Summary: Nixon passes the eyeball test. He has enough size but is still fast, strong and athletic. Nixon was a star recruit coming out of high school for former Gators coach Urban Meyer. Nixon moved around from left and right tackle early in his career as he dealt with injuries during his first two seasons. Eventually he found a home at left tackle.
Nixon started out the 2011 season well with good performances in the first four games, but had some major struggles after that in conference play, especially against Alabama and LSU. He would do well blocking either team's edge-rushers before a few lapses would spoil an otherwise good game. When Nixon had a breakdown, it usually was very costly for Florida. Still, he showed that he was a good athlete with a lot of potential and a high ceiling.
Florida coach Will Muschamp wanted a stronger, more physical team in 2012 and brought in strength coach Jeff Dillman from IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. Nixon was one of the players who took to the new program the best and came back as a different player as a senior. He gained about 20 pounds of power and used that to be a forceful run-blocker.
Nixon showed a real ability to push linemen around in 2012 and running back Mike Gillislee had a lot of success running behind him. Nixon was consistent at opening holes in the ground game all season. He also maintained the athleticism to hit blocks on the second level.
Nixon had a mixed year in pass protection. He turned in a solid game against Texas A&M. Nixon also dominated LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery in perhaps his best game of the season. Nixon battled versus South Carolina with some good and bad moments against Jadeveon Clowney. Nixon played with a leg injury versus Georgia that left him slow and hobbling around the field. Jarvis Jones took advantage of that and destroyed Nixon to the tune of 3.5 sacks.
Nixon was excellent against Florida State to close out the regular season. He completely owned defensive end Tank Carradine, keeping him out of the backfield and on roller skates in the ground game. Nixon was opening up huge running lanes as he rode Carradine around the field. Overall, Nixon had a quality senior season. He showed good improvement from his previous years and became a more well-rounded blocker.
Nixon had some good battles at the Senior Bowl. He won and lost his share of the one-on-ones. Nixon also showed some flexibility to play right tackle and guard. It wasn't a week that significantly hurt or helped him.
Nixon has developmental potential for the NFL. He has the quickness and athletic ability to be a left tackle. However, Nixon must get more consistent in his pass protection before a team could trust him to protect a franchise quarterback. Nixon could eventually develop into a quality starter. It is hard to find tackles with his athletic ability. If Nixon goes to a good coaching staff, he could turn into a mid-round steal.
Player Comparison: Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod (6-5, 315) has nearly identical measurements to Nixon. Like Bushrod, Nixon can be effective as a pass-blocker and a run-blocker. Each has some quickness and athleticism to his game. Nixon probably could turn into a stronger blocker than Bushrod.
Bushrod was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Towson. Nixon could go in the same range this year. I think Nixon could turn into a quality starter like Bushrod.
NFL Matches: New Orleans, St. Louis, Arizona, New York Jets, New York Giants, Chicago, Jacksonville
Nixon could go to any number of teams in the mid-rounds. The teams above make the most sense. The Saints are a perfect fit. They target tackles in the mid-rounds and Nixon's athletic ability meshes well with their offense. If New Orleans coaches him up as well as it has other mid-round picks like Bushrod, Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans; Nixon could be a real steal.
The Cardinals and Rams still need offensive tackle help after years of having issues at the position. Nixon could be a nice sleeper pick for either team. The Jets have to upgrade their right tackle position and Nixon could fill that spot for New York.
Staying in the Big Apple, the Giants have an extremely old offensive line. They could use help at guard and right tackle. Nixon could be groomed at either spot.
The Bears and Jaguars have two of the worst offensive lines in the league. They both need upgrades at guard. Chicago needs tackle help and Jacksonville needs a right tackle. Nixon could be in play for the both teams in the mid-rounds.