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Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

Demaryius Thomas could be every bit as talented as Dez Bryant. So why haven't you heard more about him?

Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant has become a focal point of Cowboys’ draft discussions of late. The controversial pass-catcher recently visited Dallas and even dined with Jerry Jones (I wonder if his meal comes out of his potential signing bonus?).

Dallas has also set up visits with Ohio’s Taylor Price, LSU’s Brandon LaFell, and Illinois’ Arrelious Benn. This sudden spike in interest in wide receivers (after Jones claimed the team is set at the position) has some wondering: are the Cowboys truly interested in using an early-round draft selection on a wide receiver, or are they simply posturing as to conceal their true intentions?

Our guess is it is the latter. Jones says he has not yet given up on Roy Williams, and we believe him. There are a variety of other positions which are much weaker than wide receiver. Unless the Cowboys are attaining incredible value, we don’t see them taking a wide receiver in the first round.

The feature of this post, Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, is one of those players whose potential selection by Dallas could only become a reality if he is rated incredibly high on the team’s board–as in a top 15 player.

Could a player who broke his foot, has not worked out all offseason, and played in a triple option offense really be that high on Dallas’ board? We labeled him one our four ‘super-sleepers‘ for a reason. Watch the video below and judge for yourself.

Scouting Report

At 6’3”, 229 pounds, Thomas has elite size to go with excellent speed. He has not worked out this offseason due to a broken foot, but his speed is evident on film (forward to 3:18 in the video below). While you always want an official time for a player, Thomas’ injury is one that should not affect his future play.

Playing in Georgia Tech’s triple option offense is the biggest knock on Thomas. He is a raw route-runner lacking experience running pro-style routes. However, the offense allowed him to become a superb blocker.

Thomas reminds us of Calvin Johnson in that, despite his huge frame, he has tremendous balance and body control. He is tough to press and, once downfield, attacks the ball. He is Larry Fitzgerald-esque in his ability to high-point the football and catch it with his hands. He can make some outrageous catches but also drops easy ones at times.

After the catch, Thomas is extremely dangerous. He doesn’t have elite quickness, but once he gets going it is extremely difficult to bring him down. He combines his great straight-line speed with a devastating stiff arm.

Overall, we absolutely love Thomas’ skill set. Although we don’t see wide receiver as a huge need for Dallas, we would not be too upset if Thomas was the pick in the first round due to the value we believe the Cowboys would be attaining.

Projection

Thomas has been projected to get selected as high as the 10th overall selection. This is unlikely, and we would rate his chance to drop to Dallas at 50/50. If the Cowboys grade Thomas as on-par with Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant (i.e. a top 10 talent), the value may be too good to pass up. Otherwise, expect the Cowboys to skip out on Thomas and select a player at a position of more immediate need.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , | Leave a comment

Dallas Cowboys “Super-Sleeper” First Round Draft Picks

Thus far in our draft analysis we have studied those players which are considered “likely” Cowboys draft picks–the Mike Iupati‘s, the Earl Thomas‘s, and the Maurkice Pouncey‘s.  We have even taken a look at the “sleeper” candidates–the Brandon Graham‘s and the Kyle Wilson’s.

But could Dallas go completely off the radar?  Might they select someone who will shock every Cowboys fan across the nation?

In this article, we will take a look at four “super-sleepers.”  These are players not many people are projecting to go in the first round, much less to Dallas.  If we have learned anything over the years concerning the draft, though, it is to expect the unexpected.

Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana

The most likely of our “super-sleepers” is Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold.  We see him as an extreme reach in the first round, but some analysts think he could slip into the back of it.  There have even been a few mocks which have projected Saffold to Dallas.

Is D. Thomas high enough on Dallas' board to justify a first round selection?

Still, the left tackle is a long-shot to become a Cowboy. . .which is exactly why he made our list.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

Thomas is a guy that has perplexed us by moving up draft boards despite having done absolutely nothing all offseason.  The Cowboys have hosted Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant, so they may (or may not) be willing to select a wide receiver in the first round.  Is Thomas high enough on their board to be considered a legitimate option?

