Josiah Tauaefa, LB
School: UTSA | Conference: C-USA
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 245 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Brooks Reed
The UTSA football program has only been around since 2011 but Josiah Tauaefa is arguably the best player in the school’s history. Sure UTSA has had some interesting prospects come to the NFL over the past few seasons namely Marcus Davenport who was a first round pick last year but Tauaefa had ‘star’ power on campus. After committing to UTSA as a 2-star recruit back in 2015 Tauaefa was given a redshirt his freshman year. He broke out his RS Freshman year and set the single season record in school history for tackles (115). He was actually a strong side defensive end at this point which makes the production even more impressive. He was looking to continue that production into his RS Sophomore year especially as his coach switched his position to inside linebacker but was limited by an MCL injury. This past season he got back on track though and had one of the best seasons by in inside linebacker in the C-USA and arguably in college football. It’s early in the draft season but Bucky Brooks currently has Tauaefa listed as his 5th best linebacker prospect. Given that it was surprising to see him among the list of combine snubs this year. Still Tauaefa ought to make some noise at his pro day and is a dark horse prospect going into this draft.
- Good size, strength, power, athleticism for position.
- He has a nose for the football and can fly to it to make stops. Instincts and read and react ability are there and he isn’t turned around or fooled often. From his time as a DE he’s developed some counters and is effective at using his hands to combat blocks and work through them. Very good at attacking gaps.
- Converts his speed to power well and has some force behind his hits. Surprising athleticism for the position at his size. Closing burst to the football stands out as well as explosiveness. Tackling machine and seems to be everywhere on the field.
- Passion for the game and motor are evident when he’s on the field.
- Play speed can be inefficient. Sometimes he looks like he’s running at break neck speed to the ball other times it looks 80% other times a little less. I think its a conditioning issue more than anything. Consistent play speed is important though as a step late can be the different in a TFL or big gain.
- Is he being played out of position? I have to say it. Former DE who is just on his second year as a inside linebacker ? Thats quite a jump. You can tell by his weight and frame that he looks a bit out of place. I wonder about the interest of teams keep him at ILB? Should he be moved to 4-3 DE again? Should he play EDGE in a 3-4?
- As a inside linebacker he moves decently but you can tell he still has some stiffness changing direction. Its probably a blend of his size and experience at the position.
- He needs to work on the angles he takes when fighting through blocks going downhill. Due to some limitations in flexibility and agility its important for him to line things up or he can miss.
Let’s see his work:
@josiahtauaefa is a heavy hitter, and one to watch in the upcoming draft. A great prospect coming from a smaller school. Puts up a fight and can feel the passion he has for the game just by watching. @DraftDiamonds pic.twitter.com/OqUtjBuAZj— Dougie (Buddy) Boy (@LifeThroughDoug) February 18, 2019
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
This is a hard one. Having known nothing about him I am in awe that he could be such a productive player at the level he was. He is essentially a DE playing ILB in my opinion. Maybe that’s the reason he didn’t get an invite is because teams aren’t exactly sure where he should play or where his best fit is. Still, I think it speaks volumes about his learning ability and aptitude that he could pick up this position so fast and honestly excel at it given his limitations. There are two possibilities for him on the Redskins. He can stay at ILB if he can drop some weight and work on becoming more flexible. There is no denying his nose for the ball and physicality. Also what he brings as an interior rusher is very valuable and his work ethic is something special. I would expect a transition like this not only for his body but also for him to continue learning more about the responsibilities of the position to take at least a season before the team see’s significant results at the next level. The second option is to convert him to a 3-4 OLB. He can stay the same size and arguably he may be more effective here as a pass rusher. He also has the skills to set the edge and provide run support. The issue here is also his flexibility. I didn’t see much bend in his game and he seems to excel when he has a straight shot and not when he turns a corner. Tauaefa is a very interesting prospect the kind of guy you want on your team because of his ability and passion the toughest task ahead of him may just be convincing a team that he can fit what they do.