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Marino | Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi Owns the Line of Scrimmage

NOV 05 Florida State at NC State
Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

Marino | Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi Owns the Line of Scrimmage

After 2017’s pedestrian crop of defensive tackles, the 2018 group is loaded with talent. An early glance at the prospect pool leads me to believe there could be 10 with Day 1 or Day 2 grades.

And the class isn’t entirely dependent on underclassmen declarations. Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, Utah’s Lowell Lotulei and Florida State‘s Derrick Nnadi headline a strong group of seniors.

While Hurst is likely to be the toast of the senior defensive tackles, Nnadi is a powerful presence capable of dominating the line of scrimmage.

This rep encapsulates the strengths of Nnadi’s game.

Goal line situations are where you separate the men from the boys. Everything happens quicker and the “winner” is usually the group that out-leverages the opponent.

On this rep, Nnadi’s ability to dominate the line of scrimmage is on full display. He comes off the ball with low pads and controls the blocker by initiating contact with his hands. From there, Nnadi extends his arms to keep separation from the blocker and his eyes are able to locate the football. His overall strength and technique allows him to stack the run, shed the block and make the play at the line of scrimmage.

Nnadi routinely makes plays like the one I just showcased. While Nnadi won’t be confused with other defensive tackles that are twitchy, he does have a level of mobility that is pleasant to see.

Take the following rep for example.

NFL offenses are featuring more and more wide zone runs which puts stress on a defensive tackles ability to move laterally while maintaining their run fits. If a run-stuffing defensive tackle cannot move their feet and work towards the football on wide zone plays, then gaping running lanes are the result. Understanding this is vital in evaluating defensive tackles that are billed as run-stuffers. Defensive tackles can anchor against drive blocks all day long but if they can’t move their feet then wide zone runs will expose them.

On this rep, the left guard is trying to reach Nnadi’s inside shoulder and pin him back inside to seal his gap. Nnadi is tasked with not allowing that to happen by prohibiting the guard from crossing his face. To do that it requires a blend of power and mobility. As you can see, not only does Nnadi not allow his face to be crossed, he re-sets the line of scrimmage and works laterally to get involved with the tackle for loss. The running back wanted to cutback inside but Nnadi’s effort to maintain his run fit and clog the lane destroyed that idea.

Nnadi’s limited pass rushing upside does weaken his evaluation but teams needing a country-strong defensive lineman capable of dominating the line of scrimmage then they don’t need to look any further than Nnadi. His ability to anchor, stack, find the football and shed blocks makes him one of the top defensive tackle prospects available for 2018.

Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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