Jerry Hughes, DE/OLB, TCU

Hughes is a talented pash-rusher who could very well sneak into the back of the first round.  Is he an option for Dallas?  Most say no, and out initial reaction is the same.

However, Wade Phillips loves outside linebacker depth (of which Dallas has little).  We have also been pushing the notion of Brandon Graham to Dallas, so why not Hughes?  He has no chance of dropping to the back of the second round, so don’t count him out.

Chris Cook, CB/FS, Virginia

The “sleepiest” (sleepiest?) of sleepers on our list is Virginia’s Chris Cook.  Cook has soared up boards since the Combine, where he recorded the longest broad jump of any player and displayed supreme overall athleticism.

Dallas is in the market for a play-making free safety, so a safety that also has the ability to play cornerback fits the bill.  We have a feeling fans would be furious if the Cowboys selected Cook, but he appears to be an excellent fit in the team’s system, so we wouldn’t be extremely shocked to see it happen.

What are your thoughts on our list?  Which under-the-radar players do you think the Cowboys could select in the first round?

April 1, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | 1 Comment

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

We don't see Dez Bryant as a legitimate option for the Cowboys in this draft. Do you?

Yesterday we detailed why we believe that fans should continue to support wide receiver Roy Williams.  He will battle for his job in camp, and during that time we will find out what sort of fight and determination he truly has within him.  This season will determine the path of the rest of Williams’ career.  Is he a champion?  Only time will tell.

Should Williams step up in camp, he will be the Cowboys’ 2010 starting wide receiver opposite Miles Austin.  We are so sure of this fact that we have purposely avoided discussing first round receiver Dez Bryant because, well, we just don’t see him as a legitimate option for Dallas.  Bryant is simply too talented to fall to the Cowboys’ 27th pick on April 22 (even though we brought up the possibility in a hypothetical scenario).

Further, the Cowboys have so much money tied up in the wide receiver position (we are including Austin’s future deal) that paying another WR big-time money makes little cents (cents. . .get it?).

Dallas is also excited about the future prospects of Kevin Ogletree.  The second-year man out of Virginia has turned heads within the organization.  Will it be enough to win a starting job in 2010?  Drafting Dez Bryant would do nothing less than give Ogletree little opportunity to play for the next five years.  Who knows. . .perhaps the answer to the team’s perceived wide receiver woes is already on the roster?

Nonetheless, there are more immediate needs than WR.  Yes, we all want Williams to play up to his potential, but we feel fully confident telling you that the Cowboys will not draft a wide receiver in the early rounds of this draft unless he is a dynamic return man, i.e. Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard.

Because Dallas is hosting Bryant, though, and because we can all dream, Bryant is the feature in this edition of our Cowboys “Potential Draft Picks” Series.

Scouting Report

Bryant is an absolute beast.  There is simply no other way to put it.  He is ranked No. 10 in our latest Big Board, and he is only that low due to concerns about his attitude and work ethic.

Bryant is a bit of a mystery to us.  He does bone-headed things like show up to his Pro Day with no cleats or (allegedly) arrive late to games.  However, one look at the guy lets you know he is a hard-worker.  Everybody knows Bryant can play–the question teams must answer will be how much he loves football.

On the field, we are confident in saying Bryant is every bit as talented as Larry Fitzgerald when he left Pitt.  That is a gigantic statement, but this kid has gigantic game.  His game tape and production are off the charts.  He displays top-notch hands and run after the catch ability.

We loved Michael Crabtree coming out of Texas Tech last year, and we will tell you there is really no comparing him to Bryant.  Bryant is superior in every aspect of the game–he runs better routes and is even more dangerous once he gets his hands on the ball.

Bryant recorded varying forty times at his Pro Day–from 4.52 (which he ran twice) to 4.68.  We are unconcerned about that number.  He plays as fast as any receiver in this class and we have yet to see him get caught from behind.

Again, every concern about Bryant is an off-field issue.  If he can prove he has the requisite attitude and work ethic to succeed in the NFL, there is simply no way he drops to the Cowboys.

