2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III

By Alex Kozora

With the regular season over, our focus has shifted to the offseason. For the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on prospects. Some the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at. Other top players that will be off the board before the Steelers select. All to make you as prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft as possible.

A breakdown of one of the biggest men in the draft. Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III.

Louis Nix III/NT Notre Dame: 6’2/4 (meaning 6 foot 2, four /eighths inches) 342

The Good

– Massive, size to play nose tackle

– Attracts double teams

– Surprising athlete

– Nimble feet and quick off the ball

– Can penetrate and be disruptive against the run

– Can hold POA vs double teams

– Effective bull rush, strength and leverage to collapse pocket

– Active hands as a pass rusher

– Quality motor and effort

The Bad

– Could be struggling with his weight, appeared to play heavier senior year

– Inconsistent

– Will pop up too high off the ball

– Won’t always stay square to the line, can get turned and washed

– Has trouble getting off blocks, can get stuck

– Gets overextended rushing the passer, won’t always bring lower half

– Doesn’t always show the strength he has

– Coming off injury


– Played eight games in 2013, finishing with 27 tackles and 2 TFL

– Missed final five after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee

– 30 career starts

– 14 career TFL, 2.5 sacks

– 50 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior in high school

– Reportedly weighed 368 pounds when he arrived at Notre Dame

– Lost 42 pounds from freshman to sophomore season

Admittedly, Nix is a tough prospect to figure out. Watching him in 2013, you could tell he was a quicker athlete than most guys at his size. But then I put on the championship game against Alabama in 2012, and he looked a lot quicker and slimmer. Maybe due to being fresh after having so much time off. Or  a result of the intensity of the game. But watch him run down this screen.


And just comparing him with still shots, albeit not the most reliable method out there, he looks bigger in 2013 than 2012. The angle complicates matters but he did look bigger.

In 2012.


And 2013


I didn’t study his tape in 2012 as extensively as I did in 2013 but seeing his inconsistencies orignally led me to think he got sloppy with his weight, ballooned up, and played hot and cold.

He’ll flash at one moment


tossing away the smaller center


flashing that first step while swimming over the center, not allowing the guard to scoop block him and making the tackle on 3rd and Goal

And then look like a 7th rounder in others


I don’t know how to describe what happened in the above play


There he is getting turned and washed by the right guard. Has to stay square in order to shed.

But the other element to consider is the knee. It explains his play. The three games I watched was the 2012 championship game against Alabama, an early September game against Michigan, and a mid-October matchup against USC.

Against Alabama, he was his most athletic. Versus Michigan, he looked a little worse. Then his most lethargic against USC. He missed the next two games due to his knee, gritted it out versus Pittsburgh, and then went under the knife following that game.

It stands to reason the knee dogged him, hampering his play. The player I saw against Alabama is the one I want to see all the time. Getting his knee right is a big step towards that goal. It’s all connected. If your knee is bulky, you can’t explode off the ball. If you can’t explode off the ball, you won’t generate a push (especially when your arms are short and it’s tougher to engage). If you can’t get a push, you’re vulnerable to get washed. And it’s hard to anchor and hold the point when your lower body is fighting you.

His weight does scare me. Even with the knee, I don’t like the fact it looks he came into the season looking heavier. There was no need to add weight after the 2012 season. He was plenty big already. It’s commendable he lost over 40 pounds early in his career but maintaining a healthy playing weight will be an issue to address for whatever team drafts him.

And then there still are some technique issues to be worked on. Chiefly staying square to the ball. He’ll need it with some of the two gapping he’ll likely be asked to do.

It’s a separate discussion but Steve McLendon is capable of being the Steelers nose tackle.  The position isn’t as big of a concern as some make it out to be. So it’d be surprising to see the team take Nix or address the position in the early rounds.

Refer to Bill Parcells’ “Planet Theory”.  There are only so many big men in existence that can move well enough to last in the NFL. That’s what makes him special. In short, get Nix healthy and back to his old playing weight and the consistency will improve.  Then you’ll have a starting nose tackle on Sundays.

Projection: Late First Round

Games Watched: vs Alabama (Bowl – Junior), vs Michigan, vs USC

Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
ILB Shayne Skov
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman

  • Bradys_Dad

    Questionable work ethic, weight issues, slower than the average bear. I’m not sold at all but someone will be.

