ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay each have the Pittsburgh Steelers picking Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III in their second mock drafts, which were released earlier today. Here is what each wrote about Nix, who is the top nose tackle prospect in the 2013 NFL draft.
Kiper: While I project Nix here because he's an obvious system fit working directly over the center or shading a little -- eating gaps and making everyone around him (particularly behind him) more effective -- he actually has decent quickness for such a mammoth human and could also work in a 4-3. To say Nix moves like a 300-pounder is a compliment, and Pittsburgh could use some help on the defensive line, particularly up the middle.
McShay: Nix performed better in 2012 than he did in 2013, and he'll be coming off a knee injury, but you simply don't find many players with his enormous size who can move like he does. Nix has the potential to develop into the Steelers' next Casey Hampton and serve as the centerpiece of their 3-4 defensive scheme. He wouldn't be Pittsburgh's only option in this scenario, however; Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert, Notre Dame OT Zack Martin and Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio would all be good fits. The Steelers might be able to get a bigger WR like Fresno State's Davante Adams or Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin on Day 2.
Kiper has Nix No. 22 on his Big Board of draft prospects, right behind Kouandijo and one spot ahead of Clinton-Dix.
Here is his analysis: A rare commodity, Nix has the size and strength to handle a 0-technique role when he maintains proper leverage, keeping multiple blockers occupied and eating up two gaps while making life easy for linebackers cleaning up against the run. But he's not limited to that because he can really move, at least a lot better than you would expect from a player his size. Nix is occasionally moved too easily and loses gap control.
McShay has Nix No.17 among his top 32 prospects, right behind Clinton-Dix and one spot ahead of Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Here is his analysis: Nix struggled some in 2013 after a dominant 2012 campaign, and his stock could suffer as a result. But it's hard to see him falling out of the first round, given his physical abilities. He is a disruptive, space-eating, two-gap nose tackle with ideal size and above-average lateral agility and quickness for the position, and his snap anticipation and first-step quickness are excellent.