Montae Nicholson, S
School: Michigan State | Conference: BIG 10
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 219 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 5th-6th Round
NFL Comparison: T.J. Green
Nicholson was an outstanding athlete in high school, gaining recognition as both an all-state football player and track star. He started at Michigan State as a true freshman and retained his starting role all three years of his collegiate career. Nicholson has prototypical size for a safety, and will likely test very well in the explosive drills such as the broad jump, vertical jump, and 40-yard dash at the Combine. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing a lot more Montae Nicholson buzz after this weekend.
Nicholson’s biggest knock as a prospect is his demeanor on the field, which is described by other scouts as “unsure” and “traits-only”, despite his respectable statistics accumulated over three years as a starter.
- Ideal height and athleticism to play sideline-to-sideline as a free safety
- Recovery speed to make up for bad angles and provide corner help over the top
- Recognizes route combinations and takes action to disrupt passing lanes
- Way too tentative and hesitant coming down into the box, lacks mean streak
- High-cut athlete that has trouble lowering his center of gravity to wrap-up and make the tackle, frequently bounces off ballcarrier
- Self-described “confidence issues”
It'd be unwise to overlook MSU S Montae Nicholson. He's a big super-athlete who'll likely blow up the combine.— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) February 4, 2017
Guys who will destroy the combine:— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 17, 2017
My list of draft crushes this year is growing by the day. Most recent additions:— Scout Kelley (@ScoutKelley) March 1, 2017
Congrats to @MontaeNicholson on his invite to the NFL Combine! Big talent and hitter. Will be among the best at Safety. #DreamBig #Spartans— Mark Dantonio (@DantonioMark) February 3, 2017
Montae Nicholson lowering the boom on Ardarius Stewart. @SportsRuckus pic.twitter.com/PNRAhYS2oq— Justen Gammel (@gamscout) July 25, 2016
Hustle wins ball games...Montae Nicholson, 6'2" 220lb Safety with SPEED #MSUSpartans https://t.co/SujXl5noZE— Kyle Morgan (@NoHuddleScouts) May 28, 2016
Khalid Hill destroys Montae Nicholson on the Smith TD. Then Ty Wheatley adds insult to injury. 14-7 Michigan pic.twitter.com/PA9yC9q1YZ— Due# (@JDue51) October 30, 2016
How He’d Fit on the Redskins
Honestly I wish there was more tape available on Nicholson (had to watch a lot of Malik McDowell and a lot of that is dead tape when he’s playing deep) because sometimes you see a lot of promise in his hitting ability and coverage ability and other times the critics’ knocks on his game ring true: hesitation, missed tackles, self-doubt.
There’s no doubt, however, that he’s an athletic specimen with absolute ideal size - 6-2 and 220 pounds - for an NFL safety. His interviews will be important if he comes off as confident yet hungry to improve his play deficiencies. Nicholson would also need to be willing to do the dirty work on special teams while he develops.
If he checks off those boxes, I’d be happy with the Redskins spending a 6th-round pick on him as a developmental prospect and hoping new DBs coach Torian Gray can work his magic.