The fourth-year junior has excellent speed for a 300-pound lineman, but is still more of a curiosity factor, as none of the scouts in his assigned area expected him to declare for the draft. Rakeem Nunez-Roches a raw talent, but a “try hard” type who plays with a high motor. Even though he lacks ideal arm length, he was pretty disruptive penetrating into the backfield last season. He has very good speed for his size, especially with his get-off, but there are times where he fails to read the snap cadence and does not explode out of his stance (must be more alert).
Nunez-Roches has the strength to win most one-on-one battles and can be very tough for even double-team blockers to neutralize when he fires out of the snap at a low pad level, as his wide upper body and hand strength allows him to consistently split double teams and shoot the gaps. He is still learning to move his hands better to create separation and also must be conscious of not leaving his chest exposed for blockers to attach to.
The Southern Miss junior shows great desire and is very coachable. He gives total effort running down plays, even though he might take wrong paths due to just adequate recognition skills (still developing). He is a violent tackler though, putting full force behind his hits. He’s not really any sort of a pass rusher, but he is a capable bull rusher who gets most of his success when he gets under a blocker’s pads.
Nunez-Roches has the initial quickness to gain advantage, but until he becomes more alert to the surroundings, he has not yet become a quick twitch athlete. He does change direction smoothly and has good body control when gets into space. His outstanding weight room strength also transfers to the field well. He works hard to maximize that natural strength and plays with a mean streak.
Right now, in this early stage of his development, it is hard to determine if Nunez-Roches will become an instinctive playmaker, a requirement if some team is going to utilize him as a gap-control defensive tackle. He does a nice job of finding the ball after engaging the isolated blocker. While he can split double teams, he sometimes spends too much time in hand-to-hand combat, forgetting about his gap control responsibilities.
Once he reads the snap and locates the ball, the Southern Miss junior fires out of stance with good lower body movement. As a pass rusher, there are times when he can collapse the pocket and make plays with sheer effort. His natural balance and fluid hips allow him to change direction well enough to force interior offensive linemen to redirect in pass protection and he has good closing speed, but just needs to locate the ball better.
Nunez-Roches’ body is not the massive wide body type that teams look for in a nose guard for a 3-4 scheme, but he has shown in college that he can operate as a two-gap role, as he is conscious of staying low in his pads and establishing position. He also flashes the ability to shed blocks in time to make plays.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches Scouting Combine measurables
6-2/307 (5.02 forty)
32 5/8-inch arm length
10 1/8-inch hands
34-inch vertical jump
114-inch broad jump
7.67 3 cone drill
4.69 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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