Projection

Bryant could go as high as the top 10 (Buffalo?).  Even if some teams are scared off by Bryant’s perceived attitude problem, we just cannot see him dropping passed New England’s 22nd selection.

Would Jerry Jones trade up if Bryant makes his way into the 20’s?  Perhaps we will get the opportunity to find out.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan

Graham is a sleeper pick for us. Wade Phillips loves drafting OLB's and Graham fits his mold.

The combination of Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer probably makes the Cowboys’ outside linebacker position the strongest on the team (in terms of the starters).  We are all a-ware (no pun intended…okay it was intended) of Ware’s dominance.  His 12 sacks were sub-par for him (although he still ranked third in the league among OLB’s), but his 17 quarterback hits were fourth in the NFL among all players.

A major factor in the success of the Dallas’ defense in 2009 was due to the emergence of Spencer, who finally became a pass-rushing force.  After a slow start, Spencer racked up seven sacks and 26 quarterback hits (the latter led the entire NFL).  Don’t forget that 3-4 outside linebackers must occasionally drop into coverage.

Spencer also tallied 56 tackles–the most of any 3-4 OLB in the NFL and 22 more than Ware.  His ability to consistently plug the run makes his pass-rush totals all the more impressive.

With such dominating starters outside, could the Cowboys really address the OLB position in the first round of this year’s draft?  The answer will be determined by the organization’s thoughts on second-year players Brandon Williams and Victor Butler.

Butler showed flashes in limited time last season, but he is currently more of a pass-rush specialist than a full-time player.  Williams is a giant question mark as he lost the entire 2009 season to injury.

Consequently, the Cowboys are a bit thin (or at least questionable) behind Ware and Spencer.  Remember that coach Wade Phillips loves drafting OLB’s, and he even went as far as to claim that it is the strongest position in this year’s crop of rookies.

Thus, don’t count out the team drafting a DE/OLB in round one if they determine the pick to hold excellent value.  Michigan’s Brandon Graham, who made our “Elite Eight,” could be that player.

Scouting Report

Graham, a 6’1”, 268 pound college defensive end, is widely considered a potential 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.  Graham’s stock has been rising since he tore up the Senior Bowl.  He carried that success into the Combine with a 4.69 forty-yard dash and 31 reps on the bench press.

Graham reminds us of Spencer when he came out of Purdue.  Both players are pass-rushing monsters but, just as importantly, they are equally stout against the run.  For this reason, Graham will be an every-down player in the NFL, whether it’s as a 4-3 DE or a 3-4 OLB.

He uses his combination of speed and strength to pressure the quarterback with a variety of moves.  He maintains great balance and leverage when rushing, which he needs due to his short arms (just 30 inches).  He needs to improve his ability to not let offensive tackles get their hands into his body.

There are questions about Graham’s ability to drop into coverage.  Although he is fairly quick in short areas, he is more of a “straight ahead” player and may not be able to effectively get into his drop.  He can sometimes display tight hips (although so did Spencer).  He could have tremendous value to a 3-4 team if he is able to display proper coverage technique.

Projection

We have Graham going No. 12 to the Miami Dolphins in our latest mock draft, although that is higher than most.  It is unlikely he will fall to the Cowboys’ selection, but crazier things have happened.  Although the team has bigger concerns than outside linebacker, it will be interesting to see what they decide to do should a top-tier player at a “non-need” position unexpectedly drop.

March 25, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

McCourty's versatility to play both outside and in the slot and to return kicks will help his value.

We recently detailed the 2009 success of the Cowboys’ cornerbacks in our Grading the ‘Boys segment.  Nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick struggled some in ’09, but starters Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman were outstanding.  Newman’s health proved to be a ticket to the Cowboys’ defensive success.

With such strong starters in place (and Scandrick set to rebound nicely in 2010), the Cowboys have no need to address the position early in the draft.  Newman is aging and a team can never have too many talented cornerbacks, but the position is not an area of immediate need.

