APPROVED IN : Bengals finally made a surprised signing of new offensive Tackle for NFL 2024 offseason…

Bengals nose tackle candidates in the NFL Draft.

Many fans call DJ Reader the most important player on the Cincinnati Bengals defense. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo calls him the best player in the league at his position.

We can all agree that losing him in free agency was a huge blow, particularly with no obvious replacement waiting in the wings.

While there are a number of interesting prospects at three-technique, this year’s NFL Draft provides few options at nose tackle. Here are my top choices and how they could fit for the Bengals.

T’Vondre Sweat – Texas – 6’ 4” 366

T’Vondre Sweat looks unreachable as he uses his strength and footwork to maintain his gap integrity. The massive Texas Longhorns tackle uses his hands well to get off of blocks and make run stops.

Although it does not show up in testing, he has a burst off the ball that, coupled with his explosive hips, makes him extremely disruptive to blocking schemes. This also makes him surprisingly effective as a pass rusher, although that is never what he will be known for.

One of the most frequent criticisms of Sweat is his low snap count, but I don’t think that is accurate. Per Pro Football Focus, Sweat averaged 36 snaps per game last season. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is more than his teammate Byron Murphy II, who played only 31 snaps per game on the defensive line but avoids the same criticism.

It’s roughly the same as McKinnley Jackson averaged 100 miles away in College Station. Perhaps most relevant is that it’s only two fewer than DJ Reader averaged for the Bengals last season, and that is the role you are hoping he can fill someday.

Of course, the real concern is his weight, which has fluctuated greatly over the course of his college career. His massive size may be his biggest strength, but there is a real concern that it could lead to injury or prevent him from being able to produce consistently over a large number of snaps. While Reader may not have averaged many more snaps than Sweat, you knew he could be counted on to grind out an AFC North slobber-knocker when he had to.

Draft Projection: Second Round

Player Projection: The Bengals took a massive blow when they lost DJ Reader to the Detroit Lions, and Sweat is the draft prospect with the best chance of being able to replace him. The Bengals will need a reliable veteran at the position to spell Sweat from time to time. Sweat’s conditioning will need to be at a level that allows him to give maximum effort for 35-40 snaps again.

Sweat projects as a starter in Year 1, with the potential to develop into an All-Pro caliber player.

Byron Murphy II – Texas – 6’ 297

The next candidate is Sweat’s teammate Byron Murphy II.

But Coach, Murphy isn’t a nose tackle.

I actually think nose tackle might be Murphy’s best position.

Yes, I realize that Murphy is a highly rated three-technique, and yes, I realize that in order to tip the scales at the same number as Sweat, Murphy would have to be holding an Alaskan Malamute. Did you realize that despite taking 65 fewer snaps than Sweat this year, Murphy took 70 more snaps in the A-Gap?

Murphy does not look like a sub-300-pounder on film. He has an excellent anchor and does a fantastic job of taking on double teams. While he does not bring the traditional nose tackle build, Murphy is a stout run defender whose athleticism could make him special.

Draft Projection: First Round

Projection: If they project him as a nose tackle, they may want to bulk Murphy up a bit, but that probably isn’t going to happen in Year 1. As a rookie, Murphy will be a valuable, movable piece in defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s front. He will need to have a burly veteran to supplement his skill and allow him to get some reps at other positions on the defensive line.

In Year 2, he will maintain his versatility, but with 15 pounds of added bulk, he can play more of a traditional nose tackle position while remaining a plus athlete. Murphy could develop into a special player if used properly, and nose tackle is the right projection for him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *