Defensive tackle? (Which I feel is the bigger need over defensive end heading into 2013).
Nov, 26, 2011; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone (7) is pressured by North Carolina Tar Heels defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (92) on fourth down in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils 37-21at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, UNC
This of course assumes Williams will be available when the Cowboys go on the clock with the 47th pick. He is projected to go anywhere from the late first round to the middle of the second round (which is where we are drafting). For a man that stands close to 6-3 and weighs 320 pounds, he has shown a very nice burst at the line of scrimmage and plays with a high level of initial quickness able to get up the field in a hurry. He is a very penetrating inside player that really gets off the ball quickly and with a purpose I might add. If our ‘Boys are looking for a player with a rare combination of size and speed, this Tar Heel big man might just be the pick at 47. His senior season stat line looked like this; 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles behind the line and six quarterback takedowns (good for first-team All-ACC honors). It would certainly be fun to watch Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli create a monster with ole’ Sylvester.
Kawann Short, Defensive Tackle, Purdue
With a good showing at the Senior Bowl and also impressing at his pro day, Short greatly improved his draft stock to solidify himself as a 2nd or even 1st round pick if a team fell in love with him. Some believe him to be the best pass rusher of all the inside big men. And he helped his cause with 6.5 sacks from his inside spot in his senior season with the Boilermakers. Dallas needs another player that can shoot the gap and get immediate pressure on the QB. With his speed and athleticism, Short is more than capable of filling the role of the 3-technique tackle spot. His senior season at Purdue resulted in 43 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, four passes defended, FOUR BLOCKED KICKS, one forced fumble and 6.5 sacks. Translation…the kid can play!
Jonathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Ohio State
Now Hankins does not possess the same quickness and athleticism as Short, but he is still a force to be reckoned with on the inside. A man his size does exactly what he is supposed to do; take up plenty of space AND blockers at the point of attack. He has nice initial quickness to penetrate the pocket and eliminate space for the QB. His senior numbers were not that impressive (55 tackles, four tackles for a loss and only one sack) but his solid run-stuffing and position flexibility will attract teams to take a look at him as early as the 2nd round. Would likely fit in as a 1-technique tackle in Dallas next to Ratliff.
John Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
To say Jenkins is a massive man would be understatement. The MAN stands at 6 feet 3 inches and weighs in at 360 pounds. Now some might say he is better suited as a nose tackle in a 3-4, but with his presence at the line of scrimmage, his rather surprising burst and explosiveness and his run stuffing ability, I believe he is capable of playing ANY defensive tackle position no matter the scheme. His senior season with the Bulldogs included 50 tackles, two tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a single sack. However that single sack came against some guy named Chance Warmack in the SEC Title Game…good timing I would say! Also showed up big at the Senior Bowl. Jenkins should be a solid day two pick. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli have to be salivating at the thought of this man coming to Dallas.
November 17, 2012; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers defensive tackle Bennie Logan (18) tackles Ole Miss Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace (14) during the second half at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Ole Miss 41-35. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Now another name to keep an eye on is LSU’s Bennie Logan. Dallas coaches thought enough of him to bring him in for a pre-draft visit as one of the 30 draft prospects invited to Valley Ranch last week. Round two might be a bit of a reach for a player seen as most as a 3rd or 4th round option at defensive tackle, but he was named second-team All-SEC in 2012 for a reason. Logan might seem more like a run stuffer at first glance but his 12.5 career tackles for a loss and five career sacks also add to his resume at LSU. Scouts love the motor of this kid.
If for some reason, Dallas does decide to wait until the 3rd or even 4th round to draft a defensive tackle, other names to know include Alabama’s Jesse Williams, Missouri Southern’s Brandon Williams and Penn State’s Jordan Hill as potential mid-round picks.
Now if, for some reason, we decide defensive end is a bigger concern than defensive tackle in the second round (which as it stands now is unlikely) then be on the lookout for players like UCLA’s Datone Jones, Florida State’s Tank Carradine, SMU’s Margus Hunt (draft stock has fallen lately), Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Texas’s Alex Okafor, LSU’s Sam Montgomery and Auburn’s Corey Lemonier.
As you can clearly see by now, the defensive line offers an abundance of talent in the early rounds. Expect to see our ‘Boys draft one on day two with pick number 47 (if we stay in that spot of course). As stated, my guess is that Dallas will target the tackle position more so than an edge rusher in the trenches (now that would have changed drastically if Anthony Spencer was allowed to hit unrestricted free agency and did not then return to Dallas in 2013).
IF Sylvester Williams is on the board at 47, I am confident Dallas will pull the trigger on the big man from UNC. IF Williams is off the board at 47, then I strongly believe the pick will be Purdue’s Kawann Short. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!
Look for my final pre-draft piece next Wednesday, “The Renny Rant: With the 18th Overall Pick, the Dallas Cowboys Select…” where I will discuss our first round pick targeting the offensive line.