The 2022 NFL Draft looks to have one of the deepest and most talented EDGE classes in recent memory. Not only are some of the very best prospects in the class EDGE defenders, but there’s an impressive depth of talent in the class as well.
Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe has seen his profile rise over the course of the draft process, starting with an impressive outing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Mafe had largely flown under the radar at Minnesota, but he quickly gained the reputation as one of the more impressive athletes in this class and a player well worth watching.
The explosiveness and disruption he shows on tape weren’t a surprise — but his movement skills when playing in space certainly were.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the New York Giants still need to add to their young group of EDGE defenders. However, the preferences of Wink Martindale could have them looking at the secondary at the top of the draft. Could Mafe’s athleticism and versatility make him an option on the second day?
Prospect: Boye Mafe (34)
Games Watched: vs. Ohio State (2021), vs. Nebraska (2021), vs. Maryland (2021), vs. West Virginia (2021)
Games Played: 31
Tackles For a loss: 19.5
Forced Fumbles: 3
Passes Defensed: 3
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 10.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 0
Best: Explosiveness, first step, play strength, pass coverage
Worst: Technique, hand usage
Projection: A nickel EDGE defender with starting upside and scheme diversity.
(Mafe is Minnesota EDGE, number 34)
Minnesota’s Boye Mafe is an explosive, strong, and versatile EDGE prospect.
Mafe typically aligned as an EDGE defender in Minnesota’s defense, mostly playing out of a two-point stance as a stand-up pass rusher. He has some experience rushing from a three-point stance as a traditional defensive end, as well as blitzing through the A or B-gaps from the second level.
Mafe has a dense, powerful frame with good thickness in his upper and lower halves, giving him impressive play strength at the point of attack. He is able to explode out of his stance with a truly impressive first step, and his play strength allows him to deliver a good jolt to blockers and drive them back on their heels. Mafe typically plays with good leverage and has the ability to set a firm edge in run defense. He isn’t easily moved off the ball, and he flashes the ability to make plays on ball carriers off of blockers.
He flashes both power and speed moves as a pass rusher. He primarily relies on a swipe move, but has also flashed a long-arm, swim move, and a bull rush. Mafe’s first step puts significant stress on pass protectors, and he has the upside to consistently generate pressure at the next level.
Mafe is also a surprisingly effective coverage player. He is very quick to drop into coverage, getting great depth and showing good awareness in coverage zones. He also has quick feet and fluid hips in coverage, allowing him to match up with tight ends and running backs in space. Mafe has very good long speed, which allows him to run downfield with offensive players.
Mafe’s upside as a pass rusher is currently limited by his technique and hand usage. While he shows flashes of good hand usage, he is far from a technician at this point in his development. Mafe is inaccurate with his moves and not an instinctive hand-fighter. Likewise, he doesn’t seem to rush with a ready counter-move and rarely seems to come with a plan. Combined with his less-than-ideal length, Mafe can wind up tangled up with blockers and struggle to disengage in time to affect the play.
He also shows some stiffness and balance issues when trying to bend the corner as a pass rusher. His fluidity as a coverage player suggests that this might have more to do with his inefficient hand usage taking him out of good position, or not allowing him to carry momentum around the edge.
Overall Grade: 7.2
Projecting Mafe to the next level is a bit complex. As he is now, it would be best for him to begin his career as a 3rd pass rusher, brought on in obvious passing situations, preferably in a “multiple” defense.
Mafe’s build and play strength suggest an ability to be a 4-3 defensive end, though most of his experience is as a stand-up rusher from a 2-point stance. Mafe also has experience as an interior rusher, blitzing from an off-ball linebacker position. All of that together could give a lot of options for a creative defensive coordinator. Likewise, Mafe’s ability to effectively drop into man or zone coverage could allow for clever blitz disguises.
Mafe’s grading sheet has a truly wide range in scores on his “critical traits”, which ultimately brought down his overall grade. While his current grade is “only” a 7.2, he scored an 8 on four different traits.
There’s a lot to like about Mafe’s game and he has some really impressive flashes. However, those flashes are separated by frustrating stretches where he can’t quite finish the play. Mafe has the potential to really blossom at the NFL level, and could see a career trajectory similar to Shaq Barrett in the right situation. He’s a versatile player with fantastic raw tools with which to work, however teams will need to focus on developing Mafe’s hand usage and technique early in his career.
Boye Mafe has the potential to be a true impact EDGE defender if he’s able to hone his craft as a pass rusher and become a true technician.