[In this NFL Draft series, we will spotlight several positions of interest for the Dallas Cowboys. Scouring the landscape of draft gurus, we will put together mini scouting reports and weigh the pros and cons of many available prospects to find the right fit for the Dallas Cowboys come April 2020.]
When looking at what has hurt the Cowboys the past two years, you don’t get too far down the list before you notice the lack of disruption from the defensive tackle position. There has been the occasional noteworthy performance but consistency is key in the NFL, something the Cowboys have been very short on defensively speaking. The Cowboys have four of their current defensive tackles set to hit free agency and it’s likely that the front office will let all of them test the market.
Without a first-round pick last year, the Cowboys top draft choice last season was Trysten Hill, who was disappointingly a non-factor in his rookie year. So, yeah, the Cowboys have problems at defensive tackle and a front office with a new coaching staff will be tasked with fixing this issue. The NFL draft might be the best route for the Cowboys to take with a handsome portion of their salary cap set aside for extending Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.
Where can the Cowboys find a disruptive playmaker or the powerhouse run-stuffer they need? Let’s have a look...
|DEFENSIVE TACKLE||SCHOOL||OVR RK||PROJ. RD||TCKL||TFL||SCK||FF|
|JAVON KINLAW||S. CAROLINA||13||1||82||17||10||3|
|JULIAN OKWARA||NOTRE DAME||29||1-2||79||24||15.5||4|
|JUSTIN MADUBUIKE||TEXAS A&M||59||2-3||105||24.5||11||5|
|DAVON HAMILTON||OHIO STATE||69||2-3||66||20||7||0|
|LARRELL MURCHISON||NC STATE||108||4-5||80||20||11||0|
|RAEQUAN WILLIAMS||MICHIGAN STATE||151||5-6||157||29||11.5||3|
JAVON KINLAW, S. CAROLINA
12 GP, 35 TCKL, 6 TFL, 6 SACK, 2 PBUs (2019)
The most popular mock draft pick for the Cowboys outside of the safety position has to be Javon Kinlaw. He has rare explosiveness and power that makes him a game-changer for any defense. Kinlaw already has a developed understanding of how to convert his power and play with leverage. It’s likely that he jumps up the draft boards as the evaluation process continues. There are some whispers about his injury history and issues in both his knees that will weigh heavily on him but if he checks out, he is an elite prospect.
|SR-S. CAR||6'5 315 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1|
|Explosive, elite burst, lateral agility is top-notch, plays w/ amazing power, shows ability to dominate games, motor runs hot, uses leverage & length to perfection, projections see him as elite DT prospect, game-wrecker||Pad-level needs work, has performances where it's feast or famine, needs to work on consistency in technique, injury concerns that might hurt stock, teams will do homework on medical re-checks|
NEVILLE GALLIMORE, OKLAHOMA
13 GP, 29 TCKL, 6.5 TFL, 4 SACK, 1 PBU, 2 FF (2019)
Neville Gallimore is the type of player most DL coaches dream about. There are no questions about his drive and desire to be better down-after-down. His motor runs hot and Gallimore never stops attacking the line of scrimmage. He has solid burst, initial foot quickness, and power in his hands. As a pass rusher, Gallimore has a solid arsenal of moves but he will need more development in run support. As relentless as he is on the move, he struggles when he has to hold in his stance and shed his blocks. Overall, Gallimore is a tremendous gap-shooter and all of his technical errors are fixable, he won’t wait long to hear his name called.
|SR-OKLAHOMA||6'2 304 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1|
|Relentless effort, has ton of juice & consistently shoots the gap, hard-worker, elite burst, hands are powerful & menacing, stuns blockers w/ pop in his strikes, good closing burst & flexibility in backfield, solid cupboard of pass rush moves||Holding at point of attack is a struggle, needs to improve his drive to get off blocks, lots of pad-level trouble, needs work as a run defender, not as versatile as desired but room to grow|
RAEKWON DAVIS, ALABAMA
12 GP, 47 TCKL, 3TFL, 0.5 SACK
Raekwon Davis is freakishly built and one of those guys you want to walk off the bus first at an away game. His physical makeup is impressive as is his explosiveness at the point of attack. Davis manages his length to his advantage and has a balance and blended skill set both in run or pass defense. Davis does have some timing issues to work out as his processing speed is a little late. It’s concerning that his sack production dropped from 8.5 in 2017, to 1.5 in 2018, and then just half a sack this past year. That’s going to bewilder a few teams in their evaluations.
