2022 NFL Draft Profile: New Mexico DE Joey Noble
The Lobos defensive end thrived in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense, but how will that translate to the National Football League?
Can the productive Noble make the jump?
New Mexico isn’t typically thought of a hot bed for NFL talent, but the Lobos football program has had a few players find big success in the pros through recent years: Glover Quin played for a decade, Corey Bojorquez has made his way around the league as a punter for five seasons now, and Jason Sanders developed into an All-Pro kicker for the Miami Dolphins. Then, of course, there’s Brian Urlacher, the platinum standard by which all future Lobos will be measured.
Enter Joey Noble, who arrived in Albuquerque as a junior college transfer in 2019, carved out a part-time role in his first year with the Lobos, then emerged as an unexpected disruptive force under the tutelage of head coach Danny Gonzales and defensive coordinator Rocky Long in 2020 and 2021. He defied the odds once to become a major player in the Mountain West, but can he do it again and hear his name called at the NFL Draft?
Measurables (taken from Dane Brugler and DraftScout.com)
Height – 6′ and 2 3/8″
Weight – 240 pounds
40-yard time – 4.88 seconds
10-yard split time – 1.65 seconds
Arm length – 31 1/2″
Hand size – 9 3/8″
Wingspan – 76 3/4″
Vertical jump – 25 1/2″
Broad jump – 8′ and 9″ (or 105″)
Shuttle time – 4.56 seconds
3-cone drill time – 7.38 seconds
Bench press – 15 reps
One thing that stands out about Noble is surprising speed for the defensive end position, with a quick initial burst and enough moves in his arsenal to cause headaches for tackles who have been, by and large, more physically imposing.
Noble also didn’t wilt against high-end competition, either, often playing his best games against tough non-conference opponents and the best of the Mountain West. The sack against Texas A&M in the video below is a good example. Overall, he was one of just 20 FBS defenders to record at least 1.5 tackles for loss in nine or more games between 2020 and 2021, a group which also includes San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas, Iowa State’s Mike Rose, and Alabama’s Will Anderson.
The most immediate problem that Noble faces as a prospect is that NFL defenses, for all of their variety, don’t typically run 3-3-5 looks in the same way that Rocky Long has done throughout his coaching career, so defensive coaches will have to figure out whether he can play the edge along four-man fronts or if he’d be a better fit as an outside linebacker project.
Another pair of concerns are that he may be undersized as an edge rusher among prospects and lacks the length to battle pro offensive linemen effectively. Bulking up may help in that regard by building strength, but it makes him more of a project pick than one ready for immediate action.
While it’s tempting to say that Noble will beat the odds as a late-round selection, the more likely scenario is that he’ll sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent and prove his mettle that way.