Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA (6-4, 307)
A four star recruit coming out of high school, Xavier Su’a-Filo started 13 games as a freshman left tackle at UCLA in 2009, before leaving to serve a two-year Mormon mission. Returning for the 2012 season, the Utah-native started all 14 games at left guard and spelled at left tackle under the tutelage of Jim Mora and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, paving the way for Jonathan Franklin to rush for the Bruins’ single-season record.
He impressed again this past year, starting all 13 games on the left side of sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley’s dynamic spread-option attack, while kicking out to tackle late in the season when injuries hit. That was enough to earn him the Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman, and to convince the 23-year-old that, as an older prospect, the time was now to make the jump to the NFL.
Su’a-Filo enters the draft as arguably one of the top interior lineman in the 2014 class and, judging by the tape he’s put together over the past two years, should fit the mould of what every personnel department wants from the guard position.
Su’a-Filo moves very well going down the line, showing good athleticism, body control and change of direction ability. He has the quickness to get into the second level and enough endurance to maintain a high-level of play throughout the game. – 8.5/10
Pass Block (Speed)
With experience pass protecting from a three or two-point stance, Su’a-Filo is a quick mover off the snap, with enough acceleration and balance to move and adjust on his blocking assignments with ease and gain an initial advantage. He has very good lateral movement when getting out on short traps and pulls and shows great urgency when getting into the second level. It’s that clear athleticism which makes a formidable foe for even the quickest of college pass-rushers. – 9/10
Pass Block (Power)
Flashing that nastiness a lot of teams look for, Su’a-Filo supplies a strong initial punch, doing a good job of staying balanced on his feet and maintaining his anchor as he comes off the snap low to lock on and control the defender. Very few guards in this draft can jolt a defender like he can, yet he also looks good sitting back in his stance and holding up against the bull-rush. Protecting the improvisational Brett Hundley, his resilience here was especially evident over the course of last season. – 8.5/10
Su’a-Filo is a very good technician in the running game, coming off the ball well with quickness to position and play with good leverage and hand usage. He has the leg drive to turn the defender efficiently and ride him out of the way to create holes for interior running, while his ability to get out on the edge and mirror would also make him an equally good fit for a zone-blocking scheme. He’s a very combative type in the trenches, using his hands as dangerous weapons, and works hard to finish, thanks to his intensity and effort. – 9/10
Move in Space
Su’a-Filo doesn’t look particularly fluid in the second level but moves more than adequately enough to suggest he can be a very solid downfield blocker in the pros, cutting off linebackers and knocking out corners on screens. He shows some nice change-of-direction moves for a player his size and has a strong angle concept, doing a good job of staying on his man when he makes contact and cutting them off or occupying them until the whistle. – 8.5/10
In the short area, Su’a-Filo is very effective getting into position on screens or when leading the sweep around the corners. He may lack top open-field speed but looks impressive getting out in front of his back and reaching the second level, with both the flexibility and quickness to adjust to hunt down and hit moving defenders. – 8.5/10
Su’a-Filo’s core strength and sturdy frame are evident when anchoring against bull-rushes. He uses his upper-body and a punishing hand punch to lock onto defenders and drive them off the ball and, having missed two years of college training while serving an LDS mission, possesses the potential to improve yet further in this area. – 8/10
Su’a-Filo’s technique is extremely sound, playing with good bend, while also possessing the foot work to mirror defenders in the short area. He sets quickly, with explosive hands which stay inside, gaining an instant advantage on the defender in the passing and running games. – 8/10
Su’a-Filo obviously lacks the height and ideal arm length (33 3/8”) to play on the edge in the NFL but those measurable, combined with his thick build, should be perfectly adequate for the guard position. – 8/10
At the guard position, there are really few concerns with Su’a-Filo – I’d argue he’s as clean as they come as a prospect. A high-character guy, who passed all the obstacles presented to him at the combine with flying colours, he should come in and be a day-one starter in the NFL. – 10/10
The depth in this year’s class means a guard prospect like Su’a-Filo likely won’t see his name among the most highly-rated names on draft boards but, make no mistake, he’s more than deserving of first-round consideration. With rare athleticism for the position, he carries that blend of size, strength, flexibility, quickness and toughness which will endear him to teams looking to strengthen the interior of their o-line and has the versatility to fit in a variety of blocking schemes. A smart and cerebral player too, who’ll be able to absorb a playbook quickly and bring a positive influence to the locker room, any team who takes Su’a-Filo day-one should be lavished with praise. – Pro Comparison: Logan Mankins
86/100 – First-round