Will the Steelers Select any of these Nose Tackle Prospects in The 2012 Draft?

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Hebron “Loni” Fangupo: Brigham Young University (6’1″ 331 lbs.)

If the Steelers decide to go elsewhere on Days 1-2 of the Draft, there are some later Round players which could pay dividends for the Steelers if they choose to go the NT route on Day 3.  Hebron Fangupo is one of those players.

Fangupo tore up the JUCO ranks at Mt. San Antonio JC in Walnut, CA which eventually earned him a scholarship to U.S.C..  Unfortunately for Fangupo, he broke his fibula early in 2009, and had to sit out most of the season.  Hebron was slated to compete for a starting job on the Defensive Line in 2010 at Southern Cal, but he decided to transfer to BYU at the behest of his wife.  In his only season at BYU, Fangupo made 26 Tackles, 6 TFL’s, and 2 PBU’s in 2011.

Fangupo might be able to help the Steelers with his versatility. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

One of Fangupo’s greatest assets is that for a guy with his size, he has experience playing Defensive End in a 3-4 alignment.  In fact, his positive attitude about playing Defensive Line in a non-statistically-sexy 3-4 alignment should be music to the ears of many of the Steelers’ brass.  And the fact that Fangupo has had experience playing DE could certainly entice D-Line Coach John Mitchell and D-Coordinator Dick LeBeau who value a guy that can do many different things in their exotic sets.

If there are drawbacks to the Steelers selecting Fangupo they would center around his age, and overall experience.  Hebron has played only little over 1 season of major college football, and is already 26 years old (going on 27) due to the Mormon mission he went on after graduating High School in 2003.  Furthermore, if Fangupo wants to be a successful N.F.L. NT, he must learn to use his leverage effectively because at 6’1″ he will face a tough test against some of the League’s more elite Linemen.

If Hebron needs any time to develop, he will already be pushing 30 by the time he could assume a starting role on the Defense.  Yet even if Pittsburgh chooses to address the NT position early in the Draft, I do hope that the Steelers take a long look at Hebron in the later Rounds for depth purposes along the Defensive Line.

Much like Chris Hoke (another former Cougar who did missionary work), Fangupo could be a valuable asset to the Steelers’ D-Line, as well as a versatile option for them to go with if need be.  Who knows?  Maybe the Steelers will be selecting multiple NT’s/DL in 2012?

 

Akiem Hicks: Regina (Saskatchewan) (6’5″ 324 lbs.)

When one discusses the ultimate “Wild-Card”/”Boom-or-Bust” prospect at the NT position in the 2012 N.F.L. Draft, Akiem Hicks is definitely one of the first names to come to mind.  To understand why Hicks is such a “Wild Card,” one must take a look at his back-story and look at exactly how he ended up playing college football in Saskatchewan.

Hicks absolutely lit up the Junior College ranks at Sacramento City College for two years, and eventually found himself with a scholarship to L.S.U..  Unfortunately for Hicks, he was at the center of some major recruiting violations and he was forced to leave Baton Rouge before even playing a snap for the Tigers.

Hicks left the program in early 2010, and eventually found himself playing up at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan with two years of eligibility remaining.  In that time he has dominated the opposition and earned a chance to play in the East-West Shrine Game where he has been receiving praise from many scouts there who are intrigued by what a physical specimen Hicks is.

The competition up in Canada may be a bit of an issue for some scouts to handle, and Hicks according to scouts is very “raw,” but 6’4” 324 lb. guys don’t grow on trees and if the Steelers and Coach Mitchell see potential in the young man, they will be willing to snap him up if the value is there.  Thus, the Steelers might be willing to take a look at him around Rounds 6-7, as a developmental guy.

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  • SteelerFan209

    I think the interviewing process would be just as crucial as the players on field ability. Whoever they go with in the 1st round will be the right guy. NT is definately a need in the draft, but I’d like to see an O-Lineman in round 1. Peter Konz would be nice at guard. To me, Poe just seems to tall for a 3-4 NT. I saw the Ta’amu kid shed 2 O-linemen and a fullback to get to the QB before. I dont think the Steelers would have to trade down for him. *shruggs* All’s I know is I’m not too worried about it, cuz Kevin Colbert doesn’t miss in round 1.

  • SteelerFan209

    I think the interviewing process would be just as crucial as the players on field ability. Whoever they go with in the 1st round will be the right guy. NT is definately a need in the draft, but I’d like to see an O-Lineman in round 1. Peter Konz would be nice at guard. To me, Poe just seems to tall for a 3-4 NT. I saw the Ta’amu kid shed 2 O-linemen and a fullback to get to the QB before. I dont think the Steelers would have to trade down for him. *shruggs* All’s I know is I’m not too worried about it, cuz Kevin Colbert doesn’t miss in round 1.

