Highly recruited out of Florida, where he also played basketball. Redshirted in 2010. Moved into the starting nose tackle role in '11, recording 45 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one-half sack with one pass batted in 13 games (11 starts). Had a breakout campaign in '12, playing in 13 games (11 starts) and registering 50-7.5-2 with five passes batted and one forced fumble. Led all Irish defensive linemen in tackles. In '13, he started the first seven games -- but then played only once over the final six weeks due to a left knee injury. Tallied 27-2-0 with two passes batted. Underwent surgery in late November to repair a torn meniscus (Dr. James Andrews). Did not bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine (pectoral).
Outstanding size. Commands a double team and has two-gap ability. Good quickness off the snap. Has press strength and power to push blockers into the backfield. Shows disruptive ability when his battery is charged. Flashes an arm-over. Redirects well for a big man. Nice pursuit effort. Strong wrap tackler. Scheme versatile.
Can play with better leverage against double teams. Does not dominate single blocking. Needs to improve hand use -- punch impact, counter moves and shed timing. Limited pass-rush value (minimal sack production). Can do a better job protecting his legs -- is not as strong on his pegs as you'd expect and spends too much time on the ground. Conditioning and stamina will have to be monitored -- takes plays off and weight has fluctuated.
Rounds 1-2 (top 50)
Despite standing to benefit from a more dominant senior season in South Bend, Nix, who already graduated, opted to forgo his final year of eligibility in order to provide for 13 siblings. He does not enter the NFL with momentum, having coped with knee tendinitis before season-ending surgery to repair a torn left meniscus, and too often his gregarious personality and media hype overshadowed his performance. However, if the massive interior defender taps into his power more consistently, Nix has ample mass, strength and athleticism to anchor a "30" front as a space-eating, block-occupying run stuffer.