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5 Things to Know About Bucs First Round Pick Calijah Kancey

Get to know the Bucs' 19th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft 

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He Attended the Same High School as Lavonte David

Calijah Kancey, the Bucs' first-round draft pick, attended the same high school as 11-year veteran Lavonte David. The pair went to Miami Northwestern High School and developed a blue-chip collar mentality. While attending the powerhouse, Kancey helped the Bulls to back-to-back Florida 6A state championships. He compiled over 200 tackles as a junior and senior, carving a name for himself as one of the nation's top 45 defensive tackle prospects by Rivals. Now in Tampa Bay, Kancey and David will join forces on defense. 

Notable Stats and Accolades

Kancey was a first-team AP All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, as well as a finalist for the Nagurski and Outland Trophies after leading the Panthers with 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 11 starts (31 total stops) in 2022. In addition, he became the school's first unanimous All-American since Aaron Donald. 

Comp to Aaron Donald

Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a sure-fire Hall of Famer and seven-time first-team All-Pro, did not come off the board until the 13th overall pick in 2014 due to size concerns (6-foot-1, 280 pounds). There were question marks during the pre-draft process about how he would hold up against larger offensive linemen in the NFL. Donald silenced the narrative, becoming a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and perennial Pro Bowler. Donald's impact is undeniable. No player in the league on the defensive side of the ball has garnered more attention from offensive coordinators and gameplans around the league than Donald. Run schemes and pass protections are designed to account for him. Kancey is certainly not on Donald's level as a prospect but possesses similar tantalizing traits. With initial quickness, contact balance and natural leverage, Kancey has the potential to be an imposing interior pass rusher. The explosive, one-gapping player has elite lateral quickness and range. Despite an undersized frame by the preconceived standard, Kancey has a promising ceiling.  

Blazing 40-Yard Dash

Kancey put on a show in Indianapolis at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. He proved to be one of the most athletic defensive tackle prospects. Kancey ran a lightning-quick 4.67 40-yard dash at 281 pounds – the fastest by a defensive tackle at the combine since 2003. 

Winning Mentality

As Kancey makes the transition from the collegiate level to the pros, he is focused on cultivating growth. The team's first-round pick is ready to learn the playbook and gradually ascend. When asked about his outlook, Kancey described, "I've got to stay hungry." The Pitt bulldozer is ready to cement his own legacy in the NFL. 

"I just know that every day, I've got to work at getting three percent better. I'm not where I want to be yet. That's where I can't get stuck in my head – I've got to stay hungry. That's something I focus on a lot – I want to make sure I never get complacent. I just want to get better every day. I want to be a better version of myself every day."

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