Dallas Cowboys Draft: Position by position breakdown (defense)

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Mazi Smith – NT/DT

At 6’3″ and 337 pounds, Mazi Smith is an intimidating physical presence and a violent bully who causes chaos. His body is naturally well-built and he is able to shrug off chip blocks and take on double-teams.

I have witness him fork-lifting offensive lineman with little effort. By adding Smith to the mix, Osawaru Odighizuwa will be able to handle his one-on-one blocking with more ease.

Mazi Smith was a two-year starter at nose tackle for Michigan Wolverines was an essential part of Jesse Minter’s defensive line, playing at every position on the defensive line.

It’s rare to come across a 335-pound defender with Smith’s level of mobility when chasing down a play. Despite his size, he is able to move quickly from side to side which is quite remarkable.

Although his stats in the backfield are not noteworthy, his pass rushing capabilities are more impressive than his 0.5 career sacks let on. He was the second most prolific pass rusher on the Wolverines in 2022 with 25 pressures.

Even though he caused chaos on the field, he still left meat on the bone. He needs to focus on being a more skilled finishing tackler.

Smith is ranked No. 1 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List.

His work has earned him the chance to be selected during day 2 of the draft.

Siaki Ika – NT/DT

Siaki Ika is a fast, disruptive big man with powerful traits, but his impressive skills don’t always result in meaningful plays. He has the physical characteristics of a  interior defender, and a sound foundation to be a elite nose tackle in the NFL from the start, while also showing the potential to do more.

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking to improve their run defense, they could select arguably the best nose tackle in the draft.

The nose tackle position isn’t seen as crucial during most of the NFL season, but come late December it is highly valued. Everyone dreams of having a massive run-stuffing nose tackle to go up against the San Francisco 49ers in a divisional playoff game.

Elite run stoppers can single-handedly throw an offense off balance. They may not grab the spotlight, but when you need to go to war against the NFL heavyweights, you wish you had one.

It’s possible Ika will be drafted anywhere between the 3rd and 5th rounds.His 2022 tape was no way near as good as his 2021 tape.

Gervon Dexter Sr. – DT

Gervon Dexter’s physical abilities make him an ideal candidate to be a game wrecker at the next level.

Due to his impressive stature measuring 6-foot-6, 300-pounds and his athletic ability, Dexter has a natural physical advantage that gives him the power to overpower offensive linemen when he has the opportunity to rush upfield and make plays.

Dexter is equipped with the physical tools that will give him the possibility of becoming a part of the NFL’s regular rotation right away.

If he is able to find the perfect environment that allows him to use his extraordinary talent, and puts in a tremendous amount of work, he will be a powerful force to be reckoned with when he reaches the next level.

It is still unknown if Dexter will be able to build on his capabilities and become a successful starter in the NFL, making the most of his remarkable physical gifts.

To become a serious fore, further polishing and honing is needed. Dexter could be a great defender, and if he can unlock his immense gifts, some team will reap the rewards.

I can see a team taking a chance on him in the 2nd round because of his traits.

Calvin Avery – NT

Calvin Avery is perfectly suited to the role of nose tackle in terms of size and strength. He has great flashes of linear burst and power on the attack. A true bully.

His pro day measurements included 6-foot-1 and 345 pounds, with an 82″ wingspan and 31 reps in the bench press.

During the 2022 season, Avery saw action in all 13 games with 12 starts at nose tackle. He had a total of 24 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, one pass breakup, two QB hurries, and one forced fumble throughout the season.

Last season, Avery caused difficulty for the two leading centers in the 2023 NFL draft, Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz and Wisconsin’s Joe Tippmann

Jaquelin Roy- DT

Despite being a junior, Jaquelin Roy has participated in over 30 career games as part of the LSU rotation. Roy’s first season as the full-time starter in 2022 was his most successful, with 49 total tackles.

Roy’s strength is noteworthy, but his range of motion is not. He will need time to develop before he can be a full-time starter.

He has a prototype frame and appears to have the athletic abilities and skills necessary to make him a productive player in the NFL. He should be able to find a place for himself in a defensive line rotation during his first year.