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.
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.
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.
In Part I of this segment, we profiled the soon-to-be rookie offensive players we think will become the cream of the crop in the NFL. Now we take a look at the defense.
DT: Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska), Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma)
This was really a no-brainer. The top two defensive tackle prospects are head and shoulders above the others. They both have the talent to play in either a 4-3 or a 3-4.
Sleeper: Jared Odrick (Penn State)
No one seems to be mentioning Odrick as a potential Cowboys’ draft selection–except us. If he can overcome some character concerns (which we believe are unjustified), he can cash in his ticket as a Pro Bowl player.
DE/OLB: Brandon Graham (Michigan), Sergio Kindle (Texas)
Graham is a personal favorite of ours because of his ability to not only rush the passer, but also effectively halt the run. He is probably a better fit for Dallas’ scheme than Kindle. Both players will likely be taken before the 27th pick.
Sleeper: Jason Worilds (Virginia Tech)
Worilds is our #44 overall player, but he could move up even further. He had the best 10-yard split of any defensive end at the Combine.
ILB: Rolando McClain (Alabama), Brandon Spikes (Florida)
Despite all of the criticism Spikes is receiving, we still look at him as having first round game tape. What else really matters? We view both him and McClain as better fits in a 3-4 scheme where they will have to participate less in sideline-to-sideline pursuit.
Sleeper: Micah Johnson (Kentucky)
Another 3-4 guy, Johnson’s forty time, like Spikes, was atrocious. However, if he checks out medically, he is worth a risk late in the draft due to his athleticism and play-making ability.
CB: Kyle Wilson (Boise State), Devin McCourty (Rutgers)
Wilson and McCourty just look the part. They have tremendous hips and fluidity, and both will also help you out in the return game. McCourty’s size and speed may even give him the highest upside of any CB in this class.
Again, another cornerback who can return punts and kickoffs. It is AOA’s combination of size and speed that we love though. He will have to show teams he is capable of playing with the big boys.
S: Eric Berry (Tennessee), Earl Thomas (Texas)
Fairly standard selections here. Berry and Thomas are simply the two best safeties in this draft–hands down.
Sleeper: Major Wright (Florida)
Wright has been slowly crawling up draft boards, even reaching the top five safeties in NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock’s rankings. Is his centerfield ball-hawking ability enough to make up for his poor tackling? Wright is a high risk/high reward selection.
With the 2010 Draft approaching quickly, we know a lot of you cannot seem to acquire enough draft-related information and predictions. Today, we are detailing which prospects from this class will wind up being considered the best at their position once their careers are all said and done. In Part I, we take a look at those players on the offensive side of the ball.
QB: Tim Tebow (Florida)
Tebow seems to polarize analysts and fans like no player we’ve ever seen. Yes, his mechanics are off and he isn’t your “prototypical” NFL quarterback, but we know he is going to work as hard as he possibly can to succeed.
Sleeper: Jarrett Brown (West Virginia)
Brown may have the strongest arm in this draft. He has the skill set of Jamarcus Russell without the poor attitude.
RB: C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
People will argue that Spiller will never be an every-down back in the NFL, but who is anymore? He is lightning in a bottle, reminiscent of another C.J. who was drafted two years ago.
Sleeper: Lonyae Miller (Fresno State)
Never heard of Miller? He was Ryan Mathews backup at Fresno State. At 221 pounds, he ran a 4.43 and posted 26 reps at the Combine.
WR: Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Arrelious Benn (Illinois), Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech)
Notice all three wide receivers we listed have prototypical size and speed (perhaps with the exception of Bryant’s long speed). The dominant wide receivers over the last decade generally tend to be of this body-type. Our favorite: Demaryius Thomas.
Sleeper: Dezmon Briscoe (Kansas), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati)
Briscoe is another huge pass-catcher, but Gilyard is undersized–a likely slot receiver at the next level. Both recorded poor forty times at the Combine, likely causing their stock to slip.
TE: Jimmy Graham (The U)
We aren’t nearly as thrilled about this tight end class as some other people. We are low on Jermaine Gresham, Aaron Hernandez, and Dorin Dickerson. Graham may just be more athletic than all three.
Sleeper: Tony Moeaki (Iowa)
Moeaki is a late-round prospect, but watch out for this guy. At his Pro Day, he recorded a 4.68 forty and a 36.5 inch vertical, all at 245 pounds.
OT: Russell Okung (Oklahoma State), Trent Williams (Oklahoma)
Due to the Cowboys’ likely interest in an offensive tackle, we have studied a lot of tape of the top prospects. Okung and Williams stand out as having the most consistent film of any we’ve seen.
