I saw Padla play Friday night and here is what I thought of his performance, as well as what I have seen watching film:
The good: Padla looks the part when you walk up to him. He is tall and athletically built, with the ideal frame to add weight when he hits the college weight room and training table.
To me, the best part about his game is how he moves. He has good feet and moves well for a big guy. His high school's offense has him at right guard and doing a lot of pulling, which might not be his role in college as he projects to tackle. He could wind up at guard, though, and his experience now would be valuable in that.
In his present role, he consistently has to get to second-level blocks, which he does well. He likes to make big blocks and put a lick on a defender.
I was particularly impressed watching him in pass protection Friday. He sets his base and feet well and uses his hands well, really leverages the guy. His offense doesn't throw much, unfortunately.
The bad: When I watched Padla on Friday night, he didn't dominate a level of competition that you would expect him to. He was good, but not great. He even said to me he really did not play well and he wasn't happy with it.
When he gets to Michigan State and plays in the Big Ten, he will face a lot better competition and will have to compete with a high level of skill and athleticism. Of course, he will get better in time, too.
Sometimes when he pulls from his right guard spot and his assigned gap is empty, he struggles to find someone to block.
With the way his high school offense is run, he is more in-tune with a running offense, but I think he is solid in pass protection. He is raw in both areas and will need the coaching at Michigan State to get better.
Scout.com's Allen Trieu gives his thoughts on Padla and what the Spartans are getting:
"I think Nick is one of those kids where, it's a projection, because I think his best days are ahead of him. He has the frame to add weight. He's tough. He's a hard working kid who gives good effort and he bends and moves well for a bigger kid. I think, because he plays guard in high school, but projects to tackle, he's going to need some time to learn, but he has good tools, both physical and intangible. He's not all that dissimilar to Jack Conklin at the same age."
Scout.com's Dave Berk breaks down what he has seen and thinks of Padla's skill set and commitment:
Spartan Digest first saw Padla during the National Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom (Mich.) in early February where he earned a spot in our Top Ten performers list. What we liked then is what we like now. Padla needs to continue to get bigger and stronger especially in his lower body. He's got a solid skill set and has done extremely well in the several one-on-one match-ups we've seen him in over the course of the past several months. A natural bender with good striking ability, Padla has the frame to add weight without losing athletic ability. The biggest concern for Padla at the next level will come when he arrives on campus and starts to compete against players of equal size and better athletic ability. The rise in competition is a big one, but Padla did extremely well over the course of the summer at the many events we watched him perform in. There was major interest in Padla from Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten in the spring and summer. At the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, Staten made sure to catch Padla during one-on-one drills and that performance set in motion the process in which the future Spartan started working hard to earn an offer and become a member of the Spartans 2014 recruiting class. There is work to be done, but all the tools are there for the Spartans to have a high level tackle or guard in the near future. Padla is raw, but shows solid athletic ability on a great frame. Since first seeing him in February, we saw progress in his technique and ability to compete as his confidence grew.