Year: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
As we discussed in Monday's profile, undersized DEs can play for Bronco Mendenhall if they have the requisite energy and motor. However, there is a limit to that. At 6'5" and just 215 pounds, Abdullah would likely be manhandled by opposing OLs.
Abdullah was rated a 3 star prospect by ESPN and 247 sports, but 2 star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. ESPN ranked him 153rd among DEs.
Naji has a big frame and he's certainly capable of adding mass. Right now, he's a bit of a tweener, even in a 4-3 defense, but that makes him a real problem in a 3-4 where he doesn't really have a position.
He could potentially play OLB, although it remains to be seen if he's quick enough to stick there. He did play out of s 2 point stance quite a bit in high school, so he would have some experience as a pass rushing 3-4 OLB. This may be his best position, at least right now. He can be a situational pass rushing OLB. The problem is, the Hoos have a number of guys at that position right now who are ahead of him on the depth chart. Abdullah may have some use as a special teams player this year. For example, his height makes him an option on the FG defense unit.
Here is a video of him from 2014 spring practice, courtesy of NCSA. It looks like he was used as a stand up 4-3 DE quite a bit. This bodes well for an adjustment to OLB.
It will be interesting to see how Abdullah develops. Can he add enough mass to be a DE in Bronco Mendenhall's defense? Or can he develop his quickness and pass rush skills enough to be that pass rushing OLB?