Derrick Nnadi could be a first round prospect

Derrick Nnadi. Beast.

“Derrick just gets better and better and better and better. He has no idea how good he can be.”

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Head Coach

Yesterday we discussed the possibility of Derrick Nnadi being a potential second round target for the Seahawks. Today we’ll discuss if he could work his way into round one.

Every now and again you watch a game and a player just jumps off the screen. That was the case watching Utah left tackle Garret Bolles. It was exactly the same with Nnadi.

Do the Seahawks need another defensive tackle? Yes, probably. Pete Carroll admitted recently they brought in John Jenkins to try and find an interior rush — and yet he’s ideally sized to be a big, powerful nose tackle. They released Jordan Hill and then lost Quinton Jefferson to I.R.

They’re giving up 100.2 rushing YPG (#14 in the league). In 2015 they gave up 81.5 YPG (#1 in the league). To be fair their pass rushing numbers (especially sacks) have increased dramatically this season — but for whatever reason the run defense has regressed statistically.

That fits the eye test too. They didn’t give up a single 100-yard rusher in the regular season in 2015. It’s a different story this year.

It could be the departure of Brandon Mebane. What they ideally need is someone with the incredible base and power of Mebane that is also capable of providing some pass rush. They don’t necessarily need a 10-sack guy (that’d be nice but it’s unrealistic). Is there someone who offers the production of Clinton McDonald and Jordan Hill in 2013 and 2014 (6.5 sacks)?

Nnadi is a candidate. He’s 6-1 and 312lbs. His height and size is ideal to win with leverage as he frequently does. Here are some of the highlights on tape:

— Collapses the pocket with low pad level, drives the guard into the backfield and moves the QB off his spot (Demarcus Walker has benefited a LOT)

— Superb bull rush at times, for example:

— Good initial jolt with his hands and shows quickness to create separation from the blocker, like this:

— Incredibly powerful lower body, explodes out of his stance, firing off the ball

— Regularly gains position, anchors and controls the run (even vs double teams)

— Controls his gaps nicely and shows the ability to run down the line and string out plays (seemingly important in Seattle’s defense)

— Increasingly flashes as a pass rusher — he looks quicker this year and spends considerable time in the backfield:

He’s a great big ball of power with a squatty, compact frame. There is some work to do on his overall hand use (he can disengage quicker when he gets caught up in a hands battle) but his base power, ability to control the line and offer some pass rush might be a nice combination for Seattle.

Is he unique enough? I wouldn’t expect an insane workout at the combine. He won’t run a special forty yard dash, he likely won’t own the short shuttle. It’ll be interesting to see his vertical though given his terrific base. He can squat 750lbs and that should translate to some lower body explosion. He can reportedly bench 525. That’s pretty freaky.

The D-line is a potential early round need, along with the O-line of course and the possibility of adding another inside/out rusher, a SAM/LEO, an EDGE, a multi-faceted weapon like Obi Melifonwu, a bell cow running back or even a wide receiver. I think we’re seeing recently that the Seahawks still probably lack a really dynamic bigger target on the outside — not that there are a ton of options in this class.

Nnadi could help them improve their run defense, provide more physical brutality and power inside and possibly add an extra pass rushing dimension.

Kawann Short plays at 315lbs — a similar weight to Nnadi. He looks longer (6-3, nearly 35 inch arms) and that could be a deal breaker between the two. Short is pretty unique with his overall size, power, length and quickness off the snap. That’s why he has 19 career sacks and is likely facing a big pay day in the future.

Nnadi is more squatty and we’ll have to see his measurements. It’s unlikely he’ll posses the same kind of length (Short has vines for arms). That said — he has 5.5 sacks this year and Short had 6.5 and 7.5 in his last two seasons at Purdue respectively. There was a feeling coming into the league that he was only scratching the surface of his potential and that’s the same for Nnadi.

