Nick is a very strong lineman for his size. He is stout against the run and will string plays out to his side so others can make a play on the ball. He gives good effort on every play and is a smart player. He shows on film solid athletic talent to play at the next level. He has nice balance and straight line explosion off the line. Nick is always in the right position when the play is coming to his side and understands situational football. He works very well in pass rushing situations with his teammates. He has a very mature style to his game; he doesn't panic or have very many wasted movements in his game. He is a thinker and understands his talent is magnified because of his ability to keep his head while others around him might be losing theirs. I like this kid's overall game. In spite of (or perhaps due to) his quiet style of play, he is a leader on the field. Nick is the type of player who will wind up being a better player at the NFL level than he was in college, in my opinion.
Nick plays with his hand down, and I'm thinking that's not the way he should play. He needs to be more of a linebacker than a defensive lineman. His size and arm length suggest that at the next level he will struggle to disengage from those big offensive tackles with large wingspans to make a play on a running back or rush the passer as a defensive lineman. He struggles right now at the college level with this. Nick will have to prove at the combine that he has linebacker speed and change of direction skills. I'm not sure he has those skills to the degree that most teams would like him to have. To be effective for an NFL team, Nick will have to slim down and learn the linebacker position, which may take some time. While he learns, he should be able to be used on specialty teams and as a situational player.
I would not be surprised if Nick does not test well at the combine. He strikes me as the type of kid that would rather do his talking on the field. Teams that have 3-4 defenses will rate Nick higher than those teams that run mostly 4-3 defenses. Some of those 3-4 teams will not rate him that high because he might not have the athletic talent and explosion off the line they like to see in their OLB's. But teams like the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers are going to like this kid and could draft him early. He has the strength they like as well as the football intelligence and the ability to explode from a stand up position. If Nick is left unblocked or used in stunts and games around the line of scrimmage, he will be very effective and become a core player and fan favorite for the team that drafts him. He might have to lose a little bulk and weight. He reminds me a lot of Nick Barnett (LB Buffalo Bills) who made his impact with the Green Bay Packers. Slim Nick down and give him a few years and this kid could impact from multiple positions in your 3-4 defense. I like this kid's potential for the team that drafts him, but drafting him too high will give the impression that he can carry a defense and, while I believe Nick is a player who could become an important part of your defense, I don't believe he is the type of player who carries your defense.
The BS Detector
Drew Boylhart Jan /12