While many NFL fans are focused on their team’s free agency move, the 2018 NFL Draft is getting closer and closer as each day passes. One of the biggest positions of need for the Dallas Cowboys this April — especially if they don’t add a free agent — is the defensive tackle position.
The Cowboys don’t value a true 1-tech as much as some other teams do, but a big-bodied interior defensive lineman would help this defense a lot. The Cowboys have talent on the defensive side of the ball with players such as DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Sean Lee, and Jourdan Lewis, but it was clear just how much help is needed in the middle — especially when Lee is sidelined with injury.
Because of this, many fans are wanting the Cowboys to add one of the draft’s top two interior prospects: Vita Vea of the Washington Huskies or Da’Ron Payne from the National Championship-winning Alabama Crimson Tide. Both of these prospects are strong, large human beings that have 3-tech attributes — an important factor in whether or not the Cowboys want to spend a premium pick on one of these two.
But defensive tackle isn’t the only position of need in round one. What happens if a player like Tremaine Edmunds or Calvin Ridley falls to 19? Maybe the Cowboys want to grab Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez to counter the Eagles’ monstrous defensive line. There are definitely many different routes the Cowboys can go on day one.
With that said, let’s take a look at some talented prospects that the Cowboys can grab later in the draft.
Deadrin Senat, South Florida Bulls
Deadrin Senat is one of the better prospects in the “next tier” of defensive tackles in this draft class. The 6-foot-1, 311-pound lineman from USF overcame tragedy in his life and finished his four-season collegiate career in a big way: 115 total tackles, 17.5 tackles-for-loss, and seven sacks over the course of his junior and senior seasons under Charlie Strong in Tampa.
Deadrin Senat can play.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) February 20, 2018
Plays with a consistent/good base, proper pad level and ideal hand placement. Controls blockers very well at the POA pic.twitter.com/jBoN8h3vuq
We covered Senat this past Friday. He could be a great third-round selection for a team looking for an interior presence, like the Cowboys.
Senat doesn’t have the ceiling as the Vea’s and the Payne’s of the world, but the USF product has more than enough ability and talent to develop and grow into a solid player in the NFL. If the Cowboys aren’t able to sign a Bennie Logan or draft one of the two aforementioned blue chip tackles, Senat is a quality option for America’s Team.
Would you like for Dallas to grab the USF in round three?
Harrison Phillips, Stanford Cardinal
Harrison Phillips, meanwhile, is a rated a little higher than Senat. The former Stanford interior tackle will likely hear his name called in the second round this April. Phillips, 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, has the ideal body type to grow into a stud in the middle of a defensive unit.
Harrison Phillips w/ the bull rush sack. Violent hat, hands & extension. FYI: He did 42 reps of 225 @ the combine! pic.twitter.com/gCozAWljf1— DLineVids (@DLineVids) March 12, 2018
The Omaha, Nebraska, native began his career as a defensive end, and it’s easy to see his pass-rushing traits. Phillips is coming off of a strong senior campaign for David Shaw’s squad: 98 total tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss, and 7.5 sacks in 2017. His 42 reps on the bench press isn’t too shabby, either.
While he may be off of the board by pick 50, the Cowboys should be all over him if he is still on the board when their second selection comes up.
Poona Ford, Texas Longhorns
Poona Ford played his college ball in Austin, but the South Carolina native was originally set to play for the Louisville Cardinals; however, he opted to follow Charlie Strong to the 40 Acres once Strong accepted the position.
Ford, 6-foot-0 and 305 pounds is yet another big-bodied interior lineman that can clog up the middle. Ford’s thick frame and strong lower body helps him play with a burst and good leverage, allowing him to stop a play before it can develop.
Texas NT Poona Ford (#95) doesn't make the tackle here, but he blows it up enough to take out the blocking from getting out onto his linebackers. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/CixkR96Ndz— Kevin Brown (@nfldraftnik) March 10, 2018
However, after totaling 31 tackles, 8 TFLs, and 1,5 sacks in 2017, Ford was not invited to the 2018 NFL Combine — despite participating in the Senior Bowl and a player from the Kansas State Wildcats claiming he was the best DT that K-State played all season.
Meet ‘Poona’ Ford, the best player not invited to the NFL combine https://t.co/n4GenISOCn pic.twitter.com/xzkF1hAIIX— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 2, 2018
Ford will likely be a day-three selection this April.
Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State Tigers
Nathan Shepherd is not a name that many fans know; however the Division II stud was invited to the Senior Bowl and is climbing up draft boards. Shepherd recorded 168 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks at Fort Hays State — being named a D-2 All-American two out of his three collegiate seasons.
This was Nathan Shepherd all the time at FHS. Blow up the first blocker, another guy just wrapped around his waist hanging on to him lol pic.twitter.com/pjYjv70DVy— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 9, 2018
Fort Hays St. DT Nathan Shepherd's film is very good. Impressive body frame (6-5, 315) allows him to consistently anchor in the running game. His motor is always running flaming hot. pic.twitter.com/4Ygsv2aQ36— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) March 21, 2018
Shepherd was invited to the NFL Combine in Indy, and his measurables certainly pass the eye-test: 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, 32 3/8” arms, and 10 1/8” hands. He also ran a 5.09 at his size with 31.0” vertical and 7.5 three-cone. Brugler currently has Shepherd as the sixth best DT prospect and a day two selection.
Kentavius Street, N.C. State Wolfpack
While Bradley Chubb and B.J. Hill get the hype on the N.C. State Wolfpack defensive line, Kentavius Street is a name that fans need to know.
Street, 6-foot-2 and 287 pounds, is not as large as some of the others listed, but he is a very talented prospect in his own right. The former four-star Army All-American prospect finished off his four-season career in Raleigh: 38 total tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
Kentavious Street..... pic.twitter.com/Quvol0Y2DV— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) October 28, 2017
Street, like Phillips, has the advantage of playing both defensive end and defensive tackle in college. He has the burst to get to the quarterback and the strength to stuff a run. In fact, Street squats 700 pounds! Street is rated as the 14th best defensive tackle prospect and a fourth-round selection by Brugler.
Who stands out to you, BTB?