Every player in the NFL Draft is an elite athlete; that’s why they’re in the NFL Draft. Still, even within this ultra-selective subset, there are levels to this shit. At one end, are the heaviest offensive linemen and the pokiest quarterbacks who make up the Draft’s least explosive players. Then, at the other, is Boye Mafe.
An edge rusher from the University of Minnesota, Mafe is among the most physically impressive players in this—or any—draft class. Even amongst a deep, talented corps of defensive linemen, Mafe is nearly peerless. Although at 6’5, 261-pounds, he’s not quite as heavy as other linemen, he moves with disturbing speed. He’s faster (4.53 second 40 yard dash) than star wide receivers like Keenan Allen (4.71) and Cooper Kupp (4.62); he can jump higher (38 inch vertical) than Pro Bowl running backs Dalvin Cook (30.5 inches) and Le'Veon Bell (31.5 inches); he can bench press more (21 reps) than linebackers like Shaq Barrett (16 reps) or Darius Leonard (17 reps). In other words, there are a wide variety of basic physical tasks that a football player needs to perform and Mafe does them all better than just about anybody alive.
At Minnesota, Odafe was certainly productive (he had seven sacks last fall), but not overwhelmingly so. Instead, Mafe’s NFL potential stems not from who he is now, but who he could easily become. Just as raw prospects like Jaelan Phillips and Odafe Oweh emerged as two of the best pass-rushers in last year’s class, Mafe could become a fearsome player once he adds some polish to his promise. Slated to go in the back half of the first round, Mafe is the draft’s most enticing project.
Last week, Mafe sat down with ONE37pm to talk about his pre-draft preparations, fishing and spending a year in boarding school in Lagos.