Xavier Su’a-Filo is the Best Guard in the Draft

You don’t often see underclassmen at the offensive guard position declare for the NFL draft. But the former missionary had 40 starts as a Bruin and is 23 years old, the decision to enter the draft was the right one. Here is why I think he’s the best guard in the draft.

Where He Excels

  • Positional Versatility
  • Athleticism/Quickness
  • Functional Strength
  • Ability to re-anchor
  • Footwork

Something that can’t be undersold, especially in a day and age where teams are dressing fewer offensive lineman, the ability to play multiple positions. Su’a Filo has plenty experience at left tackle, and was more than serviceable at the position.

When asked to pull, you can see Su’a-Filo’s athleticism jump out. He takes the proper steps with no wasted movements and gets to his target easily. Su’a-Filo has good lateral agility and gets to the second level effortlessly.

Su’a-Filo has the strength to drive defenders and create running lanes. He’s shown this multiple times when he laches on, and takes you where he wants you to go. His strength is complimented by his ability to get his hands inside. You can really see his functional strength when asked to down block. He does a good job of driving his feet and moving the defender multiple yards down the line of scrimmage. Su’a-Filo play with a bit of an edge, as you see him always finishing blocks and playing trough the whistle.

He’s not just limited to an above average run-blocker. His athleticism shows in pass protection too, where he primarily plays with good balance, and impressive footwork, he doesn’t have to over power you, he can mirror the defender and still win.

Where He’ll Struggle

  • Lunging/Picking up Stunts
  • Leverage
  • Finding Work at the 2nd Level

There were a few flaws I noticed watching Su’a-Filo, and this isn’t anything new, as no prospect is perfect. The biggest issue I had was Su’a-Filo would drop his head and lunge. Lineman at the next level will take advantage of this. Even in college, this hurt Su’a-Filo on stunts. He would fire off the ball, and because his man wasn’t there, he’d come up completely empty and his man would be past him.

There were times when Su’a-Filo would lock out his knees, stand straight up, and lose the leverage battle. Because he’s naturally strong, he’s able to get away with this. But if he makes this a habit at the next level, he’ll struggle as a rookie until he fixes this issue.

The last issue was finding work when he actually got to the second level. Su’a-Filo can pull around the end or work to get to the linebackers with no problem. There were times when he would get to where he needed to be, and either over run his assignment, or not find work in general. This is just another part of his game that can use work.

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10   8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round   8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round   7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round   7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round   7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round   6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round   6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round   5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round   5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round   4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations   4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable     < 4.0

 

Trait Weight Grade
Run Block 4 3.8
Pass Block 4 3.6
Technique 2.5 2.3
Strength 2.5 2.3
Awareness 2 1.5
Change of Direction 2 1.9
Flexibility 2 1.8
Quickness 2 1.8
Size 2 1.7
Length 2 1.7

Su’a-Filo grades out to an 8.06, or a fringe 1st rounder. Based on the pure guards in the draft, he has a great chance to be the best of the bunch. I feel like his frame is built to where he can put on more (properly distributed) muscle without sacrificing his athleticism. He has some great traits that translate, his quickness, change of direction, and pure strength. I believe his awareness will pick up with reps and he’ll be able to fix the flaws I pointed out.

Su’a-Filo is one of the only offensive lineman that I’d be happy with if the Chargers took in the 1st round. An excellent talent that isn’t maxed out yet as a talent.

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