Has excellent size and strength. Shows great power on the inside and potential as a bull rusher. Has good leg drive and the short-area power to jolt the blocker off the snap. Can bully the center into the backfield and make stops there. Has a nice first step for his size and can penetrate and be a disruptive presence in the backfield. Will be able to beat the guard to his outside shoulder when he lines up at the 3-technique and can pin his ears back as a pass rusher. Will occasionally use the swim move to get penetration. Has nice closing burst to finish plays once he does get penetration. Has better range for his size than most, able to get out and chase downfield, and occasionally will make a stop in pursuit or in space. Does a nice job recognizing the screen play. Gets low in short-yardage and has the size and bulk to hold the point of attack well. Is very difficult to push off the ball.
Inconsistent, and not a guy that will dominate snap to snap in the middle like he should. Needs to learn how to use his hands better as a pass rusher and bull rusher. Needs to learn better hand placement to be a more effective bull rusher. Will lose his balance at times when he's pass rushing. Does too much running around blocks rather than just powering through the blocker. Lacks the ideal first step to really offer much as a speed rusher, but tends to try and use it too often. Tends to be a one-note pass rusher that can't consistently win when he doesn't beat the blocker off the ball initially. Gets pushed around a bit too much by the double team. Doesn't have great speed or range and is not fluid when he's working in space or dropping into coverage. Tends to be limited to being a short-area player. Has a tendency to wear down in the second halves of games.
Ta'amu is a player that I've liked for the past two years, but I was hoping his game would take a big leap forward as a senior and it really didn't. You see flashes of the dominance as his burst, power, motor, and athleticism at times will remind you of Haloti Ngata, but those are rare instances. In their bowl game against Rutgers, he got some early pressures but as the game wore on, he wore down, and all of his pressures came in the first 20 or so minutes of the game. He was then a non-factor. He has very good upside at the next level, but he's' one of the boom/bust players that could go either way. He projects well as a 3-4 nose tackle, but he might take time to develop and may never live up to his full potential. Last name pronounced tah-AH-moo.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/3) vs. Eastern Washington: 1 TFL, 1 pressure, 1 QB hit, 2 key blocked; 1 penalty (offsides)
(10/15) vs. Colorado: 0.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1.5 stuffs, 1 pressure
(12/29) vs. Baylor: 4 pressures
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 30 tackles, 8 TFLs, 4 sacks, 0 INTs, 0 PD, 0 FF, 0 FR
I think if he goes to a 3-4 team, Ta'amu will be at least a contributor at the next level. He's got the size and bulk to work in a rotation at the nose spot. I'm not sure if he'll develop into an elite nose tackle, but he has the skillset to do so. He just needs to be coached up, and has potential to develop as a disruptive and dominant player in the middle of the defense. But even if he doesn't develop, then I think at worst he'll be a solid rotation player at that position. A guy that if you can play him for 30 or so snaps, he'll contribute, just won't dominate sort of in the way that Isaac Sopoaga does in San Francisco. I think Ta'amu has enough ability to play in a 4-3 as well, as a two-down run defender. But in truth, to work in such a scheme he'd probably have to lose a significant amount of weight to add more quickness to his game. There, he would just be a situational rotational player that can help add bulk on run downs, but get pulled in most passing down situations. His upside isn't that high there. But that ability means he can work for teams that employ hybrid schemes that do some of both. I think his physical tools will allow him to come in right away for a 3-4 team and contribute off the bench. But it might take the better part of 3 or so seasons before he can be coached up enough to where he can really start to live up to his potential as a dominant presence in the middle of a defense. At worst, you're probably looking at an Alan Branch-type of player, who was a disappointment in Arizona, but when he played for the Seahawks this past year. And like players like Aubrayo Franklin and others, he might wind up being a better player for his second team rather than the team that drafts him. But I do think there is upside, and for a 3-4 team that can bring him along slowly, similar to how Baltimore has done with Terrence Cody, I think he can increase his chances of success. If I was a betting man, I think he winds up being a solid run-stopping nose tackle a few years down the road similar to Paul Soliali.
Paul Soliai, Dolphins.
Ta'amu would work in Atlanta because he brings similar tools and abilities to a 3-4 defense that Nolan had with Soliai in Miami. It took Soliai the better part of three years before he really became a fixture in the Dolphins rotation. Ta'amu can work in Atlanta because he can work in a hybrid scheme because he's disruptive enough to garner snaps in a 4-3 scheme, but has the long-term upside to be a force as the nose in a 3-4. And he would definitely add much needed bulk in the middle if the Falcons were to employ more two-gap looks. He'd be a nice addition to their rotation that might take a few years to really impact as a starter, but as a third guy off the bench that plays mainly on run downs he can contribute. Potentially, if Ta'amu develops he could be a very good force in the middle that can help make linebackers like Weatherspoon better because of his ability to keep blockers off him. He's a bit of a project, but one where the pay-off a few years down the line could be well worth it.
For a 3-4 team looking for a developmental nose, Ta'amu is worth a second round pick. He has first round potential, but the fact that it may take him the better part of his rookie contract before he can start to live up to it pushes him down to the second round. For a 4-3 or hybrid team, you might be better off waiting until the third round.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Point of Attack: 7.0
Pass Rush: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.