Sleeper: Vladimir Ducasse (UMass)
We love Ducasse. His versatility to play possibly four (or even more) positions should vault him up draft boards. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him go in the early second round.
OG: Mike Iupati (Idaho), Jon Asamoah (Illinois)
Iupati will have to overcome a tendency to hold defenders, but he can also be dominant at times. Asamoah may actually be a more likely prospect for Dallas later in the draft, assuming Iupati doesn’t drop to the 27th selection.
Sleeper: Marshall Newhouse (TCU)
Newhouse has been rising up boards since the Senior Bowl. He has the sort of size (326 pounds) Dallas covets in their linemen.
C: Maurkice Pouncey (Florida)
Sleeper: Matt Tennant (Boston College)
Tennant doesn’t display the versatility of Pouncey, but he could be an option in the later rounds for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are thought of as one of the best draw-running teams in the NFL. A lot of their success is due to the footwork of Tony Romo. His quickness and athleticism allows him to effectively fake slant passes before handing the ball off to either Barber, Jones, or Choice.
As we progressed through the 2009 game film, we noticed that defenses began to become accustomed to this fake and (it seemed) were able to more efficiently defend the Cowboys’ draw plays. We sorted through our database to uncover the offense’s draw statistics and what we discovered is below.
Before we tallied the final numbers, we wanted to eliminate any draw plays that could be considered “give up plays”–those draws on 3rd and long that the Cowboys ran simply to gain field position and punt. There were actually only two times all season that Dallas ran a draw on 3rd and 7 or more and these two plays were discredited.
The Cowboys ran 121 other draws for 547 yards last season (4.51 yards-per-carry). This average is well below the 5.52 yards-per-carry the Cowboys maintained on non-draw plays.
But why would the Cowboys’ average be so low on a play which they are thought to run better than just about any other team in the league? One possible explanation is the frequency with which Dallas runs draws out of the formation “Double Tight Right Strong Right.”
Remember in our study on Double Tight Right Strong Right, we noticed the Cowboys ran a strong side dive out of the formation 71.6 percent of all plays and 85.7 percent of the time when motioning into it. The success of the dive decreased as the season progressed. Dallas averaged a stout 7.8 yards-per-carry over the first five games but, as defenses became accustomed to the formation, the Cowboys were only able to manage 4.4 yards-per-carry on these dive plays the rest of the season (including just 3.2 against all teams except Oakland).
Of the 116 dive plays they ran out of Double Tight Right Strong Right, 23 of them were in the form of a draw. The Cowboys gained just 87 yards on these plays for a per-carry average of 3.78 yards.
While this isn’t particularly efficient, the sample size of 23 plays is not enough to significantly alter the overall results of the overall draw plays. Even if we disregard these Double Tight Right Strong Right draw plays, the Cowboys still averaged only 4.69 yards-per-carry (460 yards on 98 runs) on the remaining draws.
Ultimately, it appears as though the Cowboys’ poor average on draw plays is due more so to dialing up the draw too often than to them simply not being an effective draw team. There is no doubt that draws can be extremely useful, but perhaps offensive coordinator Jason Garrett could maximize their effectiveness by calling them just a bit less often in 2010.
In the case of the Cowboys’ draw plays, the old euphemism holds true: you really can have too much of a good thing.
For the sake of argument (and because we still have a month until the draft), we wanted to take a look at a “nightmare” draft for the Dallas Cowboys–the worst possible combination of 26 players taken before their selection. This could provide us with a clearer understanding of what sort of player the Cowboys could secure should everything go haywire.
Players sure to be gone
Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame
C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Joe Haden, CB, Florida
Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Jason Pierre- Paul, DE, USF
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
Cowboys’ options that could be gone (each player given a 1-10 chance of being available)
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State (4)
Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State (3)
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers (3)
Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland (6)
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan (4)
Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas (4)
Highest players left on our board
Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Morgan is an excellent talent, but he may not fit the Cowboys’ scheme. What would the team do if a top-tier player who does not fit their style of play drops to pick No. 27?
We have Spikes rated higher than most. He would be a reach if the Cowboys used their first selection on him (not because of his talent, but because of his value to other teams).
We just profiled McCourty and we really love his skill set. Not many people would be thrilled with selecting a cornerback in the first round, but McCourty’s return ability might make it worth the investment.
Jahvid Best, RB, California
Best is obviously not a legitimate option for the Cowboys.
Price is another player most do not believe can fit well into a 3-4 defense. We believe he could make the transition to the five-technique though, so it will be interesting to see what Dallas does if Price is the best player left on their board.
Great range and a natural fit in the Dallas D, but he is a reach at pick No. 27.
DeMaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech
We really don’t think the Cowboys will address the wide receiver position early in the draft.