|SR-ALABAMA||6'7 312 LBS||PROJ. RD: 1-2|
|Intimidating size & build for position, very athletic & maximizes his length, phenomenal explosiveness, stacks & shed blocks, violent w/ his hands, very controlled & balanced, disruptively attacks pocket, swallows up ball-carriers in run defense||Tendency to process slow, doesn't utilize his get-off speed consistently, will drop eyes into his blocks, sack production took major dip, is not the sum of all his parts yet|
JUSTIN MADUBUIKE, TEXAS A&M
12 GP, 45 TCKL, 11.5 TFL, 5.5 SACK, 2 PBUs, 1 INT, 1 FF
If you’re looking for versatility, Madubuike is the best bet as he was used up and down the defensive line in College Station. He has an advanced understanding of how important it is to win with leverage and his mobility is impressive. Madubuike has long arms and heavy hands with a jarring punch. There are no concerns with pad-level or his athletic profile. The biggest issue for him is effort and that’s very hard for NFL coaches to remain patient with. He could very well be one of the most dynamic interior defenders in the game but he needs to stay motivated to reach his potential.
|JR-TEXAS A&M||6'3 304 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2-3|
|Outstanding leverage, consistent pad-level, exciting gap penetrator, solid quickness, flashes greatness, heavy hitting hands, an overwhelming load for blockers, fluid & smooth mover, mobility so good, he can give teams versatility to move up & down the line||Effort is an issue, he's either dialed-in or out, can be sloppy & get turned, needs to clean up technique issues, must work on false-steps in stance, will need some hard coaching at the pro level|
ROSS BLACKLOCK, TCU
12 GP, 40 TCKL, 9 TFL, 3.5 SACK (2019)
Blacklock came from a program that knows how to build good trench defenders. He’s probably the most well-rounded and balanced of the bunch. His size, strength, length, and athleticism all check most NFL boxes. He does have quite a few issues to cleanup in processing and reading his blocks. Blacklock did tear his Achilles in 2018 but he returned in 2019 with solid production.
|JR-TCU||6'4 305 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2-3|
|Coached well, has all the tools to be dynamic player in NFL, good & balanced skill set, size, length, power, & athleticism are all solid, can excel in two-gap or one-gap assignments, very versatile defender||Missed 2018 w/ Achilles injury, processing is a touch slow, needs work in reading blocks & planning his attack, some minor technique issues to clean up|
JORDAN ELLIOTT, MIZZOU
12 GP, 44 TCKL, 8.5 TFL, 2.5 SACK, 3 PBUs (2019)
Jordan Elliott is growing on a lot of draft experts and he could be on the rise. He was just so productive this season after leaving the Longhorns. Elliott is more developed than most of his class in anchoring as a run defender. He is a very strong, skilled gap defender, and slippery too. Though he is underdeveloped as a pass rusher, a good coach will be able to see this is an ascending player with a good set of tools already in place.
|JR-MIZZOU||6'4 315 LBS||PROJ. RD: 2-3|
|Ascending player, impressive run defender, good grasp at anchoring & holding at point of attack, slippery & shoots gap well, great play strength & very versatile||Slow-burner in pass rush, late out of his stance, needs to develop a pass rush plan, processing is inconsistent, has too many reps where he has to recover|
RASHARD LAWRENCE, LSU
12 GP, 28 TCKL, 6 TFL, 2.5 SACK, 3 PBUs, 1 FF (2019)
Lawrence was a team-captain and leader in the locker room. He’s got a high football IQ and is a high character type of player. His build is solid and he doesn’t carry any bad weight. Lawrence will be coveted for his versatility, he literally played everywhere for LSU, and could move around without being exposed. Some teams will be turned off by his lack of length and bend. Lawrence will need to develop a plan as a pass rusher and work on his hand placement before he’s ready for a full time role.
|SR-LSU||6'2 308 LBS||PROJ. RD: 3|
|Wide frame, even distribution of weight, bulky arms, punishing striker, leader in locker room, high character on & off field, great short-area quickness, experience playing 1, 3, & 5-tech, fits both 3-4 or 4-3 schemes, impressive athlete, good use of leverage||Lots of cleanup need in technique, hand-placement inconsistent, lacks bend & length, needs to develop as a pass rusher & learn to use his strength|
LEKI FOTU, UTAH
9 GP, 25 TCKL, 6.5 TFL, 0.5 SACK, 2 PBUs, 1 FF
Fotu will have the traits that many teams look for in mid-round selections. He has the NFL desired length, he’s strong, and is a solid run defender. He’s not the athlete that some are on this list but he does have fluid hips and doesn’t lose control on the move. Fotu might be limited until he develops more strength in his lower-half because he struggles to take on double teams. He does have a solid push-pull technique in run defense but is lost as a pass rusher. Like most prospects in the day three range, Leki Fotu has a lot of technique work ahead of him.
|SR-UTAH||6'5 337 LBS||PROJ. RD: 4|
|Great length & giant mits, drives to detach from blockers, patient gap defender, good hip-flexibility, Solid strength, control, & uses power well in run defense, has great push-pull move that puts blockers on their backside||Lower-half strength doesn't match upper-half, unable to sustain w/ double teams, gets washed out of play at times, still figuring out what to do in pass rush|