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The conversation as to who the best guard in this year’s draft class may begin with Stanford’s David Yankey, but making the case as well is former Pac-12 rival Xavier Su’a-Filo of UCLA.
Su’a-Filo has earned both All-American honors and All-Pac-12 recognition in each of his three seasons with the Bruins. The 6-foot-3, 304-pound guard was considered the No. 1 prospect in the state of Utah coming out of high school and immediately found a spot starting on UCLA’s offensive line. During his sophomore season, he helped pave the way for former UCLA and current Green Bay Packers back Johnathan Franklin to set the program’s single-season rushing record.
Read more on the 2014 NFL Draft
Like the San Diego Chargers’ Louis Vasquez, Su’a-Filo has great footwork and a quick burst off the snap. Su’a-Filo plays with great awareness and is an athlete at the position, which allows him to drive defenders to the second level. Su’a-Filo plays with great balance, and despite not packing the biggest of punches with initial contact he has the ability to drive defenders back with ease. Like Yankey, Su’a-Filo also spent time at tackle.
When profiling Su’a-Filo it is nearly impossible to ignore his off-field activities. Su’a-Filo just wrapped up his junior campaign but is already 23 years old, and that’s because he took time off in between seasons at UCLA to complete his Mormon mission. Some scouts downgrade Su’a-Filo’s stock a bit because he’s a year or two older than some of the other prospects in the draft, though NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks calls it a non-factor.
Ranked No. 30 by Rotoworld, Su’a-Filo is considered the best prospect at the position, even ahead of Yankey. According to CBS Sports, Su’a-Filo is the No. 36 prospect, and the second-rated guard behind Yankey. While it appears unlikely any guard comes off the board in the first round, Su’a-Filo makes the case to be a surefire second-round selection.
Su’a-Filo has been mocked to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks with the No. 32 pick. The Seahawks don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but upgrading the interior of the offensive line could be a novelty, giving Marshawn Lynch even greater running lanes and providing Russell Wilson with even better protection from the interior pass rush.
If and when he slips to Round 2, Su’a Filo is a logical fit for both the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams. The Giants struggled mightily to run the ball last season, and the team lost David Diehl to retirement while potential successor Kevin Boothe is a free agent. The team may also lose Chris Snee to retirement.
Only Harvey Dahl is a lock to return to the Rams, as Chris Williams is a free agent. Su’a-Filo could add some youth to the offensive line and help improve the Rams’ rushing attack.
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