Watching every snap for LSU-Alabama and LSU-Auburn gave some very good perspective on not just those schools' three DT prospects but also the talent gap between the prospects headed for the top 5 and the one bound for the 2nd round.
I won't say much about Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus because they're out of range for us. But I will use them for perspective on Nevis. Skillset and game context, from teammates to opponent strength, was very similar for Fairley and Nevis.
Alabama and LSU's offensive lines were mediocre; Auburn's was good and fronted a formidable offense.
Facing lesser lines, Fairley should have stood out more in comparison but didn't. Facing disparate lines, Dareus should have shown more against LSU but didn't.
Nevis should not have disappeared against the better Auburn line but did.
Nevis is an undersized tackle. Feel free to read up on "pro amateur" scouting reports online because I won't be spending time duplicating that freely accessible effort. Most of them are not far off for any prospect. The key is the accuracy of the extent to which a prospect's skills, talent or red flags are quantified, and how the disparity between prospects and their attributes is quantified.
A dominant college player, Nevis has size limitations that could make him erasable in the pros. That concern was corroborated in the Auburn game.
It appeared he was a focal point for Auburn. LSU's best lineman, he was doubled up with regularity. He faced two triple teams, but not by design.
The dominant Nevis that chews through his own highlights like Al Pacino chews through film scenery (is it some sort of prerequisite for the film critic trade to describe Al Pacino as chewing scenery? I believe it's shown up in every Pacino flick review I've ever read, I think twice for Nic Cage, and never for anyone else) showed up against SEC competition in Florida, MSU and Alabama. He's a true "Ruskell" pick -- undersized, high effort, SEC with many starts under his belt, moderately overlooked int he draft. The Bears are certainly looking at; possesses the ability to disrupt like Tommie Harris against not poor competition.
Though the SEC is strong, his competition was not significantly strong. Though not strong, it appeared to largely not be the reason he tore through gaps so easily. The reason was largely being largely unblocked. Though most of his damage and highlight reels came off being barely blocked, I don't think starting NFL linemen going to the trouble of actually blocking him will make him erasable.
He wasn't so frequently unblocked of any significance because he didn't warrant attention. He was not ignored, and he didn't face stiffs. He's got rare explosion in his first step. I think he moves so subtly well in tight space that he may have the defensive equivalent of "influence blocking." Often within a moment Nevis was closer out of the gap he'd penetrated into the backfield than in it before the guy assigned to him could begin to impede him. He didn't face top competition, but it's hard to stop someone who's already past your base no matter who you are.
Playing in turns from 1-tech, 3-tech and 4, he seemed to win many more matchups than the plays he factored in. A lot of runs or quicker passes took the ball away from him being able to factor, but you could see the trouble he caused his blockers.
But against Auburn Nevis had a very bad day. I noticed against Alabama he seemed to have subbed out pretty rarely, but rested on at least 4 complete series against Auburn, including the 1st series back from half-time. He's known for being able to maintain top stamina throughout the game and that was on display in the other games, but Auburn really took it out of him.
They doubled him regularly and he could rarely beat it. I saw him beat doubles in the other games. Got through them a couple times against Auburn. But mostly, no.
Nevis looked better and made more impact against the mediocre Bama line than Fairley. Neither Nevis nor Dareus showed much against Auburn, but Dareus demonstrated at least that he has well rounded pro stock.
The concern about Nevis being erasable is legitimate. But the most remarkable thing about looking at these three tackles is aside from that I could find nearly no evidence that Fairley was a superior prospect, much less Dareus.
I don't mean to be dismissive of his issue against double teams. That's obviously a substantial distinguisher. But I would add that the lack of size and the potential for getting walled off are related, but not the same. Nevis played the run well, and in a 1-gap penetrating scheme, figures to not be a liability against the run.
If scheme and role mitigated that erasable distinguishing factor Nevis' capabilities rival that of the two headed for the top 5. I am amateur, but that's what I see. A guy who could be available with our 57th pick could be as good as a high 1st rounder, in the right role.
Seattle has two 2-gap roles on its unbalanced line. The under tackle has a 1-gap penetrating role. With Bryant and Cole lined up a guy like Nevis would not require double attention on a run. He was walled off by doubles; he was not swept aside (but could be in the pros by bigger road graders).
If an under tackle like Nevis truly dictated a double team on a line with a Leo and Red Bryant, that would be a mild surprise that would also foster some trouble for opponent pass protection. Put another way, if the three basic outcomes of Nevis' role as Seattle's under tackle was penetrate, collapse the pocket, or draw two blockers, in none would he not be contributing.