The month of May is considered a critical time period for the NFL players who didn’t hear their phone buzz on draft day — including the ones vying for a spot on the Los Angeles Rams.
But now, on the late afternoon of Wednesday, May 25, one more Rams undrafted free agent has been added to the waived list.
‘Active Tackler’ Waived
Announced by the team before 4 p.m. PT, the Rams waived defensive tackle Dion Novil, who arrived to the Rams as a UDFA from North Texas.
Novil came to the Super Bowl 56 champions and a Rams defensive line featuring future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald as a decorated Conference USA defender for the Mean Green — also best known as the college alma mater of four-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Famer “Mean” Joe Greene.
The 6-foot-4, 308-pounder from Abilene, Texas became known in the CUSA realm for piling up the tackles — including nine stops behind the line of scrimmage and producing no less than seven tackles for a loss each season he played.
Lance Zierlein of nfl.com wrote down his tackling ability as strength No. 1 that Novil possessed.
“Active tackler for a big, interior player,” was the first strength Zierlein wrote in his evaluation.
The NFL Draft evaluator Zierlein also added these two reports in examining Novil’s play: “Possesses frame potential to become thicker nose” and “Flashes upper-body power to compete for both gaps.” He also threw in the 37 tackles for a loss Novil snatched.
One more strength Novil had during his UNT days that Zierlein pointed out:
“Sacks come to a violent conclusion,” Zierlein shared in the final strength statement. Novil ended his Mean Green career with a collegiate-best four sacks in 2021. He collected 11 for his career.
What Kind of Attention Did Novil Receive?
Novil did garner some draft attention before the 2021 season by some scouts.
Ben Fennell of CBS Sports and NFL Network stated how Novil flies off the snap of the football…with extra s’s in the word flies before concluding how he’s “fun to watch.”
Even before the 2021 season, Ryan Roberts of “Rise N Draft,” who also writes for Sports Illustrated, was another one who took a liking to his game — with Novil catching his attention in November 2020:
Plus before November, by posting this gap clogging play he made against Power 5 foe Cal from the 2019 season.
He also has this rare claim for interior defenders, particularly nose tackles: He’s picked off a pass. And he intercepted a throw against a pass-heavy team in Southern Methodist.
But as is the case for every NFL prospect, Novil came with his flaws.
Traits that he lacked per Zierlein: Lack of explosion into the neutral zone, plays too upright and narrow at times and most telling, he “tends to wear down as games progress.” Zierlein ended his evaluation by calling him a priority free agent. He ended up entering the league as the 12th best interior defender among the 2022 UDFA class per nfl.com’s Chad Reuter. The Rams added him on April 30 immediately after the draft.
Now, Novil joins Andrzej Hughes-Murray of Oregon State as the two UDFA class members waived by the Rams. With Novil’s frame and power in the trenches, he’s likely best suited for a team looking for a two-gap defender who can play the nose and deliver this kind of inside disruption: