You don't often see underclassmen at the offensive guard position declare for the NFL draft. But the former missionary had 40 starts as a Bruin and is 23 years old, the decision to enter the draft was the right one. I believe he's the best guard in the upcoming draft.
Where He Excels
Ability to Re-Anchor
Something that can't be undersold, especially in a day and age where teams are dressing fewer offensive lineman looking at you Mike McCoy, is the ability to play multiple positions. Xavier Su'a-Filo has plenty experience at left tackle, and was more than serviceable at the position.
When asked to pull, you can see Su'a-Filo's athleticism jump out. He takes the proper steps with no wasted movements and gets to his target easily. Su'a-Filo has good lateral agility and gets to the second level effortlessly.
Su'a-Filo has the strength to drive defenders and create running lanes. He's shown this multiple times that when he laches on, he's going to take you where he wants you to go. His strength is complimented by his ability to get his hands inside. Hand placement is one of the most important traits for an offensive lineman. You can really see his functional strength when Su'a-Filo is asked to down block.
Su'a-FIlo does a good job of driving his feet on contact and moving the defender multiple yards down the line of scrimmage. He plays with a bit of an edge, and you can always find him finishing blocks and playing through the whistle.
He's not just limited to an above average run blocker. His athleticism shows in pass protection too. For the most part, he plays with good balance and impressive footwork. He doesn't have to overpower you, he can mirror the defender and still win.
Where He'll Struggle
Lunging/Picking up Stunts
Finding Work at the 2nd Level
There were a few flaws I noticed when watching Su'a-Filo, and this isn't anything no, as no prospect is perfect. The biggest issue I has was Su'a-Filo would drop his head and lunge. Lineman at the next level will take advantage of this at every opportunity. Even in college, Su'a-Filo struggled to pick up stunts. He has an issue of riding his man too far, and it led to quite a few quarterback pressures.
There were also a few times where Su;a-Filo would lock his knees out, stand straight up, and lose the leverage battle. Because he's so naturally strong, he's able to get away with this. But if he makes this a habit at the next level, he'll struggle as a rookie until he fixes this issue.
The last issue was finding work when he actually got to the second level. Su'a-Filo can pull around the end or work to get to the linebackers with no ussue. There were times when he would get to where he needed to be, and either over run his assignment, or not find work in general. THis is just another part of his game that can use work.
Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10
8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round
8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round
7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round
7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round
7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round
6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round
6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round
5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round
5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round
4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations
4.0 – 4.4
Change of Direction
Su'a-Filo grades out to an 8.06, or a fringe 1st round talent. Based on the pure guards in the draft, I think he has a great chance to be the best of the bunch. I feel like his frame is built to where he can put on more(properly distributed) muscle without sacrificing his athleticism. He has some great traits that translate, his quickness, change of direction, and pure strength. His awareness will have to get better, but that should come with more repetition. All Su'a-Filo's flaws are coach-able.
How He Fits as a Charger
Su'a-Filo would be one of the few offensive lineman I would be happy to see the Chargers spend a first round pick on. Not only does he have the positional versatility, but he can come in and start at left guard and take the line to another level as far as run blocking. He fits what the Chargers want to do, he's athletic enough to fit the zone scheme, and is more than capable of pulling. Surely there will be growing pains early on, as with most rookies, but once he gets his feet wet, we're looking at a very good player for years to come.
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