2007 Draft Recap: Stephen Nicholas

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Stephen Nicholas

Height: 6-1
Weight: 232
College: South Florida
Birthday: May 1, 1983
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL


40 Speed: 4.64
20 Yd: 2.68
10 Yd: 1.58
Bench: 29 reps
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Broad Jump: 9’2″
Short Shuttle: 4.45
3 Cone Drill: 7.29

NFL Draft Countdown
by Scott WrightStrengths: Good athlete…Adequate timed speed and quickness and has a burst…Real solid tackler…Pretty instinctive…Versatile and could project to either the weakside or the strongside…Aggressive and has a motor that never stops…Plays with a nasty demeanor…Strong…Excellent pass rusher…Has a lot of experience…Productive.Weaknesses: Undersized…Does not do a great job of shedding blocks…Doesn’t play quite as fast as he times…Did not always play against top-notch competition…Has tight hips and is just ordinary in pass coverage…Does not change directions very well.Notes: Was a four-year starter…Didn’t always get a lot of national attention but was a real gem for the Bulls…Has most of the physical tools you look for other than bulk and rates very high on the intangibles scale as well…Somewhat underrated and he could be the type of guy who’s a Day Two steal and really surprises everyone.Grade: Mid-Rounder

by TFY Draft PreviewPOSITIVES: Instinctive linebacker who constantly makes positive plays. Diagnoses the action, picks up assignments and remains alert. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, scrapes well in the box and strings plays laterally. Covers a good amount of area on the field.NEGATIVES: Undersized, is slow to shed blocks and can be taken from the action by opposing tight ends. Has tackles broken.ANALYSIS: A hard-working defender who constantly plays at a high level, Nicholas offers starting potential in a one-gap system or on the weak side.PROJECTION: Late Fourth Round

GRADE: 3.53 — Future Starter

by NFLDraftScout.comPositives: Has a thick frame with good upper-body muscle tone, thick thighs and calves … Active in pursuit, doing a nice job of flowing down the line to string plays wide … Plays with solid effort and is best when keeping the action in front of him (lacks range) … More of a collision-type tackler, but he does show good pop on contact … Is quick to close when he locates the ball … Attacks blockers with adequate aggression and has improved his hands usage to take on and re-route tight ends in the short area … Has the vision to track the ball in flight, but gets more deflections than interceptions due to a lack of natural hands … Uses his upper-body power to drag down opposing ball carriers and is a physical face-up hitter … Bit of a liability covering on extended routes, but has the ability to cover in the short area … Has a sharp closing burst on the play-side … Breaks down properly in the open when runners change direction and has the quickness to catch backs from behind … Goes low in his stance, generating good leg thrust to drive the opponent back on his heels … Efficient blitzer who slips through blocks to provide constant pressure on the pocket … Plays with good aggression and is always looking for the ball when working through trash … Has a good concept for taking angles in backside pursuit … Needs to improve his backpedal mechanics, but shows crisp cutting agility out of his breaks.Negatives: Gets suckered out of position at times, having problems with misdirection … Lacks the size you look for on the perimeter and might not have the read-and-diagnose ability to call defensive signals as a middle linebacker … Short arms when offensive linemen lock on to him, struggling to shed … Too stiff in his hips to redirect or change direction easily … For some reason, he will stop his legs once a blocker latches on to him, quickly getting taken out of the play … Can be engulfed by larger blockers and struggles to press the taller and more physical tight ends … Better flowing to the play-side than from behind … Does not have natural hands for the interception … Poor space tackler (better in close quarters), as he will revert to ducking his head upon contact … Gets too high in his stance when backpedaling and fails to open his hips properly to turn and go … Has a marginal feel for routes and hesitates before dropping into the throwing lane … Good blitzer, but will get caught up in inside trash.Compares To: KEVIN BENTLEY-Seattle … Nicholas can play all three linebacker positions, but outside of his blitzing, there are quite a few liabilities in his game. He is slow to read keys and doesn’t have the size, bulk or overall strength to simply punish ball carriers. He might be a better fit inside, but he does a marginal job of locating the ball quickly enough to impact on the play. He is too light to play on the line, but late in the draft, his pass-rushing skills could make for a nice pickup, but only as a situational player.

Football’s Future
by Robert DavisThree games into his true freshman season, Nicholas suffered an ankle injury and ended up taking a medical redshirt for the season. He returned a year later, earning freshman AA status after finishing the year with 46 tackles, 11 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. As a sophomore, he had 97 tackles, 11 for loss on the year. Nicholas became more of a playmaker as a junior, finishing the year with 79 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and seven sacks on the year. He closed out his Bull career with a career high 102 tackles, 15 for loss, 7.5 sacks, and two interceptions. Nicholas is a talented, all around linebacker prospect. He is a good athlete, that has good quickness and speed on the field. He reads plays well in front of him, and quickly flies towards the football. He has great closing speed, and shows the ability to run plays down sideline to sideline and rush the passer. He is aggressive, and is not afraid to take on bigger players. Nicholas lacks ideal height and bulk for a linebacker, which may limit him to the weakside position. He can be overpowered at the point of attack, and may be too small to match up with tight ends in coverage. Nicholas has played both will and sam linebacker spots, but projects better on the weakside because of his size. With his speed and aggressiveness, he could be a big playmaker and special teams demon in a few years.

Draft Ace
by Ryan McCrystalStrengths: Good athlete. Shows good awareness on the field. Decent quickness despite poor timed speed. Hard hitter. Reliable tackler. Plays with a nasty attitude and appears to always be going full speed ahead.Weaknesses: Lacks ideal size and speed. Below average in coverage, a one dimensional linebacker.Comments: Nicholas has the skills to be a solid backup at the next level, but not much more. His lack of size limits the number of teams that will be interested in him. He projects as a late round selection.

Consensus Draft Services Overview: A speed guy who plays fast and makes a ton of tackles. Mid-major program may hold him out of the spotlight, but he is climbing.Strengths: Extremely fast, smooth and productive. Plays smart. Takes great angles. Fights to get to the ball. Pursues very well. Leadership. Makes sacrifices to get better and make plays. Very athletic. Hard worker and team player. Works hard in pass defense.Weaknesses: Not very big. Can be engulfed on the second level. Gets washed out of some plays. Struggles getting through dense traffic. Will never be an elite pass defender.Projection: Has first day ability, but may go as late as the 5th round because of size and lack of visibility.

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Aaron Freeman
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