Will A.J. Epenesa fall to Texans at 40th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft?

A.J. Epenesa #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
A.J. Epenesa #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans might be hoping that a certain defensive end from Iowa is there for the taking in the second round in the 2020 NFL Draft.

When it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft, there will for sure be many surprises when it comes to players being selected, and one of those players just might be Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa, as the Houston Texans draft decision makers might be hoping he falls to them at 40th overall.

Though it might just be a pipe dream that Epenesa is still on the board when the 40th overall selection goes on the clock, but if the Texans draft luck strikes in the second round, defense is the way to go for Bill O’Brien and the franchise.

Three different scouting reports all speak highly of Epenesa and his time at Iowa, especially his final season, as that was his lone year as a starter for the Hawkeyes. Maybe the best thing read about Epenesa is the fact he can play both in a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme, as the Texans use a 3-4 scheme with their defense.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic, in his “Beast” NFL Draft Preview, described Epenesa as a “power rusher” and a “reliable run defender.” Moving forward, the CBS Sports draft profile of Epenesa gives the defensive end a 90 overall ranking and even mentions he can play defensive tackle as well if needed. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares Epenesa to Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Though it is all but certain those in charge of the Texans draft have Epenesa on their draft board, it is no secret that Houston could use some more help on the defensive line and the edge rush, and if Epenesa can be a quality run defender in the league, that is just icing on the cake.

Being 6’5” and 275 pounds, one issue coming out of the NFL Combine for Epenesa was his speed, as his 40-yard dash time was 5.04 and his 225 bench press consisted of just 17 reps. Though combine numbers aren’t the final story for a player, those numbers didn’t help much, and you know some teams will take those into consideration.

In his final season at Iowa, Epenesa finished with 49 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and even added four forced fumbles and three passes defensed. For his three-year career with the Hawkeyes, Epenesa collected 36.5 career sacks, including 10.5 sacks in 2018.

As for the Houston Texans draft plan, nobody but O’Brien and his staff know where the Texans are leaning, but it would make some sense to find an edge rusher with the 40th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Texans draft — if it were to have an edge rusher in the second round — would look really nice if Epenesa fell to them, especially with Houston not having a first-round pick this year.

Though many believe Epenesa will eventually work his way up to being a starter in the NFL, he’d had a great mentor in J.J. Watt if those in charge of the Texans draft this season were to find a way to select the Iowa standout.

The versatility of Epenesa is what draws the most interest for the defensive end in the 2020 NFL Draft. When it comes to those in charge of the Texans draft this year, it is all but a guess as to who they are interested in.

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For their sake — and the sake of the Texans franchise — Epenesa needs to be on that list, especially if he falls to them at 40th overall.