App State’s Nick Hampton was a menace during his five years in Boone. As a result, he’s likely to hear his name called in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The outside linebacker/edge rusher finished his career with an impressive 175 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, and 27.5 sacks. It’s the sacks that should intrigue NFL teams, as Hampton’s speed and size made him a dominant edge rusher in the Sun Belt.
Hampton tallied at least five sacks in three separate seasons, including an 11-sack campaign in 2021 and an eight-sack effort in 2022. Hampton forced six fumbles during his collegiate career, doing well to create game-changing plays.
He earned All-Sun Belt honors in 2020, 2021, and 2022. He proved his worth throughout his collegiate career, becoming one of the most feared pass rushers at the Group of Five level.
Bruce Feldman included Hampton on The Athletic’s 2022 “college football freaks” list for his superb athleticism, reporting that the App State defender has a 39-inch vertical leap and can run 21 mph. Hampton’s physical ability shines through when you watch the Mountaineers play, as he often used speed to burn offensive tackles on his way to the quarterback. The edge rusher is explosive.
Hampton, listed at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, is often much quicker than opposing offensive linemen. Thanks to his speed, Hampton excelled against just about every team the Mountaineers faced.
He thrived against some of the best teams on App State’s schedule, finishing with 2.5 sacks against North Carolina’s explosive offense in 2022. In a loss to JMU in 2022, Hampton recorded another two sacks. Hampton forced fumbles in each of those two contests. Both UNC and JMU appeared in the AP Top 25 during the 2022 season.
App State’s defense had plenty of flaws in 2022, but Hampton consistently shined through as a bright spot for the Mountaineers. He’s an ideal player to have on your team when an offense is faced with a third-and-long, as he forces offenses to plan around his pass rushing talent.
Hampton’s size means he’s likely a pass rush specialist at the next level, at least in the early portion of his career. He’s not known for being a dominant run-stopper, which could be a concern for NFL teams, but his unique set of skills makes him a possible contributor.
His physical gifts and production make him a likely Day 2 or Day 3 pick. If an NFL team needs a pass rusher, Hampton figures to be toward the top of their board at the edge position.
Hampton earned an invite to the NFL Combine, which could boost his stock and help him solidify his position as a top-100 pick. His athleticism should pop at the event, leading to a long list of suitors come draft day.
Given the importance of passing in today’s NFL, teams are always looking to find the next great pass rusher. Hampton could be that guy. Even if he doesn’t become an elite-level NFL talent, Hampton figures to produce at the NFL level for years to come.
Sun Belt offenses know all too well what can happen with Hampton on the edge in passing situations. NFL offensive linemen will soon find out the challenge of facing Hampton on third-and-long.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.