In 2019, Miami will have a Gerald Willis-sized hole in the middle of the defensive line - and no clear heir to it. Pat Bethel and Jon Ford are the two upperclassmen defensive linemen and will likely get a fair shot to earn the two defensive tackle spots. But neither of them has the size, or potential, of sophomore DT Nesta Jade Silvera. Silvera is the prototypical nose tackle; a stout, space-eating lineman with the ability to act as a two-gap anchor and make life easier for his teammates.
Silvera joined Miami last season as a highly-regarded recruit. He was rated the nation’s 54th best player and 2nd best defensive tackle. Silvera didn’t see a ton of snaps, but did see some time in rotation, and showed, pun intended, immense potential. He totaled 13 total tackles in 10 games of action, including 3 tackles against Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. He had 1.5 tackles for loss and flashed his unique athleticism on a blocked punt against Savannah State.
The 300-plus pound sophomore may be able to edge out his more experienced teammates thanks to that combination of size and athleticism. If he continues to grow and develop, one could expect his game to resemble former-Clemson and current-New York Giant, Dexter Lawrence. Both are big, bulky two-gappers who have great athleticism for their size. And while Silvera won’t put up big sack numbers, his presence in the middle will make it easy for Jon Garvin and Trevon Hill to make plays. And it’s safe to say that Silvera’s bull-rush ought to be able to produce a sack here and there when single-teamed.
So what should we expect from Silvera? He ought to be able to grab the starting nose tackle role, especially since neither Ford or Bethel seem capable of handling interior double teams, play after play. Silvera has a lot of potential and could see a stat line that resembles Kendrick Norton’s breakout 2016 campaign. 35 tackles, 8.0 TFLs and 3 sacks seem like achievable numbers for the big man in his second season.