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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Summary: Anthony Knighton, DE, Southern Illinois University

Anthony Knighton
Anthony Knighton is one of the most sound pass rushers in his conference. The Saluki DE is a beast off the edge.

By Craig Forrestal

Anthony Knighton

  • School: Southern Illinois
  • Position: DE
  • HT: 6ft4
  • WT: 260
  • Hometown: Fort Pierce, FL
  • High School: Fort Pierce Central
  • Recruit Ranking
    • Rivals: 2 Star class of 2016
    • 247: 3 Star/ 76 overall Strongside DE in class of 2016
    • ESPN: Not Found
  • Knighton played basketball and was the Player of the Year at Fort Pierce Central high school for two years

2016 Season

  • Redshirt season

2017 Season

  • Freshman All-American by HERO Sports and Phil Steele Magazine
  • Runner up for Missouri Valley Football Conference Freshman of the Year 
  • Finished 11th in the Jerry Rice Award voting (National Freshman of the Year)
  • Honorable Mention All-MVFC
  • Started all 11 games 
  • Set SIU freshman records with 11.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks
  • Led team in sacks with 6.5 and QB hurries with 6

2018 Season

  • 2nd-Team All-MVFC
  • Earned starts in all 11 games
  • Led the team and finished 3rd in the MVFC with 8.5 sacks
  • Led the team and finished 4th in the MVFC with 13.5 tackles for loss 
  • Tallied 45 tackles and added 3 pass breakups, an interception and a blocked kick
  • Voted as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year

2019 Season

  • Started all 12 games, extending his streak of consecutive starts to 34 games
  • Registered 6.0 sacks and 10.5 TFL
  • Recorded sacks in three-straight games against UMass, UT Martin and Arkansas State
  • Finished the season ranked No. 3 in school history with 21.0 career sacks and No. 6 in TFL with 34.5


Knighton held offers from South Florida, Cincinnati and Kentucky as a high school standout in Fort Pierce, FL, the same hometown as another small-school pass-rush specialist Khalil Mack. Knighton has not lost any athleticism as he has added size throughout his time at SIU. Knighton is a constant source of pressure and lives in the backfield. He explodes on contact bringing QBs to the ground with a thud. Knighton is tough and durable as shown through his 3 seasons as a starter. Succesful when playing ‘up’ in competition against FBS schools as evidenced by sacks against UMass and Arkansas State. Understands how to use his hands and has developed a fairly decent arsenal of pass rush moves.

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