Home / News / T’Vondre Sweat leads a group of top NFL prospects hoping to prove they’re worth his weight

T’Vondre Sweat leads a group of top NFL prospects hoping to prove they’re worth his weight


INDIANAPOLIS — Defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat may have been the biggest man on the Texas campus over the last five seasons.

It could also be a fitting title for the NFL next season.

After extra medical checks led to a nearly four-hour delay in his appearance at the league’s annual scouts’ meeting, the 6-foot-1, 365-pound former Texas star put aside any lingering concerns, stood at the podium and made sure he was there. It’s worth the wait.

“I’m just a big guy,” he said. “You know, a lot of people are afraid of the numbers and stuff, but I feel like when you see me move tomorrow, a lot of people are going to be worried about his numbers. You know what I mean?”

Sweat was certainly an imposing figure for the Longhorns, but he doesn’t look like the other defensive prospects at the combine.

Byron Murphy II, who played alongside Sweat the past three seasons and is expected to be the first linebacker in April’s draft, wore a form-fitting shirt that showed off his muscular 6-1, 308-pound frame.

The biggest threat to the Texas duo’s first-place finish may be Johnny Newton, who went 6-2, 295 last season. Keith Randolph Jr., his college teammate at Illinois. He is also in the team after having another solid season. 6-5 at 300.

Yes, they are all great men; but not as much as they were in Sweat’s presence.

Illinois defensive lineman Johnny Newton speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“He’s a great person,” Randolph said. “I understand why he’s like that, he definitely is, he’s quite nice.”

But for Sweat, it’s about more than size.

He won the 2023 Outland Trophy and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award late last year. He was a unanimous All-American and struck a Heisman pose after catching a 2-yard TD pass in the Big 12 championship game. He won a conference title, played a big role in Texas’ first appearance in the four-team College Football Playoff, and then headed to Mobile, Alabama, where he attended the Senior Bowl and met with team executives.

Sweat is also fearless, so naturally he plans to counter the tendency of top candidates to give up on combination workouts.

“I’ll let you all know I did everything at the combine before you even ask,” he volunteered, breaking into laughter as he said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 or 4.5 seconds. “I have a feeling a lot of you will be like… When I run these 40, I’m going to shock a lot of you.”

He also has something to prove; Despite his extra-large size, he’s agile enough to be a game-changer in the NFL.

Murphy, Newton and Randolph face further questions.

Newton, who had foot surgery for a partial fracture in January, will not be able to train in Indy, although it did not affect his performance last season. But scouts should have another chance to see how the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year works.

“I can’t say which match it was, I forget. But I’ve been feeling it for a long time,” Newton said. “So I got the surgery, I got through everything, and I should be ready for pro day, which is the first week of April.”

Right now, Randolph has the lowest rating among the big four. Draft analysts question whether he is big or fast enough to be a starter in the NFL. But he didn’t really start playing football until he was a senior in high school.

Murphy, on the other hand, attended the same Texas high school (DeSoto) as Von Miller and has drawn comparisons to three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Comparators expect Murphy to make a smooth transition from college to the pros and make an immediate impact. Prediction: top 10, maybe higher.

“I watch AD a lot,” Murphy said. “Also guys like Ed Oliver, Kenny Clark, guys like that, (Daron) Payne for the Commanders. I try to model my game after those guys. “I love the way they play, the way they are disturbing and also the violence.”

Playing with a Texas-sized partner also helps.

But now the two friends are taking part in another competition to see who will come out on top in April. Although Murphy is confident he will win this race, he will never underestimate his giant friend who has adopted his size.

“I played 365 last season and I feel comfortable with it,” Sweat said. “You know how men are, we need to grow into our bodies. This is me, as you all see, I am a big man, I have a big body and that’s just the way it is.”


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