As we continue to take a look at all of the Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 draft selections, we come to the seventh round. The Cowboys had three selections in the final round of the NFL Draft, and they decided to spend their first on Florida defensive lineman Joey Ivie.
The Cowboys are set on offense. With Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley out wide, and the Great Wall of Dallas up front, that’s clear. However, the defense needs work in order to reach the next step on the journey to Lombari number six. That has been a huge objective for the franchise during the offseason.
Dallas used five of their first six selection in the April’s draft on defensive player. A pass rusher and four defensive backs. The plan all along had been to use the draft to revamp the secondary and the defense as a whole. That carried over to round seven.
Joey Ivie was a four-year player for the Florida Gators in the SEC. Finding a gem in the seventh round is rare, but, the Cowboys are hoping that they have found a player that can come in and take important snaps on the defensive line. If Rod Marinelli can get the most out of 6’3”, 301 pound defensive lineman, it is possible they accomplished that.
Ivie arrived in Gainesville as a three-star prospect out of Dade City, Florida. Will Muschamp recruited Ivie to make an impact on his defensive line. He didn’t see much action in his first season for his home state Gators, but saw his playing time and production rise during his second year in college. As a sophomore, Joey Ivie played 11 games for the Florida Gators, where he recorded 24 tackles, three behind the line of scrimmage, and even brought down the quarterback once.
As a junior in 2015 under a new regime, Ivie only played four games for the Gators. Before his third season at Florida, tragedy hit Ivie and his family.
Football took a backseat in the life of Ivie in April 2015, when he rushed home to be with his younger sister, Jordan, after a car accident. He was holding her when her heart stopped. His younger brother, Andrew, was meant to play with Joey the past two years at Florida, but was forced to give up the sport for medical reasons. In spite of all of this, Ivie has been a strong contributor for the Gators.
Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times wrote an excellent, heartfelt article on Ivie and the tragedy that occurred in April of 2015:
The Florida defensive lineman didn't have to blame himself for being 100 miles away from an accident he couldn't have prevented.
When his only sister lay dying after a car crash in April, the 20-year-old Pasco High graduate didn't have to be the one in the room when Jordan took her final breath.
"He wanted to do it, for himself and for us," said his dad, Joe. "I think he just, in his own way, felt like he needed to be there for her."
And no one could convince him otherwise.
So Joey stayed with Jordan in her hospital room on the last Sunday in April. He wrapped his massive arms around the 17-year-old former cheerleader. Then he held Jordan against his 6-foot-3, 295-pound body, until he felt his baby sister's heart stop.
Thankfully, he rebounded both in his personal life and on the football field. He made an impact for the Gators’ defense in 2016. The Florida native appeared in 10 games where he racked up 26 tackles over the course of his final collegiate season. He recorded 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, brought down the quarterback on his own twice, and helped with another sack. Ivie also forced a fumble for the SEC East winning Florida Gators.
On this play against South Carolina last season, Ivie shows a great jump off of the line of scrimmage that allows him to blow by the offensive lineman to get to the quarterback. This was one of Ivie’s 2.5 sacks of his senior campaign.
Against Missouri, Ivie again showcases his ability to jump off of the line of scrimmage. He blows by offensive guard and sniffs out the run for a loss on the play.
This time, Ivie shows his ability to use his hands and strength to get by an offensive lineman. Once he does, he accelerates to the quarterback to record another sack.
Overall, Ivie may not fill up the stat sheet, but he seems to be in the right place at the right time. He won’t be a player that jumps off the screen with his freakish athletic ability or skill, but the Cowboys coaching staff obviously saw enough in him to give him the draft call. And, judging by Marinelli’s reaction when the selection was announced, the Cowboys seem very pleased with their choice:
Welcome to Dallas, Joey!