Ivan Pace Jr. 2023 NFL Draft Profile
If you want to watch a fun highlight tape, look no further than Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace Jr. He has a unique blend of strength and pure will, and is among the most willing tacklers in this 2023 NFL draft class for linebackers. I loved watching him at the Senior Bowl, as he received plus after plus in my notes. No workout at the combine but that might not matter too much. Let’s talk about his draft profile.
As I mentioned above, his tape is a treat to watch. Pace recorded 262 tackles, including 34.5 for loss, over the last two seasons. You can find him everywhere on the field. He stood out to me in Mobile, Alabama, as someone who can more than hold his own in zone coverage and has instincts to make the right play. Definitely one of my standouts from my time at the Senior Bowl this year.
The on-the-field stuff should excite you about Ivan Pace Jr. We already talked about the zone coverage skills. He has the footwork to quickly change direction and make a play on the ball. He also possesses underrated pass rush skills, something NFL teams might want to tap into. The power he makes from his lower body helps him stand up against guys he’s going against as well. The motor is always running, which is something I love when scouting defensive players.
The modern-day NFL looks for speed from their linebackers. A concern I have about Pace is his lateral quickness. I would love to see a 40-time for him somewhere. While his zone coverage skills are a plus, if he is lined up man-to-man, that falls as a minus. There’s room to improve that for sure, but you can’t lean on that right away coming out.
This linebacking group isn’t the strongest. I’m not sure any of these guys are first-round guys I have a day two grade on Ivan Pace Jr. I could see him being a top-100 pick no problem. Coming out, he will be a more than solid rotational/special teams player who could turn into a starter with time to develop. Sign me up.