Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Brian Price, DT/DE, UCLA
We have detailed in the past how often 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL were frequently defensive tackles in college. Cowboys’ defensive end Marcus Spears, for example, was a defensive tackle at LSU. In a 4-3 defense, he played what is called a “three-technique,” meaning he lined up over the offensive guard. In comparison, a 3-4 defensive tackle, or nose tackle, plays a “zero-technique.” He lines up directly over the center.
When 4-3 defensive tackles transition to 3-4 ends, they simply kick out a bit further down the line to line up over the tackle. This is called playing a “five-technique.” Thus, the Cowboys will have their eye on a variety of defensive tackles in this year’s draft, some of whom will stay at defensive tackle in the 3-4, and some of whom will have to transform into defensive ends.
Although it is not the sole factor in determining a college defensive tackle’s future position for a 3-4 NFL team, the player’s weight often gives you an idea of where they will line up. The Cowboys will look at tackles who are 315+ pounds as potential backups for Jay Ratliff at nose tackle, while those in the 300 pound range will have to switch over to the “five-technique” defensive end.
Defensive tackle Brian Price of UCLA is one of these players that would likely have to transition to defensive end in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme. We have him listed as the 28th best overall prospect.
Because of the popularity of defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, UCLA’s Brian Price is getting little publicity. He may be the best “unknown” player in the draft, though. He has tremendous quickness in small areas. His first step is as good as anyone’s in the league, and although some see him only as a 4-3 defensive tackle, we think his quickness would make the transition to 3-4 defensive end relatively smooth.
For his size (6’2”, 302 pounds), Price has extraordinary athleticism. He reminds us of a better pass-rushing Marcus Spears, which is big praise. He really does an excellent job of diagnosing plays and trusting his read.
Price’s body frame appears to have little room for growth, and he can sometimes get overpowered inside. A lot of the popular knocks on him, though, could be alleviated if he moves to the “five-technique.” To be effective in that position, Price will have to improve against the run while maintaining the instincts and quickness that allow him to be an outstanding pass-rusher.
Price is right on the border of the Cowboys’ 27th pick. His draft stock depends greatly on how teams view him. Teams that employ a 4-3 defense will likely be interested in Price, but the 3-4 squads may not see him as we do. If they don’t, there is a solid chance that Price drops to pick 27. The question, then, would be if Dallas thinks Price can move to defensive end. If so, they could attain pretty good value with the selection.