Calijah Kancey is drafted 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2023 NFL draft and here is our grade.
Expert NFL draft scout Emory Hunt coined the phrase, “Size is not a skill; you cannot hit what you cannot catch.” That phrase is appropriate for Pittsburgh Panther defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.
First, Pitt is outstanding at developing defensive linemen. Calijah Kancey will be no different at the next level. There have been several undersized defensive linemen who had great careers in the NFL.
Hall of Famer John Randle was undersized during his career with the Vikings. Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney was the catalyst to their Super Bowl run in 2006. Most notably, fellow Pitt alum Aaron Donald is among the best defensive linemen in NFL history. Not saying that Kancey is going to be that great, but size will not define his career.
Calijah Kancey is an ornery, explosive one-gap defensive tackle. The shortest route to the quarterback is the three-technique tackle, and Kancey can get to the quarterback. He has ultra-violent hands and one of the best first steps off the snap in this draft. Will he get pushed around at times? Yes, that is likely. However, he can drop weight and cause stalemates on the inside.
He does an excellent job recognizing when they want to double him with a center and moves opposite where the double team is coming. He’ll play opposite Vita Vea in Tampa so that Cancey will get a load of one-on-one matchups in the middle of the line. Solid pick by the Bucs.