How could T’Vondre Sweat possibly make up for the mystery of Mazi Smith in Dallas Cowboys’ defense?

One of most perplexing subplots to the disappointing end to the Dallas Cowboys season was the disappearing act of defensive tackle Mazi Smith.

Billed as a 6-foot-3, 337-pound strongman, Smith was drafted in the first round of 2023 NFL Draft out of Michigan to plug the middle and anchor the run defense.

But that was before Smith curiously lost more than 30 pounds in addition to a bunch shoes, clothes and gear in an unpaid storage locker.

He played just four snaps in the 48-32 loss to the Green Bay Packers when the Cowboys got run over and run through, adding insult to a disappointing rookie season that has Smith on brink of being called a draft bust.

He played just 28 percent of the plays on defense in 17 games in 2023 and recorded only 13 tackles.

The Cowboys believe Smith will be much better in his second year.

He has already started regaining his weight, if not the stuff he lost in storage.

The 2024 NFL draft offers an intriguing option for the Cowboys in mammoth Texas defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat, a big man at 6-foot-4, 365 pounds.

Sweat, who was nicknamed “Loaf” growing up in Kilgore for meatloaf, appears to be the antithesis of Smith.

“My mom that I grew up with. Not my actual mom, but I call her mom. Her name is Miss Ebony. She’s the one that started it,” Sweat said. “At a basketball game. She was like, ‘Let’s go, Loaf! That’s going to be your nickname.’ I’m like, alright. So, other than that, it’s been Loaf, Big Loaf, Meatloaf. Anything loaf.”

Does he like eating meatloaf?

“I’m not a big fan. But I like the name,” Sweat said.

After eating up offenses at Texas, where he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman, Sweat is at the NFL Combine ready to show NFL that his size is an asset and not a deterrent.

Instead of being projected as the first defensive tackle off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft, he currently mocked to go late in the first round and possibly the second round because of questions about his heavy weight.

The big question among scouts is how Sweat’s size impacts his conditioning and his ability top play four quarters.

“A hundred percent I can,” Sweat said. “As you saw this past year, I did what I had to do. Y’all will see what I do at the next level.”

His weight is front and center on Thursday when he is measured for the first time and do all the drills.

He didn’t weigh in the Senior Bowl last month when he dominated practice sessions with his size and strength.

And that number has been talking point among scouts and prospective teams he’s visited with.

“Every one [has asked],” Sweat said. “But, to let y’all know: I’m doing everything at the combine, before y’all even ask. A lot of y’all going to be like (facial expression of shock) when I run this 40. I’m going to shock a lot of y’all.”

“So, everybody that wanna know, you’ll see,” he said.

Sweat joked that he going to run the 40 yard dash in 4.4 seconds.

Keep in mind, he did catch a touchdown pass out of the backfield in the Big 12 Championship game and followed it up with the Heisman pose.

Sweat is comfortable talking about his weight as he does carrying it.

And it has been growing process, considering he was listed at 335 pounds as a freshman Texas and jumped to 346 to 354 before playing at 365 pounds last season.

“You know how man is,” Sweat said. “We’ve got to grow into our bodies. This is me, as y’all can see. I’m a big guy, a big frame. That’s just how it is. I just grew into my body, man.”

“I’m just a big guy,” Sweat added. “A lot of people get scared of the numbers and all that, but when y’all see me move, I feel a lot of people will be like, ‘What about his numbers?’ It’s just God.”

What is known is that losing weight won’t be an issue for Sweat. Gaining is the question.

He acknowledges he has to watch his nutrition and keep moving.

“It is hard. Guys like me can’t sit about for a week,” Sweat said. “You’ve got some guys that can sit around for a week and don’t gain weight. A guy like me can’t sit around. All I can do is sit around for a day or two, then I’ve got to get up to do something. That’s just how I go about the situation.”

“I know myself and I know my body and I know I can’t just sit around for weeks, or just a week. Because if I sit down for a week, I gain about 30 pounds.”

Stopping the run is a Sweat specialty and again a huge draft need for the Cowboys, who talked to him at the Senior Bowl and the combine.

They certainly won’t have to worry about him losing 30 pounds.