No team has benefitted from the transfer portal quite so much as the Florida State Seminoles.
FSU put on a master class on how to navigate the new world that’s dawning in college football. They identified high-ceiling players around the college landscape who fit their team concept, and enticed many of them to come to their program.
While there were several big names who are going to command attention in the 2024 NFL Draft, we can’t ignore the importance of defensive lineman Braden Fiske. Fiske spent the first four years of this collegiate career at Western Michigan before transferring to FSU prior to the 2023 season. He grew into a dominant defender at the lower level of competition, but needed to prove that he could handle more — and he certainly did so, with a great season for the Seminoles.
The New York Giants have an opening along the defensive line after trading Leonard Williams to the Seattle Seahawks. Fiske has a similar profile as a (relatively) undersized but athletic and disruptive interior defender.
Could he replace Williams for the Giants?
Prospect: Braden Fiske (55)
Games Watched: vs. Michigan (2021), vs. LSU (2023), vs. Clemson (2023), vs. Duke (2023)
Weight: 295 pounds
- Competitive toughness
- First step
- Hand usage
Fiske is a slightly undersized defensive tackle with an explosive first step, good overall athleticism, positional versatility, and great competitive toughness.
Fiske has a relatively lean build for an interior defender at 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, but he has experience playing all over the defensive line. He’s taken snaps as a 7 and 5-technique defensive end, a 3 or 4i-technique defensive tackle, and even a 1 or 0-technique nose tackle, depending on down distance and situation. He’s a very experienced defender, having played in 55 games between his time at Western Michigan and Florida State. That experience shows in how he keys snaps, combining a good first step with excellent snap anticipation. Fiske is often one of the very first players moving for either team and is at his best attacking into the backfield.
He has a varied repertoire at his disposal when attacking individual gaps, with solid hand usage, enough play strength to overwhelm smaller linemen, and the ability to convert speed into power. That allows him to be disruptive in the backfield, either forcing quarterbacks off their spot or forcing runners to find cutback lanes. He also has enough athleticism to execute stunts and twists.
Fiske’s competitive toughness is easily his greatest strength. He plays with a wide-open motor and is relentless in every phase of the play. Fiske is aggressive when taking on blockers, is consistently willing to fight through blocks to make the play, and is excellent in pursuit. His hands allow him to disengage from blockers at will and he wastes no time getting into pursuit. He’s willing and able to pursue across the field and through the echo of the whistle.
- Play strength
- Short-yardage situations
Fiske is athletic and competitive, but teams will want to answer questions regarding his run defense.
He was a part of an active defensive line rotation at Florida State, but was also rotated off the field at Western Michigan in obvious rushing situations. FSU did use him as a 7-technique defensive end in a jumbo four-man front on occasion in goal-line situations. However, he was notably absent from the defensive line in many short-yardage situations.
Fiske’s body type suggests he should be able to play a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-man front at the NFL level, but he might not have the play strength to consistently two-gap. Likewise, he can struggle against double teams and even be overpowered by particularly big or strong linemen.
He will likely need to be limited to an interior defender role at the NFL as well – save situational packages where he’s a defensive end in jumbo looks – due to some lower-body stiffness. Fiske is a solid athlete for a big defender, but he lacks the lower body flexibility and fluidity to consistently bend or turn tight corners.
(Fiske is iDL No. 55)
Does he fit the Giants?
Potentially. Fiske should be able to find a home in any one-gap attacking defense.
Final Word: A solid Day 2 value with starting upside.