On Tuesday, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock held his first conference call of the offseason with the media prior to the Scouting Combine taking place and late in the session he was asked to give his thoughts on Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III. While Mayock does list Nix as his top rated defensive tackle in his first position-by-position rankings for the upcoming draft, he doesn’t sound totally convinced right no that he is a top 20 selection.
“Regarding Nix, some teams and general managers really like him as a prototypical nose tackle,” Mayock said. “[He’s a] big kid, he’s got good, short area quickness for a 330-pound guy. He had a knee [issue] last year, flashed but didn’t play at a high level all the time. He’s got to be a little bit lighter. He’s got to play at 330, so the question is can he gain an edge and push the pocket. If you believe in that, then he’s probably a top-20 pick. If you don’t believe that, he’s probably not a top 20 pick for your team.”
“One of the keys is keeping that weight where it belongs. He’s a better player at 330 than he is at 350. When you put all the composites of Louis Nix together when he’s healthy and in shape, when he plays with leverage and doesn’t stand up, when you put that together, he’s a top-20 pick. When you say he wasn’t healthy and because the knee was hurt he wasn’t in as good shape, there are teams out there that really like him and teams out there that say, ‘No, I don’t really see it.’ The good thing for Louis is it only takes one [team]. I think teams are going to look real hard at him, what kind of kid are we getting, what kind of work ethic are we getting? He is a good kid and I think he will check out.”
As far as the direction that Mayock thinks the Pittsburgh Steelers should go with the 15th overall selection, he doesn’t sound totally sold on the idea of Nix being the pick.
“If you’re going to live at 3-4, which they do, the nose tackle position is pretty important,” said Mayock. “They like [Steve] McLendon. He’s a pretty interesting guy. The only guy that’s even worth looking at that early would be Louis Nix and you have to buy into the fact that you’re going to get a significant number of snaps from him and I’m not sure you can.”
So who does Mayock like better for the Steelers at 15? Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.
“Kyle Fuller makes a lot of sense for what they do and how they do it,” said Mayock. “He plays a lot like the kid [Keenan Lewis] they lost to New Orleans as a free agent. Fuller makes a lot of sense.”
Throughout the conference call, Mayock sang the praises of Fuller, who he currently has listed as the No. 3 cornerback on his list of top draft prospects.
“The Fuller kid I really like,” Mayock said. “I have got him as my third ranked corner. I think he’s a first round talent. He’s long, he tackles, he has ball skills. I think the key for him is what he runs that 40 in. If he comes in as a sub four, five, I think he’s a first round lock.”
Maybe Mayock’s thoughts on Nix will finally cool Steelers fans on him. As I have stated all along, I will be surprised if he’s the pick and won’t be shocked if they don’t draft a nose tackle at all. As for Fuller, I want to watch some more tape on him before declaring him a top 20 prospect. I will try to do that over the course of the next few days.