Getting Nosy About the Nose Tackles

With Jason Ferguson facing an eight-game suspension at the start of the 2010 season and with Paul Soliai having yet to show much consistency, it's obvious the Dolphins have a major need at nose tackle. That's why the names of Tennessee's Dan Williams and Terrence Cody have surfaced in draft discussions related to the Dolphins? But who are the other nose tackles available in this year's draft?

It's a question that needs to be asked because while Williams is a strong candidate to be the Dolphins' first-round pick at No. 12 overall, it's not a lock. And it's also not likely that Cody will be there in the second round when the Dolphins make the 44th overall selection.

That means the Dolphins would have to look beyond those two.

What follows is a look at the nose tackle prospects behind Williams and Cody who could be of interest to the Dolphins, along with their projected draft round.

CAM THOMAS, North Carolina — A key member of a tremendous Tar Heels defense, Thomas fits the mold of a nose tackle at 6-3, 325. A three-year starter at North Carolina, Thomas also turned in a good performance at the Senior Bowl. He helped North Carolina hold opponents to a meager of average of 2.83 yards per carry in 2009. Draft projection: Third round.

JEFF OWENS, Georgia: Owens, who is from the Fort Lauderdale area, was a defensive co-captain at Georgia. He probably was viewed as a better prospect before he sustained a knee injury early in the 2008 season. Still, this is a quality run stopper with a lot of upper-body strength, as he demonstrated with his 44 reps in the bench press at the combine. Draft projection: Third or fourth round.

LINVAL JOSEPH, East Carolina: Joseph came out for the draft after his junior season at ECU, after which he earned first-team All-Conference USA honors by the league coaches. Joseph, who weighed 371 in December of 2007 before losing 70 pounds and then adding 20 pounds of muscle through work in the weight room, certainly has the bulk at 320 to deal with double teams, but he is taller than ideal for nose tackle at 6-6. Draft projection: Fourth round.

D'ANTHONY SMITH, Louisiana Tech: A two-time All-WAC first-team selection, Smith played in the Senior Bowl. He's listed at 6-2, 300, so he'll have to gain some weight to be able to handle the constant double teams he'll face as a nose tackle and he might actually be better suited to play in a 4-3 in the NFL. He has some pass-rushing ability, with 3.5 sacks last season. Draft projection: Fourth round.

TORELL TROUP, Central Florida: A second-team All-CUSA pick in 2009, Troup played nose guard at UCF and was a team captain. He's an active run stopper who helped the Golden Knight hold opponents to 2.59 yards a carry last season. Draft projection: Fourth or fourth round.

KADE WESTON, Georgia: Weston started alongside Owens at defensive tackle last year, ahead of Geno Atkins, who is considered a better prospect than either. At 6-5, 320, Weston certainly has the size. He's also got good pass-rushing ability, with 23 quarterback pressures in 2009. Like Smith, he might be better suited for a 4-3 defense. Draft projection: Sixth or seventh round.

TRAVIS IVEY, Maryland: Ivey was a late bloomer in college as he didn't start a game as either a freshman or sophomore. Ivey does have good size at 6-4, 325. He recovered three fumbles last year. He was not invited to the scouting combine.Draft projection: Seventh round or free agent.

AL WOODS, LSU: Woods was a highly recruit out of high school, but he never became a star at LSU. In fact, he started only two games before his senior season. He lost 15 pounds last summer and then finished the 2009 season with 30 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and also had a sack and a blocked field goal. Draft projection: Seventh round or free agent.

EKOM UDOFIA, Stanford: The 6-2, 315-pound Udofia played nose tackle at Stanford, but he wasn't considered a good enough prospect to get an invitation to the scouting combine. He did play in the East-West Shrine Game, where he recorded a sack. Draft projection: Seventh round or free agent.

ABE KOROMA, Western Illinois: Koroma was expected to play an important role for the Penn State defense last fall, but he announced in August he was leaving the team for personal reasons and resurfaced at Western Illinois a few weeks later. He was hardly dominating at WIU, failing to earn even second-team all-conference honors. At 6-3, 315, Koroma does have some physical tools, though and might be worth a look as an undrafted free agent. Draft projection: Free agent.

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