TOJ Offensive Line Guru, Mike Nolan continues his scouting reports on linemen that the New York Jets could target in the NFL Draft. Today he takes a closer look at UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Xavier Su’a-Filo
From: Pleasant Grove, UT
Weight: 307 pounds
Arm Length: 33 3/8″
Hand Size: 9 3/8″
Bench Press: 25 Reps
40 Time: 5.04 Sec
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.44 Sec (Best at Combine)
Accolades: NFL.com 1st Team All-American, AP 2nd Team All-American, Morris Trophy (PAC-12 Best Lineman as voted by conference Defensive Linemen), 1st Team All-Conference, UCLA Offensive MVP, Team Captain
When I first started watching the film on Su’a-Filo, I was a little unimpressed and thought he was another disappointing interior offensive line prospect. I must have started with a bad film, because as I kept watching he really started to separate himself from the pack in my mind. Out of the guys who primarily played guard in college, Su’a-Filo is probably the best guard prospect in this year’s draft.
The thing that jumps off Su’a-Filo’s tape is his athleticism. For an offensive lineman, he is both fast and quick. You can see his pure speed when he pulls. He is the rare lineman that can get out in front of a runner and lead him where he wants to go. He verified his athleticism as he was one of the top performers at the Combine, posting great 40 yard dash and 3 cone drill times and the highest 20 yard shuttle time. In my opinion the 20 yard shuttle and the 3 cone drill are the most telling for an offensive lineman when it comes to foot speed.
In addition to his athleticism, Su’a-Filo has good knee bend and hip flexibility leading to good balance and decent body control. His movement is fluid and he correctly brings his power through his hips. He also has solid hands. While, his punch may not always be on target, his hands often save him when his technique isn’t up to par in pass protection.
He is a versatile lineman, starting at left tackle in his Freshman year and filling in there in 2013 because of injury.
Su’a-Filo appears to be a high character player, being named a UCLA team captain. He obviously has the respect of his teammates, but he also has the respect of his peers, being named the PAC-12’s best offensive lineman as voted by the conference’s defensive linemen. He also took two years off from football for a Mormon mission.
Su’a-Filo does have some things he needs to work on at the next level. He has some issues with balance towards the end of run blocks. He needs to maintain his technique all the way through blocks so he can finish them and put more guys on the ground. He also could stand to be a little more patient when pulling. While he is a good puller, but he will sometimes take a strange path to get to his target. He will prematurely pick a hole, which at times gives him a bad angle to get to his linebacker.
Most of his technical issues pop up in pass protection. His biggest issue is that he will often times stop his feet when trying to mirror defenders. He gets himself out of position and will allow pass rushers to beat him on the inside or outside. Luckily his great hands will often save him, but this is the major issue that needs to be tweaked. In addition he is a very aggressive pass blocker, which can be a good and bad thing. It can put him in a bad position when he attacks defenders and brings his feet forward. This especially rears its ugly head when teams threw pass twists at him. Stanford killed him with Trent Murphy coming around on late twists against the left side of UCLA’s line.
He can greatly benefit from an NFL strength program that will help help tone his body a little bit and add some strength.
Some people will look at his Mormon Mission as a negative. He missed out on two years of football and is already 23 years old.
Fit With the Jets
Su’a-Filo is a versatile lineman. Not only does he have positional versatility, he has scheme versatility. Su’a-Filo should be able to thrive in any offensive scheme. At UCLA, he ran a lot of gap scheme (power), but should be able to be successful no matter the scheme. He has the footwork and athleticism to adapt. With that, he would fit very well into Marty Monrhinweg’s offense. He can perform any type of run block and has shown to be a very good puller. In the pass game, he needs to sure up his technique and continue to move his feet to mirror defenders. Because he has great athleticism, this should be easily fixed before he would step on an NFL field.
Where Does He Get Drafted?
Su’a-Filo is a late first round to early second round guy. His stock could even rise a little bit if a team has a need at guard and isn’t sold on moving a guy like Zack Martin or Joel Bitonio from tackle. If your looking for a pure guard in this draft, Su’a-Filo is the guy. If the Jets want him they will more than likely have to pull the trigger in the first round. They may have a chance to get him if they trade up or down into the beginning of the second round.
Xavier Su’a-Filo is the best pure guard prospect in this draft. Not only is he an NFL ready product at guard, he still has some upside. Remember he has only played two years of College Football, with a break in the middle of those two years. If he can fix his footwork issues in pass protection, he has the skill set and athleticism to be a very good NFL offensive guard regardless of scheme. The Jets have needs on their offensive line and didn’t do much in free agency to add new depth. If they view offensive line as a bigger need than they are leading on, Su’a-Filo may be a guy they could take early to help sure up a group with a lot of question marks.