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Yaya Diaby, Building Pass Rush Repertoire to Unleash Power 

During training camp, rookie OLB Yaya Diaby has made his presence felt with a blend of relentless pursuit and power

Yaya Pass Rush Story TC

Throughout training camp, the term "power" has become synonymous with Buccaneers' rookie, Yaya Diaby. Tampa Bay selected Diaby in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft (82 overall) and since his arrival in the Sunshine State, the Louisville star has showcased his skills as a power rusher with unique short-area burst. 

"He's a powerful guy," Head Coach Todd Bowles remarked. "He takes off the ball. We just understand he's got to learn some technique; he's got to understand what he's doing at that spot. We can move him around some but he's still getting his feet wet. We like what we see."

The 6-foot-3, 263-pound outside linebacker took a significant leap during his senior season and played a critical role behind one of the most formidable fronts in college football. Diaby accumulated 14.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks in 2022, trailing only Yasir Abdullah for the most on the team, with his sack total ranking second in the ACC. Additionally, he collected 37 tackles, four quarterback hurries and two recovered fumbles, earning third team All-ACC recognition. With a rare speed/power blend, Diaby impressed with explosive traits. With first-step quickness and overwhelming strength, Diaby can leverage his power to penetrate gaps in the Bucs defensive rotation. 

"Woo. This guy, I think this guy has another chance – when you look at the defense as a whole, we have a lot of competition across the board," said Run Game Coordinator and Defensive Line coach Kacy Rodgers. "Yaya [Diaby] is right in the middle of that at the outside linebacker position. All those guys have unique traits. Yaya is really strong and powerful. Shaq [Barrett] has elite pass rushing skills. Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka] is super-fast and athletic. 'Nelly' (Anthony Nelson) has the jack of all trades. Then you have Cam Gill and other guys, it is a very competitive group right now."

Diaby is relentless in pursuit, whether chasing a rusher to the sideline or running down a quarterback who breaks contain. During practice over the weekend, his athleticism took center stage. The ball bounced off the hand and guardian cap of Anthony Nelson. Diaby flew from the edge and into the congestion, diving for the football and coming away with an interception. He has the versatility to rush inside through the A and B-gaps and can come off the edge from a stand-up position in sub-packages. Diaby adds another dimension to Bowles' pressure packages. He can push tackles backwards and once Diaby expands his arsenal of pass-rush moves to leverage that raw power, his game will reach new heights. 

In addition to Diaby's prowess on defense, he has drawn the attention of Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong. The first of the Bucs' three allotted preseason games is quickly approaching, and Armstrong anxiously awaits to see how the rookies perform, specifically Diaby in kickoff coverage. 

"I would say he would be a guy who will make you say, 'OK, I'd like to see that," Armstrong noted. "I would like to see Yaya [Diaby] on punt. I'd like to see Yaya on kickoff.' He is very athletic and physical. It is on tape. It would not be a surprise if I saw him escape a block, make a tackle on kickoff, and run somebody down."

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