With the 118th overall pick, the Texans selected a player who by all accounts should have gone a lot higher. Slated by many to be drafted in the mid to late second round, taking Virginia Tech’s Xavier Adibi’s in the middle of the fourth might prove to be one of the biggest steals of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Growing up in southeast Virginia, it was a known fact: Xavier Adibi was a superior athlete. He’s a hard-hitting linebacker with soft hands, quick feet, and a nose for the ball. Athletic ability aside, Xavier Adibi is highly regarded for his intelligence, work ethic, and team first attitude.
As a three year starter, Adibi was a field general who helped lead Va. Tech’s vaunted Lunch Pail Defense to national prominence. The Hokies boasted the nation’s top total team defense in 2005 and 2006, while finishing in fifth in 2007. Below is a chart that illustrates Adibi’s year by year improvement. Notable is how many plays he made behind the line of scrimmage. His numbers demonstrate an ability to get after the quarterback, stuff the run, and make plays on the ball.
Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster has seen plenty a talented player in his twenty-one seasons at Virginia Tech. So when he says that Adibi might be the most athletic linebacker he has ever coached, that saying something. From the Roanoke Times:
The fact that he holds Xavier Adibi in such high regards should be an indication of the level of talent we were able to snag in the fourth round, but the praise doesn’t end there. The Washington Post quoted Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer as he spoke about the linebacker's on the field demeanor:
In the same Washington Post article, childhood friend and college teammate, DJ Parker had this to say about Adibi:
The combination of leadership ability, high football IQ, and tremendous work ethic makes XA one of the draft's best values. When I started looking at other linebackers were built from the same mold as Adibi, a name that immediately jumped out at me was the Chiefs' Donnie Edwards. They both sport a sleeker physique for a linebacker; both had distinguished collegiate careers; and both were taken in the 4th round. Let’s hope the similarities don’t end there. In the words of Tim: "If Adibi is (the next) Donnie Edwards, we will be barred from questioning Smithiak’s genius until further notice."
Notice his enthusiasm for the game. Play after play, the team would rally around him, lifted by his performance. This ability to spur his teammates on with his own play doesn't shows up in the box score and it wasn’t something that was measured at the combine. It’s the intangible force that makes such an impact, it’s the invisible energy that fuels a team. It, my friends, is the X-Factor.