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Browns NFL Draft Profile: DE YaYa Diaby has intriguing potential

Louisville defensive end took a long path to college, but his raw ability is drawing attention from teams.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 Pitt at Louisville Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry has done some heavy lifting along the defensive line this offseason.

The club added defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and defensive tackles Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst and Trysten Hill in free agency while moving on from defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Winovich, and defensive tackle Taven Bryan.

That has been a good start at fixing some of the glaring roster holes, but the Browns could certainly use another new face or two along the defensive line, which is why just about every mock draft has the Browns continuing to address the position group.

One possible name to keep an eye on, thanks to Dane Brugler’s seven-round mock draft at The Athletic, is Louisville defensive end YaYa Diaby. So let’s dive in and take a look at Diaby, a player with an interesting background.

Name: YaYa Diaby

Position: Defensive end

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 263 pounds

College: Louisville Cardinals

Stats (4 seasons): 34 games, 32 starts, 94 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks

Relative Athletic Score

Average “Big Board” Position As of Publishing Date

119th Overall (NFL Mock Draft Database)

TDN Consensus Grade: 71.50/100 (Fifth-Round Value)

PFF Big Board Rank: 154

What an Expert is Saying

Pros and Cons

There is a lot to like about Diaby, starting with his ability to “strike and separate as a two-gapping five-technique or pursue and tackle as a 4-3 base end,” according to’s Lance Zierlein.

Diaby also has “the natural explosion and length to attack gaps or power through the shoulder of blockers like a swinging saloon door. He has intriguing development potential as a scheme-diverse, leverage-power rusher,” according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.

On the downside, Diaby is still a bit raw as he was not heavily recruited out of high school, which led to a year working at the airport before another two years of non-football activity at Georgia Military College. Once he arrived at Louisville he did show nice progression, but is still limited, especially when it comes to rushing the passer, according to The Draft Network’s Keith Sanchez:

Diaby is a straight-line pass rusher that lacks a lateral counter move to be able to attack an offensive lineman at different angles. Diaby usually has one pass-rush move and once that is defeated, there are minimal moves that he has to execute to continue to work in his pass-rush sequence. Diaby appears to have some lower-body stiffness that affects his change of direction and ability to move laterally. Against the run, Diaby plays high which results in him being displaced off of the line of scrimmage.

Browns Player Drafting Could Impact

The Browns added Okoronkwo in free agency to start opposite Myles Garrett and have second-year defensive end Alex Wright as part of the rotation. The team could still use additional help, however, as Isaiah Thomas is currently the only other defensive end on the roster. The club likes Wright’s potential, so Thomas would be the player who would be impacted by Diaby showing up at training camp this summer.


Medium: The Browns would not need Diaby to step into the starting lineup from day one, so they could be tempted by his upside and utilize him on passing downs while he works to refine his game.

Cleveland is not the only team that will be eying Diaby and wondering if he can put it together at the NFL level, which helps explain why his projected draft spot is all over the board. Some, like Brugler, have Diaby as a third-rounder, while The Draft Network pegs him as a fifth-rounder, and Zierlein grades him as an average backup or special-teamer.

As it relates specifically to the Browns, because Diaby took a longer time to get his career rolling, he is almost already 24 years old, which while young in just about every sense, is outside Berry’s age guardrail comfort zone. (Although the later you get into the draft, Berry may decide to be a bit more flexible.)