Cowboys future focus: NT Josh Brent


Position: Nose tackle

Height: 6-2. Weight: 315

College: Illinois

How acquired: 2010 supplemental seventh-round pick

What he did in 2010: Brent beat out veteran Junior Siavii for the backup nose tackle job despite suffering a broken hand early in training camp. He spelled Jay Ratliff on first and second downs and played in the Cowboys’ short-yardage and goal-line packages. Brent displayed the ability to be disruptive, frequently getting good penetration, but didn’t make a lot of plays (no tackles for losses or sacks). He was credited with 17 tackles.

What to look for in 2011: This depends largely on what new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan decides to do with Ratliff. If Ryan leaves the three-time Pro Bowler at nose tackle, Brent will remain a backup who plays 10 or 15 snaps per game. If the undersized Ratliff moves to defensive end, Brent should at least get an opportunity to compete with a newcomer to start at nose tackle. Brent probably will never be a three-down player like Ratliff, but his strength and explosiveness give him the potential to be an effective traditional 3-4 nose tackle.

Quotable: “He’s a stud. The Cowboys got a steal with that pick.” – NFC pro personnel director

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: “The most impressive thing about Josh Brent is his ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage. The guy plays with power. He needs to learn how to free himself more often, but he is a strong guy. He has the ability the drive his man back, but he needs to learn to disengage better. The ball goes by him at times. He’ll be in position to make a play, but he’s not disengaged and then the ball will go by him. But his ability to get push is good. He plays with a lot of effort but needs to become a little bit more of a sideline-to-sideline guy. He needs to develop more pass-rush moves instead of just trying to push the pocket. I think his role can increase. The good thing about Josh Brent this year is that he played more throughout the season. The confidence level of the coaches has to be pretty high going into next year with him. If he just works on some technique refinement, he’s got a chance.”