The Philadelphia Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackle Aziz Shittu shortly after the 2016 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles defender, I reached out to SB Nation's Stanford Cardinal blog: Rule of Tree. Jack Blanchat (@jackblanchat) was kind enough to answer questions about Shittu.
1) What are his strengths?
"Shittu is a run stuffer first, and he's great at eating up space along the line. He's primarily a plugger up front because he doesn't have elite quickness, but he's tough as a leather boot, he plays all over the line, and he's not afraid to take a beating for the benefit of his team. He makes it easy for his linebackers to get free and make plays. However, I do feel like it's worth mentioning that he has gotten better at pass rushing over the last few years, and he's been able to stay on the field for 3 downs more frequently as his career has progressed."
2) What are his weaknesses?
"Aziz isn't a supreme pass-rusher or a dominant athlete, but he has mostly struggled with health over his career at Stanford, fighting through a number of problems - most notably a torn ACL two seasons ago - so staying on the field has been his big issue. Shittu also has sometimes had a lack of awareness for the game situation, taking a dumb penalty every now and then, or getting upfield in a situation where he can't, for example."
3) Were you surprised to see him go undrafted?
"I was a little bit surprised by because he finally put together a healthy season as a senior, and his senior year culminated by winning the defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. His performance against a solid Iowa offensive line (8 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) should have turned some heads. However, he doesn't have the kind of athletic ability that NFL teams want and it's understandable that NFL teams sometimes get scared away by a torn ACL."
4) Anything to know about his personality? Any good stories about him?
"Aziz is an absolute crack up. The guy is always chattering away at teammates and opponents on the field, and he isn't afraid to give it to them on Twitter as well.
For example, after Stanford beat USC in the Pac-12 title game, Shittu sent USC o-lineman Zach Banner a classic "Good Will Hunting: tweet:
He also got a rose shaved into his head for the Rose Bowl:
And he's not afraid to clown on himself every now and then:
After 21 years I finally realized...I'm ugly. But I got personality though right?...— Aziz Shittu (@AzizShittu) February 25, 2016
He's worth a follow."
5) Are you going to miss saying his last name?
"I know I will, but I will particularly miss announcers calling out his name on TV. You could always count on a long silent beat between "Aziz" and "Shittu" as they mentally played out how to say his name."
6) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
"Aziz is a tough dude who has been though a lot during his career, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him stick on as a practice squad player or a guy who hangs on at the back end of a defensive line rotation. CBS' Rob Rang compared him to Eagles DE Vinny Curry, so that's probably a good thing for Shittu, and perhaps it's good scouting by the Eagles to find a player who they feel is similar to one of the cogs of their defensive line. I'm personally not familiar enough with the Eagles defense to make a fearless prediction about his career in Philly, but I think he's capable of sticking around and making an impact as a depth player."
Thanks again to Jack. Make sure to check out Rule of Tree.