  • DomDiTolla

    @SteelerFan209 Poe gets pretty good leverage for somebody as tall as he is though. Dude is one of the strongest players in the country in terms of raw strength, and the proper coaching could make him an unstoppable force.

    As for Konz, the Steelers could pounce on him in Round 2 if he falls. Colbert could take a look at Cordy Glenn from Georgia in Round 1. He has experience playing both Tackle and Guard in college (he’ll likely take his 340+ frame to Guard), so that would be a plus in terms of versatility. I mocked Dont’a Hightower, ILB from Alabama, to the Steelers in Round 1 last week which is also a position of need and a spot for value for a player of his caliber as well. If they could pick up Glenn or Hightower in Round 1 and then Ta’amu in Round 2, I’d be a happy camper that’s for sure.

  • DomDiTolla

    @SteelerFan209 Poe gets pretty good leverage for somebody as tall as he is though. Dude is one of the strongest players in the country in terms of raw strength, and the proper coaching could make him an unstoppable force.

    As for Konz, the Steelers could pounce on him in Round 2 if he falls. Colbert could take a look at Cordy Glenn from Georgia in Round 1. He has experience playing both Tackle and Guard in college (he’ll likely take his 340+ frame to Guard), so that would be a plus in terms of versatility. I mocked Dont’a Hightower, ILB from Alabama, to the Steelers in Round 1 last week which is also a position of need and a spot for value for a player of his caliber as well. If they could pick up Glenn or Hightower in Round 1 and then Ta’amu in Round 2, I’d be a happy camper that’s for sure.

  • SonnyDrysdale

    Any tackle can play the nose position. Its not rocket science. Hampton played very little the last two years

  • SonnyDrysdale

    If Poe was an absolute beast at UM, why wasn’t he all conference. Thats a pretty bad conference for NFL prospects

  • SonnyDrysdale

    Any tackle can play the nose position. Its not rocket science. Hampton played very little the last two years

  • SonnyDrysdale

    If Poe was an absolute beast at UM, why wasn’t he all conference. Thats a pretty bad conference for NFL prospects

  • DomDiTolla

    @SonnyDrysdale Let me enlighten you on a couple of things. First, Poe was actually named All-Conference 2nd Team, so it’s not like he wasn’t all-Conference. Second, the reason he wasn’t named 1st team is because all of the 1st Team D-Linemen named ahead of him (Vinny Curry, Tyrrun Walker, Cordarro Law, and Taylor Thompson) were DE’s, OLB tweeners, and 1-Gap DT’s that light up the stat sheet due to the nature of their position. If the conference rated the top 0-Technique NT it would undoubtedly be Poe.

    The reason Poe doesn’t accumulate the “sexy” stats is because of the nature of his position and the role he plays on the Defense. His number one job is gap-integrity and to eat up blockers, not shooting one-gap, pass rushing, or running freely to the ball. Your assumption that because a guy wasn’t a 1st Team player makes him not a “beast” overlooks Poe’s role as a Defensive player and what he brings to the position.

    Poe is the consensus #1 NT on the board because of what he brings to the table in terms of size, speed, and his upside at the position. And I would say that most scouts and draft analysts would agree with that idea.

    Your notion that any tackle can play the Nose is ridiculous. Sure, you could stick any guy up there, but to run an effective 3-4 it takes a special player like a Casey Hampton or a Vince Wilfork to man the Nose and play unselfish and disciplined football.

  • SonnyDrysdale

    @DomDiTolla Was told by those who know that most any tackle can fit in @ NT. Hampton hasn’t played anything close to the number of snaps that he played 5 years ago. The steelers have learned to adapt their DL to fit what they have in their rotation. Ziggy Hood would be better than Poe would ever be. Look for them to draft someone for tackle in rounds 3-4. Poe isn’t first round value and we all know the Steelers don’t reach in the first round. If he is there in round 2 they may take a look. Personally I think they will trade down to the bottom of the round for an extra late 2nd round pick.. If an ILB is available to them at 24 they would go there rather than a DT. Of course, they could go just about anywhere but they most always choose BPA.

    As for Memphis and the conference, I still think its below par, remember Hampton was a first team All america out of UTA. Comparing him and Poe is like night and day. IMO. Some experts say Poe may be too tall and not be able to handle the cut blocks that the Ravens utilize these days.

