Dallas Cowboys can patiently draft starting nose tackle
By Brad Austin
Dallas Cowboys fans are eager to draft a disruptive nose tackle after run defense fell from 1st to 8th in yards. Here are two later options.
The Dallas Cowboys run defense clearly took a step back last season. 2016’s top ranked run stoppers fell seven spots in yards allowed.
The only missing starter in the front seven last season was defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who left in 2017 free agency. While McClain played a good portion at 3-technique, his run stuffing abilities held the closest resemblance to what a solid nose tackle would bring to the defense.
Ever since owner Jerry Jones raved over Dontari Poe (6’3 346) at the 2012 NFL Combine, fans have been miffed by his failure to draft a powerful interior force. Fast forward to 2018 and Washington Huskies nose tackle Vita Vea (6’5, 340) is now lighting up the draft board.
The Cowboys have openly stated they aren’t in the business of spending the top selection on a two-down tackle. The good news is at least two starting caliber nose tackles will be available beyond the first round of the 2018 draft.
TIM SETTLE (6’3, 335) – VIRGINIA TECH
If seeking a disruptive, powerful middle man, Tim Settle may hold the highest value of all rookie nose tackles. It won’t take Pick 19 to land him, and there’s a good chance he’d match Vea’s production in the Cowboys’ scheme.
The Second team All-ACC nose tackle is a phenom for his size. His quick, explosive power matched with space eating size would fit Dallas’ gap penetration defense to a tee. 36 tackles, 12.5 for loss, and four sacks are impressive final year stats for a nose.
If Dallas desires a defender who can wreak havoc in the backfield and help the linebackers stay clean, their second round pick should be enough to snag Settle.
POONA FORD (5’11, 303) – TEXAS
Some say Poona Ford is too short. He didn’t receive an invite to the NFL combine. That’s only adding fuel to the fire for the Big 12’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.
None of those supposed shortcomings kept Ford from having an impressive Senior Bowl against top NFL prospects. Most scouts admit the combine slight was absurd.
Ford is not a typical mountain sized nose, but he has tremendous strength, lower leverage, and an 80-inch wingspan to help him clog the interior.
With higher profile Longhorns in this draft, Ford’s the first one Texas fans will go to bat for. He’s often mentioned as being the hardest defender to replace next season.
Any coach would love a devoted player and person like Poona in their locker room. He gives everything he has and then some, and his game is NFL starter quality.
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Ford’s overblown height concerns could be a blessing for Dallas if still shopping for a solid nose tackle on Day Three. The fourth round would be a good target zone.
After seeing current Cowboys tackle Maliek Collins and Ford both play in the Big 12 in recent years, I wouldn’t hesitate a second to say Poona was the better player.