There is one big “unless,” however. . .UNLESS that cornerback is an excellent return man.  In our last “Potential Draft Picks” post, we profiled Indiana of Pennsylvania cornerback/return man Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a.k.a. “AOA.”  AOA figures to be a second or third round selection.

The feature of this article, Rutgers CB Devin McCourty, will not last until the Cowboys second round pick.  His 4.34 forty at the Combine cemented his status as, at worst, an early-to-mid second-rounder.

Is it really possible that the Cowboys could use their 27th overall pick on a player at a position which is such a strength of the team?  If they consider McCourty a top-notch returner, then yes.

Scouting Report

At 5’11”, 193 pounds, McCourty has the size to play either outside or in the slot.  This versatility might make him more attractive to the Cowboys than AOA, who likely will only line up outside.  His 4.34 Combine forty was the fastest of any cornerback.  He also displayed outstanding hip fluidity and change of direction.

McCourty’s 16 bench press reps are not off the charts, but at 193 pounds, it proves that he has been in the weight room.  His work ethic and skill set are such that we would not be surprised if he is deemed the best cornerback of this draft class five years down the road.

McCourty will have to improve his tackling form in the NFL.  At Rutgers, he frequently dove at the feet of ball-carriers instead of wrapping up.  Newman has shown it is not necessary to be a huge player to become an excellent tackler.

Also like Newman, McCourty may have to work on securing interceptions.  His speed and quickness allow him to be in position virtually every play, but he will sometimes bat the ball down when it appears he could pick it off.

On returns, McCourty shows tremendous burst and decision-making.  He hits the hole at full speed, showing no hesitation.  While most of the returners we have profiled are primarily punt returners, McCourty is actually superior on kickoffs.  This may be valuable to Dallas, who struggled mightily on kickoff returns with the hesitant Felix Jones and Kevin Ogletree back deep.

Projection

To secure McCourty, Dallas would likely have to use their first round selection.  There is a slight chance that he is taken before their 27th overall pick, but he will more than likely be available.  We currently have McCourty going No. 30 overall to the Vikings in our latest mock draft.

McCourty is in a battle with FSU’s Patrick Robinson to be the third CB drafted in 2010.  Even if Robinson surpasses him, McCourty is unlikely to sniff the Cowboys’ 59th overall selection in the second round.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana of PA

Owusu-Ansah reminds us of Dominique Rodgers-Cromatie. Both were small-school prospects with a big game.

We recently detailed the 2009 success of the Cowboys’ cornerbacks in our Grading the ‘Boys segment.  Leading the pack was Mike Jenkins, who really took tremendous strides last season.  The second-year player led the team in interceptions, pass deflections, completion percentage against, and yards-per-attempt against.

Surprising to some was how highly we graded Terence Newman (B+).  Newman has been underrated for years, though, and last season he was finally healthy enough to perform well over the course of an entire 16-game schedule.  Newman was thrown at on just 9.49 percent of plays, making him the least targeted cornerback on the team.

The success of Jenkins and Newman was not matched by nickel CB Orlando Scandrick.  Scandrick, who began the season as a rotational starter, regressed in his second season in Dallas.  He was actually one of the most targeted players in the league and yielded a pedestrian 62.9 percent of passes his way to be completed.

The difference between Jenkins and Scandrick doesn’t appear to be in their skill sets as much as it is in their minds.  Jenkins gained confidence at a seemingly exponential rate as the 2009 season progressed.  Scandrick, who was often in position to make a play, often displayed a bit of hesitation which ended up costing him by year’s end.

We believe Scandrick has the adequate physical tools and mindset to rebound nicely in 2010.  Still, a team can never have enough talented cornerbacks.  Thus, the Cowboys may be looking to bolster the position during the draft, perhaps even in the early rounds.

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a small-school cornerback out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  He is a personal favorite of ours not only because of his coverage, but also due to his electrifying return ability.  The latter of these skills is the primary reason we view him as a target for Dallas (we rated a dominant return man as the team’s #1 draft need).

