SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – There’s not a lot of mystery when it comes to Utes defensive end Mika Tafua. NFL teams know they’re getting — a guy who can get to the quarterback. Tafua was the mayor of Sack Lake City last year, leading the entire Pac-12 Conference with 9 1/2 sacks.
“The teams that come to me, they know what they’re going to get out of me,” Tafua said. “It’s not like, can he do this or can he do that? With me, you know what you’re going to get. I feel like I provide a constant source of pressure on the quarterback. I feel like I’m really good at stopping the run. I can always get better at those things.”
A bit undersized for a defensive end at 250 pounds, Tafua wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, and was happy with his Pro Day workout. But he says the proof is in the game film. Tafua compiled 17 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles during his four year career with the vaunted Utah defensive front.
“You’re here to play football,” he said. “These are drills, these are things for the scouts to see how athletic we are and stuff. But at the end of the day, we’re here to play football. That’s the way I looked at it.”
Utah has produced so many great defensive linemen over the years. In fact, three were drafted in 2020 in Bradlee Anae, Leki Fotu and John Penisini. And Tafua has tapped into their knowledge. Or tried to at least.
“When they left, they kind of big-timed us and never hit us up. No, I’m just kidding,” Tafua said with a laugh. “Yeah, they’re pretty helpful. They kind of told us what the process is going to be like. At the end of the day, they just said to do your thing. It’s definitely a culture here and I’m blessed to be a part of it. There are greats before me, and there will be greats after me. I’m just really blessed to have come to the University and to be able to make an impact like I have.”
Tafua is being projected to go in the later rounds in many NFL mock drafts.
The NFL Draft kicks off Thursday, April 28th on ABC4.