2015 NFL DRAFT
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Jesse Mahelona

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 311 | College: Tennessee
 
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Overview

Mahelona was a physical presence in the trenches for the Volunteers the last two years. The Hawaii native is a disruptive force with the tenacity and technique to tie up multiple blockers in order to free up the team's edge rushers to attack the backfield. He is the second member of his family to play college football, joining his brother, Steven, who recently completed his playing career at Tusculum.

Mahelona was a first-team All-State selection as a senior at Kealakehe High School, where he competed as a defensive end and fullback. He led the squad with 11 sacks and averaged 10 tackles per game, earning Honor Roll recognition in his final season. He added All-State accolades as a junior, playing defensive end and defensive tackle. Mahelona also competed in soccer, basketball and paddling (outrigger canoe).

After graduating from high school, Mahelona spent two seasons (2002-03) at Orange Coast (Calif.) College. He was rated by Rivals.com and TheInsiders.com as best junior college defensive tackle prospect in country. He only played in two full games in 2003 after suffering a broken ankle, logging 16 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. In 10 games as a freshman, he totaled 73 tackles, including seven stops for losses and seven sacks. He finished his junior college career with 89 tackles (50 solos), 10.5 sacks and 13.5 stops for losses.

Mahelona earned All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2004 during his first season at Tennessee. He started 11 games at left defensive tackle, producing 42 tackles (28 solos), five sacks and seven quarterback pressures, and led the Southeastern Conference with 18.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

He earned All-SEC honorable mention and was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award as a senior. Mahelona produced 35 tackles (18 solos) with two sacks and eight stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused a fumble and was credited with nine quarterback pressures.

In 24 games at Tennessee, Mahelona started 22 times. He registered 77 tackles (46 solos) with seven sacks for minus-69 yards and 26.5 stops for losses of 122 yards. He was credited with 16 quarterback pressures and caused a fumble. For his entire collegiate career, Mahelona appeared in 36 games, producing 166 tackles (96 solos), 17.5 sacks and 40 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Analysis

Positives: Has a squat frame with a big bubble and very thick legs … Combative one-gap player with very quick acceleration coming off the snap … Plays until the whistle and knows how to use his frame to anchor and take up space … Uses his size well, leaning into blockers to gain advantage in one-on-one confrontations … Best when operating at the line of scrimmage, as he lacks the speed to play outside the box … Physical drag-down tackler who can take vicious arm swipes and reach to haul down the ball carrier from behind … Has enough burst off the snap to gain leverage and the short area speed to close on the pocket … Best when shooting the gaps, but has enough acceleration to be effective lining up on the edge … Has as decent array of pass rush moves (club, swim, rip) and takes good angles to flush out the quarterback … Has the hip explosion and upper body strength to generate pop upon contact … Very active with his hands, utilizing his upper body power to reach, jerk and pull blockers down … Has the straight-line charge power to push guards back on their heels, and gets good hand placement in attempts to separate.

Negatives: Despite his upper body strength and thick legs, he lacks a good anchor to prevent from getting overpowered by bigger blockers … Lacks a feel for blocking schemes and can be fooled by misdirection … Falls to the ground too much in attempts to maintain position at the point of attack and struggles to shed vs. double teams … Needs to keep his shoulders square when attacking rush lanes, as he gets pushed around when he tries to combat counter moves … Best when stationed at the line of scrimmage, as he runs out of gas when he has to pursue outside the box.

Mahelona has a squat frame with a soft midsection. He struggles at times to stay low in his pads and can easily be washed out of the play when he gets too upright coming off the ball. He is a disruptive force with his straight-line burst, but does not have the timed speed or stamina to chase down plays outside the box. He needs to use his burst to get a jump on guards and tackles, as he lacks the lower body strength to power through double teams.

He also has problems maintaining balance and adjusting when working in space. Mahelona is quick to react once he locates the ball, but has a marginal feel for blocking schemes. He is active with his hands, but balance issues and adequate leg drive cause him to get pushed back through the rush lanes. He will lose focus at times in his backside pursuit, but zeroes in on the quarterback when he spots the passer.

Mahelona is a classic one-gap performer who is best when pushing the pocket or occupying space in the middle of the field. He lacks the lateral range to pursue down the line, but has good speed when moving forward. He hits ball carriers with a thud and has the hand strength to make arm tackles. He is a decent pass rusher with an array of moves, but falls down a lot in pursuit and does not have the change of direction agility to redirect.

Despite his upper body strength, he is more of a leaner and does not stay square, struggling to shed. He plays with a good motor, but despite his aggression in one-on-one situations, he tends to shy away from double teams and does not have the speed to elude blocks. Mahelona's poor feel for blocking schemes sees him get frustrated easily when his first move fails. He is better suited for a one-gap system, but needs to play with better leverage and must improve his balance.

