2017 NFL Draft

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Paul Soliai

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 344 | College: Utah
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Soliai is an unheralded talent with excellent size to play in the two-gap scheme. He is a former offensive guard with just two years of experience on the defensive line, but he plays with leverage and is known for his ability to occupy multiple blockers.

One of eight children, Soliai was team captain and an offensive lineman at Nuuuli Poly Tech in Pago Pago, American Samoa. He also lettered in basketball and soccer. Upon graduating, Soliai moved to the United States. He enrolled at Coffeyville Community College in 2002, where he excelled as an offensive guard. The two-time All-Jayhawk Community College Conference choice added All-American honorable mention as a freshman and first-team national honors in 2003.

Soliai transferred to the University of Utah in 2004, spending the season redshirting on the scout team. He suited up for the team's fourth game of the season against Air Force, but did not appear in that game. He shifted to the defensive line in 2005 spring camp, gaining valuable experience behind Kelly Talavou at nose guard. He managed just five tackles (four solos) with a sack and 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Soliai earned second-team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2006. He started the team's first 12 games at nose guard, but was ruled ineligible for post-season action. He registered 35 tackles (13 solos) with 2.5 sacks, 3.5 stops for losses and four pass deflections. He caused and recovered a fumble while also blocking an extra point attempt.

In 24 games at Utah, Soliai started 12 times. He produced 40 tackles (14 solos) with 3.5 sacks for minus-27 yards and five stops for losses totaling 31 yards. He caused and recovered a fumble. He also was credited with four pass break-ups and one blocked kick.


Positives: Has a wide-body frame with massive chest and shoulder thickness, huge bubble, wide waist and hips, thick thighs and calves and an ideal frame to play in a two-gap alignment … Has good quickness and short-area balance for a player of his size and adequate change of direction agility to work his way down the line … Shows the functional burst and acceleration needed as a bull rusher and uses his hands decently to gain advantage coming off the snap … Holds his ground firmly vs. the trap blocks and double teams, but is still learning proper hand placement to stave off low blocks … Not a quick learner, but will show urgency to close when he locates the ball … When he keeps his pad level down, he is quick to slip blocks and deliver a strong hand punch to push the blocker back into the pocket … Has the functional strength needed to stop the lead blocker and ball carrier at the line of scrimmage … Uses his hands adequately to disengage when bull rushing … Can stuff and shed when he keeps his hands inside his frame, and has enough short-area burst to close on the quarterback … Has some lateral agility to slip past blocks and has learned how to time his leaps and get his hands up to block the passer's vision at the line (good at deflecting passes) … Stays on his feet working through trash and locks up the ball carrier well once he wraps to secure … Delivers a strong hand punch to prevent blockers from getting into his chest … Still developing hand placement, but when he extends properly, he can maintain separation … Gets more pressure on the bull rush to take down the quarterback, but is used more to occupy multiple blockers and collapse the pocket rather than give chase and close the deal.

Negatives: Has had weight issues in the past and needs to keep his bulk down, as he does tire late in games … Not always alert for angle blocks and traps, but is a load to bring down when he moves to the ball (will get washed, but only when he gets too tall or narrows his base) … Will get washed out of plays when he fails to keep his pads down, as his base gets too narrow when he is stood up at the line of scrimmage … Has good power in his lower body (despite being knock-kneed), but runs upright and lacks the change of direction agility in pursuit (more suited for a straight-ahead charge) … Late to react coming off the snap, showing only adequate ability to locate the ball instantly (lacks valid instincts) … Has the arm strength, but will struggle to break through the containment when he short arms … Lacks ideal pass rush moves, but is good at squeezing the pocket rather than sealing the deal … Lacks good plant-and-drive agility, needing to gather before redirecting … Keeps his arms too close to the body rather than extending to jolt (has a strong punch, but does not use it consistently) … Character issues arise, as he was suspended from postseason action for team rules violation … Typical junior college player who has yet to learn what kind of work it is going to take to succeed (does what is asked in training, nothing more) … More comfortable diagnosing run plays, as he is very slow to locate the passer in his pursuit … More effective playing in the box, as he tends to lose balance and get cut often working in space … His girth and previous experience as an offensive guard could see him develop quicker on that side of the ball … Is susceptible to being drawn offside, as he lacks a feel for the pre-snap.