Scouting Report

Owusu-Ansah is eerily similar to Cardinals’ CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  At 6’0”, 207 pounds, Owusu-Ansah has the requisite size to be solid in run support.  He does not have the blazing speed of DRC (AOA ran a 4.47 at the Combine), but he may actually be a more versatile player.

Owusu-Ansah was highly productive in college, albeit against DII talent.  The major knock on him coming out is that he has not faced elite competition.  How will he react when he gets beat?  That basically never happened at IUP, so his ability to respond to adversity is a question mark at this point.

For Dallas, Owusu-Ansah would be an upgrade at both punt and kickoff returner.  He displays great vision and has the strength to break tackles.  His biggest weakness on returns is his propensity to use his superior athleticism to dance around before getting up-field.  That will obviously not work in the NFL.

A possible concerning issue for Dallas is the fact that Owusu-Ansah is probably better suited to play outside than in the slot.  If the team is interested in bringing someone in to compete with Scandrick, they may want to look elsewhere.  However, this concern could easily be alleviated by playing Newman in the slot and Owusu-Ansah outside in nickel situations (assuming AOA beats out Scandrick).

Projection

AOA is steadily climbing draft boards just as Rodgers-Cromartie did two seasons ago.  While he won’t be a first round selection, AOA figures to go somewhere in round two.  In our opinion, he represents great value if he falls to Dallas at pick #59.  We would rate the odds of this happening at about 50/50.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Nate Allen, S, USF

USF's Nate Allen would add a dimension to the defense which is currently lacking.

Our 2009 Cowboys’ safety grades will be out soon, but no grade is required to know that Dallas could benefit from the addition of a ball-hawking safety.  We don’t see it as the #1 team need, but many people do.  Thus, safety, along with offensive tackle, are the most popular positions chosen for Dallas in mock drafts.

The problem for the Cowboys is that the top two ball-hawks, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, will likely be long gone by the time they select at pick #27.  USC’s Taylor Mays may still be on the board, but his poor hips and lack of quickness make him a poor fit for Dallas.

People within the organization have been saying great things about second-year safety Michael Hamlin.  The Cowboys obviously won’t rely on him though, so safety is a legitimate first round option for the ‘Boys.

Scouting Report

Safeties who are considered “ball-hawks” generally have cornerback-type size, but USF’s Nate Allen is an exception.  At 6’1”, 205 pounds, Allen’s physique allows him to be above-average in run support.  He takes good angles and can actually be quite physical at times.

In addition, Allen also has the skill set to play a “centerfield” type position.  He excels at tracking the ball in the air and making plays due to his fluidity and exceptional change of direction.

Allen lacks elite speed, so his man-to-man coverage skills are only average.  He is better suited playing in a zone, allowing his instincts to take over.

We see Allen as a bit underrated.  He has game-changing ability–a trait the current Cowboys’ safeties lack.  He would be a great fit in Dallas’ scheme because of his ability in run support and the fact that he does not give up a lot of big plays (yet he is still able to force turnovers).

Projection

Allen has been soaring up boards of late.  Once considered a mid-to-late second round selection, there have been rumors of Allen sneaking into the back of the first round.  There is practically zero chance Allen will be available for Dallas when their second pick rolls around, but he might be a slight reach at pick #27.

Allen is the type of player that could force the Cowboys to either trade out of the first round or move up in the second.  If Dallas does end up trading back come draft time, you can expect that Allen is probably one of the players they are seeking.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Lamarr Houston, DT/DE, Texas

Lamarr Houston has the athleticism of a linebacker at defensive tackle.

In a recent mailbag, we discussed the possibility of Dallas drafting a true nose tackle and moving Jay Ratliff to defensive end in certain situations (and subsequently why we believe it is a poor idea).  Ratliff proved he is not an elite defensive end and that his speed and quickness are his ticket to success only when he is lined up at the nose.

While we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Cowboys selecting a true nose tackle, we think it would come later in the draft.  The first few selections will be expected to make a near-immediate impact.  Since Ratliff plays nearly every snap at defensive tackle and moving him to end is not a legitimate option, the upside of a rookie NT would be limited.

