Italy’s Habakkuk Baldonado (Pitt) Wraps Up Strong 2023 NFL Combine

One of the few international prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, Habakkuk Baldonado, a fifth-year senior out of Pitt, just finished a strong performance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. While competing against 1st round locks like Willie Anderson Jr or Will Mcdonald, the Italian born prospect put up numbers that stacked up well against almost any of the edge defenders in Indy.

Baldonado kicked off the day with a solid 4.78 40-yard dash, with a 1.67 10-yard split. The former Pitt Panther then showed off his explosiveness with a 35″ vertical and 10′ broad jump. The college football veteran continued to show off his quickness running a 4.44 20-yard shuttle, and then finally his strength with 21 reps on the bench press.

Despite solid testing numbers, Baldonada’s best was yet to come as the 36 game starter looked crisp and refined in pass rushing drills showing the smooth hips and quick hands that made him a force in the Steel City.

The 6’5″ Italian has been a key fixture on the Pitt Panther’s defense the past few seasons. In 2021, he made nine sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles, and All-ACC Honors. This year, the Rome native has notched two sacks, five tackles for a loss, 25 tackles, and a blocked kick in only nine games. The redshirt senior hopes to take his skills to the NFL this spring as he is projected as a late-round draft pick and was a standout at the East-West Shrine Bowl All-Star game.

Before joining the Panthers, Baldonado first played football with the Lazio Marines in his hometown of Rome. Soon thereafter, the lanky Italian made his way to Florida’s high school football scene, joining Clearwater Academy International as an exchange student. In his lone season of high school football, the slim exchange student felt right at home over 7,000 kilometers away, putting up a staggering 30 sacks in only seven games. Baldonado’s size and skills earned him scholarships offered from blue-chip programs like Michigan StateNebraskaSyracuse, and his eventual home Pittsburgh.

Baldonado’s draft stock seems to be trending up after missing some time in 2022 with an injury. A great performance at the East-West Shrine Game followed up by an impressive outing at the NFL Combine should have the proven defensive lineman moving up NFL draft boards.

Read more about Baldonado’s college career here

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and