The Cowboys have had Mays in for a visit and are apparently growing fond of the under-achieving USC star. Let’s hope Mays does not drop to the Cowboys’ selection.
Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana
We think Saffold would be a huge first round reach, but the idea of him being drafted that high is picking up steam. What will Dallas do if all of the top tackles are gone? Could Saffold be an option?
If the draft unfolds as above, we think the Cowboys will select. . . Taylor Mays. The team’s need at safety is overstated, but it is large enough that the Cowboys will select Mays if they have him rated as a top-tier player.
We would select. . . Derrick Morgan. Morgan is the highest-rated player left on our board and the Cowboys are in a position to select the best player available. We believe his athleticism would allow for a smooth transition to 3-4 OLB.
What do you think? Which player would you choose in this “nightmare” draft scenario?
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.
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.
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.
In the Sweet 16 of our Cowboys draft pick tournament, the field of was narrowed to just eight potential selections. A few of the surprises from our first round were:
- 13 seed USF safety Nate Allen upsetting 4 seed Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Allen has been soaring up boards and is now a realistic possibility for Dallas at pick #27.
- 11 seed Boise State CB Kyle Wilson taking down 6 seed Texas safety Earl Thomas. Wilson simply has a better chance of being available in the back of the first round.
- 14 seed Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham overtaking 3 seed Maryland OT Bruce Campbell. Graham is the “Cinderella story” of this tourney.
Remember, match-up “winners” are not necessarily the best choice for Dallas, but those which we consider most likely among the two.
- Iupati blew by UCLA DT Brian Price in his first match-up, and he does the same to Taylor Mays here. Iupati fills a need for Dallas, while Mays simply does not fit the Cowboys’ scheme. Will anyone be able to take down Iupati?
- Winner: Mike Iupati
- Pouncey is a slightly under-the-radar player that many scouts believe could get selected before Iupati. There is a chance Pouncey is off the board for Dallas. If he does fall to the 27th selection, he constitutes good value, while Allen probably does not.
- Winner: Maurkice Pouncey
11 Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
14 Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
- It is extremely difficult to determine a winner for this match-up. We like both players as sleepers for the Cowboys. Wilson would greatly enhance Dallas’ return game, while Graham is a player with whom coach Wade Phillips will likely fall in love. Our winner is the player we see as having a more immediate impact.
- Winner: Kyle Wilson
7 Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
- Is it really possible that Bryant drops all the way down to the back of the first round? Probably not, but it would be very difficult for Jerry Jones to pass him up if he does. Odrick may or may not be the selection if he is still on the board, but he has a much higher probability of being available.
- Winner: Jared Odrick
There you have it–a sweep for the top-seeded players. In part III of the series, we will detail the Final Four match-up, listed below.
11 Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Everyone is familiar with the guys the Cowboys are supposed to take. Surely they couldn’t pass on Iupati if he drops to pick #27, right?
The draft rarely plays out as we expect. Below are a few first and second round prospects that no one (except maybe us) expects the Cowboys to select, yet all could be securing tickets to Dallas come April.
Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
The first two players on this list made our “Sweet 16” bracket but are still not considered likely Cowboys’ draft selections. In that article, we mentioned Graham as a guy to keep your eye on, and for good reason–he is a pass-rushing monster who is equally stout against the run. Wade Phillips loves that combination and the Cowboys are unproven at OLB behind Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Wilson joined Graham as a “winner” in his Sweet 16 match-up. Wilson’s value to Dallas would come not only in his ability to push Orlando Scandrick for the nickel job, but also (maybe more importantly) in his return skills. The Cowboys may have a tough decision on their hands should Wilson, who is expected to get drafted in the middle of the first round, falls to their selection.
Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
The reason Morgan is an unpopular mock draft selection for Dallas is that most teams envision him as a 4-3 defensive end. He struggled at the Combine when asked to stand up and drop into coverage–a task that would be asked of him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. If the Cowboys deem his weaknesses correctable, though, Morgan could be a dominant pass-rushing OLB.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
The more we talk with scouts, the more we realize just how highly rated Weatherspoon is on a lot of team’s boards. Like Morgan, his “small” size may have him more suited to play in a 4-3 defense. Weatherspoon’s selection would be dependent on how Dallas projects his skill set in the NFL.
Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee
Williams is an under-the-radar player who has been rumored to possibly go as high as the Miami Dolphins at pick #12. Unlike Jared Odrick and some other DT prospects, Williams is a true nose tackle–he will not convert to defensive end for the Cowboys. If Dallas views their backup situation behind Jay Ratliff as dire, or if they envision Ratliff moving to defensive end for certain plays (unlikely), Williams could get a look.