I wrote this piece about Short in 2013, suggesting he’d be a really good option with Seattle’s #25 pick (later traded to Minnesota for Percy Harvin). Nnadi might provide similar value for someone.

When Jimbo Fisher says he doesn’t realise how good he could be — I think the same can be said for the wider public. Nnadi has something about him. A bit of a X-factor. If he declares as a junior for the 2017 draft — he could be set for a very impressive pro-career and maybe a first round grade.


  1. Kenny Sloth

    Don’t sleep on seniors Darius Hamilton of Rutgers or Montravius Adams at Auburn.

    Obviously Jaleel Johnson is a top 60 pick

    • Volume12

      Really like Adams as a rotational 3-tech. This year he finally put that promise and potential together.

      • Kenny Sloth

        He’s really sloppy, but he really made me sit up with his penetration

        • Kenny Sloth

          (that’s what she said)

  2. Volume12

    Controls the LOS, very agile and quick feet for a 300+ pounder, love how his game has progressed this year and not gone back, uses leverage extremely well, and routinely puts his man on skates. High football IQ too as I watch him on the whiteboard.

    I actually think his hand usage is really good. Reminds me of a longer Kenny Clark with more pass rush ability. He’s a stud. Nnadi is w/o a doubt a legit, NFL DT that will start for a long time there.

    • RealRhino2

      Look at Walker’s get-off on that first clip! As the little girl on the Coke commercial says, why not both?

      • Volume12

        ? Well, they always draft 2 guys from the same team it seems. Even if one is an UDFA.

        As for Walker? He’d be a perfect fit for this team. I see a lot of Michael Bennett in his game. Not saying he’s the same player though.

        I wonder if teams will over-think his eval because he’s an edge player, but makes more plays, pass rushing wise from the interior.

  3. Volume12

    Rob do you not like Michigan’s Taco Charlton?

    • Rob Staton

      I do and I don’t. Some things I like. Have a few concerns too. Liked him vs Ohio St though.

      • Volume12


        I love his ability to disrupt everything even if he isn’t the one making the play and the fact he consistently keeps his shoulders square to the LOS.. One of those guys that ‘doesn’t stay blocked.’ Dominates the run game, has a repertoire of pass rush moves, has all the pass rushing traits, tons of upside, gets held a ton. And for missing 2-3 games (and playing on abad ankle) his #’s are impressive.

        The issue for me is being able to harness that consistency. Because when he’s on, as you know, he can take over games. His best fit is probably playing in a rotation like a Seattle, Carolina, etc.

        • C-Dog

          My hunch on Taco is that he might just be getting going as a football player, and will develop more at the next level. The whole Wolverine DL is loaded with players, but I think he might be the freak out of the bunch.

          • Coleslaw

            I agree C-dog, he reminds me of Frank Clark a little bit in that way, just an elite freak specimen. Plays with similar passion when he’s on, and flashes excellence. He would be perfect in our rotation IMO. Him and Bennett inside on blitz packages and he could also spell Bennett whenever needed, while Clark spells Avril when he’s tired and Bennett on blitz packages. Mix in QJeff and you have an extremely dangerous group. Taco also has value on run downs if necessary.
            That being said there are so many D lineman I would love to have in the first, I think we are trading back for sure again this year and tapping into that depth, while acquiring pi

            • Coleslaw

              Got cut off lol, was also gonna say we might be more inclined to trade further back into the second than usual considering how deep the pool of DL is.

              • C-Dog

                Yeah, I’m pretty much expecting that. I think this is most likely a draft where JS is going to want extra picks.

  4. Volume12

    As for SAMs, UCLA’s Deon Hollins is highly underrated and crazy athletic. I don’t know why UCLA only used him on 3rd down pressure/blitz situations though.

  5. cha

    “They’re giving up 100.2 rushing YPG (#14 in the league). In 2015 they gave up 81.5 YPG (#1 in the league). To be fair their pass rushing numbers (especially sacks) have increased dramatically this season — but for whatever reason the run defense has regressed statistically.”