Instead, we believe the Cowboys will be searching for a player who can line up at both tackle and end in their 3-4 system.  We have already mentioned Penn State’s Jared Odrick, UCLA’s Brian Price, and Purdue’s Mike Neal as candidates for this job.

In this version of our “Potential Draft Picks” Series, we look at the possibility of Texas DT Lamarr Houston making the transition to 3-4 end.

Scouting Report

At 6’3”, 305 pounds, Houston has size similar to current Cowboys’ defensive end Marcus Spears.  Scouts at the Combine noted how little fat was evident on his frame.  His 4.85 forty and 9’6” broad jump are exceptional for his size.

It is rather remarkable how much Houston has flown under-the-radar.  He is a rather athletic individual (as shown by his Combine numbers) with great quickness.  Of the DT/DE prospects we have studied thus far, Houston is the most like Ratliff.  As is the case with Ratliff, he has a very high motor.  He rarely disappears on film and there just is not much bad game tape on Houston.  Coaches will love his consistency.

It is his lack of outstanding game film that may have him not rated as a top-tier tackle, but this could be due to the nature of Texas’ system more than anything.

Some people question whether Houston will fit better as a three-technique or five-technique player.  For Dallas, he would be playing the latter, although we do think his similarities to Ratliff make him a candidate to also win the backup job inside at nose tackle.

For a big interior lineman, Houston also displays a wide range of pass-rush moves.  If he can work on his run defense, he could become an excellent complement to Marcus Spears.

There are a few concerns about Houston’s character.  He was arrested two years ago for a DWI and, although not necessarily a mark of character, Houston ran at the Combine in tights and bright yellow track shoes.  Thus, if the Cowboys are not interested in players who draw attention to themselves, Houston may not be a good fit.

Projection

Houston’s stock has picked up a bit since the Combine, as he cemented himself as the top “second-tier” defensive tackle.  Once regarded as a second or third round prospect, there are many draft analysts projecting him to go in the back of the first round.  There is little chance he makes it to the end of round two, although with such a deep class, you never know.

For Dallas, selecting Houston in the first round just does not make sense.  It would be poor value and there will be better options on the board at the time.  If they trade into the early-to-mid second round, then Houston will become a legitimate option.  Like we said, though, the grade the Cowboys give Houston will depend on how much of a character concern he is deemed.

March 15, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss

Ole Miss RB/WR Dexter McCluster would have the biggest impact for the Cowboys in the return game.

A few weeks back, we proposed the idea of Dallas bringing in current Saints play-maker Reggie Bush.  We received a large outcry from fans proclaiming the Cowboys “don’t need another running back.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The value of a player like Bush is that he is not just a running back.  He is a top-notch slot receiver and, more importantly, an extraordinary return man.  The Cowboys temporarily used a roster spot on a return specialist last season–Allen Rossum–so signing an athlete who can play either offense or defense in addition to being a play-making returner is just a bonus.

Unfortunately, Sean Payton recently claimed that the team will not even entertain the notion of releasing Bush, so that is a lottery ticket the ‘Boys will not be able to cash.  Still, the need for an upgrade at both return spots, particularly kick returner, is significant.  We actually see it as the team’s largest offseason priority.

There are a few Bush-like players available in this year’s draft, perhaps none as versatile as Ole Miss RB/WR Dexter McCluster.

Scouting Report

Scouts expected McCluster to run a sub-4.4 forty at the Combine, only to be incredibly disappointed with his 4.58 official time.  That sort of straight-line speed is not particularly good for any running back/wide receiver, particularly one who is 5’6”, 171 pounds.

However, McCluster plays much faster than he timed.  There is a reason scouts projected him to record a blazing forty in Indianapolis– he is just a football player.  He looks fast on film because he has game speed.  We will take game speed over track speed any day.

Thus, despite his time, McCluster is an explosive athlete.  He has tremendous change of direction and his hips are fluid enough that he could probably play cornerback without people noticing too much.  He is simply one of the top athletes in the draft.

