AFI Combine Watch: USC DT Fili Moala

Fili Moala (Getty)

Last year, following the 2008 NFL Draft, one publication had USC DT Fili Moala going first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Things haven't materialized like several thought, but Moala is still a talented player who has the ability to be a key part to a defensive line in the league. He spoke to the media at the Combine held in Indianapolis to talk about things and how he sees himself fitting in...

"I think I'm versatile," Moala told the assembled media. "I can be a 3-4 defensive end, I can play a 3-technique in a 4-3, I can play the run, I can rush the passer. I can do a lot of different things, that's why a whole bunch of teams are interested in me."

While in Indy, Moala met with several teams including the Steelers, Colts, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers and Titans and he spoke with the Lions at the Senior Bowl as well.

Moala admitted it was tough performing in front of the scouting staffs and head coaches that were in attendance this weekend.

"Right here you've got coach (Bill) Belichick, you see that guy on TV, coach (Mike) Tomlin is walking around, Norv Turner. You see all these famous faces on TV and it's kind of hard to realize these guys are interested in you, that they think you have ability to contribute to their team.

"It's kind of pleasing to know that stuff."

Moala said he also needs to make sure he isn't star-struck by his future teammates either.

"These are guys you've been watching on TV for years -- real big-name guys," Moala said. "It's not being in awe, coming in and knowing that I'm qualified to be here, that people think I can play with the best of them as well as I do. I'm taking it for what it is and playing football like I have almost all my life."

Moala said he patterns himself after two defensive tackles currently in the game and two Hall-of-Famers whose film he's watched since he was a little boy.

"Right now I'm real big on Tommie Harris and Albert Haynesworth, two elite D-tackles, I consider them to be the best," Moala said. "But growing up I was watching film on the rip king, Howie Long, Deacon Jones, all kinds of stuff. I'm just a football fan."

The talented player who's roots trace back to Tonga. He used his strength and size to post 30 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks as a senior in 2008 and while he's considered to be a top-notch run-stuffer, he doesn't provide a lot against the pass.

He'll probably fit in well with a 3-4 team who needs a two-gap player over the center and he'll be someone who can occupy blockers and get into the backfield on running plays occasionally. Unfortunately, he isn't a great pass-rusher so he'll likely only be a two-down player at the next level.

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