The Patriots attempted to bolster their interior defensive line by adding nosetackle Steve Fifita. Though he's on the shorter side (6-foot), Fifita had success in college dominating the center of the line. Fifita was a part of the Utes perfect season under coach Urban Meyer when Meyer led Utah to a 12-0 record and a 35-7 rout over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Fifita was dominating in the game, earning Defensive MVP honors (Alex Smith earned Offensive MVP). The two-time All Mountain West honoree went undrafted in the NFL, but was quickly signed by the Dolphins in May 2006.
The Dolphins had former Patriots nosetackle Keith Traylor in the middle that season, along with Jeff Zgonina, so they waived the rookie in the final preseason roster cuts. Signed for 2007, Fifita played in 13 games with 1 start for the Dolphins last season. The Dolphins waived Fifita April 29, 2008.
Miami insider scouting report by Alain Poupart, Editor, Dolphin Digest Magazine:
Fifita is a high-energy guy, but he simply didn't get the job done when he got his chance with the Dolphins last season. He's a bit limited physically and doesn't have the mass to line up at nose tackle in a 3-4 or the athleticism or height to line up at defensive end. Given the Patriots' track record, it would be silly to question their moves, but I'm not quite sure exactly what Fifita can bring them.
NFL Analyst Jon Scott of PatriotsInsider.com on the move:
Fifita is a short squatty kind of player who gets in the middle and gets dirty. He was noted for his strength at Utah, and I'd assume he still possesses a good deal of the traits that helped him succeed at Utah. The Patriots took a look at Fifita before the 2006 NFL Draft, but opted to take Nebraska's Le Kevin Smith as their reserve interior lineman. A solid run plugger is what they've been looking for, and if the Belichick-Meyer connection holds true, Fifita will get a long look in New England. The Patriots need a reserve interior defensive lineman who can man the nose behind Vince Wilfork, and haven't had a decent solution when Wilfork goes to the sidelines since Traylor left for Miami. Though he may not beat out Mike Wright for top honors as a reserve, Fifita may find his way onto the roster if he can show something in camp.
Scout.com/TFYDraftPreview (Pre Draft Scouting Report)
BIO: Three-year starter and All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 44/14/6. Junior numbers included 45/9/4.5.
POSITIVES: Fireplug in the middle of the line who plays with great explosion. Built low to the ground, gets leverage on opponents and wedges between blocks, shooting gaps up the field. Uses outstanding hand techniques to protect himself. Quick in all his actions, keeps his feet moving on contact and fast to the flanks.
NEGATIVES: Smothered at the point by a single blocker, gets caught up in the trash moving laterally and not always quick locating the ball.
ANALYSIS: Possessing a compact build and tremendous natural strength, Fifita was a disruptive force in college. Lacks the dimensions to be an every-down player in the NFL yet could flourish as a back-up.