McCluster is a RB/WR hybrid who excels running outside the tackles.  He will certainly be limited if he is used as a pure running back.  His greatest impact will come through utilizing the skills he does have at a variety of positions.  In short, the pressure will be on Jason Garrett to find creative ways to provide McCluster with the ball in space.

McCluster possesses great hands and looks natural when lined up out wide, running routes as if receiver was his sole position in college.

The most dynamic part of McCluster’s game, and the component sure to interest Dallas, is his return ability.  McCluster would likely become the opening day starter at both punt and kick returner.  He could also compete with Crayton in the slot, as well as receive a few touches a game as a running back or by using more creative methods (end arounds, Wildcat, etc)

Overall, he is a Reggie Bush who can be had for much less money.

Projection

If the Cowboys are interested in McCluster, his poor Combine performance could be a blessing in disguise.  McCluster is now very likely to drop the Cowboys’ 59th overall pick.

Many fans are crying for the Cowboys to upgrade the safety and offensive tackle positions in rounds one and two, but if a play-maker like McCluster is available in the second round, it might be hard for Dallas to pass him up.

It will be interesting to see how much McCluster’s 40-yard dash time and lack of ideal size will scare teams.

We projected McCluster to become a Cowboy in our first mock draft.

March 11, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, UMass

UMass lineman Vladimir Ducasse is very raw, but his upside at all five offensive line positions is off the charts.

In our first Post-Combine Mock Draft, we had the Cowboys selecting Florida G/C Maurkice Pouncey in the first round.  We anticipate that Dallas will greatly covet the versatility which Pouncey possesses.  Selecting Pouncey would give the Cowboys a viable backup at both guards spots and center.

The quandary the ‘Boys find themselves in, though, is that their starters at offensive tackle are a bigger concern than those at guard and center.  Doug Free is an excellent swing tackle (a tackle who is the primary backup to both the starting left and right tackles), so the depth is superior on the outside of the line than on the inside.

So does Dallas target an offensive tackle who may or may not have an immediate impact, or a guard/center who likely would not contribute right away but would provide much-needed depth for the interior line positions?

The solution to the Cowboys’ woes may come in the form of a Haitian-born lineman from the University of Massachusetts.

Scouting Report

Ducasse is the epitome of “high upside.”  He was born and lived in Haiti until 2002 when he moved to Massachusetts to live with his aunt.  He did not even play football until his junior year of high school.

At 6’5”, 332 pounds, Ducasse is a mammoth lineman.  Scouts are drooling over his size and athleticism, but there is no consensus as to where Ducasse will make an impact in the NFL.  At the Senior Bowl, Ducasse played all five offensive line positions, and even lined up on the defensive side of the ball.  Ducasse’s natural strength is off the charts and he has very long arms, so there is no doubt that he could be the potential successor to Flozell Adams at left tackle.

Ducasse is very raw, so there are concerns about how fast he can make an impact for the Cowboys.  He can sometimes get too high in his stance and may take a year or two to develop.  The return on investment Ducasse could provide is huge, though.  Just imagining a player who could potentially be a “swing lineman” (as opposed to just a swing tackle) must have Dallas ecstatic.

In a way, Ducasse’s inexperience is a good thing.  It will allow coaches to teach him proper technique from scratch rather than having to correct poor habits.  However, this may take a significant amount of time, and there are questions about how long a “win now” team like Dallas will wait.

There are also concerns about Ducasse’s intelligence after he scored just 13 on the Wonderlic exam, but we see these questions as unjustified.  One must take into consideration the fact that English is not his first language and he did not speak it regularly until 2002.

Projection

Ducasse figures to get selected somewhere in the second round.  We see him as a top 15 talent in terms of natural ability, but his inexperience will scare some teams away.  Thus, the value and upside the team which selects Ducasse will receive is enormous.  We believe his versatility and raw athleticism will shoot Ducasse up draft boards, so he may only be an option for Dallas if they trade out of the first round or move up in the second.

March 9, 2010 Posted by | ---"Potential Draft Picks" Series, Draft | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments