The Dallas Cowboys have no plans to change their draft philosophy when it comes to run-stopping defensive tackles – don’t invest a first-round pick on them.
Nose tackle isn’t a premium position in the Tampa 2 scheme that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli runs.
“If you’re talking about a pure nose, I don’t see that changing for us,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said on Tuesday from the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I think we just feel like in Rod’s system that we can get the job done without a big, first-round nose, if that’s all he really is. Now, some of these guys might be more than a nose than you think. They could have some under tackle to them and you’re certainly looking at them if that’s the case. Obviously that under tackle position is a big one for us.”
The Cowboys have gotten by with nose tackles such as Nick Hayden and Stephen Paea in recent years. Maliek Collins switched to nose last season when Paea retired, although the Cowboys liked what Collins brought to the under tackle spot as a rookie in 2016.
The Cowboys used a pair of seventh-round picks in last year's draft on nose tackles Joey Ivie and Jordan Carrell. Neither made the 53-man roster.
With the Cowboys rigid stance on nose tackles, it’s unlikely they would consider Washington’s Vita Vea with the 19th overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Several experts have Vea as a logical fit for the Cowboys, but the organization simply doesn’t hold that position as high value.
Vea showed pass rush abilities at Washington, registering 9.5 sacks in three seasons, but he’s still viewed as a nose tackle. So is Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, another tackle projected to go in the first round.
Offensively, though, the Cowboys wouldn’t be afraid of drafting a left guard in the first round. Jonathan Cooper is a free agent and the Cowboys are looking to upgrade that position.
“I wouldn’t rule it out if there’s a great one there,” Jones said. “If Zack Martin is sitting there again then you better take a look. You might be getting a Hall of Famer.”