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Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT/DE, Ohio State | The DC Times

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Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT/DE, Ohio State

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Jonathan Bales

Some of you have been talking about Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward lately, so I figured I’d take a look at him and provide my assessment.  Heyward has experience in a variety of defensive fronts, but he would play defensive end in the Cowboys’ 3-4 alignment.

I’ve already graded the Cowboys’ defensive linemen in 2010.  In that post, you’ll notice the highest grade given to a defensive end was a ‘C’ handed out to Stephen Bowen.  That’s pretty sad.  The Cowboys desperately need a defensive end who can rush the passer, even if it means moving Jay Ratliff to the position.

Scouting Report

At 6’5”, 288 pounds, Heyward has the size to hold up at defensive end for Dallas.  He has a good frame which appears could add some additional bulk as well.  To go with that size, Heyward has a tremendous motor.  I watched five or so games of his and never saw him quit on a play, which is quite impressive for a big man.

Heyward has very good strength and uses it well at times.  In the clip below, he dominates Oregon by using a bull rush for the majority of the game.  Still, he shows he’s also nimble enough to get off blocks, retain his balance, and make a play on the ball-carrier.

Heyward’s pass-rushing technique leaves something to be desired.  He relies too much on athleticism and strength, and if that isn’t working, he becomes ineffective.  He doesn’t have secondary moves to use.  In a league where he’ll get neutralized a lot, that could be a problem.  The clip below shows Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi (one of the best offensive tackles in the country) dominating Heyward.  He appears to be a completely different player from the one who played Oregon.

Heyward’s athleticism and strength alone weren’t enough to beat a player like Carimi, and Heyward showed he has no counter.  Also notice how far Heyward lines up off of the ball (in both clips).  That’s something that can easily be corrected, but I’m not sure why it was happening and what effect it had on his pass-rush.

Overall, I’m not sold on Heyward.  He certainly has great natural ability, but will he hold up week after week when facing offensive tackles who are just as athletic and strong as him?  I’m not sure.


Heyward will almost certainly be a first-rounder, but it appears likely that he’ll go toward the latter portion of the round.  With players like Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Cameron Jordan, and J.J. Watt all ahead of him, the Cowboys will be able to trade down and still secure Heyward if he’s the player they covet.  That would allow the team to acquire other impact players, but at the cost of forgoing the selection of a true game-changer.

Other Potential Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

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10 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT/DE, Ohio State

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Jonathan, overall let me say that all these potential draft pick analyses are some extremely good work. I understand you can’t include film from every game a guy plays but the ones you include are expertly done and the matchups depicted are relevant as they show appropriate talent vs talent. Keep up the good work.

    As far as Hewyard goes, I take a guy like this all day. You can’t teach heart or athleticism and it seems as if this guy’s got a lots of both. He does need help on his technique, which you pointed out, and because of that, I’d actually grade him as a 2nd rounder. So, he’s not a 9 pick by any stretch…picking him at 29 is a slight stretch.

    NOTE – TJ’s guide to draft pics: W/ the exception of QBs, all 1st round picks should be able to contribute significantly if not even be a serious challenger for starting in their rookie season and develop into SOLID players by the time their original contract is up. If not starting, they should be pushing the starter by the end of their 2nd year. The 2008 draft (same class of Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins) is the most recent that seems to fit the bill as far as good draft classes. Any draft that doesn’t produce at least 32 prospects of that nature is a weak draft class.

    2nd & 3rd round picks are those which may/might have 1st round talent but either need a little more development time or had off-field/character issues that make them more risky. No team in the league has 11 pro bowl players on offense and 11 pro bowl players on defense but any team that has players who serve as average to above average on a regular basis is probably a good team. These are your 2nd and 3rd rounders. 4th-5th round pics are those who round out your team (play special teams, serve as long time backups, etc.) or are for really good kickers and fullbacks (Pat Watkins comes to mind). 6th – UFA are projects.

    Of course, there are always busts in the earlier rounds (Alex Barron, Bobby Carpenter) and diamonds in the rough in the later rounds (MBIII, Jay Ratliff) but as long as the Boys go into the draft w/ the thought process above (the guy picked at the #9 slot is expected to play from day 1), then they’re going about the draft in the correct manner. IMO, it would be a shame to pick someone that high who needs time 3-4 years time to develop into a starter.

  2. john coleman says:

    Let me be clear that I would not take Heyward at #9. But he could be a consideration in the late twenties. He obviously has great strength and a good frame. He could easily add twenty pounds.

    In all honesty I would only consider Dareus or Fairly at #9 as far as DTs go. Otherwise it would have to be Peterson or Bowers.

    Allen Bailey is another guy who has some potential, but is a late twenties guy.

    Unless one of the four named above falls to us we need to trade down and potentially out of the 1st and get more in the 2nd and 3rd.

    We had the right idea 2 years ago but injuries really hurt the class. We need some better talent evaluators to hit these guys. But if you look at what I believe they were doing, there were some good gambles. Brewster still has a chance at OG, IMO. Butler and B. Williams have some untapped ability to realize. J. WIlliams had freakish speed and I can see the risk/reward. Others like Mike Mickens were coming off injury and had been productive in college and were potential steals. I believe they thought Jamar Wall last season was a guy who would step up. They must always have speed as a factor in grading DBs. If all these guys had come up big, Jerry looks like a genius.

    I still believe after the 1st five or so picks that the real value in this draft is in rounds 2 thru 4.

  3. Tyrone–Much appreciated. My problem with Heyward isn’t that I think he’ll be a poor player, but rather that I don’t think his skill set matches his projected draft spot.

    JC–Of the guys you mentioned, I think Dareus has a chance to fall. I know DTs are valuable, but you have Fairley and Bowers ahead of him, plus a QB (or two), Peterson, Green, Quinn, and so on. There’s a chance the guy falls, and I’d be thrilled with it.

  4. Derek says:

    You haven’t seen much film if you haven’t ever seen Heyward’s motor stop. Highlight reels on Youtube won’t show his flaws like a gametape would. The big knock on him is that he takes plays off and disappears in games, otherwise he’d be ranked just as high as Dareus or Fairley.

    And he does have the size and athleticism to hold up against offensive tackles. How could you say you don’t think Heyward has the size/ability but Robert Quinn does? Your scouting lacks consistency.

  5. Derek–Heyward is a 3-4 DE. Quinn is a 3-4 OLB. “Great size” is a relative term based on position.

  6. Vince_Grey says:

    Heyward’s “motor” surprises me. His father wasn’t exactly known as a hard worker, and you have that whole “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” thing.

    I’d watch a LOT of tape and talk to a lot of his previous coaches before taking this kid.

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