It is a testament to the strength of this draft class that I awoke on Saturday morning completely fine with the fact that the Texans still didn’t have a franchise quarterback (I’m not counting out Keenum or Savage, but they’re certainly not there yet). I credit the depth of the draft and not Rick Smith at this point, but only because I’m hesitant to give grades out until at least one season has passed. Suffice it to say that at this moment I’m optimistic that Rick Smith is gonna come out of this one smelling like the beautiful flowers that I forgot to buy for my Mom yesterday.
I’m feeling especially good about Xavier Su’a-Filo, who will likely start at left guard this year. The Texans let up way too much pressure up the middle last year, with Wade Smith simply not looking like the player of prior seasons. No matter if it was Schaub, Keenum, or Yates, all three quarterbacks had to deal with unpleasant big men in their faces much too often. Su’a-Filo should be an improvement.
Normally I’m not this optimistic about offensive linemen contributing immediately. Most of them have awful habits that they can get away with in college, but that kill them in the NFL. Not so with Su’a-Filo. He’s not the strongest guy in the world, but he plays with good hands and hips. He is rarely off balance, and is athletic enough to be effective when pulling. He simply looks like an NFL player on film.
Is he tough enough to handle NFL defensive tackles? Su’a-Filo spent two years on a Morman mission. If he was willing to deal with the treatment I give strangers who come to my door, then he is ready for the NFL. I wish I had gone on a mission. Not because I care about your soul, but because it seems like fantastic sales training. I’m dead serious about this. I don’t know what their success rate is, but these kids keep plugging away at it for two freaking years. It’s a lesson in persistence.
Anyhow, NFL.com’s most infamous draftnick, Nolan Nawrocki, remains unimpressed. He goes as far as blaming Su’a-Filo’s mission for his un-Schwarzenegger-like body. The report says Su’a-Filo “missed two years of strength training while serving a LDS mission and has a bad body.”
I’m not sure how riding a bicycle for two years gives you a bad body, and I disagree with Nawrocki’s assessment anyhow. Su’a-Filo has the magnificent physique for an interior offensive lineman that I like to call “The Stout Pear.” A bottom heavy o-lineman has a lower center of gravity. He can take a punch to the chest and not go down, like a weeble wobble or a pear shaped Terminator.
One of the hardest things to project with a college lineman is how he’ll respond to the weekly barrage of physical players who are stronger and quicker than just about everybody they faced in college. Even the pro-bound players are better once they have some NFL experience and another couple years of maturity. Su’a-Filo’s technique and pad level will serve him well in this challenge, and he also has a frame that can easily another 10-15 pounds of bulk. As for the Mormans, they can contact Nolan Nawrocki at NFL.com.
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