-star recruit who originally committed to Coastal Carolina
-Later chose Pittsburgh over Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Syracuse and UCF
One of the more interesting players in the 2023 NFL Draft is Pittsburgh EDGE Habakkuk Baldonado, not only for his projection to the next level as a true ‘tweener between a potential defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3, but for his story as well.
Born and raised in Rome, Italy, Baldonado was turned onto football in his teenage years, eventually playing football in Italy before catching the eyes of high schools in the United States. As a 16-year-old, Baldonado came to America and played high school football in Florida. He garnered Power 5 attention, eventually landing at Pitt, where he put together a monster junior season in 2021 to put himself on the NFL’s radar.
At 6042, 251 pounds, Baldonado has a great build for an edge, whether that’s the standup variety in an odd front, or hand in the dirt in an even front. He has an advanced pass rush arsenal as well and really knows how to use his hands at the top of his rushes to knock blockers’ hands away and win.
With his length and power, Baldonado can really stun blockers and win reps.
Great job of threatening the arc here and then gaining control against the North Carolina offensive tackle in 2021, hitting him with a long arm inside and countering inside with the swim to sack quarterback Sam Howell. You can see the power and overall torque he’s able to generate through his inside hip to throw the tackle to the side.
Attempting to block Baldonado with a tight end, either in the run game or in pass protection, is a terrible idea.
His length gives him the advantage right away. He has heavy hands to latch on and shed quickly, much like he does here against Miami (FL) in 2021, turning the corner for the big sack deep.
Baldonado has long strides too, which allows him to chew up ground to get to the quarterback.
Look at the power he displays here against the tight end in the run game against West Virginia this past season.
That poor tight end had no shot. Great power to get his hands into the blocker’s chest and then you can see the force he generates to shed the tight end and keep the play to a short gain.
I do like his get-off when he truly pins his ears back and gets after it.
Look at the burst out of his stance against Western Michigan in 2021, knifing home for the TFL to set the tone for the Panthers.
His stride is impressive: long, powerful and really helps him gain ground and close quickly, and he’s very strong at the point of contact. He’ll rarely miss tackles.
While he does need to work on his awareness as a run defender when it comes to traps, cuts and other run-game schemes used on defensive front players, Baldonado showed the ability to really lock out and spill runs, much like he does here against Virginia Tech.
Great job of gaining initial control against the offensive tackle with powerful hands inside. He’s able to lock out and keep his eyes in the backfield to find the football. He disengages at the right time and makes the tackle for loss with some help.
Pitt rarely asked Baldonado to stand up as a pass rusher. He did show the ability to do so on the biggest stage for the Panthers in the ACC title game against Wake Forest in 2021.
As an inside blitzer, look at him dominate the right guard with his speed and quick hands to swim and turn the corner. That’s the type of play that has me believing he can transition to outside linebacker in an odd front over time. The athleticism is there, the pass rush arsenal is there, and the want-to is without a doubt there.
Baldonado is flying under the radar entering the NFL draft in large part due to the injuries last season that slowed him down and hindered his production. Based on his 2021 tape and production, there’s a high-upside defender in there with great athleticism, an advanced pass rush arsenal for a player so new to the game, and a guy who has a serious edge and serves as a tone-setter for his teammates.
He’ll obviously have to clear some of the medical concerns and figure out where he fits best at the next level, but there’s a rotational defensive end/outside linebacker in there who will also be a special teams force with his motor and overall commitment to the game.
Projection: Late Day 3 (6th Round)
Depot Draft Grade: 6.8 Rotational Player
Games Watched: Western Michigan (2021), Virginia Tech (2021), Miami (FL) (2021), North Carolina (2021), Wake Forest (2021), West Virginia (2022)