Chargers Draft

Los Angeles Chargers: 5 defensive tackles to target after the first round

BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 21: Defensive tackle Tim Settle #4 and safety Terrell Edmunds #22 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate their sack on quarterback Brandon Harris #6 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half at Lane Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - OCTOBER 21: Defensive tackle Tim Settle #4 and safety Terrell Edmunds #22 of the Virginia Tech Hokies celebrate their sack on quarterback Brandon Harris #6 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half at Lane Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
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Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi

Derrick Nnadi is not getting enough hype. But hey, let’s keep it that way.

Nnadi was a three-year starter for the Seminoles. He never missed a game during that span, too. More importantly, he comes with solid production. He had at least 45 total tackles in each of those three seasons. Overall, he finished his career at Florida State with 163 total tackles, including 24 for loss, 11.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble.

He was a 2017 third-team All-ACC selection, a 2016 first-team selection and Florida State’s most improved player following his 2015 season and 2016 spring season.

He helped Florida State rank No. 21 in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (128) and was also part of a defense that led the nation in sacks per game (3.92) two years ago. He earned ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors after his performance against a Deshaun Watson-led Clemson team, too.

In 2017, his 86.5 run-dense ranked eighth among draft-eligible defensive tackles. The season before, he posted the fifth-best run-defense grade and the third-highest run stop-percentage among interior linemen, as noted by PFF. Yeah, he’s one of the premier run stuffers in this draft.

He wasn’t the best pass rusher, but he was capable of getting to the quarterback, especially in his junior year.

Derrick Nnadi rushed the passer with the best of them during his time in Tallahassee pic.twitter.com/vlBiGvkTEB

— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 4, 2018

Here’s Nnadi’s profile overview on NFL.com:

“It’s hard to find “bad tape” for Nnadi. While NFL teams may see an undersized 4-3 nose tackle with limited pass rush value, I see a player with good power at the point of attack who can dislodge from single blocks and make plays. Nnadi has a good motor, active hands and enough pass rush ability to cause problems for blockers up front. Nnadi has the physical tools to play in one or two-gap schemes and has NFL starting ability.”

He was listed at 6-foot-1, 310 pounds at Florida State, but his official weight on NFL.com is 299 pounds (height is the same). He may be a bit undersized, but he’s stout and really strong. He has great leverage and solid lateral movement, as well as a good motor. I was really impressed by how aware he was on every play. He’s also tenacious. I mean, he just tossed this offensive lineman like a rag doll..

Everything looks good, right? Well, his combine performance wasn’t. He ranked in the bottom half among all defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (5.38), vertical (27 inches), broad jump (96 inches), three-cone drill (8.15 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (5.02 seconds). His 10-yard split (1.86) was average at best. He also didn’t look fluid in on-field drills.

That said, he’s one of the strongest defensive tackles out there. His 25 reps of 225 pounds at the combine ranked just outside the top 15 among all DL, but he bench pressed 525 pounds and squatted 750 pounds this past summer.

Overall, I don’t think teams should be too worried about his combine results. His tape tells a different story. He’s not the super explosive, high-end elite athlete and doesn’t have ideal length, but his game speed is faster than you’d think and he proved to be a force on the field. He’s an intense defender who is all about power and stopping the run, which is what the Chargers need. Though he primarily played nose guard at FSU, his frame suggests he could be the Chargers’ 3-tech (one-gap penetrator), as well as the 1-tech (two-gap block occupier) in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme; I’d probably go with the latter. He needs to work on his pass-rush skills if he wants to stay on the field for all three downs, but I believe he as the potential to do so.

Round Prediction: Round 2-3

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