Connect with us

NFL Draft

2018 NFL Combine: 3 Defensive Tackles Who Shined

Kevin Brady



2018 NFl Combine: 3 Defensive Tackles Who Shined

Much of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, with a talented group of interior defensive linemen leading the show.

Entering the 2018 NFL Combine there were a few defensive linemen we were all excited to see. Washington's Vita Vea and Michigan's Maurice Hurst certainly led that group, but unfortunately, for different reasons, neither was able to put their talent on full display.

Vea impressed with his bench press and 40 time before being sidelined for the remainder of the on-field drills. Hurst was found to have a heart condition before participating, and we certainly wish him the best going forward.

Let's discuss some of the defensive linemen who did perform every drill, however, and see who may best fit the Cowboys' offseason plan.

Taven Bryan, Florida

Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan has mostly been discussed as an early day two player throughout much of the draft process. After posting a 9'11" broad jump and a 35" vertical at 291 pounds, however, Bryan may be jolted into first round consideration.

Maybe most importantly, Bryan's 3 cone time (7.12 seconds) was downright elite for an interior defensive lineman, and brought about a JJ Watt comparison from NFL Network. While I didn't see "Watt-like" play on tape, Bryan's traits are certainly intriguing.

I see Taven Bryan as more of a 3-technique than a 1-technique in Dallas, but I wouldn't get too worked up about which spot he'd play. Bryan proved that he has the essential athletic ability to make it in the league, and has the tape to warrant top 50 selection. He's a guy they'll most likely have to take 19th overall if they want to secure him a spot on the team, though.

Da'Ron Payne, Alabama

Speaking of freakishly athletic defensive tackles who killed the combine, let's talk about Alabama's Da'Ron Payne. Payne posted a 7.58 second 3 cone time, and ran a 4.91 40 yard dash at 311 pounds(!).

If the only tape we had on Payne was from the College Football Playoff, he'd be in consideration to be a top 10-15 pick. Yes, he was that good. And those performances coupled with his testing and measurements typically result in an elite defensive tackle at the next level.

The problem with Payne is his inconsistency. Too often he disappeared on tape for long stretches of time, and didn't make the impact at and behind the line of scrimmage that you'd hope to see from a first round defensive tackle.

Still I am willing to bet on Payne's traits, flashes, and upside. He has a 1-2 round grade on my board, and should be in the conversation at 19 overall.

Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State

After putting the entire league on notice with his superb performance at the Senior Bowl, defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd confirmed his freakishness during the NFL Combine. At 6'5" and 315 pounds, Shepherd certainly "looks the part" of an NFL defensive lineman.

Despite being over 300 pounds, Shepherd looked extremely comfortable moving during the on-field drills. He showed very impressive athleticism when moving laterally, and posted a solid 5.09 40 yard dash time. Plus, he is built like a linebacker and looks far from sloppy.

Shepherd was being talked about as a day three pick prior to the Senior Bowl, but has been rising on draft boards ever since. I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if he went within the first 100 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft. And with his traits, he is certainly worth the gamble to fill the Cowboys' 1-technique need.

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

1 Comment
  • EverybodyTalks

    I liked all these guys. It has been Vita,Vita and more Vita, but DaRon did himself some good at this Combine. Another that impressed me was B.J.Hall out of NC State.

NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: Cowboys to Hold Visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller

Sean Martin



2018 NFL Draft: Cowboys to Hold Visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller
(Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys have been frustratingly unsurprisingly quiet through the start of free agency, as their opportunity to improve at the AT&T Stadium hosted 2018 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. Offensive line depth remains a team need for the Cowboys, one they're actively looking to address by visiting free agent Guard Marcus Martin while planning a pre-draft visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

I'm told UTEP Guard Will Hernandez is another of Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors. Hernandez joins Alabama WR Calvin Ridley and UCLA G/T Kolton Miller on the list of reported visitors for the #Cowboys. Since 2014, 14 of Dallas' 35 picks (40%) have been pre-draft visitors.

Protecting one of the top quarterbacks available in the draft in Josh Rosen through college, Kolton Miller absolutely blew up the Combine in Indianapolis - entering the draft as one of the most athletic available linemen.

It is this athleticism and versatility that the Dallas Cowboys should absolutely be looking for, if trying to add another "blue chip" player to an offensive line already featuring LT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, and RT La'el Collins.

