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Cowboys 2020 draft: Pick 82 in third round might be sweet spot for defensive tackle

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The Cowboys can afford to wait on a interior defensive lineman, but the third round might be the sweetest spot for one.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

[Most NFL teams will feed the overused line of best player available but the league is just not setup that way. It’s really more of a best player available at a position of need unless there is something too sweet to pass on. In this series, we’re going to look at each of the Cowboys’ slotted picks in the draft and compare it to their positions of need to see where the two might align.]

In our past two articles in the series, we gathered that the value in picks 17 and 51 both favor positions of need on defense such as edge rusher and cornerback. Well, it just so happens that the Cowboys might find more defensive value in the third round as well.

Pick 82 Analysis:

The Cowboys did a really a nice job covering their holes at defensive tackle when they used free agency to sign Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. What that did was allow the Cowboys to avoid reaching for one early in the draft when they may not be in love with the options. Though the Cowboys can afford to wait on the position, their pick in the third round just might line up with the value on a few defensive tackles, making it a sweet spot to snag one.

Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri

Though draft guru Dane Brugler gave Jordan Elliott a second-third round grade, he’s likely to be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. One can always hope that the fact that he’s only a one-year starter that couldn’t breakthrough at Texas could help him fall to Dallas. Elliott is still growing into the position but the production after transferring to Mizzou will make folks take notice. He’s certainly an ascending player with lots of upside and versatility. He’s vicious enough as a run defender with the size and temperament to play 1-tech. He’s also explosive and slippery enough to play the 3-tech position. Elliott has all the tools to reach his ceiling in the NFL.

Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma

Another talented, big, athletic man that has about a 50-50 shot of being available to Dallas at 82. Gallimore is going to have his critics because it’s going to take some work to get his technique to improve. Though he’s not as versatile, fitting more of the 3-tech role, Gallimore is coming off his best season with 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2019. He has his missteps and consistency issues but his hands are incredibly strong and he’s shown to be a pocket-destroyer.

James Lynch, DT, Baylor

Nobody has been more productive than Lynch in Baylor’s history, but it won’t be enough for teams to overlook his lack of size. He just doesn’t have the desired length and will need to add some weight to his 289-pound frame to be successful in the NFL. Lynch dominated the Big-12 with tremendous production in 2019, including 40 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Lynch is not the most impressive athlete but he does show plenty of power, balance, and juice to succeed as a 3-tech player at the next level. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got high character marks across the board and has been labeled easy to coach. All of these pluses will endear him to plenty of NFL teams next week.

Davon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State

Hamilton was a late-bloomer, one-year starter, that came on strong in 2019 after three so-so seasons for the Buckeyes. If the Cowboys want a true nose tackle, Hamilton just put up 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks as a true nose for Ohio State. Because of the Buckeye’s heavy rotations, it’s still a question whether Hamilton could hold up with a heavier workload. However, He played his best at the right time, showing his power and physically-gifted hands at the point of attack. Hamilton was a bully on the inside last season for Ohio State and the hope is that he can translate into a top run defender early in his development.

Leki Fotu, DT, Utah

You have to be impressed with the Utes’ defense this past season and for several years prior. Utah has built quite a talented class entering the 2020 NFL Draft, and Leki Fotu is among the well-known names in the bunch. Fotu is a two-year starter that played mostly as a nose tackle but never truly put up memorable production. If you replay his college tape though, you will see an eater of worlds in terms of taking on and shedding multiple blockers. It’s an underrated position in the NFL, but a guy that can play nose tackle well can make quite a good living. In the case with Fotu, he’s still on the upward trajectory and has the athleticism, powerful lower half, and strength in his hands to improve greatly at the next level.