With Tripplett (2001) their last all-conference defensive lineman, the Huskies have fallen on hard times up front. In Ta'Amu, they have a potentially dominating run-plugger capable of earning such recognition.
Despite coming to camp out of shape due to a broken foot suffered during his senior year of high school, Ta'Amu contributed as a true freshman, starting five games and posting 21 tackles. A year later, he started 11 contests, but saw his tackle numbers drop. He posted 19 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Ta'Amu took his game to another level as a junior, starting all 13 games and more than doubling the previous season's tackle numbers. He finished with 39 tackles, including five tackles for loss and a 1.5 sacks. It was when Ta'Amu made his plays, however, that changed most noticeably for the Huskies. Ta'Amu appeared to get better as the season went on, enjoying some of his best performances against the best competition, including a memorable evening against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl in which he recorded a 10-yard sack, had a 14-yard fumble return to set up an early Washington score and drew a holding penalty in the end zone that led to a Nebraska safety.
A massive man, Ta'Amu is tough to move and can surprise his opponents with his athleticism. He remains raw as a pass rusher and doesn't have the foot speed to chase down ball-carriers. His ability to clog running lanes, however, could make him one of the more highly coveted nose guard prospects in the country -- if he can build upon the success of his junior season.
Pass Rush: Surprising initial quickness off the snap. Wide-bodied frame makes it difficult for him to split gaps, but shows a burst when he has a lane. Developing swim move. Relies mostly on a simple bull rush at this point, which is quite effective in collapsing the pocket. Only phone booth quickness. Gives good effort in chasing down the quarterback, but tires quickly.
Run Defense: Strong, stout interior presence who often requires double-team blocks to keep him from clogging running lanes. Short, thick legs and thick trunk which aid him in anchoring. Inconsistent in his effort pursuing laterally and downfield, but surprises opponents with his quickness for such a large man. Short arms could lead to problems against NFL-caliber offensive linemen with longer arms able to get into his chest...
Explosion: Flashes an explosive initial burst off the snap to split gaps, especially when guards vacate the hole to pull. Has the upper body strength to rock his opponent back onto his heels. Quicker and more athletic than his body would lead you to believe, flashing startling explosiveness as a tackler when he gains momentum.
Strength: Powerful man who often requires double-teams. Excellent strength in his upper and lower, though his short limbs limit his effectiveness, at times. Relies heavily on his bull rush to pressure the quarterback. Often is at his most effective as a run-stuffer by simply creating a pile in the middle due to his ability to anchor.
Tackling: Makes most of his tackles by simpyl bludgeoning the ball-carrier. Lacks the quick-twitch muscles and lateral agility to break down in space, but has such great strength that he often is able to grab the ball-carrier with one arm, slow his momentum and grab on with his other arm to pull the ball-carrier to the ground. Inconsistent effort in pursuit, but generates impressive momentum when he's moving at full-speed and can rock the ball-carrier with an explosive hit.
Intangibles: Struggled with his weight early in his career. Has weighed as much as 390 pounds and played at 360, at times. Committed himself to extra conditioning and taking rice -- a staple of the Samoan culture -- out of his diet. He weighed in at 337 pounds for the 2011 Holiday Bowl. Suffered a broken foot during his senior year of high school."
At times gets a bit upright doubles over at the waste into blocks in order to stay low, but he can gain natural leverage bending at the knees. Doesn’t have the initial quickness to threaten gaps off the football and penetrate. However, for his size displays a good initial burst, gets into blockers quickly and does a nice job getting under the pad level of opposing blockers and using his hands to gain leverage and fight his way through contact.
Displays very good anchor strength inside. Has the ability to eat up the double, sit into his base and is tough to get a push on off the football. Is also very coordinated when asked to play off slide down blocks down the line, using his combination of short area quickness, balance and power he routinely can fend off blocks and works extremely hard for a guy his size in pursuit. Lacks ideal range closing from the backside, but the work rate is most definitely there.
Now, is tight in the hips and isn’t a guy who can quickly re-direct, shed and work his way back toward the football. However, initially there is some short area quickness in order to keep himself clean – especially in quick set situations - and uses his power to fight through blocks once he gains any kind of step.
Possesses only average ball awareness at this time and will take himself out of some plays, but seemed to improve as the season went on. Isn’t going to be a consistent pass rushing threat at the next level. However, has the ability to come off the ball quickly, keep his base down and push the pocket on his bull rush.
Works his hands well through contact, is a bit slippery for a big guy and has the motor to fend off blocks and work his way toward the quarterback. Doesn’t have great closing speed, but is a tireless worker who has a motor that doesn’t stop. Struggles to breakdown consistently on ball carriers and can be side stepped even in a phone booth when in position to create a negative play.
Impression: This is the kind of guy who has the ability to anchor the middle of an NFL defense in either a 3-4 or 4-3 front. Needs to do a better job finding the football, but overall he looks like a starter you can win because of in the NFL."
