One of the best defensive players in Mid-American Conference history, Roosevelt Nix is now a an Atlanta Falcon, after reaching a deal with the team as an undrafted free agent.
Nix is a bit of an enigma. He was one of the most productive defensive tackles in NCAA history. His 64 career tackles for loss rank fourth in NCAA history. His 12 career forced fumbles rank seventh. He tallied 24 career sacks, was a four time First Team All-MAC player and won the Conference's defensive player of the year award as a freshman after totaling 43 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and four fumbles forced. He did it all despite being only 5-foot-11 and never topping 260 pounds.
More On Nix
More On Nix
As a freshman, the year he came in and wrecked havoc on the MAC, he weighed just 237 pounds. But while he succeeded at an elite level in college in spite of his size, it's his size that ultimately made him such a low-level prospect.
Nix will not be able to play defensive tackle at the NFL level. It doesn't matter how explosive he is (and trust me, this guys first step is to destroy) he'd get bullied by the 310+ pound NFL offensive lineman. Because of that, Nix dropped down to about 248 and started tackling drills as an interior linebacker.
His agility isn't quite where you'd like it to be, but his 6.97 second 3-cone drill shows he's far from a lutz. Nix's measurables will never jump off the tape at you, but he understands how to break offensive lines, and can tackle with the best of them. He reads offensive lines, and attacks the ball carrier, and would be a disruptive linebacker in the running game.
The question is, can he drop back in coverage? It's not something he did at Kent State, and the technique isn't there. He needs to develop the footwork, the ability to read the quarterback, and increase his speed some to keep up with tight ends and receivers going across the middle. But he has the instincts to pick up the position and learn it and become a serviceable (at worst) inside linebacker.
Another spot where Nix makes sense is at fullback. He's a bulldog, and would make an excellent lead blocker. He's fearless, and while he hasn't played offense, his tenacity and football instincts would make it highly likely he could succeed as an NFL fullback.
But in Atlanta, Nix could be a valued asset of the defense after some work on getting him up to speed at the linebacker position.