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NFL Draft 2018: Can Derrick Nnadi overcome poor combine to thrive in pros?

Derrick Nnadi was a disruptive force inside the defensive line, but he had an awful Scouting Combine. Can he translate his success to the NFL?

Florida State v Boston College Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Derrick Nnadi is a good source of debate. He really puts the argument of what is more important going into the NFL.

Is it the guys tape or how well he tested at the Scouting Combine and or pro day?

The senior defensive tackle built up quite the reputation for himself as a disruptive force at Florida State, but he tested near the bottom of most of the drills at the combine.

The main question is will it change his draft stock that much?


Height: 6’1”

Weight: 299 pounds

Class: Senior

Position: Defensive tackle

College: Florida State

Projected Round: 3-4

NFL Comparison: compares him to Javon Hargrave



When you watch Nnadi play you get why people are excited about him. He is a very disruptive player inside. He knows how to shed blocks and bring down ball carriers when he fills the gap. The main knock on his play though is that he doesn’t consistently apply pressure to the quarterback, which limits when you ca actually play him.

Aside from having one of the worst days that the Combine this year, Nnadi was already fighting the undersized label. Not even coming in at 300 pounds hurts his value as well. Still, when you watch him play you don’t get the idea that he is in over his head. He knows how to use his size and low-center of gravity to gain the proper leverage on his blocker.

It is also hard as a Bengals fan to hold size against a defensive tackle since Nnadi measures out pretty closely to Geno Atkins in size. If Nnadi was more of a force in pass rushing, I would have been able to compare him to Atkins with out any remorse. The other thing Nnadi doesn’t have is Atkins quickness.

Atkins is able to get off the ball so quickly that he regularly wins early in his reps due to catching his blocker out of position. That is something Nnadi will have to overcome if he wants to be more than a running down player.

How he fits with the Bengals

Cincinnati has a crowded defensive tackle room outside of Atkins, and the competition to be the starter next to him is a fierce one. The team already brought in Chris Baker via free agency to add to a group that includes Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow and Josh Tupou.

I have a hard time seeing Nnadi as better than a majority of those players at this point. He would really only have to beat Tupou, but drafting a rotational defensive tackle in the third or fourth round isn’t ideal.

The bright side is that with some time Nnadi could grow into a bigger role. He would be equip with the best teacher for what he would need to do in Atkins. Plus, he would have plenty of time to learn the game at his own pace as a rotational player along the defensive line.

Whether Nnadi becomes just an average rotational guy or starter fully depends on his ability to show some pass rushing abilities.