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Cowboys 2023 draft scouting report: Arizona State iDL Nesta Jade Silvera

A former blue-chip prospect is looking to capitalize on his talent, and Dallas could benefit.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Northern Arizona at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A continuing series of scouting reports for potential Cowboys draft picks.

Name: Nesta Jade Silvera
Position: iDL
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 304 pounds

Nesta Jade Silvera Career Stats, courtesy of Sports Reference

Combine Results: 5.16 40-yard dash, 29.5” vertical, 9’2” broad

Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Nesta Jade Silvera was a standout interior defender in high school. He was rated a four-star prospect, the 11th best recruit in talent-rich Florida, and the 54th player in the nation. Naturally, Silvera fielded tons of offers from blue bloods like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Florida State. In the end, though, Silvera chose the Miami Hurricanes.

Silvera played sparingly as a freshman, and an injury limited his sophomore season, but the nose tackle earned a prominent role for the Hurricanes the next two years. He quickly emerged as one of the top underclassmen run defenders in the country both years, but Silvera opted to enter the transfer portal when the head coach who recruited him was unceremoniously shown the door in a very public nature.

That’s when Silvera landed in Tempe with the Sun Devils. He stepped in and assumed the roles left behind by two prominent players, one that left for the draft and another that transferred out. Silvera ended up being the only halfway decent run stopper on an otherwise lousy defense that gave up the ninth most yards per carry. Now, Silvera is hoping his body of work can preserve his status as a sixth- or seventh-round pick in the draft.

Burst: Silvera comes off the ball with a modest burst. It’s nothing that wows you or blows you away, but he has an adequate first step that allows him to get into his assignment without being behind the lineman he’s going against.

Footwork: He is a technician with his feet, especially in run defense snaps. He does a great job of winning leverage on first contact and then uses his feet to maintain it through the rep. He carries a lot of lower body strength that contributes to this, still being able to move fairly well for his size.

Hand Technique: Silvera packs a pop in his punch, frequently stunning blockers when he lands properly. He has below average length, his arms measuring at just under 33 inches, and he compensates for that by making the most of his strikes. Silvera carries plenty of power in his hands and stays active throughout engagement.

Pass Rush Moves: He didn’t see much usage as a pass rusher until this last year at Arizona State, when he was one of their best interior pass rushers by default; he had just two sacks in four years at Miami. Silvera is a power rusher, almost exclusively so. He’s quite good with his bull rush, but he isn’t a good enough pass rusher to project as an every down player.

Lateral Agility: Silvera is a surprisingly good lateral mover for his size and frame. A good chunk of his run stops at Arizona State came from breaking off his block and having to work back laterally to reach the ball-carrier, largely due to scheme issues on defense. Silvera made a ton of plays outside of the scheme because of his great lateral agility.

Athleticism: He is not an elite athlete, but he stacks up well against fellow nose tackles. Part of that is due to his being smaller than most nose tackles, but Silvera is able to play with great functional athleticism while still carrying enough heft and strength to play the position.

Run Defense: Run defense is his calling card. His tape at Miami showed a much more dominant run stuffer, frequently clogging holes to throw off runs inside. Arizona State grossly misused him in the lone year he played there, but Silvera still flashed his natural run defense skills. He isn’t going to be an elite run stopper at the next level, but rather someone who can hold his own in a rotational role.

Processing: Silvera has a great understanding of various run blocking schemes, which enables him to read his keys and quickly diagnose the play and figure out where he needs to be.

Intangibles: Silvera is a dog on the field, in love with the physicality that playing nose tackle demands. His motor runs hot and he is an ultimate effort guy. He endured a miserable final season with Arizona State, as far as wins and losses go, but Silvera remained one of the cooler heads in the locker room when frustrations were reaching an all-time high.

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