  • DomDiTolla

    @SonnyDrysdale @DomDiTolla They’ll likely go O-Line at 24 if somebody drops, at this point because there are some mid-round guys at ILB that will be available. I agree with you though and them going BPA though abut likely trading up before they trade down.

    As for Poe being too tall, Ngata is of similar build. Ngata’s bit more athletic, but I think Mitchell could coach Poe up enough for a season of spot duty before being inserted full time. The dude is ridiculously strong and uses his leverage well, which is to his advantage. The upside is there, and if anybody can bring out the finished product it’s Mitchell.

    I still disagree on Hood at the NT spot. He plays a bit too high for my taste and would get manhandled inside by the more athletic Centers. Playing him as a non-1 gap DT could be risky, although if they move to a 4-3 he would be perfect as a 1-Tech DT. I don’t understand the desire to see him play there permanently, because he’s a fine 5-Tech DE and to also say he is better than Poe will ever be is a bit of a stretch.

    They need to fix the NT position. I don’t care who it is with, but if it’s Poe, it’s Poe, if it’s somebody else, it’s somebody else. If they don’t find an adequate replacement for Hampton to shore up the inside, the Ravens and opponents like the Texans will continue to eat them alive on the ground.

  • DomDiTolla

    @SonnyDrysdale Let me enlighten you on a couple of things. First, Poe was actually named All-Conference 2nd Team, so it’s not like he wasn’t all-Conference. Second, the reason he wasn’t named 1st team is because all of the 1st Team D-Linemen named ahead of him (Vinny Curry, Tyrrun Walker, Cordarro Law, and Taylor Thompson) were DE’s, OLB tweeners, and 1-Gap DT’s that light up the stat sheet due to the nature of their position. If the conference rated the top 0-Technique NT it would undoubtedly be Poe.

    The reason Poe doesn’t accumulate the “sexy” stats is because of the nature of his position and the role he plays on the Defense. His number one job is gap-integrity and to eat up blockers, not shooting one-gap, pass rushing, or running freely to the ball. Your assumption that because a guy wasn’t a 1st Team player makes him not a “beast” overlooks Poe’s role as a Defensive player and what he brings to the position.

    Poe is the consensus #1 NT on the board because of what he brings to the table in terms of size, speed, and his upside at the position. And I would say that most scouts and draft analysts would agree with that idea.

    Your notion that any tackle can play the Nose is ridiculous. Sure, you could stick any guy up there, but to run an effective 3-4 it takes a special player like a Casey Hampton or a Vince Wilfork to man the Nose and play unselfish and disciplined football.

  • SonnyDrysdale

    @DomDiTolla Was told by those who know that most any tackle can fit in @ NT. Hampton hasn’t played anything close to the number of snaps that he played 5 years ago. The steelers have learned to adapt their DL to fit what they have in their rotation. Ziggy Hood would be better than Poe would ever be. Look for them to draft someone for tackle in rounds 3-4. Poe isn’t first round value and we all know the Steelers don’t reach in the first round. If he is there in round 2 they may take a look. Personally I think they will trade down to the bottom of the round for an extra late 2nd round pick.. If an ILB is available to them at 24 they would go there rather than a DT. Of course, they could go just about anywhere but they most always choose BPA.

    As for Memphis and the conference, I still think its below par, remember Hampton was a first team All america out of UTA. Comparing him and Poe is like night and day. IMO. Some experts say Poe may be too tall and not be able to handle the cut blocks that the Ravens utilize these days.

  • DomDiTolla

    @SonnyDrysdale @DomDiTolla They’ll likely go O-Line at 24 if somebody drops, at this point because there are some mid-round guys at ILB that will be available. I agree with you though and them going BPA though abut likely trading up before they trade down.

    As for Poe being too tall, Ngata is of similar build. Ngata’s bit more athletic, but I think Mitchell could coach Poe up enough for a season of spot duty before being inserted full time. The dude is ridiculously strong and uses his leverage well, which is to his advantage. The upside is there, and if anybody can bring out the finished product it’s Mitchell.

    I still disagree on Hood at the NT spot. He plays a bit too high for my taste and would get manhandled inside by the more athletic Centers. Playing him as a non-1 gap DT could be risky, although if they move to a 4-3 he would be perfect as a 1-Tech DT. I don’t understand the desire to see him play there permanently, because he’s a fine 5-Tech DE and to also say he is better than Poe will ever be is a bit of a stretch.

    They need to fix the NT position. I don’t care who it is with, but if it’s Poe, it’s Poe, if it’s somebody else, it’s somebody else. If they don’t find an adequate replacement for Hampton to shore up the inside, the Ravens and opponents like the Texans will continue to eat them alive on the ground.

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