Surprising athleticism for a big, thick nose tackle
Rare explosion at the point of attack for a nose tackle
Can contribute in the pass rush
Can fire by guards with speed
Collapses the pocket
Perfect fit as a 3-4 nose tackle
Good fit as a 4-3 nose tackle
Can eat up double teams
Closes well for a heavy tackle
Impressive ability to shed blocks
Frees up edge rushers, linebackers
Won't play every snap in the NFL
Will be a rotational player
Will have to monitor his conditioning
Limited to nose tackle role
Lacks length to be a five-technique
Not a fit as a three-technique
Summary: Virginia Tech has been known as prodigous source of defensive backs, and over the past few years, the stars of the program have been the Edmunds brothers. The Hokies, however, have also produced some quality defensive linemen, and Settle will keep that tradition alive in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Settle did not do much in the early going of his career at Virginia Tech. In 2016, he had 17 tackles and no sacks. Thus, he wasn't on the draft radar entering his junior year, but he quickly changed that by being a force at the point of attack. The big nose tackle totaled 36 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and one pass batted for the year. He was impossible to miss when watching the Hokies, causing a lot of havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
Settle is shockingly explosive and agile for a big defender. The heavy nose tackle uses his burst to get into the chest of blockers and reset the line of scrimmage. As a run defender, Settle is a load. He stuffs his gap, and it is very difficult to move him. Even double teams are ineffective as Settle's upper body strength and ability to anchor holds his ground well at the point of attack. With his power and explosion, Settle will shed blocks and flow down the line to make tackles on backs.
In the pass rush, Settle can run over guards, and he uses his surprising explosion to collapse the pocket. When Settle gets free, he charges down the pocket in a blur, closing on the quarterback with surprising speed for a heavy nose tackle. Settle has active hands and continues to fight to shed blocks from offensive linemen. He will never produce big sack totals as a pro, but he could be a functional contributor to a team's pass rush with his ability to collapse the pocket.
For the NFL, Settle projects as an impact-making nose tackle for either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Being a nose tackle pushes Settle lower in the 2018 NFL Draft since he does not have the flexibility to be a three-technique in a 4-3 or a five-technique in a 3-4. Settle is expected to go on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, and I think he could become one of the top nose tackles in the league.
Player Comparison: D.J. Reader. Settle reminds me of Reader coming out of Clemson. Both of them were late bloomers who closed out their collegiate careers with a bang. They are thick-bodied nose tackles with surprising explosion at the point of attack. They are also almost identical in size and have similar limitations. Reader (6-3, 335) is turning into one of the top nose tackles in the NFL, and I think Settle could become a similar-caliber pro. The Texans outsmarted the league when they took Reader in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Settle should go on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, and Reader should have been a second-day pick as well.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, Arizona, Oakland, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit, Buffalo, Atlanta and New Orleans
Settle should have a number of teams that give him consideration on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. San Francisco could consider Settle as an upgrade over Earl Mitchell. Oakland needs a lot of help in its front seven, and Settle could be an instant upgrade to the Raiders' run defense while helping to collapse the pocket for Khalil Mack. Settle makes a lot of sense for Oakland on Day 2 if the team doesn't take a defensive tackle in the first round.
The Redskins could use more defensive line talent next to Jonathan Allen. Settle would give them an impact-making nose tackle who could form an elite tandem with Allen. If Washington doesn't get Da'Ron Payne or Vita Vea in the first round, Settle would make ton of sense in Round 2. Arizona, meanwhile, missed Calais Campbell in 2017, so Settle could be in play for the Cardinals as a disruptor at the point of attack.
The Lions need an interior presence to go with A'Shawn Robinson, and Settle would give Detroit a powerful interior tandem with Robinson. Buffalo could use an interior defender to replace Kyle Williams, and Settle could fit the Bills' defensive scheme next to Star Lotulelei.
Atlanta also could use more interior defensive line talent, and Settle would be a fit as a replacement for Dontari Poe. Staying in the NFC South, Settle could give the Saints a replacement for Nick Fairley and a tackle to team up with Sheldon Rankins.