His numbers don’t scream first round pick, but there is no doubting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish nose tackle Louis Nix III will have his name called on the first night of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Senior, who goes by the nickname of ‘Irish Chocolate’, has been a nightmare for opposing offensive lines, and is one of the key reasons the Irish middle linebackers have been so strong on the run.
To play nose tackle in the 3-4 you must first realize one thing, it is probably the least flashy position on any side of the ball, and your name is likely to be called the least and you will be less recognizable than even the team’s kicker, in certain instances.
But to play nose tackle in the 3-4 makes you one of the most important players on your defense, and if you aren’t willing to sacrifice stats for taking on double teams you won’t make it at the position.
Nix “knows his job description,” as coach Brian Kelly put it in his press conference on Monday, and there isn’t a player better at doing it. When former Pittsburgh Steelers’ nose tackle Casey Hampton was at his best, he didn’t get double teamed, and he demanded so, with teams having no choice but to double or even triple team him. That allowed his linebackers to run free on the inside to stuff the run.
Nix’s ability to demand a double team has allowed the combination of Jarrett Grace, Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese to roam free and make plays in the run game. The Irish only allow 3.7 yards per carry on the ground.
With only eight total tackles and one tackle for loss, Nix’s eyes aren’t eye popping, but his impact has been an impact that makes him one of the best defensive players in the nation.