The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Drake Nevis, DT/DE, LSU

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Jonathan Bales

Thus far this offseason, I have analyzed tape of five defensive tackle prospects: Cameron Jordan (Cal), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Phil Taylor (Baylor), Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), and Corey Liuget (Illinois).  I’ve also taken a look at Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

As of now, I would rate those six players as follows:

Tier One

Phil Taylor

Tier Two

Cameron Jordan
Muhammad Wilkerson
Adrian Clayborn

Tier Three

Cameron Heyward
Corey Liuget

I see Taylor as a potential monster inside.  It is worth noting that he is the only player who would remain at defensive tackle (nose tackle) in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.  The five other prospects are all potential defensive ends.

Today’s feature, Drake Nevis of LSU, is another college defensive tackle who would transition to defensive end in Dallas.  With new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan claiming Jay Ratliff will remain at nose tackle, Nevis and the other defensive end prospects will be high on the Cowboys’ radar.

Scouting Report

Nevis is extremely quick off of the football.  I can’t stress that enough. . .he has the quickest first step of any defensive tackle prospect I’ve watched this year, by far.  His quickness is what makes him so effective.  At 6’2”, 285 pounds, Nevis is “small” for a defensive tackle (or even a five-technique defensive end), so he doesn’t often overpower linemen.  His bull rush is only average.

Still, Nevis doesn’t get blown off the ball.  He utilizes that quickness and superior leverage to make plays in the backfield.  He’s in the backfield as much as any defensive tackle in this draft.  If there’s a knock on Nevis’ style, it’s that he gets into the backfield by shooting gaps, sometimes taking himself out of plays.

Will Nevis’ game be a good fit in Rob Ryan’s scheme?  Maybe not, as Ryan runs a “two-gap” 3-4 defense, meaning defensive ends (the position Nevis would play) need to be able to hold their ground.  I personally will take a “disruptor” over a “ground-holder” all day, but Ryan might not see it that way.

Most scouts tend to view Nevis as a 4-3 defensive tackle because of his penetrating style of play.  I think he’s capable of playing as a five-technique defensive end as well.  I may be in the minority, but I think Nevis’ major weaknesses can be fixed (and in a hurry).  He’s an athlete who simply makes plays.  I’ll take a “small,” quick player over a load like Igor Olshansky every day of the week.

Projection

I’d place Nevis firmly in the second tier of my defensive tackle/defensive end rankings above.  He’s a player that isn’t getting much hype but, in my opinion, is superior to Heyward and Liuget, and almost equal to Clayborn and Wilkerson.

Because Nevis might be viewed as a player capable of playing only as a three-technique, he could drop a bit in the draft.  It’s always good to be scheme-diverse, and while I think Nevis can be just that, others obviously disagree.

As of now, Nevis is sitting somewhere in the second-round.  Because of his athleticism, it’s unlikely he’ll drop out of that area.  Is he an option for Dallas there?  I’d still prefer a player like Wilkerson (just a bit), but I wouldn’t be very disappointed with Nevis.

Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward

Colorado OT Nate Solder

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn

USC OT Tyron Smith

Miami CB Brandon Harris

LSU CB Patrick Peterson

UCLA FS Rahim Moore

Baylor NT Phil Taylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

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17 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Drake Nevis, DT/DE, LSU

  1. Mont Seventeen says:

    Until the Cowboys expect more from their 5 technique, I don’t see Jerry spending high draft picks on the position. Jerry is still facilitating to the coaching staff and after being burned by Spears… Jerry philosophy has become apparent with draft picks like Lissemore and Brent.

    We all know with Jerry’s success with Gurode, Flo and LA… The second round pick is primed for the Oline.

    That being said… I agree, the Boys need to get a cpl of 5s that can’t rush the passer and Jason Hatcher and Bowen are just fine in their current roles, if they resign.

  2. chris stallcup says:

    hey jonathan im not sure if you listened to rex ryan’s interview or not, but i dont think ryan answered the question. he was asked if ratliff would move to end, ryan replied he would stay at tackle. now due to ryans every changing look at the defensive front he may be a tackle but not the nose….if im making sense at all lol

  3. Mont–I do think the Cowboys will look O-Line in the second round. That leaves CB, D-Line as legit first-round options. Better grab a FS in FA.

    Chris–Well there’s only one tackle position in a 3-4, but your comment made me think about something….PERHAPS Ryan didn’t mean Ratliff would play tackle ALL the time…even if he moves to end, he’d play DT in the Cowboys’ nickel packages. When they go nickel, the move Spencer and Ware to end and Ratliff/Brent play the two tackle spots (they use a 40 front in nickel). Thus, Ratliff is going to play tackle no matter what. If he said “tackle” and not “nose tackle,” you might be on to something!

    What are the other readers’ thoughts on this?

  4. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Not so fast Jonathan – I take a heavier “ground holding” 3-4 DE over a lighter, quicker gap shooter for a pure 3-4 scheme. The ultimate purpose of the heavier DE is to occupy the OT just long enough to read the direction the RB is running (inside into the B gap or off tackle) as it’s assumed that most 1 & 10, 2 & 6 or less and 3 & 3 or less are running plays. Pass rushing 3-4 DEs are a bit of an anomoly in that obvious pass plays tend to necessitate, as you so deftly pointed out, 4 across d line configurations. Whenever the Boys do remain in 3-4 but want to rush the passer, the DE typically shoots the B gap and tries to overpower the lighter OG in hopes of collapsing the pocket and forcing the QB to move. This, coupled w/ an outside speed rush from the OLB produces sacks. I know Ware is a beast and there are a fair # of sacks that he produces on his own out of sheer athleticism, but there are others that occur because of inside pressure from the DE (Bowen is pretty good at that). So, when you take into account a 3-4 DE who rushes the QB less often than he eats up space, a lighter quicker DE plays less downs (theoretically).

    Nevertheless, now that Denver resigned Champ Bailey, I’m hoping the Boys trade up to #2 and get Peterson (the Broncos will be needing OLB and/or DE help and should be able to get what they want at #9). FS/KR/PR is a major improvement as it frees up Dez for more pass catching and puts a stud centerfielder type FS where he’s needed.

    The unfortunate fallout of that move is that Dallas may not have a 2nd round pick (hopefully, they can trade up for the #9 pick and a 3rd round). Either way, Ijalana is a must in the 2nd if he’s there. If we have to give up the 2nd round pick, we get the NT (Kenrick Ellis or Jerrel Powe) that we need.

    The above guy shouldn’t be on Dallas’ radar…IMO.

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  6. Tyrone–I really can’t see the Cowboys trading up to #2. That would take a LOT of good picks. IMO, they should wait to see if PP drops to about 6 or 7 and then look at making a move.

    Think of it this way..who would you rather have: PP alone, or something like Dareus, Sherrod, and Burton? Not a rhetorical question at all, but I’d take the latter.

  7. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Honestly, I think PP is that good. Dareus will most likely be solid but PP at FS (centerfield) in the 4-6 is a top 10 defense – Dareus won’t make that sort of impact alone. Sherrod and Burton will probably be average.

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