  • srdan

    It could get interesting if there somehow there at 45.

    The opposite thing has happened to the NTs compared to 3/4 OLBs. A guy like Nix would have been a high pick 10 years ago because teams were gearing up to stop the run. Today, if you can’t get a pass rush, you drop down the board.

    People always want to point out the success we had with 3rd round picks and on picking OLBs like Porter, Lloyd, Haggans….But dont realize that today most of those guys are first round talent. The Steelers were ahead of the curve on the 3/4.

    I like Nix, but not in the first.

    Where would Casey Hampton get drafted in 2014, first round?

  • Tullydew

    Dontari Poe was selected #11 in the 2012 NFL draft

  • 20Stoney

    If they take Nix with the 15th pick, my head is going to explode. He won’t ever be on the field on passing downs. I don’t know why so many mocks have the Steelers taking him.

  • srdan

    He is not a two down player. He is amonster in the middle who produced 4.5 sacks from the NT position.

  • steeltown

    Only if they trade back into the late 20’s.. and I don’t see that happening

  • steellife007

    On the clip where he is tossing away a smaller center, the center’s responsibility is the second level…..the center was supposed to get a hand on Nix to help with the guards scoop block on his way to the LB but you can tell the center didn’t even try to do that….resulting in an easy play for Nix. The guard had no chance at that block without help from the center….If Nix didn’t make that play I would be concerned as a coach. The play of him getting pancaked and getting washed away from the play on the other clips would make me question this pick in the 1st rd.

  • Aric Brown

    Im not endorsing picking up a DT in the first round… but wasnt Star Loutuli and Shariff Floyd first rounders also

  • dgh57

    I’ll pass on the weight issues and as we have more pressing needs on defense such as CB, S, and maybe even a OLB if Worilds ends up leaving. Maybe a NT in the later rounds.

  • DrakePirate

    big guys always are a worry if they have weight issues … especially when they have yet to enter the lifestyle of the NFL !

  • srdan

    They were drafted for a 4/3 DT. and had 3 and 2.5 sacks respectively as rookies. They are pass rushers from teh inside.

  • David Edward

    Ah, the Nix profile. Here’s where we separate the amateurs from those in the know. The knee jerk reaction to the Steelers problems defending the run is that they were weak up front and in the middle and drafting a NT like Nix will solve that. Yoy and double yoy! We know that it was the big play that caused the run D to suffer. There were multiple culprits, such as the secondary, lack of outside contain from OLBs, ILBs filling the wrong gaps, DEs not holding the point.

    While amateurs correctly quote LeBeau as saying the NT is a key to the 34, times have changed, and even LeBeau knows it’s hard to stay in the base 34. That’s what he has the multiple sub packages that are actually employed more than the base. In those packages, mostly only 2 DL are used (although the OLBs are essentially DEs. The classic big-body NT is basically a part time player in LeBeau’s D these days. You can say that the 2 sub package DL are more the starters now. Those guys need to be both pass rushers and stout point-of-attack run defenders. They also need to be able to bat down passes at the line. Heyward is ideal for this role. McClendon, while serving as the base NT, is capable in that role as well due to his skill set and length.

    As for Nix, he might be able to be a nice run plugger in the NFL, but would have to come off the field more often than not. Dontari Poe is a unique animal (to use a Tomlinism) in that he is a superior athlete at 350. Nix reminds me more of Terrence Cody. There will surely be a better player available @15 than Nix. Better fits at DL would be Nix’s teammate Tuitt or Hageman.

  • steellife007

    I too would rather see us go with a DB if we draft Defense in the 1st bc we have not taken a DB in the 1st or 2nd in a long time…..especially if we have first crack at CB or possibly Clinton-Dix to replace Clark at FS….Although I know nobody has talked about it but if we keep troy I really do think he is more than capable of playing the FS position and let Shark take over the SS in his 2nd yr.

  • RW

    Please no…

  • SteelersDepot
  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I miss having a nose tackle with weight problems

  • steeltown

    Plus they could re-sign Al Woods for a modest price, who like McLendon provides versatility

  • srdan


    “champagne and chicken wings!!”

