INDIANAPOLIS -- Xavier Su'a-Filo is doing his best to stay humble at the NFL Scouting Combine, but when one of the NFL's most legendary personnel men sang his praises, Su'a-Filo couldn't help but be excited. NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt predicted Su'a-Filo to be the combine's breakout star earlier this week.
"It's flattering. I really appreciate it. I just really found out when he talked to me (Thursday)," Su'a-Filo said. "It just gives me more motivation to do what I planned on doing here at the combine. People getting to know me, performing well, putting up good numbers and showing teams who I am and what I can bring to the table."
According to Brandt, Su'a-Filo has been graded as a second-day draft pick by most clubs (Rounds 2 or 3), but will exit the combine as a draft-board climber and will be an immediate NFL starter. Su'a-Filo said he is encouraged that three offensive guards were picked in the first round last year, including two in the top 10 picks, but knows that wasn't in line with history.
"That was a big deal. I've looked. The past few years before that it wasn't as high like that," he said. "It all depends on teams' needs."
If Su'a-Filo becomes the NFL offensive guard he hopes to be, he'll play a lot like New England Patriots left guard Logan Mankins. Su'a-Filo played tackle as a freshman at UCLA but guard his final two seasons, the position he'll play in the NFL. He sees Mankins as the right role model for the job. The 2005 first-round draft pick has logged 130 career starts.
"I watch guys who I pattern my game after. I watch a lot of Logan Mankins, left guard for the New England Patriots. He was a high draft pick, but he's physical, he's a bad ass," Su'a-Filo said. "He's started from Day 1 in New England, and I love how nasty he is. There is something about his game that I really try to implement."
Could Su'a-Filo end up a teammate of Mankins? If he manages to climb into the back end of the first round, those very Patriots are among the teams with a need at his position. Other clubs drafting near the end of the first round with an offensive line need include the San Diego Chargers (No. 25), Cleveland Browns (No. 26), Carolina Panthers (No. 28) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 32).