by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of NBC Sports.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Notre Dame, Linebacker, Marist Liufau
Name- Marist Liufau
Team- Notre Dame
HT/WT- 6’2” 239 lbs.
Home - Kalihi, HI
Marist Liufau attended Punahou High School in Hawaii. There, he was a standout linebacker and was rated as the No. 29 outside linebacker in the nation by 247Sports. In 2018, he was awarded the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Defensive MVP. In 2019, he was invited to play in the prestigious Polynesian Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. During his senior season, Liufau committed to the University of Notre Dame.
In 2019, Liufau saw special teams action in 4 games and did not register a tackle. In 2020, he appeared in 10 contests and made 3 starts for the Irish. He collected 22 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and 0.5 sacks during his sophomore campaign. Liufau missed the whole 2021 season with a broken ankle he suffered in August during a summer practice.
Liufau started and played all 13 games in 2022 and became a defensive leader for the Fighting Irish. He finished the season with 51 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss and 0.5 sacks. He also showed off his coverage skills with an interception and a fumble recovery. This season, Liufau has started 12 games and has shown more of a pass rush with 3 sacks to go along with 44 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Marist Liufau plays the “Will” position or the weak side linebacker in the Notre Dame defensive scheme. He’s an intense and quick, sideline to sideline backer that uses his powerful hands to shed blocks well in run defense. He anticipates snap counts and does an efficient job of finding lanes to get through to the quarterback and/or ball carrier. Liufau reads plays and rarely bites on fakes and misdirections. He drops smoothly into zone coverage and has the straight line speed to close on the receiver. In pass coverage, he has the athleticism to cover tight ends or backs and can mirror routes.
On the downside, his ankle injury in 2021 was considered gruesome and will need some further investigation by NFL medical staff. His intensity works against him at times and he can lose his base and balance when breaking down to make a play. Though he chases well and gets to most ball carriers, he has struggles with wrapping up the runner, leading to some missed tackles. He needs to learn some spins and pass rushing moves to further strengthen his overall game. He is on the smaller side and bigger NFL running backs may pose a problem for him.
Watching the film on Marist Liufau, Draft 412 was reminded of Micah McFadden. McFadden was a 5th round selection in 2022 out of Indiana and plays a similar game with a high intensity and the ability to read plays. Liufau has a higher ceiling and has better coverage skills, but the intensity of the two is unmistakably similar.
Lack of pass rushing moves
Pass rushing moves
Marist Liufau plays with an intensity that the NFL craves from their linebackers. Though mechanically, he needs some improvement with his tackling, he brings enough upside and play making ability to be a solid 4th or 5th round pick
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 4th or 5th round pick