Who is Kristjan Sokoli?


There might not be a member of the Seattle’s Seahawks that we know less about than rookie Kristjan Sokoli. We don’t even have any meaningful college tape to look at for the he nose tackle-turn-center. Let’s face it, there simply isn’t enough in common between his old and new positions for that tape to have much meaning.

What we do know about him is that he’s a freakish athlete. By SPARQ, he is the only 4-sigma athlete the NFL has ever seen. If you remove the statistics jargon, that means he is the best athlete in NFL history that we have data for. That should never be discounted.

What They Said

Finding comments on Sokoli that made since to include here wasn’t easy. It really doesn’t matter what he looked like as a nose tackle, since he won’t be playing defense in the NFL. Ultimately, Zach Whitman nailed his prediction that the super-athletic Sokoli would make a good pick to be converted to offense.

Lance Zierlein from NFL.com:

"Extremely athletic test scores for his size. Impressive 38-inch vertical leap with 31 bench-press reps. Has good size and length and enough power to hold the point of attack if moved outside. Good motor and willing to pursue with consistency. Usually plays with desired leverage."

Zach Whitman on 3sigmaathlete:

"Buffalo’s Kristjan Sokoli is a freak of nature and would be the most Seahawks OL-to-DL convert of them all. It seems almost too obvious to actually happen in real life. He’d also be the 6th 3 Sigma Athlete in the NFL if converted to OL."

Zach Whitman on Fieldgulls:

"The Seahawks have selected DT-to-G/C convert Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo, with the 214th overall pick. Sokoli is the NFL’s first 4 sigma athlete by SPARQ, ranking as the best athlete in the class, and the entire NFL."

What I See

Since Sokoli played nose tackle in college, it is impossible to observe skills that he’ll use in NFL. Instead, I set out to look for examples where his physical talents and athleticism were on display.

There won’t be any gifs this time (sorry everyone). They’re just too time intensive and don’t offer anything because of the position change.

It is easy to see why the Seahawks converted Sokoli instead of leaving him at defensive tackle. His first step is unimpressive, and it allowed blockers to get into position to block him too easily. While he could still win with his strength at times, it wasn’t nearly as often as you might expect given his athletic numbers.

The best-case for Sokoli as a defensive player was likely that he learned how to 2-gap better and developed into a Red Bryant-type run stuffer. That isn’t exactly an inspiring prediction for a guy that is significantly more athletic than even J.J. Watt.

On offense that doesn’t matter. As an interior offensive linemen, he will be able to use his athleticism to engulf and dominate defensive tackles provided that he can learn proper technique.

Overall Thoughts

Sokoli is a major project. There is no reason to believe that he’ll play meaningful snaps at any point in 2015. J.R. Sweezy is the model for making a quick conversion from defense to offense, and he was brutally bad as a rookie.

Still, it would be unwise for the Seahawks to try and stash Sokoli on the practice squad. Athletes like him are impossible to find. There is simply no way that the other 31 teams all decide to pass on his potential and he doesn’t get claimed by another team.

Next: Russell Wilson is better form the pocket than you think

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