NFL draft: T’Vondre Sweat’s recent arrest will impact his status

UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu (15) pressures the quarterback against Washington State at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 7, 2023, in Pasadena, California. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu (15) pressures the quarterback against Washington State at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 7, 2023, in Pasadena, California. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Here’s the sixth story of our position-by-position NFL draft series. Today, we’ll look at the top defensive linemen.

Former Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat was considered a potential late first-round prospect for the NFL draft until he was arrested recently and faces DUI charges in Austin, Texas.

Sweat, the Outland Trophy winner and the Big 12′s defensive player of the year, must explain his actions to NFL teams interested in selecting him in the draft, which is set for April 25-27 in Detroit.

The Outland Trophy goes to the nation’s top interior offensive or defensive lineman.

“I think it definitely is something that impacts him from a negative standpoint for obvious reasons,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. “When you look at where he was projected now. … Then you go through this (the arrest) and you’re talking about dropping down a little farther.”

Sweat, who’s 6-foot-4½ and 366 pounds, is more of a run-stuffing tackle. Some teams are looking for smaller tacklers who can penetrate the offensive line and rush the quarterback,.

“I think when you look at T’vondre Sweat, he will have a role with an NFL defense,” Kiper said. “He’ll just have to come off the board a little later. I thought maybe the third round, now you might move him down a little bit farther than that.”

Sweat is the brother of Eagles defensive tackle Josh Sweat. He posted $3,000 bond after the arrest. He was scheduled to meet with the Titans and the Seahawks last week.

“He’s more of a stay-at-home run-stuffer, more of a 80s style defensive tackle,” Kiper said. “I like that. I think you need that.”

Sweat won’t be a fit in some defensive schemes, which will limit the teams that could take him.

“I think now teams want disruption,” Kiper said. “They want sacks. They want hurries. They want guys who can be a factor getting after the quarterback from the interior.”

Former Texas player Byron Murphy II and former Illinois standout Johnny Newton are highly rated defensive tackles.

“Now, Byron Murphy, you’re taking him in the first round, maybe to the Bengals, which would be good fit based on the talent,” Kiper said. ”Now, he’s like Travon Walker. Tested great. But didn’t have the sack production from somebody that gifted.”

Walker, who played at Georgia, was the surprise No. 1 overall pick by th Jaguars in 2022.

“Travon Walker was coached up and in year two he started to take off,” Kiper said. “He had a disappointing rookie year. Great second year. A really good second year. Bryon Murphy II has hurries, but doesn’t have the finishes. Now, in the NFL will he be coached up? If he is, then he could be really good.”

The Rams, who had Aaron Donald retire over the offseason, are also in the defensive tackle market.

“They could look at Byron Murphy II, too,” Kiper said.

Newton has 13 sacks over the past two seasons.

“Johnny Newton is a (run stuffing tackle) all the way,” Kiper said. “I’ll tell you what, he can get into the backfield. He can wreck havoc and that is what teams want.”

Defensive ends Laiatu Latu and Jared Verse are considered the top two players at their position.

I think there’s also some interesting edge players,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “I think there’s kind of the top three guys with (linebacker Dallas) Turner, Verse and Latu.”

The medical evaluation will be important for Latu, who medically retired from college football while at Washington. He later resurfaced at UCLA and re-started his career.

“I think Latu is a really interesting guy, but the medicals,” said ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets former general manager. “There are going to be some teams that say, this guy medically retired. There is a reason the University of Washington didn’t let him play. So, hopefully for him, he plays a long time, but I’m just trying to give you the insight of what teams are going to be asking.”

Latu had a neck injury that was serious enough that the doctors at Washington would not clear him to play.

After cleared by their doctors, he ended up being an All-American at UCLA.

I compare him to Trey Hendrickson,” Jeremiah said. “He is really good with his hands. He can win a variety of ways. He has a natural feel for pass rush. Some parts of the pass rush remind me of wide receivers. There’s route runners. There’s an artistry to it. Latu is an artist. He is really, really gifted that way.”

Verse had 18 sacks over the past two seasons for the Seminoles.

“Verse, to me, I think he’ kind of plays like a (Baltimore) Raven,” Tannenbaum said. “Just his toughness and sort of his motor. I think he can fit really well into that front seven quickly. (Edge rushers) haven shown the ability to go sooner, but that are going to get pushed down this year.”

Georgia defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse (78) and Georgia defensive lineman Zion Logue (96) celebrate their win against Ole Miss at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 11, 2023, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 52-17. (Jason Getz /


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