With a couple of mock drafts behind us and the draft drawing near, it’s time for Adam and I to start doing some deeper positional dives. Starting this week, we are going to focus our articles on one position each. This week, I am going to dive into the nose tackle prospects. Adam will follow with a look at the the centers. So, who are the top nose tackle prospects and how attractive are the to the Kansas City Chiefs?
Phil Taylor Baylor 6′ 3” 334 lbs
Phil is the first nose tackle that may be available. A lot of Chiefs fans have fallen in love with Phil. It’s easy to see why. He has a true nose tackle build. He has good hands, a strong lower body and does well occupying blockers. Phil lost a lot of weight after the season and showed very well at the Senior Bowl, the Combine and at Baylor’s Pro Day. Those workouts have pushed Taylor into the late first round or early second round draft territory. He did have some character issues at Penn State. That may be an issue, but it does appear that those issues are in the past.
Despite his positives, I don’t think the Chiefs will draft him. My conclusion is not based on his character issues, but on other factors. Scott Pioli looks for certain things when evaluating football players. Along with athletic skills to fit the position, he looks at other factors. He prefers players with a long track record of performance, preferably against a high level of competition. Pioli also looks for a track record of dedication to the game, plays with a high motor and exhibits strong leadership qualities. He also prefers intelligent players. I can’t speak for Taylor’s intelligence, but the rest of the list does not scream Phil Taylor. Talyor lacks conditioning and played college football at a much higher weight. Sometimes, that weight was in the 380+ lbs territory. Taylor has done a great job losing a lot of weight and showing well in the post season work. Some team may be seduced by Taylor’s potential. I don’t think that team will be the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jerrell Powe Mississippi 6′ 2” 335 lbs
Powe is close to what the Chiefs look for. Like Taylor, he has a good build for a nose tackle. Unlike Taylor, he has a longer track record of success against a higher level of competition. Also, he was a captain at Ole Miss, so the leadership question should not be an issue. Unfortunately, he was moved to a three-technique for his senior year and asked to lose weight. He did not perform as well under those conditions. He should flourish in the NFL as a true nose tackle. He does have his own baggage. Powe had some serious academic issues and was denied academic eligibility by the NCAA on three occasions. That is not a trivial concern for a team like the Chiefs. However, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. If the Chiefs are satisfied with Powe’s character and intelligence, you may see his name called in rounds two or three.
Sione Fua Stanford 6′ 2” 308 lbs
Now we shift gears a bit. Fua does not enter the draft with the classic nose tackle size. Ideally, you would like a player to be in the 320-335 lbs range. More weight makes you question a prospects conditioning and/or weight distribution. Lighter weight makes you wonder if the prospect is strong enough and can carry enough weight to be a run stuffing nose tackle. Fua is on the light side of the weight scale. So, you have to look at his build very closely. For a nose tackle, you want a prospect to have a lot of lower body weight. You look for big, strong thighs and a big butt. A low center of gravity is key for leverage and holding the point of attack. Fua has such a build. So, that checks out. Can he bulk up into the 320+ lbs range and be effective? That’s a big question the Chiefs have to answer. On the field, he has done his job well. He has the rest of the package. He has a good work ethic, was a team captain and attended Stanford. I am going to go out on a limb and assume he is pretty intelligent. He is a round three to round four prospect. This is another prospect who could easily be Chief draft pick.
The NT crop is pretty thin this year. I don’t see a lot in the other prospects. Kendrick Ellis has tons of character red flags, for example. You could see a late round grab on someone like Chris Neild. However, in my opinion, Powe and Fua are the most viable candidates to wear an arrowhead.