With the season past the halfway point, we are highlighting some prospects the Raiders may consider in the upcoming draft. You can take a look at our report on South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw here and our breakdown of Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk here. Who would you like to see highlighted next week?
Let’s not mince words here, the Raiders are desperate to add a linebacker. This has led many fans to start clamoring for Mike Mayock to pull the trigger and grab Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons with their top pick, but it doesn’t look like Simmons will be available with either of the Raiders’ first-round choices.
Florida State’s Hamsah Nasirildeen brings a lot of the same traits as Simmons, but he is more of a project and thus, could be nabbed later on in the draft. Nasirildeen is a 6-foot-4, 215 pound junior who lines up at safety for Florida State, but his tools and build make him an obvious candidate for a switch to a hybrid coverage linebacker spot.
Size, play speed, ability to attack downhill and coverage acumen are the major selling points for Nasirildeen. He diagnoses plays well and gets downfield in a hurry to meet ball carriers and stop them in their tracks. He’s always around the ball and getting in on plays. Nasirildeen racked up a ridiculous 22 tackles against Boston College two weeks ago, following up a 17 tackle showing against Syracuse two weeks prior.
Florida State S Hamsah Nasirildeen is a brick wall. Such an explosive and vicious hitter. Going to have many fans. pic.twitter.com/PK6UDVAoOJ— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 1, 2019
In coverage, Nasirildeen mans up tight ends and big-bodied wide receivers well, staying in phase and running hip-to-hip while using his size and length to limit passing windows. His zone coverage instincts and ability to close on receivers and stonewall them after the catch is intriguing when projecting him to play curl/flat responsibilities.
His balls skills are by no means elite as he is more concerned with playing his man and breaking up passes than gambling to make a play on the ball. But his long arms and speed allow him to rack up pass deflections.
FSU LB/S Hamsah Nasirildeen (6’4 215 Junior)— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) August 6, 2019
Long, Fast, Rangy pic.twitter.com/kplgVJlOsv
Nasirildeen is no Obi Melifonwu. He’s instictual and has savvy coverage skills that some players are just born with.
His athletic fluidity, instincts and physicality are both shown here as he’s lined up at outside linebacker as a true freshman. Nasirildeen first flows quickly to flat to pick up the No. 1 receiver before rallying with suddenness to force a fourth down against Calvin Ridley.
Ridley vs true freshman Hamsah Nasirildeen. Hamsah wins this round and forces a fourth down. pic.twitter.com/gvWWDVkBSK— Dakota Moyer (@DakMoyer) September 3, 2017
The main issue with projecting Nasirildeen to the linebacker spot is the uncertainty of his ability to shed blocks. He proves capable of shedding open field blocks or stalk blocks from receivers, but he’s almost never been put in a situation where’s he needs to use block destruction techniques against an offensive lineman.
The fact that he’s only 215 pounds might scare some teams off, but his upper body frame can handle much more weight and added strength. The Raiders took a chance with both Kolton Miller and Maxx Crosby in back-to-back drafts thinking they could bulk up their frames. That strategy has worked out quite well thus far and could be tested again with the Florida State product.
Nasirildeen profiles as a versatile Nickel linebacker who could eventually play the Will linebacker position once he adds weight and proves that he can sift through trash on the way to the ball carrier.
He would instantly give the Raiders a chess piece to deplore against divisional tight ends Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry and Noah Fant in coverage and could line up in the slot or at safety. Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has been limited in his ability to mix defensive personnel on the field, which has made Oakland’s defense more predictable than he’d like.
Nasirildeen may be no Isaiah Simmons, but his tools, versatility and high ceiling make him a very promising prospect. If he runs particularly well at the combine, he could discussed as a late first-round pick.
Draft Range: Early second to early third-round