2011 NFL Combine: Sione Fua, Vic Fangio's 3-4 And the 2011 NFL Draft

PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 09: Sione Fua #92 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after he sacked Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans at Stanford Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Defensive linemen are spending today at the 2011 NFL Combine getting measured and speaking with the media. One such player is Stanford Cardinal defensive tackle Sione Fua. While at Stanford, Fua played in Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense, which gives him some unique insight as to certain aspects of the defense. Fua spoke with the media today and 49ers.com had a few of his comments related to his nose tackle role in Fangio's 3-4:

"You wanted to penetrate, but not penetrate through gaps," Fua said. "You wanted to knock your guy back and get penetration pressing your man into the backfield. We played a 3-4 hybrid where I was playing both a shaded nose (tackle) and knock guys back one way, play head up and also as a three-technique. I've had experience all across the line."

Matt Barrows had some additional comments from Fua on Fangio as a coach.

Fua weighed in at 308 pounds and has apparently been told he'll need to add weight if he wants to continue his nose tackle role at the next level:

Fua said his focus pre-draft is to show teams how athletic he is for his size. "I'm focused on looking fluid in the drills, like an athlete," he said. "Really, a lot of my training was focusing on the agility tests."
His size, however, was perfect for Fangio's Stanford defense in which he sometimes played nose tackle in a 3-4, sometimes played defensive tackle in a 4-3, was asked to penetrate on some and held back on others. Fua said he was shooting for 33 or 34 reps of 225 lbs. on the bench press.

As a defensive lineman his biggest strength seems to be his ability to stop the run. While it'd be nice if he could get to the quarterback, his work as a nose tackle would be more about occupying multiple offensive linemen than trying to get to the quarterback. It'd be nice if he could break through and sack the QB, but it's not the first role of a nose tackle in the 3-4.

Draft Tek and Walter Football both currently project him in the later part of the third round. The 49ers have some question marks surrounding the nose tackle position. They elected not to franchise Aubrayo Franklin, which means they need to work out a long term deal with him or he's walking. Ricky Jean-Francois is an option as well, although I've seen folks suggesting he get bumped outside to defensive end.

Is Fua a guy people would consider in the middle rounds of the draft? Would he need to slide to the fourth before you'd consider him?

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