Football remains a "big man's game" but with shorter, quicker athletes at virtually every position in the NFL proving that great things can come in smaller packages, Nnadi has a better chance than many of stubby defenders who preceded him to earn the Day Two selection his tape warrants.
Nnadi started the past three years in the middle at Florida State, earning First Team All-ACC honors as a junior in 2016 with 49 tackles, including career-highs in tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (six). Though ACC Defensive Lineman of the Year DeMarcus Walker earned most of the attention, Nnadi played a key role as well for a squad that led the nation in sacks per game (3.91) and allowed only 128 rushing yards per game (21st in the country).
Nnadi actually produced more tackles (51) over the course of the regular season as a senior but he and his teammates struggled with consistency and his number of big plays slipped slightly to nine tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks. ACC coaches and media each noticed the drop, giving Nnadi just Third Team All-ACC recognition following a tumultuous 2017 campaign in which Florida State struggled with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a season-ending injury in the opener to young star quarterback Deondre Francois and then-head coach Jimbo Fisher (who has since moved on to Texas A&M) getting grilled weekly for the Seminoles fall from grace.
Like most Seminoles, Nnadi signed with Florida State as a highly regarded prep prospect. He began his true freshman season low on a depth chart full of soon-to-be NFL prospect but his own talent (as well as injuries to those ahead of him) pushed Nnaddi up the board quickly. He recorded 18 tackles on the season with nearly half of them coming in an ACC Championship win over Georgia Tech (six stops) and the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon (two tackles).
Though he was not recognized as a verifiable star in the ACC until his breakout junior season, those paying attention could see the writing on the wall in 2015 when he started all 13 games at nose guard, recording 45 tackles, as well as two tackles for loss and two sacks.
Nnadi's unique frame - he's built like a bowling ball with limbs - helps him win the leverage battle at the point of attack. He possesses the quickness to penetrate and is surprisingly agile in his lateral pursuit. Like most with his blocky frame, however, Nnadi struggles to "get skinny" through gaps, needing a clear lane to affect the quarterback and he lacks the height and leaping skills to ever be much of a threat to knock down passes or kicks at the line of scrimmage. His quickness and strength make him effective against the run but he simply lacks the girth to handle double-teams, making his best projection to the NFL inside at nose guard or as the three-technique in a traditional four man front.
Consensus four-star defensive tackle recruit in the 2014 recruiting class... led Ocean Lakes to a 12-1 record and the Group 6A South Region semifinals as a senior, piling up 71 tackles and 20 sacks...anchored a Dolphins' defense that held eight opponents to a touchdown or less...Beach District co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013...totaled 167 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 13 sacks while leading Ocean Lakes to its first state championship game appearance as a junior in 2012... chose Florida State over Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Virginia and Penn State...
Possesses a short, stubby frame conducive to winning the leverage battle at the line of scrimmage with broad shoulders and hips, a thick middle and bubble and tree stumps for limbs. Nnadi flashes an impressive initial burst for a man of his build, surprising opponents with his quickness to split gaps and lateral agility to be effective on stunts and twists. Nnadi uses his natural leverage and upper-body power to engage, hold his ground and shed, quickly resetting his eyes to find the football and pursue. His smooth hips allow him to break down and quickly redirect in short spaces. Nnadi can deliver a forceful strike to shed blockers in a flash and is a generally reliable tackler who can generate impressive stopping power when he has a runway. Nnadi bends at the knees and keeps his butt down, using good technique to complement his build to anchor, often creating the pile that makes for easy tackle opportunities for teammates. Good effort in pursuit, racking up tackles down the line out of sheer hustle. Highly durable player with no games missed due to injury over his career, including the past three seasons in which he has started 36 of 38 games (not counting the 2017 Independence Bowl). - Rob Rang 12/18/2017
Nnadi comes with obvious size limitations and may be limited to one-gap schemes against the behemoths he will see in the NFL. Nnadi's round build makes it easy for would-be blockers to grab hold of him, a fact exacerbated by what appear to be shorter-than-ideal arms. Too often elusive ball-carriers who saw Nnadi coming were able to squirt free in part due to his average reach, a factor which also shows up in the passing game and special teams where Nnadi has just 3 passes batted down and zero blocks in 47 career games... Stout enough to anchor one-on-one but struggled vs. double-teams. Good lateral agility for a man with his frame but is just average among defensive tackles in this regard overall, struggling to raise his feet high enough to step over the bodies on the turf and winding up falling over too often, himself. -- Rob Rang 12/18/2017
COMPARES TO: Hall of Famer Art Donovan, Colts. Lovingly referred to as "Fatso" during a 12-year career in which he went to the Pro Bowl five times, Donovan was one of the original run-stuffers due to his blocky frame, strength and the toughness one would only expect from an athlete who put his college and NFL playing days at hold so he could enlist in the Marines during World War II. The late affable Donovan would probably appreciate Nnadi's stout frame, strength and consistency.
IN OUR VIEW: Nnadi's bowling ball-like build makes him a tough matchup for taller offensive linemen, who struggle to win the leverage battle and uproot him from his spot when blocking him one-on-one. He does not possess the power to anchor effectively versus double-teams, however, and is not a classic slashing penetrator, himself. To be at his most effective, Nnadi needs a similar situation to what he had at Florida State - speedy edge rushers forcing ball-carriers upfield where he can swallow them up.