    Just putting this out there – what does the community think of Jarran Reed season to date? He seemed to have a impressive start in limited action the first 2-3 weeks, but since then hasn’t flashed as much. Is he still nursing the hip injury?

    • JT

      He’s had his moments against the run and even getting some interior pressure at times on the QB. TBH I’m a little disappointed with his rookie performance, as I was hoping he could come in and be a difference maker in the run game right away. It hasn’t happened as a rookie, but injuries and inexperience are at least partially to blame. They need him and Ifedi to break out both this season, and especially in years to come.

    • C-Dog

      I think he’s been doing a good job. Perhaps due to Mike B being out, I think he gets used more on rush downs, I think every game he’s flashed some potential. They seem to prefer McDaniel and Rubin to start, and rotate Reed in with Jenkins. From my eyes, he looks more 3 tech than nose, although they have him playing both. IMO, he presently offers the most disruption inside, which might be why they want him in more on passing downs until Bennett gets back.

    • rns

      The run defense has been kind of strange this year. On the one hand in terms of efficiency stats it is slightly better this year than last. They are allowing 3.5 ypc in 2016. In 2015 they allowed 3.6 ypc. They currently have the #2 rush defense per DVOA with -26%. Last year they had the #3 rush defense with -23%. However, teams are able to run more often on us despite the inefficiency. It seems to be we are not getting as many stops for no gain or lost of yardage compared to years past, so maybe teams are ok with running for 2-3 yards on first and second down and not worried about lost yardage. We are, also, giving up less explosive runs this year. I’m not sure if swapping in Reed for Mebane has anything to do with that, though.

      • Rob Staton

        I’ve just done a new piece breaking down the run defense (check it out). As you state, they’re doing well limiting the explosive runs of +10 yards but they are below average on stuff percentage (plays made behind the LOS). So they’re not giving up huge big gains but the D-line is giving up 3-4 yards and allowing sustained drives in the process. They are not impacting the run, they’re basically making tackles at the LOS or just beyond.

  6. JT

    Rob I’m glad you see the need for a player like this to really strengthen the defensive front. A true DT who can be effective on any down and distance could make a huge difference on this team, and we currently don’t have anyone like that.

    Thanks for bringing him to our attention and I can’t wait to scout players like him and Wormley leading up to the draft.

  7. C-Dog

    Going back to the USC days, PC has always preferred the 1 tech with a low powerful base and wheels to effect the center and guard. Until he blew out his hammy, Mebane was special at that, and could rush. I think they could take a real shining to Nandi. I kinda think Reed is more base 3 tech than nose. I’d be thrilled with this pick.

    • Volume12

      Could be wrong here, but I beleive it goes back to Bill Walsh.

      Agree about Reed. Like Rubin, he can play that 1-tech, 3-tech, or lining up in that 1.5 (1 1/2) alignment.

      I also think it takes D-lineman a little while longer than most positions to get going. One reason why they probably prefer veteran DTs.

      • C-Dog

        No, you could be right there. Walsh was a big influence on Pete. Pete also credits Monte Kiffin significantly as the inspiration for his 4-3 under front.

        Totally agree there. I think fans should be a bit patient on Reed this year. IMO, the coaching staff clearly prefers vets on the DL, but looking at the snap count, I think you’ll find Reed is actually getting more snaps than both Rubin and McDaniel. This kids is going to be fine. He’s a good football player. Kind of reminds me of a young Randy Starks a bit. Year two and three, I think fans will be jacked up about him like they are Clark now.

        • Volume12

          They’re never afraid to play young guys whatsoever, but last year was the 1st time under PC/JS that they needed a new, young starter at DT (replacing or offsetting the loss of ‘Bane).

          • C-Dog

            And I think they may have gotten a good one. Rob Rang called him not just the best run stuffer, but the best pure DT in the draft, in his view. So far, so good. He’s learning.

