A Nigerian immigrant, Tulane’s Ade Aruna didn’t begin playing football until high school, after following his dream chasing his first love, basketball. The 6-4, 262-pound defensive end performed well in the NFLPA Bowl and followed it up with an affirming performance at the Scouting Combine, testing in the 85th percentile.
Aruna’s buzz began to build after his junior season. Playing as a defensive end, Aruna posted 10 sacks and displayed flashes that would leave 32 defensive coordinators drooling. As a senior, he switched to outside linebacker in the team’s new 3-4 and his production dropped to just three sacks.
On the football field, Aruna’s get off is just as explosive as his athletic testing is away from the field. Among EDGEs, Aruna’s 1.6 10-yard split was the third highest in Indianapolis; his vertical is in the 94th percentile; and his broad jump is in the 96th percentile. His athletic profile translates and Aruna comes off the ball incredibly well, although at times he will be slow due to timing the snap poorly, something that can be chalked up to his still-raw ability.
In space and rushing the passer, Aruna displays terrific short area quickness. If he gets even the slightest bit inside of the tackle opposite him, it’s over; he has the balance and burst to beat them and get to the quarterback.
I'm buying up all the Ade Aruna stock. If there's a raw developmental prospect I'm gambling on during day 3, it's Aruna. He's got power and athleticism pic.twitter.com/4EFUM8TAqn— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
And as the backside defender, he can make up ground with outstanding quickness:
a backside defender has no business making this tackle pic.twitter.com/QbrNMjronK— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
Aruna is relentless both against the run and pass. He will work and work and work, cleaning up when the quarterback attempts to leak out.
Plays with a relentlessness that makes you can't help but think he is going to carve out a role in the pros pic.twitter.com/qPwFFWApar— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
Aruna works well laterally against the run and is great on his feet:
Look at him move his feet here. works laterally really well against the run pic.twitter.com/Kx8G7nCV8G— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
Aruna’s ability to keep tackles away from his body against the run is impressive. At times he’ll simply bench press the offensive lineman to disengage and make the tackle on the edge. The physicality of the game seemingly came natural to him; Aruna plays a physical, punishing game. The flashes of strength and ability he displayed at the point of attack raises his ceiling; Aruna could be a three-down player in a couple seasons, not restricted to just a situational pass rusher.
Aruna's ceiling - and it will take a lot of work to get there - is a three down edge defender capable of playing the run and pass pic.twitter.com/11j1l6rITk— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
As a bonus, he has the strength to bury offensive linemen:
Here's a short compilation of him burying offensive linemen pic.twitter.com/TOJpfEnzAd— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
This is where Aruna’s development needs to take place. He isn’t a refined pass rusher and technically isn’t on par with a good portion of his class. The majority of Aruna’s sacks and tackles for loss are off of raw athleticism — something that makes him that much more of an appealing prospect, but a developmental one nonetheless.
Here Aruna (#1) struggles to disengage and lacks a plan, but again, his work ethic pays off:
His hands are what need refining the most but again, works and works and comes away with a sack pic.twitter.com/4cRuQn04GW— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 25, 2018
At nearly 6-5, Aruna has the long, muscular frame of a wing in the NBA. Despite being such an imposing figure on the edge, he bends well for his size. Where he disappointed at the combine was in the short shuttle and three cone, where he tested in the 34th and 10th percentile respectively. His change of direction and bend are much better than those numbers.
Overall, Aruna has a long way to go before he can be a three-down defensive end. However he is a player with outstanding athletic ability and production in college to back it up. If Aruna works as hard to develop his game further with an NFL team as he did snap in, snap out with the Green Wave, a team will be left very happy they took a shot on a promising prospect.