Chicago Bears Draft Scout: Hercules Mata’afa
Is Hercules Mata’afa on the Chicago Bears radar in the 2018 NFL draft?
Hercules Mata’afa blew up statistically in his junior season with 10.5 coming from a defensive tackle position. At times, even slid in far enough to play so one-technique. However, due to his size, he projects to the NFL as an edge setter. Should the Chicago Bears take the chance on the position change, and do his skills translate?
School: Washington State Cougars
Hercules Mata’afa explodes off of the football. This is what makes it so easy to project him onto the edge. He times it well, he uses low leverage and his legs to explode off of the ball and get into the backfield. Watch how much faster he is to get off of the ball than any other Cougar on the defensive line.
Mata’afa uses this burst and a combination of violent hands to break plays up before they even start. This makes him extremely valuable when it comes to stuffing the run in the backfield. He is going to be a valuable run stuffer.
And he has the foot quickness to play on the edge. In the play below, he lines up in between the center and left guard. Hercules Mata’afa is able to get around the guard, tackle, and dip below the running back in an effort to get to the quarterback. On top of that, his eyes are on the ball, and he is able to knock the ball loose for a fumble. On top of that, his foot quickness shows in that the team is very willing to drop him into coverage and to have him spy quarterbacks from the middle of the field. Mata’afa is going to translate to the edge just fine.
It is almost funny to think Mata’afa took snaps in the interior at all, let alone at the nose. He weighs just over 250 pounds. That is light by edge player standards. Your NFL nose tackle will range up to 330 pounds. Leonard Floyd, known for being thinner framed is about the same weight as this former nose tackle.
With that said, he is going to have to deal with strength. His burst and leverage give him a lot of help, but holding up to set the edge when he gets beat early in the play will be an issue. Also while he has the traits to transfer his skills, everything about him as an NFL player is based on projection. He has to be put into situations to highlight his skill set and cannot be miscast by his college position.