We have made no secret about the fact that we are huge Norwood fans. We see him as a legitimate first round-type player, but obviously many scouts disagree. There is a good chance Norwood is on the board for the Cowboys in the second round. In the likely scenario that the team opts to bypass the OLB position in round one, Norwood will be a candidate to be the selection at pick #59.
Chris Cook, CB/FS, Virginia
Cook soared up boards after his ridiculous Combine performance (his 4.46 forty was second among cornerbacks and his 11’0” broad jump was tops among all players). His value to Dallas would come in his versatility–Cook can effectively play both cornerback and free safety. In that way, he is a bit like Texas safety Earl Thomas.
Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech
We spoke with one scout who has Worilds as his second-rated defensive end. Worilds is a prime candidate to transition to outside linebacker for the Cowboys. The problem is that, despite a lack of publicity, Worilds could go as high as the back of the first or early second. If he begins to slide, however, he becomes a legit possibility for Dallas.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
We have been hyping up Alabama CB Javier Arenas for quite some time, but it is his teammate Kareem Jackson who may be the better cornerback of the two. Arenas’ return ability may make him a better fit for Dallas later in the draft, but if the organization truly feels like it needs an upgrade over Scandrick, Jackson will get a look.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana of Pennsylvania
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (AOA) is a personal favorite of ours. Some scouts say he is the best returner in the entire draft. He has the measurables and production of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, another small-school product. At 6’0”, 207 pounds, AOA ran a 4.47 at the Combine and was timed as high as 4.38 at his recent Pro Day.
Likelihood of Sleeper Picks Becoming Cowboys
1 Eric Norwood
2 Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
3 Chris Cook
4 Kareem Jackson
5 Jason Worilds
6 Brandon Graham
7 Kyle Wilson
8 Sean Weatherspoon
9 Derrick Morgan
10 Dan Williams
As the NCAA Basketball Tournament kicks off, we thought it would be fun to complete our own bracket of Cowboys’ possible draft selections. Below is our “Sweet 16”–the draft prospects we view as the top 16 possibilities for Dallas in the first round. This is Part I of a three-part series.
Each player is seeded No. 1-16. Match-ups proceed just as in the NCAA tourney. Match-up “winners” are not necessarily the best choice for Dallas, but those which we consider most likely among the two.
The Sweet 16
- In our first match-up, Idaho guard Mike Iupati faces UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price, the ultimate “sleeper.” Many see Price as a three-technique player, but we think he could transition to a five-technique end for Dallas. No #1 seed has ever lost in the real tourney, however, so Iupati marches on.
- Winner: Mike Iupati
- In our closest battle of the Sweet 16, USC safety Taylor Mays faces off against Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams. While we believe Dallas would prefer Williams, Mays gets the nod due to a higher probability that he is still available at pick #27.
- Winner: Taylor Mays
- #12 seeds are known to pull off the upset, but it doesn’t happen in this case. We profiled Brown as a potential Cowboys draft pick, but his small frame makes him a less likely fit for Dallas scheme than Pouncey.
- Winner: Maurkice Pouncey
4 Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
- Our first upset of the tournament is a big one. Anthony Davis, a player who is sliding due to work ethic concerns, cannot hold off a charging Nate Allen–a unique talent who some are now considering a late first-rounder.
- Winner: Nate Allen
11 Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
- The 6/11 match-up in our Sweet 16 features a dream scenario for Cowboys fans. If Thomas and Wilson are somehow both available, Jerry Jones will do backflips. Despite Thomas probably being higher on the Cowboys’ board and being a superior fit, Wilson wins this match-up due to a higher probability of actually being available.
- Winner: Kyle Wilson
3 Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland
14 Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan
- Campbell as a #3 seed. . .what were the bracket-makers thinking!? In any event, yet another upset occurs here as Graham–a player we see as the most under-the-radar possible Cowboys’ selection–overtakes Campbell. Watch our for Graham come April 22nd. You heard it here first.
- Winner: Brandon Graham
7 Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State
10 Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
- This is a tough match-up because we see both players as unlikely to join the Cowboys. Despite Bryant’s recent fall down some boards, we still think he will be gone by pick #27. However, Tate is not a big enough game-breaker to justify Dallas passing on a player at a larger position of need.
- Winner: Dez Bryant
15 Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers
- We really like McCourty, so it pains us to kick him out of the tourney so soon. Depending how the draft shakes out, though, we see Odrick as very likely to become a Cowboy. We have been pushing his selection for weeks.
- Winner: Jared Odrick
So there you have it. In Part II of our March Madness Cowboys Draft Pick Tournament (should we have chosen a shorter name?), we will detail the “Elite Eight” match-ups, listed below.
Elite Eight (coming tomorrow)
13 Nate Allen
11 Kyle Wilson
14 Brandon Graham
7 Dez Bryant
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.
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).
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.