Career Notes

Ranks 10th in school history with 19.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. the run … His 18.5 total tackles behind the line of scrimmage in 2004 ranks sixth on the school's single-season list behind Leonard Little (25 in 1995), Reggie White (24 in 1983), Todd Kelly (21 in 1992), John Henderson (20 in 2000) and Shaun Ellis (19.5 in 1999).

2005 Season

All-Southeastern Conference honorable mention by the Associated Press … Semifinalist for the Lombardi Award … Started all year at right defensive tackle … Recorded 35 tackles (18 solos) with two sacks for minus-17 yards and eight stops for losses of 31 yards … Credited with nine quarterback pressures and caused a fumble.

2005 Game Analysis

Alabama-Birmingham … Opened the season with three solo tackles and a pressure … Sacked QB Darrell Hackney for an 8-yard loss.

Florida … Posted five tackles (3 solos), including a 9-yard sack of QB Chris Leak and a pressure.

Louisiana State … Posted three hits and twice took down tailback Joseph Addai behind the line of scrimmage.

Mississippi … Limited to one stop for a 1-yard loss.

Georgia … Caused a fumble and delivered three stops.

Alabama … Held to two assisted tackles.

South Carolina … Had seven tackles (4 solos) with a stop for a 3-yard loss and a pressure.

Notre Dame … Stopped tailback Darius Walker for a 4-yard loss while coming up with another seven tackles (2 solos) and three pressures.

Memphis and Kentucky … Added one solo tackle in each game.

Vanderbilt … Produced a pair of tackles, including one for a 3-yard loss and a pressure.

2004 Season

All-America selection by The Sporting News … Consensus All-Southeastern Conference second-team pick … Started 11 games at left defensive tackle, coming off the bench vs. Alabama and Vanderbilt while recovering from a knee sprain suffered in the Mississippi game … Finished with 42 tackles (28 solos) and five sacks for minus-52 yards … Led the SEC with 18.5 stops for losses of 81 yards, the sixth-best season total in school history … Registered seven quarterback pressures.

2004 Game Analysis

Nevada-Las Vegas … Began his Tennessee career with four tackles and an assisted stop behind the line of scrimmage.

Florida … Sacked QB Chris Leak for minus-10 yards and had a pair of stops for losses of 10 yards among four tackles (3 solos).

Louisiana Tech … Held to one assisted tackle.

Auburn … Bounced back with nine tackles (4 solos), twice taking down tailback Ronnie Brown for losses of 4 yards.

Georgia … Sacked QB David Greene twice for minus-21 yards and had three solo tackles with three stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Mississippi … Made one stop for a loss before leaving the game in the first quarter with a knee sprain.

Alabama … Came off the bench to deliver two tackles and sacked QB Spencer Pennington for a 15-yard loss.

South Carolina … Followed with four tackles (3 solos) and two stops for minus-10 yards.

Notre Dame … Registered six solo tackles with five stops behind the line of scrimmage, including a 6-yard sack of QB Brady Quinn.

Kentucky … Managed three tackles (2 solos).

Auburn (SEC Championship) … Made five solo tackles with two stops for minus-3 yards.

Vanderbilt and Texas A&M (Cotton Bowl) … Started, but did not record any tackles.

Injury Report

2003: Missed eight games with a fractured ankle.

2004: Sat out the final three quarters of the Mississippi game (10/16) after suffering a knee sprain.

Agility Tests

Campus: 5.05 in the 40-yard dash … 360-pound bench press … 32-inch arm length … 9-inch hands.

Junior College

Lettered twice (2002-03) at Orange Coast (Calif.) College, playing football for head coach Mike Taylor … Rated by Rivals.com and TheInsiders.com as best junior college defensive tackle prospect in country … Only played in two full games in 2003 after suffering a broken ankle, logging 16 tackles including 3.5 sacks and 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage … In 10 games during his freshman season, he totaled 73 tackles, including seven stops for losses and seven sacks … Finished his junior college career with 89 tackles (50 solos), 10.5 sacks and 13.5 stops for loss.

High School

Attended Kealakehe (Kailua-Kona, Hi.) High School, playing football for head coach Joe Nahale … First-team All-State selection as a senior, competing as a defensive end and fullback … Led the squad with 11 sacks and averaged 10 tackles per game, earning Honor Roll recognition in his final season … Added All-State accolades as a junior, playing defensive end and defensive tackle … Also competed in soccer, basketball and paddling (outrigger canoe).

Personal

Sociology/Criminal Justice major … Brother, Steven, played football at Tusculum … Born Jesse Kahuanani Mahelona on 4/07/83 … Resides in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

 
 
 

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