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Ivan Pace 2023 NFL Draft Profile

After spending his college years at Miami and Cincinnati, linebacker Ivan Pace has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Ivan Pace NFL Draft

Ivan Pace NFL Draft Overview

Position: Linebacker
Height: 5′-10″
Weight: 231 pounds
School: Cincinnati

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2023 NFL Draft: Ivan Pace Scouting Report

After four collegiate seasons split between Miami and Cincinnati, Ivan Pace has finally declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. The linebacker made the move to the professional level at the right time, as his first year in Cincinnati was easily the best of his career to date. Appearing in 13 games, Pace recorded 136 tackles, 20.5 tackles-for-loss, and nine sacks.

Ivan Pace originally began his journey to the NFL Draft in 2019. Appearing in six games as a true freshman, the linebacker finished the year with 19 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, and seven sacks, with six of those coming in a single contest. After a COVID-shortened 2020 that only saw him play in three games, Pace continued to impress in 2021. Appearing in 13 games, he finished the season with 125 tackles, 13 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, and one interception.


  • Fantastic speed and acceleration – slips past blockers with ease;
  • Much, much stronger than his size implies – doesn’t miss many tackles and can take on blocks;
  • Chases down plays on either side of the field with regularity;
  • Absolutely lethal blitzer – can be a real problem in the right system;
  • Maintains balance and speed through contact;
  • Fantastic change of direction.


  • So, so small for a linebacker – under 10th percentile in height and weight;
  • Won’t be able to match tight ends in man coverage;
  • Lacks the instincts for dropping into zone – much more of a run defender than a coverage specialist;
  • If a blocker catches him flat-footed, it’s over;
  • Unlikely he’ll be able to switch to safety if he’s too small to play linebacker in the NFL.

NFL Comparison: David Long

Teams With Need at Position: Buffalo BillsChicago BearsCleveland BrownsDenver BroncosLas Vegas RaidersLos Angeles ChargersMiami DolphinsNew England Patriots

Projection: Rounds 3-4

Bottom Line on Ivan Pace

Watching Ivan Pace play football is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, you love to see all the things he can do, as he’s one of the most fun players to watch at the college football level. The Cincinnati product is a human blur that basically didn’t do anything wrong last year. He can get past blockers, go after the quarterback, and chase down run plays without missing tackles. On the rare instances that he misreads a play, he has the lateral agility to adjust and take the quickest path to the ball carrier. When looking purely at what he does well, he looks like he could be a 10-year starter in the NFL.

However, those happy feelings go away when you remember his build. As unfortunate as it is, size does matter in the NFL, and Ivan Pace’s small stature means that he will eternally be fighting an uphill battle to survive at the professional level. While he is strong enough to hold his own against blockers when he has a head of steam, he lacks the frame to match up to offensive linemen when they catch him unaware.

Normally, you’d think about moving a player like Pace into a pseudo-safety role in the NFL. However, safeties have more coverage responsibilities than linebackers, and Pace is a considerably better player near the line of scrimmage. He lacks the size to handle tight ends in man coverage, and the instincts that make him so dangerous against the run and as a blitzer just aren’t there when he drops into zone. Even if he gets a better feel for coverage in the NFL, his minuscule wingspan means that he’ll never be much of a ballhawk.

Ultimately, if Ivan Pace entered the NFL Draft with six more inches of height, he might be a first-round pick. However, due to his small build, he’s going to need to prove that he can hold up against stronger, bigger, and faster NFL competition. If he can do that, then he’ll probably be a starter for years to come. However, due to his small size, it’s hard to imagine any team taking a risk on him until the third or fourth round.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports


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