Cowboys Have Other Explosive Defensive Tackle Options in the Draft

Caraun Reid

I wanted to take a closer look at the defensive tackle position for the upcoming draft, so I looked at all the prospects and broke down their numbers and came up with my top 8 “explosive” defensive tackles from the Combine. When looking at explosiveness you want to look at the speed numbers, and broad jump as well. No surprise Aaron Donald leads the pack in the explosiveness categories. Donald just had his Pro Day in Pittsburgh today and he knocked it out again. His stock is going through the roof, and Mike Mayock just moved him up to #1 DT in the draft as well.

So, Donald is the hottest name out there for defensive tackle, but who else is out there that can help out the Cowboys. Its been documented that the Cowboys are looking to get faster on the field, and Will McClay has reiterated it as well, its going to be a part of the checklist when looking at these players. Bryan Broaddus from the home base put out an interesting article today about Will McClay and he brought up some interesting insight of the inner workings or how McClay is going to build the draft board.

His strengths are an old school belief in the toughness of your team, along with speed but his best trait is understanding how this league is about matchups.{..}

To McClay it’s about winning your division first, then working from there. With McClay, you will not have a mixed matched squad. From my experience with him, each player will have a specific role and assignment on why they are part of the roster and he will be able to marry that with the other members of the front office. Communication is extremely important to him. (DC.com / Broaddus)

So, if we look at this approach, the analytics of this thing can go very deep, but you’ll see Hatcher fits this mold for what the defense wanted to accomplish. During the 2013 season, Hatcher had three games in the division where he nailed the QB for 2 sacks a game (WASH., NYG, PHI). Looking closer, 8 of his 11 sacks were against our NFC East rivals – that’s solid. Again, this fits the mantra of having success against our division rivals. Losing Hatcher will leave a void, but if they can get the right player, one that can succeed in our division, then we’ll be set. Is Donald that guy? He could be, but there are other explosive guys that can be in the mix early in the draft or in later rounds.

Here are my top 8 players:

For this table I used CBSSports.com for the player draft projections and the measurables from Mockdraftable.com. So, from all the Combine prospects, I sifted through the numbers and these are the guys that should fit the Cowboys profile. Donald sits atop the list. The positional average is taken from all the previous defensive tackles in previous years.

Mockdraftable is a nice site that has all the Combine numbers from previous drafts and they have a NFL Comparison on each player. For Donald, Mockdraftable says he has a 70.5% similarity to Geno Atkins. You’ll see he also has a close match to Tank Johnson and Marvin Austin, a player the Cowboys took a flyer on during the season as well. Check it out here.

Caraun Reid is a prospect I really like is this draft and his numbers fall in line with what we could be looking for in a DT. He was a 80s% percentile matching to Pat Sims and Marcel Dareaus. Not bad.

Tenny Palepoi is a player projected to go undrafted, but he does have some check marks for explosiveness. You’ll notice he compares similar to Drake Nevis, another player the Cowboys brought into the mix during 2013. Some of that is from the frame and shorter arms, but the speed is there.

Basically, if the Cowboys are going to add someone disruptive they can go through 4 rounds, after that, you’re getting into players that still have the explosiveness, but they may be handicapped in another area, thus the lower draft stock status, but then again, some of these players projected to go later can be the proverbial “diamond in the rough” type player, just like Jay Ratliff was years ago.

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