Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Fili Moala
Fili Moala (DT)
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 305
College: USC
Conference: Pac-12
Hometown: Buena Park, CA
High School: Western
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Indianapolis Colts
Round: 2
Pick (Overall): 24 (56)
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Pick Analysis: The Colts pick up a much-needed defensive tackle in the second round. The former Trojan didn't accumulate gaudy statistics throughout his college career, but he flashes immense talent and potential at times. He is capable of dominating the point of attack and is a high-motor player who will upgrade the Colts' defensive line rotation.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Statistics do not always tell the true value a player brings to a team, and Moala is a perfect example. Much of the success of the Trojans' defense over the past three years has been because of their linebackers having free reign to constantly blitz the opposition's backfield. In order for USC to accomplish that feat as well as it has, the Trojans needed a dominating force to control the middle of the field. Much like his cousin, former Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2002-05), now with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, Moala more than capably filled that role.


When one examines the Moala's college career, they should not look at 90 tackles in 52 games. What numbers really tell the true story is the progression of the defense in the national rankings with Moala starting.


During his freshman season as a reserve, the Trojans ranked 31st in the nation in rush defense (130.54 ypg), 48th in total defense (360.92 ypg) and 35th in scoring defense (22.85 ppg). In his first year as a starter, USC improved to ninth in the nation vs. the run (91.08 ypg), 20th in total defense (295.85 ypg) and 11th in scoring defense (15.15 ppg). As a junior, USC continued to move up the national charts, finishing fourth vs. the run (84.15 ypg), second in total defense (273.15 ypg) and second in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) in 2007.


In his final season, the Trojans allowed just 87.38 yards per game on the ground (fifth in the NCAA), ranking second in the country in total defense (221.77 ypg) while leading the major colleges in scoring defense (9.0 ppg). Coach Pete Carroll recently said, "Fili is difficult to block. Plus, the experience and leadership he brings is really valuable."


At Western High School, an early-season foot ligament injury sidelined Moala for all but two of his senior season games. He still earned 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tom Lemming All-West and Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 honors as a two-way lineman. As a junior, he was named All-CIF Division IX and All-League while posting 60 tackles and four sacks.


Moala originally signed with Southern California in 2003, but did not qualify for admission. He attended Cypress (Calif.) Junior College that semester as a part-time student (did not play football there). He joined the Trojans in 2004, where he was named their Service Team Defensive Player of the Year, retaining freshman eligibility.


In 2006, Moala started three early-season games at nose guard for an injured Sedrick Ellis. He later shifted to weak-side defensive tackle, starting the final seven contests. He earned Sophomore All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention, posting 20 tackles (10 solos) with 2.5 sacks, seven stops for losses and four pass deflections.


Moala started all 13 games at weak-side tackle during his junior campaign. He was a first-team All-Pac 10 Conference choice. He missed a good portion of spring drills with a left ankle sprain, but was fully recovered by the season opener. He went on to register a career-high 32 tackles (14 solos) that included 2.5 sacks and 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.


Moala received All-American recognition, in addition to picking up first-team All-Pac 10 and team Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. The Senior Bowl invitee started all 13 games, ending his career with a sting of 33 consecutive starts. He delivered 30 tackles (16 solos) with a career-high 10 stops for losses, including 4.5 sacks. He also caused a fumble and blocked a pair of kicks.


Junior College

Originally signed with USC in 2003, but did not qualify for admission, so he attended Cypress (Calif.) Junior College in 2003 as a part-time student (he didn't play football there).


High School

Attended Western (Anaheim, Cal.) High School...An early-season foot ligament injury sidelined Moala for all but two of his senior season games...Still earned 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tom Lemming All-West and Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 honors as a two-way lineman...As a junior, he was named All-CIF Division IX and All-League while posting 60 tackles and four sacks.


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Analysis

Positives: Moala lacks sudden closing speed, but shows good lateral quickness and above average footwork, along with the agility and balance to change direction and flow down the line. He is strong on the inside gap charge and can dominate with his hand swipes. He has a nice combination of power and quickness to stack and shed. Moala might lack sprinter's legs in pursuit, but shows good body control working in space. He is a normal-to-short strider who has a good short burst to gain penetration. He still looks lanky, despite being 300 pounds and has the frame to carry at least another 20-25 pounds of additional bulk. He is quick to recognize blocking schemes and locate the ball.


Negatives: He needs to improve his overall strength and hand usage. He lacks the foot speed to make opposite field tackles, but shows relentlessness in his play and will make the second effort when his initial move fails. He just needs to play under better control, as he does get frustrated when stood up by the blockers, but that is his own fault, as he will get too tall at times and lose leverage. He will need to add bulk and strength to compete at the next level, but does respond well to hard coaching.


Compares To: BARRY COFIELD, New York Giants -- Like Cofield, Moala can't be judged on personal statistics, but needs to be reviewed based on the success of the team because he is a classic mauler in the middle of the field. His constant double-team battles led to USC's linebackers having great success being freed to wreak havoc in the backfield. He is quick to get position, redirect and extend his arms to stalk, wrap and secure the ball carrier in run containment. He reminds a lot of the Cofield because of his lateral agility, change of direction and dominance when he slides down and plays over the center. He still needs some technique refinement, but if he can improve his overall strength base, he will be a solid supporting role player for a defense looking for someone to handle the inside trash.


Injury Report

2002: Missed all but two games of his high school senior season with a ligament tear in his left foot.


2007: Sat out a good portion of spring drills with a left ankle sprain.


2009: Could not complete agility tests at the NFL Combine due to a left groin strain.


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