Xavier Su’a-Filo was part of an incredibly talented UCLA class that has been able to help turn around the program under the guidance of Jim Mora Jr. Su’a-Filo has experience both at left guard and left tackle this season and was a huge cog in their running game last year for Johnathan Franklin and this year with Myles Jack. Su’a-Filo opted to declare and enter the draft with a group pretty talented at guard.
Projecting to the NFL, Su’a-Filo has the build, strength and ability to be a mauling guard. His pass protection is improving but is still not finished and he needs to improve how he shifts his weight and redirects his feet. If he can more effectively get behind his hands and make use of his lower body, he can be frighteningly power as well as be able to get out and block in space. Su’a-Filo could end up going in the first round, but is probably more suited to go in the top 50 and be a solid second round pick.
Vitals & Build
Su’a-Filo measured in at 6’4” 307lbs with 33 3/8” arms. He has a build like a sumo wrestler with immensely strong legs and a bubble butt, giving him a tremendous base for power. His upper body is not weak by any stretch, but it simply not as powerful as his lower body at this point. Su’a-Filo has pretty good movement skills but can have problems adjusting to drastic direction changes smoothly. From the waist down, Su’a-Filo is pretty much the prototype lineman and the more time he has, the stronger he will get and the more his upper body will keep up, giving him an intriguing amount of physical upside.
Su’a-Filo looks like he might not move that well, but he really has a good burst, is able to turn and adjust the direction his hips are facing well and has solid top end speed. He has shown he can get to the second level and block without much issue. Su’a-Filo also has pretty good feet to move laterally, but he can occasionally be heavy footed and have trouble making quick direction changes, getting a little off balance.
This is really where Su’a-Filo is impressive at this point. When he is allowed to just attack forward and move opponents off of the ball, he can get behind his pads and be an earth mover. He is able to get explosion from his hips, engage his lower body strength and becomes incredibly difficult to stop.
Su’a-Filo will lunge at times and gets himself in trouble when he misses. What makes this bizarre is that he does not appear to need it to not just make the block but make an impact block. The lunges seem to be a way for Su’a-Filo to sort of flex and just show off how strong he can be. When he hits the target, he can be frightening. The times opponents have not seen him coming, like when he blocks down, he can knock people down or send them reeling to open up a huge hole.
There are times when opponents will dodge and or slip these lunge attempts and get right by Su’a-Filo as he is too far forward and off balance, resulting in some less than stellar plays. These do not have terribly often, but often enough to be noticed.
Su’a-Filo has great range and can pull, trap or rush to the second level. There are numerous examples where he gets a block at the first level and then comes off to make another one on a linebacker at the next level. Whether he is at guard or tackle, the running game is probably going to go behind him because he is such a road grader or being run in a way that sets him to create a hole for the ball carrier.
Su’a-Filo plays with a mean streak and is always looking to send a message to opponents, trying to dominate opponents when able, allowing him to have some highlight plays in his career. When he knows where he wants to go, he takes a pretty good path to get there, handles well when his hips are facing forward and can hit his marks effectively.
Pass protection is a work in progress for Su’a-Filo, but his experience at tackle should only benefit him at guard. Working laterally, Su’a-Filo really seems to work hard to move his feet and while he does not labor to slide, it does not look as natural for him as some. This could certainly improve with work, but he seems far more of a fit at left guard in this respect than he does left tackle.
Su’a-Filo can slide laterally and get to the edge, but he has some trouble with angles and can be beaten when opponents set him up one way and attack back the other. He has some difficulty shifting his weight and working back on a quick move.
His hand usage is generally good, keeping opponents in front of him and continuing to fight through the play. Angles and occasionally getting lost in space are generally what gives him the most problem. There are times when he does not have a good feel for where the quarterback is and the opponent gives him a false sense of location, able to take advantage and slip past him. Experience and continued work should eliminate this issue.
When it comes to hand use and where he hits the opponent, Su’a-Filo does a solid job, but can certainly get better, especially in the passing game. Being able to stop momentum and just being more confident and where he is to take away angles will make a big difference.
In the running game, it just becomes learning how to unlock the strength in his lower body more effectively without lunging to get behind his hands.
In the running game, Su’a-Filo does a pretty good job and just needs to trust how strong he is and avoid lunging. He takes good angles to plays, hits his marks well and hit a moving target as well as hit multiple blocks on the same play. This is an area he does well and should only get better with time and technique.
In pass protection, the big issue for Su’a-Filo is getting better at shifting his weight and maintaining his balance. Beyond that, he just needs to get a better feel for the pocket from the guard position. Su’a’Filo can play tackle if needed, but he does seem more suited to be a guard because he is more effective in a phone booth.
Su’a-Filo’s best fit is probably in a gap scheme as a left guard, but he could be an intriguing fit in a zone scheme on the right side. There might be some discussion for him at tackle and he could probably function in that respect, but he just seems to be a better option at being a full service guard. Su’a-Filo should be able to start quickly because he is so strong and has the athleticism where he can adjust and pick up a scheme quickly.
Su’a-Filo has some of the same qualities as Jahri Evans of the New Orleans Saints. Both are able to create holes in the running game while being good in pass protection, able to hold up in the middle. Evans had more to prove coming out of Bloomsburg and was a fourth round pick, but has become a franchise guard for the Saints, which is where many expect Su’a-Filo could become.
Xavier Su’a-Filo has a great build for a guard in the NFL and has shown the ability to a powerful force to create running lanes. With a little refinement, he can be a dominant blocker in that part of the game, but he is still developing as a pass protector. The skill set and potential is there for him to be great and could even function as a tackle, but is better suited to play guard. Su’a-Filo warrants a top 50 pick and could end up going in the first round if there is a run on linemen.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com