Report: Cardinals worked out DE/LB Dadi Nicolas, LS Kameron Canaday and CB Aaron Sibley

Photo: sportingnews.com

Photo: sportingnews.com

BY: ED COLE

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is sticking close to his roots in his search for more pass rushing help.

Arians graduated from Virginia Tech, and now he’s reportedly had a fellow Hokie in town in defensive end/linebacker Dadi Nicolas.

Nicolas came late to the football party, as he just got into playing the game in his senior year of high school. Apparently, it didn’t take Nicolas long to get the hang of it, even though he was miscast at Virginia Tech, according to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein. In 13 games in 2014, Nicolas had 72 tackles (18.5 for loss), 9.0 sacks, one pass defensed, one pass breakup, 35 quarterback hits, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks. For his Hokie career, which spanned 49 games (26 starts), Nicolas had 166 tackles (36.0 for loss), 17.5 sacks, one interception, eight passes defensed, seven pass breakups, 57 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks.

Here’s Zierlein’s assessment of Nicolas, with his strengths, his weaknesses and Zierlein’s bottom line:

STRENGTHS

Has lightning quick inside moves,­ including spin,­ that can catch slow­-footed tackles sleeping. Long-strider with the acceleration and lateral quickness to create problems when twisting inside. Plays with desired upfield burst. As pass rusher, can brush aside lazy outside hand placement to open door around the edge. Forced two fumbles and recovered two more in 2015. Miscast with hand in the ground and over-matched physically, but was always willing to compete and battle the man across from him. Has experience as outside linebacker. Bouncy athleticism in space and looks natural dropping into space. Good burst to make up ground quickly while chasing the ball. Runs through tackles with as much force as he can muster with his size.

WEAKNESSES

Looks more like a safety than an edge player. Two years of tape show alarming lack of functional strength. Easily redirected as pass rusher and washed down against the run. Not a physical player by nature. Labors to disengage. Can be controlled by by quality tight ends at the point of attack. Avoids contact at times to stay clean rather than stacking and shedding. Edge-­setting always an issue as an end or outside linebacker. Below average instincts against the run. Thin lower body foreshadows inability to generate speed to power. Needs to eliminate false step from his get­ off. Below average body control in space overrunning plays that are there to be made.

BOTTOM LINE

Wiry edge player forced to play too often with a hand in the ground despite his clear lack of power to handle the the position. Nicolas combines hustle and exciting athletic traits that will have evaluators trying to find a place for him, but without better technique and overall strength, life as an edge player might be difficult. If a team is willing to be patient, it might be worth taking a look at Nicolas as a 3-­4 inside linebacker.

Cardinals evaluating long snapper and cornerback talent:

Getlin also got word that the team had former Portland State long snapper Kameron Canaday in for a second workout, along with cornerback Aaron Sibley, who also attended Portland State.

The Cardinals are in search for another long snapper, after Mike Leach retired after 16 years (seven with the Cardinals) of service to the league. Canaday was a preseason All-American by Stats Inc., and a member of the College Sporting news Preseason Fabulous 50. Canaday – a former defensive lineman – started 29 games entering the 2015 season.

Sibley was named to the All-Big Sky Conference’s second team in 2014. In 2013, Sibley was an All-Big Sky Conference honorable mention. Last season, Sibley played in 10 games for the Vikings and had 37 tackles (2.5 for loss), eight passes defensed, one interception and two blocked kicks. Sibley also returned three kicks for a total of 55 yards.