Name: Daniel Wise
School: Kansas University
Weight: 281 lbs
2018 stat line: 11 games, 34 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 5 sacks
Combine results: 5.28 40-yard dash, 22 bench press reps, 27.5” vertical, 112” broad, 7.53 3-cone drill, 4.37 short shuttle
The Cowboys have done a lot in the offseason to shore up their defensive line, they re-signed DeMarcus Lawrence and traded for Robert Quinn. But there is still a bit of a need for a true 3-technique defensive tackle after David Irving’s departure from the team. Christian Covington is a fine addition, and Kerry Hyder is versatile, but Dallas would be wise (get it?) to try and find someone in the draft considering how deep this class is along the defensive line.
Daniel Wise from Kansas seems to fit the mold of what Rod Marinelli usually looks for in 3-technique defensive tackles. Measuring in at 281 pounds at the combine after playing at a listed weight of 290 throughout the 2018 season, Wise is a bit smaller than most defensive tackles out there, which Marinelli likes.
More than that, though, Wise takes advantage of his slightly more lean frame by offering quality explosion that can translate to effective pass rushes. In scouting Wise, it takes a lot of projection because he played a lot of snaps in 2018 as a 5-technique defensive end, but when he was asked to rush the passer, Wise displayed really good get off in his first step.
As was the case with his broad jump at the combine, he also does a good job of taking a big leap forward when he comes out of his stance, which helps him get up the field and into the line of scrimmage quicker. He’s a bit iffy with his pad level at times, though that could have been more due to the scheme he played in; Wise was rarely asked to be a one-gap penetrator like he would be in Dallas.
Wise had plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent at stopping the run. His 33” arms give him good length to make tackles, something the Cowboys staff really values in their defensive linemen, and Wise uses that length frequently, which led to his 12 tackles for loss in 2018.
Wise’s biggest problem, though, is his footwork. It seems that far too often he stops moving his feet and becomes stationary while engaged with blockers. This pretty much takes out all of his strength and leverage and makes it easier to beat him, especially on run downs. It also at times prevents him from being able to move laterally across the line and seal off any outside runs.
Many of Wise’s best plays in 2018 came when he was allowed to just shoot the gap and drive up field into the passing pocket. I counted at least three of his five sacks that came on that kind of play. He’s effective at using his quickness to get up field and wreak havoc with those long arms, and he has a pretty solid rip move that he can use to get blockers off of him. However, he doesn’t have a terribly deep repertoire of pass rush moves aside from that. He’ll need to get better at using his hands as time goes on.
Often times, projections on draft prospects comes down to how a player fits with a particular team. I may be biased in saying this but Wise seems like the perfect fit for the Cowboys. In the short term, he’d join a rotation at defensive tackle that would see him play primarily as a 3-technique in pass rushing situations, allowing him to use his best attributes and mask his deficiencies. At the same time, he’d get to work under Marinelli and alongside the likes of Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins, developing into a more complete defensive tackle over time.
If he reaches his full potential, Wise could blossom into a legitimate starting 3-technique in the NFL. For now, he projects best as a rotational 3-technique in a one-gap scheme, which limits his appeal to other teams. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein graded Wise as a seventh round prospect, but he probably ends up more as a late fourth- or fifth-rounder, which puts him squarely in the conversation for Dallas.