DE Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St.*

6’2″ – 254 lbs. – 4.76

Redshirted in 2014, then spent the past three seasons as a regular member of the defensive line, starting the past twenty-five and earning All-American honors this past season before foregoing his senior year to declare for the draft. Slightly undersized for a pro defensive end, with height and bulk which are just adequate for the position; moreover, appears to be close to maxing out his frame. An interesting prospect in that he was highly productive playing defensive end on a three-man line despite being considerably undersized for such a role. Also takes some snaps as more of a defensive tackle (both one-technique and three-technique). A high-intensity player who relies on his suddenness and get-off to penetrate into the backfield, and his explosiveness to close and make tackles in the backfield. Gets out of his stance quickly and was able to find plenty of lanes into the backfield; also benefited from some last-second defensive line shifts which prevented opposing offensive lines from making adjustments. Uses his hands well; best move is probably his rip move at this point. Has a nose for the football and does a good job of flowing in the play direction. Secure tackler who plays with physicality and can help set the tone defensively. Gets his arms extended but wasn’t really asked to do a lot of two-gapping at the college level and can be overwhelmed with physicality and put on skates; consequently, may not really have the anchor or skillset to two-gap at the next level. When rushing the passer, rarely tried to bend around the edge; flashes some ability to dip his shoulder, redirect smoothly, and close on the passer, but most of his production came when shooting gaps as more of an interior rusher. Closes well to finish with sacks. Good instincts to go for the ball when he’s pursuing from the backside. Not the type of player who’s going to walk back opposing linemen with his bull rush. Coverage responsibilities were limited to the odd snap where he was asked to spy the quarterback. A bit difficult to project to the pro level because of his unusual role, but who was so consistently disruptive as a penetrator at the college level that he’s bound to attract interest on the draft’s second day by a team that thinks they’ll be able to create a role which takes advantage of his quickness, explosiveness, and intensity.

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