Playing his college ball at USC was enough to get him noticed by NFL scouts, but Trojans defensive tackle Fili Moala also has another feather in his cap. His cousin is Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Good NFL bloodlines can often help give a prospect the benefit of the doubt.
Moala isn't the highly coveted prospect that his cousin was, who went 12th overall to the Ravens in 2006. That's mainly because he doesn't have quite the same dominant presence on the defensive interior. Moala is not going to be an anchoring nose tackle in 3-4 front that can run down quarterbacks, but he is a capable run stuffer as 10 of his 30 tackles last season went for loss.
Just don't tell Moala he's a run stuffer by trade.
"Stopping the run as well as rushing the passer," he said when asked what his strengths are. "I think I do both pretty well. I'm just going to try to be as productive for whatever team takes me."
The 6'4" 305-pound tackle is surprisingly lean and long in the arms. In other words he's nothing like his beefy cousin in terms of body type. But with a good burst off the ball and powerful hands that slap away linemen Moala capably made or set up plays for his linebackers to make on a regular basis.
With the frame to add more weight Moala could be more like his cousin and probably hold down a nose tackle job. Currently at 305 pounds however, he also offers 3-4 defensive teams a different option.
"I fit into all defensive schemes," Moala said. "I can play defensive end in the 3-4. I can play the three technique in the 4-3. I can do a whole bunch of things and that's why I think so many teams are interested in me."
Moala proudly did a lot of the dirty work for the Trojans nationally ranked defense, and will likely be asked to do some of the same on the NFL level.
He also made contributions on special teams using his long, lanky build to block two field goals in one quarter against Arizona State to tie an NCAA record.
Moala is just not an elite pocket pusher and is viewed by some scouts as a one-dimensional player. But stopping the run is important in the NFL and the USC defensive tackle certainly has the strength to handle such a role in a 4-3 system, which should make him a late second or early third round pick.