30 for No. 29: This is the second in a daily series of looks at 30 prospects the Patriots may consider selecting with the 29th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
XAVIER SU'A-FILO, UCLA, OG
Height: 6-foot-4. Weight: 307. Age: 23. Stats: Started all 40 games he played in at UCLA. Started six games at left tackle and seven at left guard in 2013. Second-team All-American.
At the NFL Combine, Su’a-Filo said, “Honestly, I don’t watch a whole lot of guys who kind of remind me of me. I watch a lot of the guys I try to pattern my game after. I watch a lot of Logan Mankins, left guard from the New England Patriots. I think Logan, he was a high draft pick, but he’s physical. He’s a bad-ass, he started from Day 1 in New England, and I love how nasty he is, something about his game that I really try to implement.” He is reminiscent of Mankins, according to the scouts. Explosive out of stance and technically sound. Smart (learned Spanish during two-year Mormon mission in 2010 and 2011) and an Eagle Scout. He’s also got the requisite nasty.
TO THE GOOD
Gets moving quickly. Can play in multiple blocking schemes, whether as drive blocker or zone blocker. Very flexible with the ability to bend and move. Two-year captain and an elite athlete.
TO THE BAD
Has small hands and his 25 reps on the bench were less than impressive to those who would have liked to see that punch power from an interior lineman who needs to be able to bench press hard-charging 350-pounders with momentum. Has position versatility to bounce out to tackle, but some felt he was underwhelming out there.
Logan Mankins is entering the final year of his deal and has a fat cap hit. The Patriots could absolutely be looking at the final season for their iconic left guard. Su’a-Filo makes perfect sense if Mankins goes back to the ranch. If Mankins doesn’t leave and right guard Dan Connolly -- also in the final year of his contract -- does depart, Su’a-Filo can move there. It’s hard to overstate the importance of good guards and strength in the middle of the offensive line, especially with a quarterback like Tom Brady who’s only real weakness is lateral movement.
NFL.SI.COM: Mid-first rounder
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated: To Denver at No. 31