2015 NFL Draft Prospect You Need To Know: The American
There isn't much by way of recent history that Memphis football fans can reflect upon with fondness. The glory days of those five straight bowl appearances under Tommy West feel a lot further gone than a mere six years in the past.
The 2-11 Tigers of 2011 contributed their own verse to the ongoing Memphis football blues. But upon further review, the final team of the short-lived Larry Porter era might wind up having something to brag on after all.
That team did produce the 11th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft -- Dontari Poe, the defensive tackle taken by Kansas City earlier than all but one player in Memphis football history (the 9th pick in '78). And that team's other tackle is likely to hear his name called in the first half of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Martin Ifedi, of course, is no longer at tackle. After Poe's final college season, Ifedi moved to defensive end, where he since has blossomed into one of the more underrated pass rushers in the nation.
Part of that is par for the course. When you play for a team that gets as little ink as Memphis, not a lot of buzz finds its way behind your name.
Still, Ifedi's effectiveness over the past two seasons surely has scouts' attention. He's racked up 19 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss and more than 100 tackles since the move to the outside. Even in what's shaping up to be a deep draft for pass rushers, such production deserves respect.
And unlike many college ends who have to make the move to outside linebacker at the next level, Ifedi has the size (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) to project as a 4-3 end in the NFL. He's physical at the point of attack and has shown decent speed closing on the quarterback after beating his blocker. He's not going to have much impact with a speed rush as a pro, but he could be a handful as a power rusher.
Ifedi doesn't have Poe's size (6-5, 345) or upside, and he's not likely to blow people away with Combine measurables the way Poe did.
But another season of double digit sacks -- a reasonable expectation, considering the arrival of veteran defensive line coach, Ricky Hunley -- could land Ifedi on the second or third tier of pass rush prospects.