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Where will Hercules Mata’afa play in the NFL?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Washington State at Oregon Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You’re forgiven if you forgot that Hercules Mata’afa is preparing for an NFL future. After all, he’s not playing in any of those showcase games for NFL scouts, given that he’s an underclassman.

And his size is intriguing, because we all know he played as an interior lineman at WSU, and did so quite well. Man, that Utah game was incredible (let’s not talk about what happened two weeks later).

But in the NFL, there aren’t many interior lineman jobs for a guy his size, if any. The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson talked to Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com about Mata’afa’s prospects.

Rang currently has Mata’afa ranked no. 44 overall on his board, and the no. 5 defensive end. Whether Mata’afa plays defensive end in the NFL is another question, but I guess you have to put him somewhere.

One good comparison size-wise could be Oakland defensive end Khalil Mack, who’s 6’3, 250. Mata’afa is listed as 6’2, 252.

Rang made an interesting point: Mata’afa leaving early prevented him from playing in one of the showcase games in front of NFL scouts, like he likely would have had he played his senior season. But as Lawson pointed out, what more could Mata’afa do to increase his stock? It’s not like he’d change positions his senior season.

Rang thinks Mata’afa could be used at a few linebacker spots at the next level.

Mata’afa will have time to impress scouts at WSU’s pro day March 8.

Football

NFL Draft Watch: Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa offers defensive versatility | The Spokesman-Review
When the Associated Press published its postseason All-Pac-12 Conference teams in early December, Hercules Mata’afa left such an impression on voters that many of them gave him extra credit.

Multiple NFL Draft analysts agree: WSU QB Luke Falk has impressed on and off the field during Senior Bowl week | The Seattle Times
At 6-4, 211 pounds, WSU QB Luke Falk is considered slender for the position, and he also has to show NFL teams he can transition from the Air Raid to the pros. But, in Mobile, Ala. this week for the Senior Bowl, Falk appears to have made a favorable impact on scouts and draft analysts.

Luke Falk hopes to play part in suicide prevention after loss of teammate | KREM.com
The WSU football team, along with the family friends and loved ones of Tyler Hilinski sadly had their lives changed in that very manner last week.

Washington State QB Luke Falk withdraws from Senior Bowl to attend Tyler Hilinski’s funeral | The Spokesman-Review
After spending multiple days training alongside the likes of Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in Alabama, many were convinced Falk had boosted his NFL Draft stock as much as any quarterback in attendance.

WSU QB Luke Falk withdraws from Senior Bowl to attend teammate Tyler Hilinski’s funeral | The Seattle Times
Luke Falk is pulling out of the Senior Bowl game on Saturday because he wants to travel back to Southern California to attend funeral services for Tyler Hilinski.

Coach Rankings

The CougCenter authors had a good chat about this list from The Oregonian’s Ken Goe, ranking the Pac-12’s coaches. It also saw some light on Twitter, if you follow the right people.

Whether you think Mike Leach was ranked too low, Clay Helton too high, or you just want to laugh while reminding yourself that Herm Edwards is now the head coach at Arizona State, give it a read because these are the kinds of addictive offseason listicles that we love and hate.

My takeaway? The level of coaching in the conference just got a lot better with the additions of Chip Kelly and Kevin Sumlin. At least they’re in the South.

Feel free to rank them yourself. And don’t compare Mike Price to Mike Leach.

Ranking Pac-12 football coaches, from Chris Petersen (best) to Herm Edwards (say what?) | OregonLive.com
Leach comes in at no. 8, while Herm Edwards is no. 12. Curiously, Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre is no. 11, behind first-timers Jonathan Smith and Mario Cristobal.