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Penn State edge defender Arnold Ebiketie is rising up NFL Draft boards thanks to his smarts, production and explosion

When he first took the football field, Arnold Ebiketie didn’t really know what he was doing. The 2022 NFL Draft pass-rushing prospect was years removed from moving to the United States from Cameroon, where he knew “absolutely nothing” about the sport.

So, his coaches put him at running back and safety and let him figure it out.

“I just knew as a running back, you just get the ball and run and try not to get tackled,” Ebiketie told PFF this week. “As a safety, I was just out there trying to tackle anybody who had the ball.

“It wasn't until I got to my junior year when I actually started learning the game and trying to figure out all the rules.”

It’s pretty amazing, then, that Ebiketie considers his football I.Q. and his ability to read offensive line sets as some of the biggest strengths of his game.

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“I’m not a predictable player,” Ebiketie said. “So, every time I step out on the field, there’s not really something that you can pinpoint and say that if I were to stop this aspect of his game we’ll control this player.”

Ebiketie is ranked 46th on PFF’s latest Big Board after producing an 88.4 overall PFF grade (eighth among draft-eligible FBS edge defenders) in his first season at Penn State last season. The Cameroon-native first broke out in 2020 at Temple, registering an 85.0 overall PFF grade before transferring to the Nittany Lions to further challenge himself.

The decision worked out well, and Ebiketie was one of college football’s premier pass rushers as a redshirt senior. He ranked ninth among draft-eligible FBS edge defenders in pass-rush win rate and sixth with a 91.7 PFF pass-rushing grade in true pass sets.

Arnold Ebiketie | 2021
Overall grade 88.4 Eighth
Pass rushing grade 90.5 11th
Run defense grade 78.3 23rd
Sacks 8 27th
QB hits 12 Ninth
Total pressures 52 12th
Pass-rush win% 22.9 Ninth
Pass-rush productivity 8.6 36th
Pass rush grade in true pass sets 91.7 Sixth
Pass-rush win% in true pass sets 34.7 Ninth
Pass-rush productivity in true pass sets 13.2 31st
Stops 30 29th

“In order to be a great player you actually have to learn the game,” Ebiketie said. “It’s more mental than it is physical, because if you’re able to recognize some aspects of the game you can actually move faster than some other players. When I started piecing those things together and when I started investing more time in my game-film study and I started to see the results, that’s when I realized that there’s actually some things that I can do to take my game to another level.”

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