2015 NFL DRAFT
player photo

Steve Fifita

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 322 | College: Utah
 
Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange
Overview

The massive run stuffer has anchored the Utes' defensive line since his sophomore year. The ultimate team player, Fifita takes great pride in his ability to tie up multiple blockers so his fellow defenders can be free to make big plays. Despite being bothered late in his senior season by a hamstring problem, he put together a string of 36 consecutive starts and started a total of 37 games during his career.

Fifita was a two-time all-conference and all-county performer at Fountain Valley High School. He served as team captain and was named Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. That season, he registered 62 unassisted tackles, recovered four fumbles (including one he returned for a score) and had 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage on defense. On offense, he played fullback and scored on runs of 55 and 65 yards.

Fifita did not attend school in 2000, as he was academically ineligible. He enrolled at Utah in 2001, spending the season as a redshirt to improve his academic standing. He played in 11 games in 2002, starting vs. Colorado State at nose guard. He finished his first season with 16 tackles (8 solos), an interception and two fumble recoveries.

Taking over nose guard duties full-time in 2003, Fifita earned All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention. He collected 31 tackles (15 solos) with three sacks, eight stops for losses and three pass breakups that year. In 2004, he earned first-team All-MWC honors and was named the Fiesta Bowl MVP. He delivered 45 tackles (23 solos) with 4.5 sacks and nine stops behind the line of scrimmage. He returned an interception for a touchdown and also saw action as a running back, scoring once.

Fifita again earned All-MWC first-team honors and was named the team's Most Valuable Defensive Lineman in 2005. Despite constant double teams and a sore hamstring, he posted 44 tackles (21 solos) with six sacks and 14 stops for losses.

In 47 games at Utah, Fifita started 37 times. He recorded 136 tackles (67 solos) with 13.5 sacks for minus-81 yards and 32.5 stops for losses of 127 yards. He recovered three fumbles and caused another. He batted away seven passes and intercepted two others, including one that he returned 6 yards for a touchdown. Fifita also carried twice for 5 yards and a score.

Analysis

Positives: Wide-body type with good chest thickness, big bubble, wide hips, thick thighs and calves and good explosion coming off the snap to disrupt the pocket … Plays with a high motor and shows good urgency closing on the ball … Has the functional initial burst, foot quickness, agility and balance to make plays working down the line … Has excellent playing strength … Uses his hand punch to shock and jolt … Makes good body adjustments on the move and is very nimble for a player his size … Quick to locate the ball working through trash and has the lateral agility to make plays in long pursuit … Good at shutting down cutback lanes, staying low in his pads to redirect … Uses his hands with force to stack and control … Hits and wraps with authority, showing good explosion on contact … Has quick arm-over action and the foot agility to get upfield … Shows the explosive short burst to pressure the pocket.

Negatives: Needs to tone his body, as he is carrying excess weight around the gut … Has good effort on the field, but will get a little reckless and overpursue … Has a strong hand punch, but needs to demonstrate better hand placement and keep them active in order to prevent blockers from getting into his body … When that happens, he is slow to shed … Has good speed, but is more of a straight-line runner in pursuit, despite good change of direction agility … When he keeps his hands too short, blockers can get underneath and drive him off the ball … Has a quick arm-over move, but needs to add to his pass rush moves, as he will stay tied up when his initial move fails … Strictly a 3-4 lineman due to his marginal height … Excess weight leads to stamina issues later in the game.

Fifita is an interesting prospect with surprising quickness for a player of his girth. He has outstanding playing strength to split double teams and a devastating hand punch to shock and jolt, but needs to use those hands with better consistency. He is a disruptive force once he penetrates the backfield and has the long arms to engulf ball carriers, along with the speed to shut down cutback lanes.

He is shorter than ideal for a tackle, but has the low center of gravity, balance and power to be very effective playing over the head of a center. He has good ability to locate the ball moving through trash, but will get locked out when he fails to use his hands to keep blockers off his body. He pursues the ball with lots of effort and uses his explosive burst to shock lethargic offensive linemen in attempts to push the pocket. He is a bull in a china shop once he gains penetration and hits with force.

Despite his strength, he does not consistently split double teams. He will get released from the line at times, needing to develop better hand moves than an arm-over action in attempts to shed. Still, Fifita plays with good balance and has improved his work habits in recent years. He will best be served in a 3-4 alignment, but with patient coaching, he could develop into another Gilbert Brown (ex-Packer).

Career Notes

Started his last 36 games at nose guard for the Utes … Ranks seventh in school history with 32.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, topped only by Dave Chaytors (33, 1989-92), Jimmy Bellamy (34, 1990-91), Garrett Smith (34.5, 1999-2002), Jason Kaufusi (38.5, 2000-02), Filipo Mokofisi (47, 1982-85) and Luther Elliss (47, 1991-94) … Ranks 12th in school history with 13.5 quarterback sacks … Only down lineman in Utah history to score on a rushing attempt and interception during a season.

