Dallas Cowboys Draft: 7 defensive tackle prospects in 7 different rounds

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Khyiris Tonga, BYU

Value: Great

The BYU Cougar finds himself as the best interior defensive lineman in the fifth round. The Utah native originally committed to Utah, but switched to the “Y” after his mission trip. As an older prospect playing against traditionally weaker opponents, you would probably expect some progression in production as his career continued?

In his four years in Provo, Tonga recorded 130 total tackles, 68 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and 12 pass deflections. In volume, the numbers look solid but he never recorded more than 3.5 sacks or 4 tackles for loss in a season. Age, adequate production, small 31-inch arms, and potential weight concerns will ultimately land you on Day 3.

All this at face value doesn’t seem great considering this is only the fifth round, but Tonga does provide value for really any team willing to draft him. He has the flexibility to one or two gap meaning he can play on odd or even man fronts.

Even though his arms don’t meet the “threshold” he consistently engages at the point of attack with good upfield burst coming from his good motor and solid acceleration. He doesn’t have the explosiveness to drive solid-sized interior offensive linemen but he displays enough play strength to leverage the gap he’s playing and can disengage with his solid grip strength to make a play on the ball carrier.

Every good front four needs a 1-technique willing to absorb double teams in run support and while pass rushing. Tonga is willing to do that and his wide frame allows him to reach even with his short arms. The 6-foot-2, 321-pound defensive lineman functions like a brick wall. I’d like to imagine his play strength and pad level likely come from his rugby background but I might just be connecting the wrong dots.

Tonga is exactly the type of player every team wants in on Day 3. Excluding the fact he’s near his mid-20’s, his size, athletic ability, and the motor will likely result in, at the very least, a second contract.