2022 NFL draft scouting report: Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal

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Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal

6-foot-3
268 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

5.64 — possible third- or fourth-rounder; contributor potential

TL;DR scouting report

Inspiring leader and productive, versatile pass rusher who has some health concerns and might never be a major sack artist

The skinny

A 4-star Rivals recruit in the Class of 2017, Paschal chose the Wildcats over Notre Dame, Penn State and Oklahoma, playing in all 13 games (one start) as a true freshman with 17 tackles (4.5 TFLs), 3.5 sacks and one blocked punt. In 2018, Paschal was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, missing all but three games (one start), logging three tackles (one TFL).

Paschal returned to full health in 2019, starting all 13 games and totaling 34 tackles (9.5 TFLs), 3.5 sacks, one pass breakup, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. In 2020, he started 10 of 11 games and totaled 32 tackles (6.5 TFLs), one sack and a 76-yard interception. He returned for a fifth season in 2021, played in 12 games and totaled 53 tackles (15.5 TFLs), 5.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a blocked kick.

Paschal opted out of the bowl game with injury and played in the 2022 Senior Bowl.

Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal battled cancer as a sophomore but now is a top-100 NFL draft prospect. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Kentucky EDGE Josh Paschal battled cancer as a sophomore but now is a top-100 NFL draft prospect. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Upside

  • Compact, well-built frame — uses it to get low and maintain leverage

  • Terrific testing numbers — 1.57-second 10-yard split, 30 bench-press reps, explosive jumping

  • One of only four DLs in this class over 260 lbs., with better than 35-inch vert, sub-4.80 40

  • Quickness in short areas is impressive for a thickly built end

  • Too quick for most guards and centers when he kicks inside on pass downs

  • Reads screens and quick-game passes quickly and reacts

  • Nice long-arm rush foils unsuspecting tackles, creates space and leverage

  • Lined up everywhere on the front — both sides, too, from a 0- to a 9-technique

  • Earned steady play time as a 17-year old freshman

  • Didn't look awkward when dropping more early in his career

  • 367 career special-teams snaps — lined up everywhere except kickoff coverage

  • Three career blocked kicks — two punts and one FG try

  • Plays with consistently excellent effort, puts in time behind the scenes

  • Three-time team captain — earned immense respect at UK

  • Well-liked by coaches and teammates, personality-wise

  • Mental, physical toughness not in question after cancer battle

Downside

  • Shorter, squattier frame for typical edge rusher

  • No lateral-quickness testing at NFL combine or pro day

  • Edge speed is merely average

  • Lacks the loose hips needed to carve up the corner

  • A bit clunky in his movement at times — will lose balance and leverage

  • Pass-rush moves can be a bit segmented when strung together

  • Average sack production — 13.5 in 52 career games

  • Pass-rush win rate (including pressures and hits) was sub-par

  • Gets a little overeager and flies by the play — more discipline needed

  • Lengthy list of health concerns, including past melanoma diagnosis

Best-suited destination

Paschal is a scheme-diverse, multi-positional prospect with marginal upside, but he appears to have a high floor and a clear value to most NFL defenses. He's a quality base end in a four-man front on first and second downs and he can kick down inside as a 3-technique on passing downs. Paschal's high character, excellent effort and special-teams value will make him a coach's favorite and basically guarantee him work for as long as his health holds up.

Did you know

In the summer of 2018, Paschal was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on the bottom of his right foot. After three surgeries and months of treatment, including immunotherapy, Paschal returned to the field in November of that year, suiting up for the final three games. When his first big tackle — a third-down stop against Middle Tennessee State — Paschal's name was announced over the PA, sending the home crowd and his teammates into a frenzy.

You can read Paschal telling his story here.

Player comp

A slightly more gifted Cam Sample

Expected draft range

Rounds 3-4

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