Kolton Miller Longest Offensive Lineman Broad Jump 2018 NFL Combine

Kolton Miller with the broad jump world record for an offensive lineman at 10 1 wow

Tyron Smith's health (along with the level of play the Cowboys received at his spot in his absence) and the FA status of Jonathan Cooper are both reasons the Cowboys should consider adding a new, controllable option to their dominant offensive line. Whether this is with the 19th overall pick, or later on with a prospect like Miller, will depend on how the board falls through the first 18 picks of the draft.

With ten total picks coming in, the Cowboys could be positioning themselves for a move up the board to land an impact defender, or an additional piece for Kris Richard to work with in the defensive backfield. Staying home at 19th overall and selecting a player capable of playing swing tackle would not only be a safe option for the Cowboys, but a smart one with Ezekiel Elliott returning full-time to the lineup in 2018.

Without Elliott for six games in 2017, the Cowboys still managed nine wins. This is a point lost to most of Cowboys Nation, especially those watching the entire playoffs without their team in it, only to watch the Eagles hoist the Lombardi. Elliott's impact on each's week game plan for Dallas is hard to understate, and the Cowboys' trust in him begins up front.

Testing as an elite athlete with the film to match at tackle in the Pac 12, Kolton Miller should be a welcome addition to America's Team - getting the opportunity to learn the Cowboys' way with a trip to The Star in his future.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: Cowboys to Hold Visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

NFL Draft

Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?

Brian Martin



Can Powers of Persuasion Make Will Hernandez a Dallas Cowboy?

There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.

Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.

The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.

Will Hernandez on Twitter

@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!

To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.

In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.

All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.

The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.

The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.

It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.

Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?

Continue Reading

NFL Draft

Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley

Mauricio Rodriguez



Butch Dill / Getty Images

With NFL Free Agency buzz at full speed this week, Dez Bryant is one of the most intriguing names in the Dallas Cowboys world. We all know the story. We've been talking about it since last season. Bryant, who was once among the "Top WR of the league" conversation, doesn't look like an elite player anymore.

That doesn't mean he is a bad football player, but the problem is that he's getting paid big time.

The Dallas Cowboys, who have struggled with cap space for many years now, may want to avoid paying $16.5M to a player who isn't justifying his paychecks on the field. Big name and all, it certainly doesn't feel that way.

His lack of production on the field the last three years is concerning, even though he's played with quarterbacks not named "Tony Romo." There are other receivers around the league who have played with bad quarterbacks and have still been able to produce.

Even still, it wouldn't be easy to replace Bryant on the offense just like that. Right now, top free agents are already off the market, so if Dallas wants to replace him, it'd have to be via trade or via the NFL Draft.

Jane Slater on Twitter

ICYMI: A few things to consider as we wait on news about Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys

Right now, it seems that Dez is going to remain a Dallas Cowboy and after seeing the contracts other receivers in the league are about to get, who knows if a pay cut will even enter the equation.

Even if Dez keeps wearing the Star every week next season, wide receiver is still one of the team's top needs. Despite the fact that Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are some very well-known names, the truth is this offense needs a guy who can create separation and be harmful as a deep threat.

This is a draft class with a lot of depth at wide receiver, and the Cowboys could find contributors at the second or later rounds. Even still, if they're on the clock at 19 and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is available, the front office should pull the trigger.

Yes, even if Dez is still on the team.

Despite last year's struggles, we shouldn't lose faith on the Cowboys' offense when it has a lot of talent. We believed in this group to take us to the Super Bowl. What they are missing could just be a new, dynamic wide receiver.

Dallas Cowboys Reportedly Set to Meet with Alabama WR Calvin Ridley 1

Alabama Crimson Tide WR Calvin Ridley (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Calvin Ridley is by far the best WR in the Draft this year and will be an impact player anywhere he goes. Despite a poor showing in the Combine, Ridley proves to be worthy of a first round pick on tape. Ideal route-running, great ability to separate and more than enough speed for the NFL.

This would certainly take a lot of pressure off Cole Beasley's shoulders, who was constantly double-teamed last year. Sure, he's still good, but if he continues to run into double-coverage, Dak Prescott and company will probably continue to struggle another year.

It's tough to imagine Calvin Ridley being available at 19, especially with the Baltimore Ravens holding the 16th overall pick. However, some people believe there's a 50/50 chance he's available once Dallas is on the clock. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't pass on this prospect.

Ridley could very well end up being the most productive receiver for the Cowboys in 2018 becoming an essential "best friend" for Dak Prescott.

We've seen how other front offices have made friendly offenses for their young QBs and if Calvin Ridley is what it takes, why even think about it?

Tell me what you think about "Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here