Has two-gap ability and engulfs ballcarriers in short area, though he can be slow to disengage.
Weight has fluctuated (has been as high as 390 pounds) and he needs to play with more consistent pad level - too easily washed when he gets tall and narrow-based.
Unsudden, developmental, two-down, 3-4 nose tackle who will have to continue transforming his body and remain dedicated to conditioning to maximize his potential."
Ta'amu plays like a 3 technique with a penetrating stiye and quickness. However, his size and weight may prevent him for being effective. Many evaluators will look at his size and peg him as a nose tackle or a two gap player. He doesn't anchor well enough to play two gap football. Of course, he has this season to improve and develop better lower half strength.
Overall, Ta'amu is an intriguing prospect because of his rare combination of size and quickness. NFL teams love quick defensive linemen that can be disruptive. However, he needs to do a better job anchoring if he wishes to be an early draft day selection.
Bold Statement: Ta'amu will impress scouts at the NFL combine (especially in his 10 yard split) resulting in a major rise in his draft stock
Games Viewed: Nebraska ('10), Washington St. ('10), California ('10), USC ('10), Oregon State ('10)
- Ta'amu is a massive player but with poor weight distribution, mostly top heavy
- He has a shockingly quick first step allow him to penetrate the pocket
- His hands are equally quick helping keep defenders off his body
- Ta'amu's high motor permits him to constantly pursue the football
- Consistently gets inside hands helping drive the offensive linemen off the ball
- Despite his size he is able to keep his pad level low and underneath the offensive line
- He is very active along the line often running stunts
- His quickness allows him to purse the football down the line of scrimmage
- Getting inside hands creates space and helps him locate the football
- Ta'amu is more of a penetrator rather than an occupier
- He struggles to anchor against double teams often getting moved off the line
- This makes me question his ability to play two gap football"
Has some short area-burst for a big man and is quick off the snap; uses size and hand strength to get off blocks and can get upfield, but has limited lateral agility and balance; anchors well and is tough to move off the line of scrimmage, but still could improve lower body strength;
Not a natural pass rusher, but can eat up blockers and even collapse the pocket at times when he stays low, although has a tendency to pop up out of his stance and play a bit too high at times; also has been known to take plays off, but had a respectable 39 tackles in 2010 including 5 for loss."
Very good strength in both upper and lower body, carries his weight well; good technique, quick hands, plays with good leverage to keep blockers off his frame, gets under the pads of opposing blockers, can walk back centers and hold his ground at the point, and push the pocket backwards and restrict running lanes...
Has 3-4 nose tackle potential, looks like a two-down run stuffer, at the very least, at the next level, prototypical 2-gap run stopper; requires a double team, very stout, thick trunk to anchor, is tough to move, can clog running lanes...
His quickness allows him to pursue down the line of scrimmage, good lateral movement and slide, plays the piano pretty well for his size, can be tough to block when he has energy and is motivated...
Good character, mature, active in community service; works hard, voted team captain for the 2011 season, plays with a good motor and has a mean streak, can generate some momentum moving at full-speed and deliver a big hit... Due to his quickness and ability to penetrate, could also figure as a traditional 4-3 DT.
Negatives -- Is raw as a pass rusher, massive frame makes it difficult to split gaps and penetrate, relies on a bull rush to collapse the pocket, other pass rushing moves are still developing, is never going to be a consistent pass rushing threat in the NFL...
As the game progresses, has a tendency to get too high out of his stance and can be handled by a single blocker, can be washed out of plays when he gets too upright, loses strength and becomes a non-factor versus the run...
Gives an inconsistent effort in pursuit and lacks the foot speed to chase down ball carriers, lacks ideal range closing from the backside... Gets too heavy, weight has fluctuated and he has been as heavy as 390 lbs. and has played at 360 lbs., needs to remain dedicated to weight management and extra conditioning...
Minor durability concerns, suffered a hairline fracture in his foot as a senior in high school... Started 2011 as a possible first rounder; disappointing season could drop him to third round or lower...
Had a terrible bowl game against Baylor, struggled to get off blocks and couldn't control the middle of the line which was gashed by the Bears to the tune of 482 rush yards en route to 67 points."
Washington Huskies DT Alameda Ta'amu is the early front-runner to be the first NT prospect to be drafted. Ta'amu has an incredible frame, elite strength, and a real toughness to do the dirty work in the trenches.
For a man his size, he moves well in tight spaces and can redirect the pile in either direction. Though he needs a lot of refinement in his pass rush, scouts will be reminded of Baltimore Ravens DT Haloti Ngata when they see him play.
Although he is overweight, his stamina and motor are above average. He typically plays all three downs and rarely comes out of the game. In order to take his game to the next level, he'll need to work on maintaining leverage, keeping his pad level low, and work on ways to go around blockers instead of through them."