2005 Season

Super Sleeper Team selection by The NFL Draft Report … All-Mountain West Conference first-team selection … Named the Utes' Most Valuable Defensive Lineman … Started all year at nose guard, despite being bothered late in the year with a hamstring injury … Finished with 44 tackles (21 solos), six sacks for minus-38 yards and 14 stops for losses of 59 yards … His 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage were the most by a Utah defender in a season since Jason Kaufusi registered 16 in 2000 … Served as defensive team captain.

2005 Game Analysis

Arizona … Limited to two assisted tackles in the season opener.

Utah State … Had another two hits, including an 8-yard sack of QB Leon Jackson.

TCU … Made five tackles (4 solos) and sacked QB Tye Gunn for a 3-yard loss.

Air Force … Assisted in a stop behind the line of scrimmage and totaled four hits.

North Carolina … Registered seven tackles (6 solos) with three stops for losses of 11 yards, including a 3-yard sack of QB Matt Baker.

Colorado State … Stopped tailback Kyle Bell for a 4-yard loss and had two hits.

San Diego State … Followed with six tackles and 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Nevada-Las Vegas … Produced three tackles with a 10-yard sack of QB Jarrod Jackson.

Wyoming … Delivered four tackles with 1.5 stops for losses, assisting on a 3-yard sack of QB Corey Bramlet.

New Mexico … Posted six tackles with an assisted sack for minus-3 yards.

Brigham Young … Left the game with a hamstring pull.

Georgia Tech (Emerald Bowl) … Despite his sore hamstring, Fifita closed his career with three tackles and two stops behind the line of scrimmage, including an 8-yard sack of QB Reggie Ball.

2004 Season

All-Mountain West Conference first-team choice … Named Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP … Started all year at nose guard, leading the team's down linemen with 45 tackles (23 solos), including 4.5 sacks for minus-33 yards and nine stops for losses of 44 yards … Caused one fumble and deflected two passes … Returned an interception 6 yards for a touchdown and also saw action on offense, carrying twice for 5 yards (2.5 avg) with a score.

2004 Game Analysis

Texas A&M … Opened the season with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and five assisted tackles.

Utah State … Posted four tackles with a 6-yard sack and two stops for minus-10 yards.

Air Force … Added two sacks for losses of 11 yards and nine tackles (5 solos).

New Mexico … Added four solo tackles and a stop for a 3-yard loss.

Wyoming … Produced four solo tackles.

Nevada-Las Vegas … Had three assisted tackles, two pass deflections and returned an interception 6 yards for a touchdown.

Brigham Young … Registered a 4-yard sack and made an appearance at running back late in Utah's win over BYU, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Pittsburgh (Fiesta Bowl) … Earned game MVP honors after making five tackles with two stops behind the line of scrimmage, including a 12-yard sack of QB Tyler Palko.

2003 Season

All-Mountain West Conference honorable mention … Took over nose guard duties, registering 31 tackles (15 solos) with three sacks for minus-10 yards and eight stops for losses of 24 yards … Recovered one fumble and deflected three passes.

2003 Game Analysis

Had a season-high six tackles vs. Texas A&M … Made five tackles and two stops for losses in the Liberty Bowl win over Southern Mississippi … Had five tackles and two stops behind the line of scrimmage vs. Colorado State.

2002 Season

Played in 11 games, starting vs. Colorado State at nose guard … Finished with 16 tackles (8 solos), 1.5 stops for losses, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection.

2001 Season

Redshirted as a freshman.

Injury Report

2006: Could not run on Pro Day (March 29) due to a lingering hamstring pull.

Agility Tests

Campus: 5.15 in the 40-yard dash … 460-pound bench press … Bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times … 675-pound squat … 365-pound hang clean … 32-inch vertical jump … 9'4" broad jump … 30 -inch arm length … 9 3/8-inch hands … Right-handed … 18/23 Wonderlic score.

High School

Attended Fountain Valley (Cal.) High School, playing football for head coach Eric Johnson … Two-time all-conference and all-county performer … Served as team captain and was named Defensive Player of the Year as a senior … That season, he registered 62 unassisted tackles, recovered four fumbles (including one he returned for a score) and had 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage on defense … On offense, he played fullback and scored on runs of 55 and 65 yards.

Personal

Sociology major … Son of Steve and Lita Fifita (pronounced fee-feeta) … Born 3/16/82 … Resides in Huntington Beach, California.

 
 
Fantasy Games