Hercules Mata'afa

Washington St.
EDGE

Prospect Info

College
Washington St.
Hometown
Class
Lahaina, HI
r-Junior
Height
Weight
Arms
6' 2"
254 lbs
31 1/2”
Hands
10 1/4”

Prospect Grade

5.38
NFL Backup or Special Teams Potential
How We Grade
40 Yard Dash
4.76u
Seconds
Bench Press
26
Reps
 
Vertical Jump
31.5
INCHES
 
Broad Jump
108.0
INCHES
 
3 Cone Drill
7.24
Seconds
 
20 Yd Shuttle
4.37
Seconds
 
60 Yd Shuttle
--
Seconds
 

Playlist

Mata'afa (MAH-tah-AH-FAH) has been one of the smallest defensive tackles in college football over the past three years -- but also among the most dangerous. The Hawai'i native was an all-state football player and state finalist in wrestling, which makes sense given his ability to tussle with larger players inside. He redshirted the 2014 season before playing in all 13 games the following year, garnering honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition with a team-leading seven sacks to go along with 32 tackles, 11 for loss. Mata'afa was named second-team all-conference as a sophomore, finishing the year with 47 stops, 13.5 tackles for loss, and a team-high five sacks using a quick first step and possessing more power than his frame would let on. He really broke out in 2017, becoming a consensus All-American, Polynesian Player of the Year, and first-team All-Pac 12. He played in all 13 games, starting 12, making 45 tackles, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and ranking in the top five nationally with 22.5 tackles for loss.
By Lance Zierlein
NFL Analyst
Draft Projection
Rounds 5-6
NFL Comparison
Cassius Marsh
Overview
Mata'afa is a challenge to project based on the fact that his tape features him as an interior lineman who won with quickness when matched against players who were 50-70 pounds heavier than he was. He has the size of a 3-4 outside linebacker but may lack the athletic traits and skill level as a rusher to fit right in. His motor and desire give him a chance to become a high-end special teams star and teams might be wise to utilize Mata'afa as an interior rusher in sub-packages.
Strengths
  • Known as the toughest guy in the locker room
  • Every snap is important to him
  • Uses explosive get-off to disrupt play design from a defensive tackle spot
  • Impossible to secure him with reach blocks when he's playing three-technique
  • Zombie-like motor
  • Gets tackles and sacks thanks to secondary effort
  • Good lateral quickness to slide to the blocker's edge
  • Plays with single-minded desire to find the football
  • Has leverage to work under and around the blocker once he gets to an edge
  • Punishing tackler with heavy pads
Weaknesses
  • Much too small to continue playing interior spot
  • Gets engulfed and washed down if he doesn't win early with penetration
  • Yet to prove he can transition from defensive tackle to another position
  • Doesn't have edge rusher's burst and bend as 3-4 outside linebacker
  • Contact balance is below average
  • Hand work is below average
  • Will need to develop go-to rush moves, counters and an overall plan
  • Scouts say he's quicker than fast
Sources Tell Us

"He makes plays all game long but how do you play him at tackle? You can't. He has to prove he can play on the edge and my guess is he's just a guy on the edge. Maybe I'm wrong. He plays harder than anybody on the field so maybe it can work." -- NFC regional scout

News

Path to the Draft

Final quick-snap 2018 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams

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Winners and losers from Rounds 2, 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

GRADE
9.00-10
Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99
Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99
Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49
Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99
Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49
Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99
Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49
NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19
Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00
50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99
Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74
Chance to be in an NFL training camp
NO GRADE
Likely needs time in developmental league