The NY Jets could look to continue bolstering their pass-rush in the 2021 NFL Draft. And one player who makes a ton of sense as a potential target is Duke defensive end Victor Dimukeje.
Dimukeje was a four-year starter at Duke starting a whopping 49 career games with the Blue Devils. He started all 13 games as a true freshman earning Freshman All-American honors after an impressive debut season.
That success carried over into his sophomore year when he led his team in sacks and tackles for loss before a breakout 2019 season that saw him lead Duke with 8.5 sacks en route to being named second-team All-ACC.
When all was said and done, Dimukeje finished his career at Duke with 21.5 sacks which ranks second in school history. Primarily seen as an early Day 3 prospect, the Jets could look to target the former Duke star later in the draft.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dimukeje about his football journey, the 2021 NFL Draft process, if he sees himself as a fit with the Jets, and if the Jets have shown any interest.
Below is a transcription of our interview.
Interview with NY Jets draft prospect Victor Dimukeje
Justin Fried: “So let’s start from the beginning. You were actually born in Nigeria, you lived in Lagos before moving to the Baltimore area. How and when did you first start playing football?”
Victor Dimukeje: “I actually started playing in the eighth grade. I grew up watching the Ravens play. I got the chance to play in the eighth grade when my parents let me play.”
JF: “You first went to New Town High School as a freshman, but ended up being recruited to join Boys’ Latin, a private school. What was that transitional process like for you going from a fairly large public school in Baltimore to a much smaller private school?”
VD: “The hardest part of it was the academic part because it was more serious. They had smaller classes so you had the one-on-one time with the teacher, that was the biggest thing for me. The football was better for me, so I had to adjust quickly. Going into my sophomore year, I had to play a higher level of football at Boys’ Latin. It was a good transition overall.”
JF: “At Duke, you graduated with a degree in evolutionary anthropology. Now, I don’t claim to be much of a scholar, but that sure sounds like an intensive degree. And I know that not only was Boys’ Latin a pretty prestigious school in terms of academics, but you also received some Ivy League offers coming out of high school. Not to mention Duke is a pretty prestigious school in its own right. What role has academics played in your upbringing and do you think that will help you after your football career is over?”
VD: “Oh yeah, for sure, it’s played a huge role. You know I’m of Nigerian descent, my family takes it very seriously. When I’m done playing football, I’m going to need a backup plan. Academics are definitely going to be very important in that process. And being able to balance football and academics, just the determination and resilience to go to a school like that, I feel like that not only prepares me for the NFL team that I end up going to but it shows that I’m a hard worker and I know how to manage my time. That’s the biggest thing.”
JF: “That’s something that so many people overlook when talking about a school like Duke or Stanford or Notre Dame. Just the time that goes into being both an athlete and a student. It’s a lot of work.
Now let’s move on to your career at Duke. You’re probably one of the most experienced edge rushers in this class. You started all 49 career games you played at Duke. Is that experience something that you think will provide you with an advantage once you get to the NFL?”
VD: “Most definitely. I feel like experience and consistency are two things that separate me from everyone else. If you go back to my freshman year all the way through my senior year, you’d see the consistent numbers that I put up. I improved every year, from sack numbers to TFLs. I took something that I wanted to improve on each offseason and you could see the improvements that I made each and every year. I played a lot of football so you know what to expect from me. And I haven’t reached my potential yet, I still have a ways to go. So to any NFL team that gets me, know that I’m a hard worker and a football player, at the end of the day.”
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JF: “One NFL player that I’ve seen multiple people compare you to is actually new Jets defensive end Carl Lawson. Is he someone you’ve watched at all and if not him, is there anyone you model your game after?”
VD: “I had a lot of NFL guys tell me to watch him. He’s a solid player. I’ve kept up with him since he was at Auburn so I know how he plays. We have similar body types, he’s definitely one guy I’ve kept my eye on. I’ve also watched guys like Khalil Mack and the Bosa brothers. Just the top guys at my position because I want to end up being one of those top guys when it comes down to it. I take pieces from those players and add them to my own game.”
JF: “Are there any teams that have shown a little more interest than others that you could potentially see yourself with come draft day?”
VD: “Of course some teams show more love than others. But the draft is basically a game, you never really know until you get that phone call. I try not to read into that stuff too much. I just try to wait it out and keep working out. I don’t really focus on what team. I just focus on getting the opportunity once it arrives.”
JF: “Finally, I do have to ask you this question since we are a Jets site. Have the Jets shown any interest and do you see yourself as a fit in the scheme they’re trying to run under Robert Saleh?”
VD: “Yeah I’ve talked to the Jets a few times. And for sure, you could see what [Saleh] did in San Francisco before he got to the Jets so you know [the Jets] know what they’re doing, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That would definitely be an exciting fit. It would be a good opportunity if I get that chance.”
Special thanks to Victor for taking the time to speak with us. If the Jets plan to target a pass-rusher on Day 2 or 3 of the draft, Dimukeje could be a player they consider.
Only time will tell if Victor Dimukeje ends up with the Jets.