It’s true. Nix, a 6-foot 2, 352-pound wrecking ball of a nose guard, has been universally getting slightly higher grades than fellow future first-rounder and teammate Stephon Tuitt, who’s widely considered to be the second-best defensive end behind some dude named Jadeveon Clowney. So where is a likely landing spot for Nix?
Obviously, it doesn’t take a theoretical physicist to know that Nix will be going to a team running a 3-4 defense, as that’s where his best value is. But which team and how high?
How high he goes will be dictated by the order of the draft. He’s easily a top-10 talent, but if there’s no team in the top-10 running an odd front, it could be tough for Nix to find a spot there. Yes, he could still be picked by a team running an even front, but I think Anthony Johnson (LSU) or Timmy Jernigan (Florida State) might be the better choice for that scheme.
Projecting which teams will be picking in the top-10 is pretty much a crapshoot as we’re only in Week 2 of the NFL season. So bear with me.
The Jacksonville Jaguars would be a good landing spot as they could definitely use an upgrade over Roy Miller. But again, they’re a 4-3 team, and they’ve got higher priorities like finding a QB. The Cleveland Browns? Right scheme, but they’ve already found their nose in Phil Taylor. New York Jets? Also right scheme, but they seem to be pretty high on Kenrick Ellis at this point.
What about the San Diego Chargers? This is a potential landing spot with current NT Cam Thomas nearing the end of his contract, though I think the Chargers are determined to re-sign him as he really started to play well down the stretch last year.
Pittsburgh Steelers (wow, it feels weird mentioning them as a potential top-10 drafting team)? Yes. A thousand times yes. The Steelers’ defense is not held together by its pass-rushing outside linebackers or by a wild-haired flower child flying all over the field, but by its nose tackle like with any 3-4 defense. And anyone who’s watched the Steelers over the past few years know they haven’t been the same without Casey Hampton.
Sorry, but Steve McLendon and Loni Fangupo (seriously?) just aren’t gonna cut it.
McLendon isn’t awful, but he’s on the small side and often struggles to truly maintain his 2-gap responsibility. An interesting spot for him could be sliding him out to 5-tech end if Ziggy Hood isn’t re-signed.
Remember, it’s only week 2. The Steelers, though 0-1 now and looking awful in the process, might go on to win 12 games, however unlikely. We obviously just don’t know at this point. But if the Steelers continue to play like they did in Week 1, and they’re in the top-10 of the 2014 NFL Draft, you can absolutely guarantee Nix will be their guy, providing he’s still on the board.