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Early Rookie Prospectus: Louis Nix

May 12, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT


Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.

The fourth Irish player to get picked in the draft, Louis Nix went 83rd overall (19th pick of third round) to the Houston Texans. A projected top 50 pick, Nix slipped a bit in the draft before being picked up in the third round.

As we’ve seen with Martin and Niklas, Nix was yet another former Notre Dame player to get picked despite not filling the biggest team need. After drafting Jadeveon Clowney first overall, the Texans look terrifying on the defensive line when you factor in J.J. Watt. At only 25 years old, Watt is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the NFL.

With such a stout defensive line, where does Nix fit on his new team?

2013 nose tackle starter: Earl Mitchell

Although the defensive line of the Texans might be the best in the NFL, nose tackle was a good position to bolster after losing Earl Mitchell to the Dolphins. Mitchell had 48 tackles in 2013, and his replacement, Jerrell Powe has eight total in his three-year career.

So nose tackle actually does fill a weak spot in the Texans lineup. Watt and Clowney are tremendous pass rushers, but Nix’s role will be as a run stopper. His size and strength make him a prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, which is exactly how he’ll be used in Houston.

Powe has been unimpressive in his NFL career thus far in Kansas City, so Nix has a great chance to compete for the starting role for game 1. In fact, despite Nix’s drop in the draft, the Texans traded up to get him, giving up their fourth and fifth round picks to get their new nose tackle. They saw an opportunity to get a great talent that fit their scheme perfectly.

So why did Nix drop so far? Many considered him first-round talent, especially after 2012. First off, concerns about his 2013 injuries, weight gain, and loss of production scared some teams. Knee problems, especially with big players, can raise some alarms for general managers.

But also, Nix pretty much had to go to a team with a 3-4 defensive scheme, which takes about half the teams off the board. Nix doesn’t have the skill set to be a three-technique defensive tackle, so 4-3 teams didn’t want to pick him up in the early rounds. He could conceivably play as a 4-3 nose tackle, but his play lends itself more to lining up directly over the center.

As a team that runs a 3-4, the Texans couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get Nix, a first-round talent for the price of a third-rounder. A front that includes Nix, Watt, and Clowney could be the most talented and disruptive in the league.

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