(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III).
Name: Louis Nix III
Position: Defensive Tackle
College: Notre Dame
Honors: Nix was named first-team All-Independent for three straight seasons, from 2011-13.
Key stat: Unusual for a defensive tackle, Nix led all defensive linemen in tackles during Notre Dame's 2012 run to the BCS Championship Game. He recorded 50 tackles in 13 appearances -- 11 of them starts. In 2013, he finished third among defensive linemen with just 27 tackles, though he appeared in just eight games.
Where He’s Projected: To get a gauge on where Nix will go, you have to consider the type of scheme being used by the teams looking at him. He is widely considered one of the top three or four defensive tackles in this draft, but most agree he fits best as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense -- his college position. Because of that, his role within a defense seems likely to influence his draft positioning. All of that said, he looks like a likely first or early second round pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys: There's no doubt the Cowboys could use the help at the defensive tackle position, but it's not clear how much that pertains to Nix. His likely position in Rod Marinelli's defense would likely be a one-technique defensive tackle, while the Cowboys would prefer to add another three-technique. Still, if Dallas does wind up selecting the Notre Dame product, Nix has proven plenty capable of being disruptive. He managed 9.5 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at nose tackle for the Fighting Irish.
Scout’s Take: This is a large, thick player -- a hard guy to move off the line, who is able to get a push with power. Nix can hold the point of attack and knock the blocker off balance with his shot. He will chase down the line, he doesn't just stay in one spot. Impressively for a guy his size, he can avoid the low block, but he doesn't possess many, if any, pass rush moves.
What Nix can do is fight through double-team blocks -- he plays like a two-gap nose tackle in the way he reads the play. Overall, he doesn't play with his hands as consistently as I would have liked, but he played better in later games.
He has surprising lateral quickness, and he's been used on twist stunts -- but I didn't see the quickness to get around the corner for him to do that all the time. He needs better pass rush moves, but he has shown a good quick-arm move that he used effectively against USC. And he will try to make back door plays.
I feel like his best position would be as a 3-4 nose tackle, but he is active enough to maybe consider trying him as a one-technique defensive tackle in this 4-3 defense. -- Bryan Broaddus