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A way-too-early look at Hercules Mata’afa’s NFL draft stock

Because it’s never too early...

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NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Hercules Mata’afa announced that he was leaving Washington State and will declare for the NFL draft. The first reaction for many Cougar fans was disappointment that our time watching the consensus All-American take the field in Pullman was over. I mean, just look at everything he’s accomplished during his short stint wearing the crimson and gray:

But now that the sadness has worn off (somewhat), it’s time to look on the bright side: We’ll still get to see Hercules on Sundays.

Of course, there are plenty of things scouts won’t like when they look at Mata’afa on paper.

“Undersized.” It’s one word that keeps appearing in most of the scouting reports online. But they’re always followed with a very important “but.”

Hercules Mata’afa is an undersized defensive tackle who wins with quickness and tenacity,” says a scouting report from Pro Football Focus. “He is an excellent interior pass-rusher despite his size... he will likely be moved to an edge role in the NFL.”

Most scouting services see Mata’afa moving positions at the next level. Walter Football (who ranks him as the 22nd best defensive end in the class) predicts a move to defensive end or linebacker in the NFL, but thinks he’ll get a look as a “designated pass-rusher” in the pros. also sees a shift to outside linebacker, and they think NFL teams will like what they see out of the pass rusher in his new spot. The site projects him as a second round talent and grades him as the second best junior at the outside linebacker spot and the 49th best player in the class overall.

Obviously, it’s a long journey to the NFL Draft with team workouts, interviews and the Combine ahead. But we’re excited to see where Mata’afa will end up in late April.


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