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Notre Dame Football

Taking it to the Next Level | Isaiah Foskey

May 20, 2022

There were 12 edge defenders taken in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. Isaiah Foskey might have made it 13, but he decided to come back to Notre Dame for one more season.

If the goal is to be a first round pick, then it was the correct move in my opinion. Though I’m positive NFL scouts love his measurables and sack production, he still isn’t as refined as a pass rusher as the other top prospects who were selected in the first 32 picks.

That’s the scary part. He finished with 11 sacks last season, the most for the Irish since Stephon Tuitt in 2012, and still has plenty of room to get better. I went back and watched every sack he had in 2021 and his phenomenal physical talent leapt out. You can check out my thread with clips of every single sack on my Twitter feed, but I included some specific instances here.

He won by converting speed to power with a bull rush against Toledo.

He won with a great first step and speed around the corner against Purdue, Cincinnati, North Carolina, and Oklahoma State.

He showcased the use of a long arm tactic against USC.

No sack was more impressive than when he showed he can run the hoop on a stunt and then when he initially missed, finished the play because of his motor against Virginia Tech.

The best way to know that what Foskey did wasn’t anything close to a fluke was that the majority of his sacks came from him winning one on one matchups. Some guys put up numbers because the play is made by someone else and they are there to clean it up. Foskey created most of the sacks on his own, which says it all in regards to his talent.

It’s likely going to be more difficult for him to do that as much in 2022, though. A lot of that has to do with extra attention that will come his way. Much like the Virginia game last year, he can expect plenty of double teams and protections that are geared towards stopping him. That means his teammates have to take advantage of their matchups, like Rylie Mills did against Virginia, and also that Al Golden is going to have to move him around more to create favorable matchups and make it harder to double team him.

That could be anything from overloading his side with rushers to possibly get him one on one against a back or tight end (he only had one sack like that in ‘21) or more of what we saw a glimpse of with that Virginia Tech sack. He was lined up in a two-point stance in three-technique alignment (outside shade of the guard) and he did take some reps rushing from that spot in one on one pass rush drills this spring. We may see more of him rushing there this fall than we did last season.

If he’s going to have less one on one matchups this year, the best way to maintain that same level of sack production and increase his pressure percentage is to add more to his pass rush repertoire. He can win with speed around the edge, but needs to develop one or two more initial moves to consistently win with as well as counter moves off of that.

Some tackles may over set to try and handle his speed and if he can add some form of an inside counter move to combat that, that will make him a nightmare for anyone to block.

It wasn’t the reason for him to return to Notre Dame, but Foskey will have an opportunity to break Justin Tuck’s career sack record if he puts up another double digit effort this fall. If he’s an even better version of the player we saw last year, then it should be an expectation that he’ll accomplish that.

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