Overview: Despite failing to record a single sack and only playing in 8 games in the 2013 season due to a knee injury, Louis Nix is likely to be the highest drafted Notre Dame Defensive lineman since Bryant Young was selected in the top 10 of the 1994 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. After watching him on tape, I can see why. Nix has been a dominant force inside for the Fighting Irish over the last 3 seasons. His breakout season came in 2012 when he led all Notre Dame defensive linemen in total tackles with 50, which is pretty impressive for a guy who tips the scales at over 330. He also had 2 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, tipped 5 passes and forced one fumble.
- Shocking lateral agility for a man of his size. Weighed in at 331 lbs. at the Combine, but still makes it look easy out there.
- Solid tackler. Shows good form and absolutely engulfs the ball carrier.
- Strong. Has the ability to bring ball carriers down with arm tackles because once he gets ahold of them, he doesn’t let go.
- Absolutely dominant against the run. Forces running backs to improvise a lot.
- More disruptive than the numbers indicate. He might not always make the tackle, but his presence is always felt.
- Doesn’t move offensive linemen backwards as much as you’d expect. Has a really good anchor, but just doesn’t seem to get much push himself.
- Needs to learn to keep his feet underneath him. Plays a little off-balance and winds up on the ground too much because of it.
- Inconsistent motor. Disappears for stretches and visibly takes plays off from time to time.
- Must learn to shed blocks better. Has to attempt arm tackles too much because he is still engaged with the offensive lineman. That won’t fly at the NFL level.
- Lacks finishing burst. While he does redirect the ball carrier a lot, other people tend to make the tackles because he’s just not quick enough to bring them down.
- Below average pass rush skills. He can pressure the quarterback from time to time, but not enough. Gets neutralized by double teams.
NFL Player comparison: Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots. While Wilfork has never had more than 3.5 sacks in a single season over his career, he’s still one of the more dominant defensive tackles in the game. He’s also shown scheme versatility as the Patriots have frequently used both 30 and 40 fronts during his time with them. I expect Nix to have a similar career.
The Way I See It: I definitely wouldn’t boo this pick for the Bears at 14. I would be a little apprehensive because I think they could likely trade down and still get him, but I like the player. I’ve been relatively vocal this offseason about how much I like Aaron Donald, but Nix might be more what the Bears need. A massive space eater in the middle might be just the ticket to fixing the Bears’ porous run defense.