JOEL IYIEGBUNIWE | LB | WESTERN KENTUCKY
Height: 6013 | Weight: 229 | Arm: 32 5/8" | Hand: 10 1/4" | 40-Time: 4.60 | Bench: 19 | 3Cone: 7.06 | Broad: 117 | Vertical: 35"
Joel "Iggy" Iyiegbuniwe is a fourth-year Junior who has featured in 36 career games at WILL linebacker for the Hilltoppers 4-3 defense. The First-Team Conference USA linebacker finished third in tackles in 2017 with 117 and has an impressive 22.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles in his career. In 383 run snaps in 2017, Iyiegbuniwe only missed 7 tackles and boasts a 9.9% run stop percentage, per PFF.
Iyiegbuniwe has a lean, athletic body type with toned arms and thin calves. Iyiegbuniwe has great foot speed, acceleration, and COD ability that allows him to be just as effective in coverage as he is attacking downfield.
Before the snap, Iyiegbuniwe is constantly barking out assignments to his teammates and appears to be the leader of the defense from an alignment standpoint. As a run defender, Iyiegbuniwe is urgent in his pursuit and does well to extend his arms to stack and shed blockers who reach the second level and attack the ball carrier. Iyiegbuniwe showcases terrific range and can suffocate space in a hurry when taking the correct first step in his pursuit angle. Iyiegbuniwe is an aggressive tackler who attacks high-to-low and does a good job of continuing to latch on to an ankle or foot if he fails on the first contact. Iyiegbuniwe has increased his production every year and doubled his tackle volume from 2016. In Zone coverage, Iyiegbuniwe is a quick mental processor and pairs his instincts with his good athletic ability to routinely undercut routes. Iyiegbuniwe does a good job of keeping his assignment ahead of him and uses his vision to see past his receiver and anticipate throws to the RB in the backfield, closing quickly with his burst and acceleration. In Man coverage, Iyiegbuniwe is occasionally asked to line up at the LOS over the Slot WR and is capable of flipping his hips and staying in-phase while doing so. The fact that the WKU coaching staff trusts Iyiegbuniwe enough to leave him on an island with WRs shows the type of athlete that he is. Although Iyiegbuniwe’s athleticism translates well to playing in coverage, Iyiegbuniwe lacks production from a ball skills perspective, logging a mere 4 pass deflections and 0 interceptions in his career. As a blitzer, Iyiegbuniwe has a tendency of mis-timing the snap to try and gain an advantage and he can get pinged for Offsides calls as a result. When timed correctly, Iyiegbuniwe is very effective in attacking the A and C gaps and has 5.5 career sacks. Iyiegbuniwe also plays as a gunner on Special Teams and does a good job of downing punts inside the 5 and was a feature special teams ace early in his career.
Iyiegbuniwe does have some durability concerns in his career, which affected his recruitment out of South Warren High School in Kentucky. Iyiegbuniwe missed hiss senior year of high school ball and then had to redshirt in 2014 due to a knee injury, but he has played the last two seasons in full. Iyiegbuniwe is an extremely intelligent individual on and off the field and has cited aspirations for attending medical school following his football career. Iyiegbuniwe compares in body type and play style to Jordan Evans and is best suited as an off-the-ball WILL LB in a 4-3 where lean on his mental processing and athleticism to play in space and projects as a rotational depth player who will have to earn his way to a 53 with good special teams play. Because off-the-ball linebackers with exceptional athleticism, good instincts, and special teams ability are scarce, Iyiegbuniwe could hear his name called some time on day three, but will be a hot name on the UDFA waiver if he slips past 256 picks.
Overall Grade: 70
Athletic Ability: 6
Play Strength: 4
Play Speed: 5
Competitive Toughness: 5
Hit Power: 4
Man Coverage: 4
Zone Coverage: 4
Ball Hawking: 1
Block Shedding: 3
Gap Discipline: 3
Player Comparison: Jordan Evans
Projected Round: Round 7/PFA
For information on our grading criteria, click here.