Derrick Nnadi, who is listed at 6’1” 312 lbs, will be entering the 2017 season as the starting nose tackle (NT) for the Florida State Seminoles. Let us take a look back at his career. He has made 24 starts and played in 35 games in his college career. He started making an impact early as a true freshman, with 18 tackles in nine games and his breakout performance came against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game, in which he had 6 tackles. As a sophomore he started all 13 games, finishing with 45 tackles and 2 sacks. He set a career high in tackles against Syracuse, with nine and recorded six tackles against #1 Clemson.
In 2016, his success would continue and his future draft stock really began to rise, as the junior NT would record 49 tackles and six sacks. He posted three games of 7+ tackles and not against pushover teams either. He would record 7 tackles and 2.5 TFLs against #10 Miami, 8 tackles versus NC State and against the 3rd Ranked Clemson Tigers he would post 8 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack and 1 pass break up. What all this tells me is that he is improving each year and could be poised for a huge 2017. Now let’s take a look ahead.
With some of his teammates moving on to NFL or graduating, he will be taking on more of a leadership role for the Seminoles. So, if Nnadi continues to improve and make the necessary adjustments, then his senior year could put him in position to make some big money on draft day. But before that happens there are a couple of things that he needs to work on. He is playing a position that NFL teams place extreme value on and highly covet on draft day. He has the size and physical tools, but needs to do some fine-tuning to take his play to the next level.
He has a small, compact frame, with a strong upper and lower body, which allows him to win the leverage battle most of the time. His frame is comparable to Aaron Donald.
His 1-gap skills are terrific and has the size needed to hold up against the run game. He also has a unique ability to push the pocket and clog running lanes from the inside. He has a very good variety of pass rush moves too, which is needed to keep offensive linemen guessing. There is a premium in the NFL on players that can play the run and pass. Another thing that stood out to me, was how much he got his hands up in passing lanes, even when he didn’t put himself in position to make plays off the snap. I saw him knock down a number of passes, so he is aware that he can still be effective when taken out of the play.
Weaknesses (Needed Improvements)
The first thing I noticed when watching tape of Nnadi is that if he wants to be a dominant NT and have a future in the NFL, he is going to have to work on his consistency. I saw him make a number of big plays and then disappear for stretches at a time. That is something he will have to correct before he goes to NFL. He also seems to play to the level of the competition on game days. You see him a lot more of him against better teams like Clemson and Miami than you do against the bottom dwellers of the conference.
Sometimes it looks as if he takes plays off, but as I watched his tape, I noticed Nnadi’s second issue or flaw is shedding- or getting off- blocks. Again this goes back to consistency! He is at his best and most productive when he gets off the ball quickly and initiates contact. That’s where you see him push the pocket and close running lanes. But when he is slow reacting off the snap and allows offensive lineman to dictate, he has a hard time shedding blocks to make plays.
He doesn’t have a lot of speed, so he’s not running many plays down or giving chase.
Overall, if Nnadi can correct his consistency and shedding blocks, then his production and draft stock will noticeably increase.
It’s a bit too early to really predict where Nnadi will be taken in the draft and what team will draft him. In a couple “way too early mocks,” I have seen him being drafted in the mid- to late- first-round. For me, that is too early, without knowing the results of his senior season. I would place a late 2nd to 3rd/4th round grade on him. There are a few DTs coming out that I have rated ahead of Nnadi at this point, and depending on where they fall, it would determine his spot. Like I mentioned above, a really good senior season is going to play a big part in his draft process. While we have no idea who will draft him, Nnadi will need some time to develop and would benefit from going to a team that uses a heavy rotation rather than one that leans mostly on the starters.
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