Compares To: ISAAC SOPOAGA-San Francisco … Much like his fellow Samoan, Soliai is a load in the middle of the field. In a two-gap system, he is much more effective, as he plays the run well, but lacks the explosive initial step on his pass rush to be anything more than a type who can sometimes pressure the pocket. He doesn't have an array of moves or the vision to locate the ball well in backside pursuit. Left at the line of scrimmage, he is very capable of tying up multiple blockers at the point of attack. He is quick to slip single blocks, but exposes his body too much at the Xs, getting double-teamed often.

Career Notes

The team compiled a 5-1 record in games that Soliai had a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

2006 Season

All-Mountain West Conference second-team selection … Started the first twelve games at nose guard, but was suspended for the Armed Forced Bowl for a team rules violation …

Recorded 35 tackles (13 solos) with 2.5 sacks for minus 17 yards and 3.5 stops for losses of 19 yards … Recovered and caused a fumble … Blocked an extra-point attempt and had four pass deflections.

2006 Game Analysis

UCLA … In his first career start, he responded with three solo tackles … Head to Head Competition-OC#54-Robert Chai.

Northern Arizona … Posted four tackles (3 assists with a pair of pass deflections, a 2-yard sack and 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage … Took down Jason Murrietta for no gain on a third-&-1 run late in the first quarter … Sacked Murrietta for a 5-yard loss early in the second quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#55-Kevin Meagher.

Utah State … Limited to one assisted tackle … Head to Head Competition-OC#75-Brent DaLadurantey.

San Diego State … Deflected one pass and made one solo tackle … Head to Head Competition-OC#75-Patrick Justman.

Boise State … Totaled a career-high six tackles (5 solos) and sacked QB Jarad Zabransky for a 10-yard loss on first-&-goal at the start of the fourth quarter … Earlier, with 2:40 left in the third quarter, he stopped Zabransky for no gain on a second-&-goal run … Head to Head Competition-OC#69-Jadon Dailey.

Texas Christian … Followed with five tackles (2 solos), causing a fumble that he recovered when he stripped the ball from Marcus Jackson on a 1-yard run at the TCU 11 with 11:28 left in the game … Killed a third quarter drive when he stopped Lonta Hobbs for no gain on a rushing attempt and on the next play, third-&-3, he took down Jackson at the line of scrimmage, forcing the Horned Frogs to punt … Head to Head Competition-OC#75-Blake Schlueter.

Wyoming … Managed four assisted tackles … Head to Head Competition-OC#69-Jason Karcher.

New Mexico … Came up with one assisted tackle … Head to Head Competition-OC#66-Vince Natali.

Nevada-Las Vegas … Registered four tackles (3 solos), including one that stopped David Peeples for a 1-yard loss on a second-&-10 run at the start of the fourth quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#54-Aaron Mueller.

Colorado State … Credited with a pair of tackles, assisting Martai Burnett in sacking QB Caleb Hanie for a 10-yard loss on third-&-2 with 7:33 left in the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OC#64-Nick Allotta.

Brigham Young … Deflected a pass, produced two assisted tackles and blocked an extra point attempt at the start of the fourth quarter in his final collegiate game … Head to Head Competition-OC#67-Sete Aulai.

Tulsa (Armed Forces Bowl) … Did not play (team rules violation).

2005 Season

Played in twelve games at nose guard behind Kelly Talavou … Saw action mostly in short yardage situations … Finished with just five tackles (4 assists), a 10-yard sack and 1.5 stops for losses totaling 12 yards.

2005 Game Analysis

Registered his first career sack, taking down QB Adam Austin for a 10-yard loss with 1:00 left in the first half vs. Arizona … Credited with four tackles, assisting Derek Beardall in taking down Ryan Bohm for a 4-yard loss on a third-&-6 screen pass thrown by Bernard Jackson with 9:44 remaining in the game.

2004 Season

Redshirted during his first year at Utah … Suited up for the fourth game vs. Air Force, but did not play.

Junior College

Enrolled at Coffeyville Community College in 2002, where he excelled as an offensive guard … The two-time All-Jayhawk Community College Conference choice added All-American honorable mention as a freshman in 2002 and first-team national honors in 2003.

High School

Team captain and an offensive lineman at Nuuuli Poly Tech in Pago Pago, American Samoa … Also lettered in basketball and soccer.


Sociology major … One of eight children of Florence Levao … Mother played softball at San Francisco State … Step-father is the Reverend Foto Levao … Born Paul Fuapapa Soliai on 12/30/83 in Orange County, California … Resides in Pago Pago, American Samoa.


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