Brett Kollman is a Boye Mafe fan: "He's a better natural talent than Kayvon Thibodeaux"
Seaside Bonus: The Seahawks should add a veteran pass rusher, here are some options
The only two edge rushers in the 2022 NFL Draft who tested between 250-270 lbs, ran a sub-4.6 in the 40, and jumped at least 35” in the air were 21-year-old David Ojabo and 23-year-old Boye Mafe. If Ojabo hadn’t torn his Achilles on his pro day, the Seattle Seahawks may well have drafted him over Mafe, if Ojabo had even lasted to day two.
Instead, the Seahawks did draft Mafe with pick 40 and Ojabo went to the Baltimore Ravens at pick 45.
Dating back to 2011, only 10 other combine testers fell into these same three categories, including four first round picks (Jayson Oweh, Montez Sweat, Alvin Dupree), one of which was Jadeveon Clowney. Coincidentally, interestingly, or inconsequentially, the three lowest-rated prospects were all 23-year-old rookies, just like Mafe.
That includes sixth rounders Cornelius Washington and Ade Aruna, as well as 2021 undrafted free agent Hamiclar Rashed, now a practice squad hopeful on Robert Saleh’s Jets. Though Mafe was a popular pick with most Seahawks fans and draft analysts, there are skeptics out there who believe his age is the only thing that matters.
When I wrote about Mafe earlier this offseason, I mentioned that there were a lot of factors outside of his control at Minnesota that impacted his slowed development on his way towards an inevitable draft date. And Mafe’s eventual rise to being an NFL prospect has always been inevitable because of that aforementioned athleticism, traits that I promise every Hawk blogger, podcaster, and fan out there do not have any awareness as to the athlete’s age.
Boye Mafe is 23 and he can run a 4.53 at 261. Montez Sweat is 24 and he can run a 4.4-4.5 at 260.
There is an undoubtedly a learning curve for Mafe and reasons that he wasn’t a first round pick, but the only thing separating him from someone like Jermaine Johnson II at this point is merely the fact that one team definitely valued Johnson as a late first round pick and didn’t have another bigger need at that spot of the draft. There were probably a number of teams that viewed Mafe as a first round pick, they just did not have draft picks late in the first round or they had another player with an even higher grade at that time.
These little differences in perception are meaningless when the games begin and second round picks in the previous decade include Carlos Dunlap, DeMarcus Lawrence, Preston Smith, Harold Landry, and Vinny Curry, as well as another former Seahawks day two steal: Frank Clark. He also had the athleticism to be a top-15 pick before falling to day two.
Lawrence, Clark, Smith, and Landry were 22 at the time of the draft, while Curry was 24.
One such huge fan of Boye Mafe as a prospect is YouTuber Brett Kollman. In a video of “The Five Best Rookie Pass Rushers of 2022” that Kollman posted on Saturday, he ranked Mafe at number five (but really, number six) on his list, and as one of the six top-tier pass rushers that he had graded for the 2022 draft class.
As you might notice, Mafe wasn’t the only pass rusher who Kollman thinks got underrated in the 2022 NFL Draft, as he also has Arnold Ebiketie (38th overall) as his number three pass rusher and Josh Paschal (46th overall) as his number four.
Kollman has Mafe ranked behind five other pass rushers, but it’s clear that he sees almost no discernible difference between Mafe and Kayvon Thibodeaux, the player who went fifth overall to the New York Giants. He says that while Thibodeaux has the higher floor because he’s played a lot more in college and proven himself to a degree, Mafe is a better athlete and that he is “a better natural talent” than Thibodeaux. That it is Mafe who has the higher ceiling of the two, not Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux played in 30 games for Oregon, recording 35.5 tackles for a loss and 19 sacks.
Mafe played in 31 games for Minnesota, finishing with 19.5 TFL and 15 sacks. He may not be that far behind.
Continue reading to hear more about what Kollman says about Mafe, some GIF highlights of Mafe in college, as well as why I think the Seahawks still need to add a pass rusher and give some ideas on which of those are available in free agency and via trade. If you get a one-year subscription at $55, that’s only about .10 cents per article at Seaside Joe.