2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Louisville DE Yaya Diaby


From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to 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 I’ll be profiling Louisville DE/EDGE Yaya Diaby.

#6 YAYA DIABY/DE Louisville – 6033, 263 – Senior

Senior Bowl/Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand size Arm Length Wingspan
Yaya Diaby 6033, 263 10 3/8 33 7/8 N/A
40 Yard Dash 10 Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.51 1.56 N/A N/A N/A
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10’0″ 37 N/A


— Good-looking frame with thick lower half for a DE/EDGE, great length to battle in the trenches
— Shows ability to turn the corner and flatten, good hip and ankle flexion and rarely pushed past junction point
— Uses swipes, rips, and push-pulls to win the edge and corner
— High-motor player who chases hard after the football, sideline-to-sideline and downfield, doesn’t quit on the play
— Strong athlete with good foot speed in open field, closes gaps quickly and defends perimeter runs/jet sweeps well
— Off-the-charts testing that match his tape, 9.84 RAS score for a DE, 9.99 for a LB
— Fights hard against the run to split blocks and shoot gaps to disrupt
— Traits and skillset translates well to expected position change
— Experience in a 3-4 system, NFL-looking defense that ran plenty of stunts and twists, aggressive and physical as the crasher and has the bend to pressure up the A gap as the looper
— Productive senior season, finished college career strong

The Bad

— Projection in new position, miscast in college and will have to adjust to new role
— Doesn’t have reps playing in a two-point stance or dropping into coverage
— Bull rush/power rushes aren’t good enough and tackles able to anchor against him
— Needs to improve overall pass rush arsenals and refine his moves, can get stuck on blocks if initial move doesn’t work, counters must be better defined
— Only one year of serious production
— Older than typical prospect


— 23 years old, turns 24 in May
— Career: 94 tackles (19.5 TFL), 10.5 sacks
— 2022: 37 tackles (14 TFL), 9 sacks, started all 13 games
— Started seven games in 2020
— Used as a 3-4 base defensive end in the Cardinal system
— Only had 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks prior to 2022
— First attended Georgia Military College for two years (had seven sacks there) before transferring to Louisville
— Didn’t have any FBS or FCS offers initially coming out of high school, cited a lack of weight (6’4, 200 as a senior) and was an initial zero-star recruit
— Three-star recruit from Milledgeville, Georgia, chose Louisville over Arizona, Florida State, Colorado, and several others

Tape Breakdown

Yaya Diaby was one of those guys who caught my attention at Indy with a sensational workout that very few took notice of. But he’s a guy I had to go check out and see if things matched on tape.

What’s really interesting about Diaby is how he was used at Louisville. Like Anthony Chickillo at Miami (FL) or Alex Highsmith before his final season at Charlotte, Diaby was an undersized and miscast 3-4 base end. Seriously. Look at him aligned here. That is where the Cardinal used him.

Diaby tested off-the-charts at Indy and you can see that athleticism translate to the tape. Diaby didn’t participate in the agility/shuttle drills at the Combine but I like his ability to bend and turn the corner. He bends through contact well and can finish.

Diaby runs hard to the football with good pursuit speed in the open field. Couple examples of him running after the football. Not just for sacks but downfield too on screens and runs. Effort isn’t going to be a concern with him.

Though expected given the position and role he was used, Diaby struggled to anchor against the run. He’s prone to getting washed and bullied down the line. Some of that should be blamed on playing d-end but he’ll be facing big left tackles as an EDGE rusher in the NFL so it won’t automatically be easier.

RDE in the first two clips, LDE in the final clip (with the arrow).

He also had a tough time against Syracuse LT Matthew Bergeron, a Top 50 pick in this year’s draft. Diaby’s power and bull rushes aren’t enough of a threat for tackles to worry about. There’s also the obvious projection in his position switch. In the tape I watched, he didn’t play with his hand up or drop into coverage, something he’ll likely be asked to do in the NFL. Or at least in Pittsburgh. He also brings the combination of being 24 before taking his first NFL snap with just one year of production. He had a long path to playing college football at the FBS level and those will be knocks against him.


Diaby wasn’t used in his optimal role at Louisville. He’s best fit as a 4-3 end or 3-4 stand-up outside linebacker, though the latter will be even more of a projection. He is comfortable being used in a defense that stunts and ones that get aggressive and creative. He should start out in a pass rush role on third down until his game develops. My NFL comp to him is Whitney Mercilus.

Projection: Early Day Three

Depot Draft Grade: 7.8 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)

Games Watched: vs Boston College (2021), at Florida State (2021), vs Cincinnati (2022), at Syracuse (2022), Senior Bowl

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