  • Chad H

    I agree with what you are throwing down. The ND games I watched Tuitt was a straight up menac

  • Chad H

    I still don’t see a sure 1st rd DB in this draft. If Mack or Barr fall in the 1st you have to take them.

  • Alex Kozora

    I’m referring to the play above the text where he’s pass rushing. Not the 3rd and Goal below.

  • Kirby Hogenmiller

    Dontari Poe was also an Ultra Athletic nose tackle who ran a 4.98 and had a rediculas bench number i think its safe to say Nix isnt that much of an athlete at his current weight.

  • Kirby Hogenmiller


  • dgh57

    Because some of these people that make these mocks for us know diddly squat how our defense is run!

  • dgh57

    I don’t see a top 20 DB in the draft(except for the teams that reach) so they might have to trade back to get a DB. But hopefully only if a Barr, Mack, or even a Tuitt are off the board.

  • Bradys_Dad

    If Mack can put on 10-15 lbs I’d love to have him.

  • steellife007

    Why would he have to put on 15 lbs…he weighs 245 right now and he is only 6’2″?

  • lefnor

    Our defense’s first priority is to stop the run extremely well and force 2nd/3rd and long situations. Make the offense one dimensional. This is what didn’t work this year. And this is why this D badly needs a guy like Nix.

    Weight issues? Bad knee? What about Hampton? He had consistent weight issues and more ACL surgeries.

    I would pick Nix at 15.

  • David Edward

    I would be interested in your analysis of how Nix is going to single handedly stop the run, particularly if teams decide to pass when he is in there, and then run when he’s on the sidelines when they go to their nickel and dime sub packages.

  • Callentown

    Seems like a choice between taking a NT and moving McClendon to Tackle – OR – taking a tackle and leaving him at the nose.

    Hard to say what the Steelers brass would want to do, but players for either scenario will be there at their pick.

  • lefnor

    Single handedly? Wow. I didn’t know that is the role of a NT.
    Passing when he is in there? They were good with Hampton too. And they will figure it out how important is the nickel and dime packages, not you.
    But against the Bengals and Hue Jackson’s offense the base D will win the battle.
    And btw in a very good condition Nix is a true backfield penetrator, and could play with Heyward in a four man front.

  • Steve

    We don’t play a four man front. If we do draft a D line person it needs to be a DE to replace Keisel, not a nose tackle cause Big Mac did fine last year.

  • David Edward

    My joke about Nix single-handedly stopping the run pertains to my point that there seems to be a misconception that if the Steelers draft a NT like Nix @15, their problems stopping the run will be solved. You and I agree it’s a team effort. Therefore, I think it’s important to determine where the breakdowns were. If you read my post below, you’ll see that there were several culprits, but McClendon at NT wasn’t one of the bigger issues. That’s why I think using the top pick on a guy like Nix is a waste. I’d rather see them use it for an area of bigger need, which is the secondary…or DE, where they look to have a hole to fill.

    I would grade the top two CBs (Dennard and Gilbert), the two DEs (Tuitt and Hageman), and possibly the top 2 FS (Ha Ha and Pryor) higher than I would grade Nix. So, I’m not really sure how drafting Nix is going to help them improve much if at all.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    Nix is going to show up at the combine over weight run slow, perform bad in work outs, and be available in rd 2. my hopes and dreams. Id love Mac Heyward and Nix on run downs. that would be stout. and everyone saying that the base defense doesn’t matter doesn’t know football, first down is the most important down in football, you win first down and it puts the offense in a bad position which leads to sacks and sacks lead to turnovers. Turnovers win games. Not defense or offense, turnovers.. The team needs to be more stout on 3rd and 3 or less Nix would help with that too. Making teams pass on 3rd and short leads to INTs for TDs

  • Steeler Goetz

    I don’t care about the numbers. All I care about is the tape and he didn’t look like a dominant player on the tape I saw (Alabama, Michigan & Stanford). Not every player on your team is going to be a dominating player; but your 1st rounders need to be or else you’ll be picking earlier and earlier very year. I’m not a Nix fan based on what I’ve seen.

  • The Great Mr Slippery

    If they pass hageman for this chump ill die