Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Weight: 307 pounds
40 time: 5.03
As dominant of a defensive player as there has been in college football in the past five-to-ten years, Ndamukong Suh enters the NFL as one of the most complete prospects I have ever scouted on the defensive side of the ball.
A three-year starter for the Cornhuskers, Suh recorded 200 tackles, 56 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, and intercepting four passes (returning two for touchdowns). Suh had one of the best seasons that a defensive player has had in 2009 as he tallied 85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks as he went on to place fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, a rarity for a defensive player, let alone a defensive lineman. As a senior, Ndamukong won the Outland Trophy as the country’s top interior lineman, the Rotary Lombardi Award as the country’s top lineman or linebacker, the Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive player in college football, and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player of the year in college football.
Ndamukong Suh has a fantastic combination of size, strength, and athleticism; he’s been said to have the strength of Richard Seymour with the quickness of Warren Sapp. He proved his great strength at the Combine when he put up 32 reps on the bench; a great number for a defensive tackle. Suh holds up at the point of attack as well as any college football player that I’ve ever seen. His tremendous leverage and stout play at the point of attack are among his greatest strengths and he’s capable of providing a consistent pressure on the interior of the line. There are times when Ndamukong will shuck the offensive lineman off the side like a ragdoll in his pursuit of the quarterback, similar to how Reggie White terrorized opposing offensive linemen.
Suh uses his hands very well, both as a pass rusher and as a defender in the run game. He has a complete array of pass rush moves, including a great rip move and swim move, and he’s shown that he’s capable of taking on and shedding blockers with ease. When rushing the passer, he’s shown the ability to consistently bull-rush the offensive lineman in order to create penetration on the line. Ndamukong does an excellent job of splitting the double-and-triple teams that he saw in college; when he is double-teamed, he makes the rest of the defensive line better, as each defender frequently has the chance to go one-one-one with the offensive lineman attempting to block them. He’s shown the ability to consistently blow up center-and-guard combination blocks on the interior of the line and there are simply times when he is unblockable for an opposing offense.
Suh plays with a relentless attitude and he has a motor that never stops running; his pursuit and non-stop hustle are outstanding for a player of his size and he runs like a linebacker in the body of a defensive tackle. He offers the speed to chase players down from one sideline to another with excellent range and he does a tremendous job of flowing down the line with the flow of the play and making plays down the field. When Suh played the one-technique in college, he lined up as close to the ball as possible, nearly in the neutral zone. He got off the ball as soon as it was snapped, showing outstanding anticipation, instincts, and a great football IQ. Ndamukong is a very smart, instinctive player who will sniff out screens and make plays on them.
Suh is one of the most unique players I’ve ever scouted; he’s as powerful and disruptive as any defensive player in the country, yet he also has the athleticism to drop back into coverage and make plays like a linebacker would. His versatility is going to give his defensive coordinator in the NFL a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of schemes, blitzes, and the way that he decides to attack the offense.
The only concern that I have with Suh his durability, as he had to redshirt in 2005 after he had surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus; in 2008 he had surgery on his right knee to repair a torn ACL. Playing on two surgically-repaired knees is something that could end up affecting him long-term and is something that teams will need to look into closely. I project that Suh will be drafted in the first round, specifically among the first three picks in the draft.
Ndamukong Suh enters the NFL after having been one of the most dominant players in college football this decade. His best fit in the NFL will come either as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 or as an end in the 3-4; I’d keep him in the 4-3 if it were up to me, as that’s where you’re going to get the most out of his abilities. Suh is a special player who offers the type of playmaking ability on the defensive line that rarely comes along. He has everything that I look for in a future elite defensive lineman in the NFL, capable of having a long, successful career with the team that drafts him. The sky is the limit for how good he can become in the NFL.
Notes: His name is pronounced, "En-dom-ah-ken Soo," with his first name meaning “House of Spears” in the Ngema tribe; his mom is from Jamaica and his dad is from Cameroon. Suh was named first-team All-American, first-team All-Big 12, and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009; he was also named first-team All-Big 12 in 2008. A former top recruit coming out of high school, Ndamukong was rated as the No. 1 player in the state of Oregon as well as the No. 6 defensive tackle and No. 51 overall player in the country by Rivals.com. As a senior in high school, Suh recorded 65 tackles, 10 sacks, and recovered four fumbles while also playing offensive line for his team. In addition to playing football as a prep, he was also a successful basketball player and thrower in track where he was a district champion in the shot put.
Suh is a beast, plain and simple. How his game will translate to the NFL, and to fantasy football, is a bit of a question though. He is an intelligent and high-motor player that will get to the QB from the interior of the line.
In leagues that lump DT in with DE as simply “DL”, his value takes a mild hit. He is, though, probably the best DT prospect in this class. In leagues that start DT, he’ll be a fantasy producer from day one.