As the NFL draft looms a few days away, Timpview High School alumnus Xavier Su’a-Filo has garnered attention as one of the better interior linemen available in this year’s draft.
The Pleasant Grove native, who opted to leave UCLA after his junior year, is expected to land in either the first or second rounds. At 6-foot-4, 307 pounds, Su’a-Filo put up 25 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine this year.
The guard put up a productive career in his time with the Bruins, ending last year as a first-team all-Pac-12 selection. Prior to that, he was Utah’s 4A Offensive Player of the Year at Timpview in 2008.
Now Su’a-Filo could go to a team where he will be able to play right away in the NFL.
“Wherever I’m going to the best chance to compete for a starting job from Day 1 is where I want to play, whether that be guard or tackle,” Sua-Filo told USA Today’s Nate Davis.
Here’s what the NFL draft experts are saying about Su’a-Filo:
Su’a-Filo is the best interior guard in the draft “without question," former NFL general manager Bill Polian told the Los Angeles Times.
"Guards with unique athleticism and size are at a premium, and Su'a-Filo is one of those," Polian added. “If you're a passing team, such as the Colts were and the Broncos are now, you're looking for a more athletic kind of guard. If you're a power-running team like the 49ers, you're looking for more of a big, powerful road-grader, run-blocker type. Su'a-Filo is really a combination of those. He can do anything, and he'd be a fit for any team."
Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout and CBS Sports said Su’a-Filo is “powerfully built,” with “very good initial quickness” and technique. “Due to his core strength and flexibility, Su'a-Filo anchors very well against bull-rushes and shows lateral agility and balance in pass pro,” Rang said. Rang projects Su’a-Filo going No. 23 overall to Kansas City in his latest mock draft.
NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki said Su’a-Filo “projects best at left guard, where he has starter-caliber ability in a power scheme, though he is athletic enough to appeal to zone teams, too.” Nawrocki added that Su’a-Filo is quick out of his stance and an effective pass blocker, but probably not tackle material in the NFL. He projects him to go in either the first or second round of the draft.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranked Su’a Filo as the 42nd best prospect in this year’s draft, and in a three-round draft between him and ESPN colleague Todd McShay, Su’a-Filo went No. 59 overall to Indianapolis. “Have seen him unfairly maligned as sluggish; he moves well and creates movement,” Kiper wrote.
Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager had high praise for Su’a-Filo and a rebuttal for his strongest critics. “I've seen Su'a Filo, the 305-pound, road-paver slotted as a third- or fourth-round pick on some lists. Nonsense. If he's not the top offensive guard in this draft, he's right up there as No. 2. The man can run block. Toss in the tape. I can't get enough,” Schrager said.
Schrager has Su’a-Filo going 24th overall to Cincinnati.
Sports Illustrated NFL expert Chris Burke wrote that Su’a-Filo “jumped to the top of the guard rankings, thanks to a stellar (junior) season and impressive work at the combine. He should only get stronger once he lands in an NFL weight program, so there is very little on paper holding him back from becoming an upper-echelon guard in the NFL.” Burke added that Su’a-Filo is versatile enough to play in any scheme, writing that he “should be on just about every (team’s) draft board.”
Burke lists Su’a-Filo as his 27th-best prospect in the draft.
Much like CBS Sports’ Rob Rang, Walter Cherepinsky of walterfootball.com has Su’a-Filo going 23rd overall to Kansas City. “The Chiefs would like to select a guard, but they can probably do so after trading down right guard is a huge hole,” Cherepinsky writes.
Yahoo’s Eric Edholm wrote that Su’a-Filo is “quick, active, powerful and smart and has acquitted himself much better inside than out. Su'a-Filo can project to both man- and zone-blocking schemes and has good quickness out of his stance and a punch to stun defensive linemen. Although he labors a bit and isn't the prettiest girl at the dance, Su'a-Filo often gets the job done and he has acquitted himself well, per sources, in team meetings.”
Edholm, who lists Su’a-Filo as his 24th-best prospect, compared him to Tennessee Titans lineman Andy Levitre, adding that Su’a-Filo best projects as a late first-round pick.