Once considered a mid-round talent, Florida offensive tackle Xavier Nixon had plenty to look forward to when the 2013 NFL Draft rolled around. And then, 254 other NFL hopefuls heard their names called while he sat idle as his future in football begin to blur.
Despite the disappointment of going undrafted, it appears that Nixon found a perfect situation after signing a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins.
“Regardless if I would have went first pick or not picked at all, the situation I’m in, I’ve got to stay hungry” Nixon told the Washington Post on Sunday. “I’m going to stay true to myself. I know where I came from and I know the people and I know what I’m working for. I’m always gonna stay hungry.”
What makes Nixon a terrific fit for the Redskins offensive line is his experience with the read-option. During his days at Florida, he got plenty of action in a zone-blocking scheme while paving the way for an option attack that found plenty of success on the ground. With Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris emerging as focal points in the Redskins offense, having blockers capable of running the read-option will be crucial in D.C.
Combining sneaky athleticism with outstanding size, Nixon makes sense from a scheme standpoint. He has the mobility to get out on the perimeter and keep up with edge rushers, but also the power to move interior defenders off the ball.
Nixon also fills a need for Redskins, who are thin at tackle heading into the 2013 campaign. Trent Williams is entrenched at left tackle and the Tyler Polumbus currently has a frail grip on the right tackle gig. The depth at both positions, however, is extremely weak with only Jeremy Trueblood, Tony Pashos and Tom Compton, who are all less than ideal fallback options.
The one knock on Nixon that continues to echo is his lack of dedication to honing his craft. Pre-draft reports questioned his work ethic, which led to inconsistency on the field. All of that played a part in Nixon going undrafted. According to Nixon, those problems are a thing of the past.
“All that to this point is really irrelevant,” Nixon said. “All I can do is worry about the future and where my work ethic will take me. This is a new beginning for me, so I have to start fresh.”
If Nixon can overcome his shortcomings and prove to the Redskins that his slide was a fluke, there’s a good chance that the Florida product could stick in D.C. He fits the scheme, has a terrific skill set and apparently the drive to make it in the NFL.
That whole “undrafted” chip on his shoulder helps, too.