            On a side note, as vital as Mebane has been, Kevin Williams stepped in nicely at 1 tech when he was lost for the season two years ago, and there wasn’t much of a drop off agains the run. I wonder how much of the run D is also effected by the lack of Bruce Irving on this D. It seems to me the run D is especially vulnerable on the perimeter, and teams don’t attack inside near so much. Kinda why I’ve been clamoring a bit for the upgrade at SAM. Not having Mike B on the field also does not help.

            • Volume12

              Oh absolutely. A lot of times the safeties and LBs have to ‘correct’ the D-lineman when they get dug out, stunt, or are just out of their gaps.

  8. Volume12

    Toledo RB Kareem Hunt really opened my eyes against W.Michigan. He’s a finisher with good enough lateral agility.

    • Volume12

      Notice the balance, his toughness, and watch how fast he gets north/south.

      And 39 rec., 377 yds.

      • John T

        Brought him up a few times in the last month. Great initial burst and vision to get through, hard to bring down, squats 500 pounds. Not the fastest in the open field and gets caught from behind, but he gets through and eats a lot of yards. Hope he accepts the senior bowl invite. Perfect size for a us at RB.

        • John T

          And no turn overs in his career, well over 700 touches.

        • John T

          6 foot 1 and 225.

          760 carries for 4825 with 42 TDs and 71 rec. for 529 with 1 TD career

          • Rob Staton

            Watching his tape though, I can’t help but feel like he basically just runs into wide open spaces created by the extreme spread Toledo utilises. I didn’t see a really sudden burst, more a guy who works his way into the area he needs to get to and generally takes what is there. Sometimes that’s a huge big running lane — but the Toledo offense looks strangely effective at spreading out the defense.

            • RWIII

              If the Seahawks ran run more of the spread offense, that would spread the defense out. Which would open up more holes. Running a spread offense can greatly benefit the running game.

              • Rob Staton

                I can’t see this team running a spread offense. This is the team that won a title with beast mode.

  9. Dan

    Hey Rob,
    Long time reader and occasional commenter. I was just wondering what your thought of this class is? I remember earlier it was touted as a generational draft. Does it still seem that way? I know O-line is going to be a major let down but what are deepest and strongest?
    Thanks for all you do. You’re my main resource for draft knowledge 🙂

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Dan, appreciate the kind words.

      I think it’s a really interesting class. Super strong at safety, corner, D-line, EDGE. Some talent at RB. Love Garret Bolles at OT and one or two other T/G types. Some value guys at WR but not a lot of options in R1. Some good LB’s too.

  10. Ed

    That’s what I’m talking about (although was thinking more DE). DL might be as big or bigger need than OL. OL has had good and bad games, but it is young. Next year could be just one new starter:


    I’d rather go DL/RB/LB in 1st.

    Always enjoy the read

    • Rob Staton

      Seattle has Avril, Bennett and Clark. Hard to argue it’s a big need. Would be a mix of BPA and a lack of options at other needs really.

      • RWIII

        Rob: Agree. At the moment pass rusher is not the greatest need. However, Bennett and Avril are not getting any young. Plus Clark will be in his third season. Everyone knows you cannot have too many pass rushers. Pass rushers are a premium position. Unless the Hawks steal a pass rusher a they will not be able to find one in Free Agency. With the Hawks first pick I would probably go either OL/Pass Rusher or BPA.

        • Rob Staton

          I agree completely you can’t have enough pass rushers — but I never quite understand the Bennett and Avril age thing. Is anyone watching either play and thinking they’re winding down?

          With Clark, Avril, Bennett and Marsh — that’s four guys most teams would love.

          They could add another, but IMO it needs to be someone who can work the interior as a DE/DT or a pure DT.

          It’s a significant need (interior pass rush) along with further moves to increase the physicality and production of the running game/offense.

  11. Vista

    I just read that Kevin Smith was signed to the hawks practice squad

  12. Kenny Sloth

    Malik Zaire seeking transfer from ND.

    Deshone Kizer likely staying in school, then.

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