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2011 NFL Draft Projections: Sione Fua

Sione Fua is a projected mid-round pick in the NFL draft.
Sione Fua is a projected mid-round pick in the NFL draft.

All week I'll be previewing Stanford's prospects in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday.

Sione Fua wasn't the most talked about member of Stanford's vastly improved defense last season, but he was arguably the most important. Fua had 23 tackles and 4.5 sacks as Stanford's starting nose tackle, and it was his ability to clog the middle and occupy multiple blockers that enabled the Cardinal's linebackers to get to the quarterback and otherwise wreak havoc against opposing offenses in Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme.

NFLDraftScout.comrates Fua as the 15th-best defensive tackle in the draft and projects he'll be a fifth-round pick. Jon Wilner rates Fua as the fourth-best Bay Area prospect and thinks he'll be taken in rounds 2-4. DraftTek projects Fua will go in the fourth round to Arizona. Fua will likely become the first Stanford defender drafted since the Chicago Bears took linebacker Michael Okwo in the third round of the 2007 draft.

There's a lot to like about Fua, including his "high motor," a description you'll find in a lot of his scouting reports. Most scouts agree that he needs to put on weight to play nose tackle at the next level.

My projection: 4th round