Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois
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.
Corey Liuget (pronounced like “legit”–maybe that’s a good sign?) reportedly lost 30 pounds before last season, dropping to 300. At 6’4”, that’s pretty prototypical size for a 3-4 defensive end. Everything (and I really mean everything) about Liuget’s game reminds me of Marcus Spears. He’s very powerful and a force in the run game (he’s actually the best defensive end I’ve seen against the run–by far). He’s incredible at the point-of-attack, rarely ever getting pushed backwards. Liuget’s strength and power are top-notch.
Liuget excels at locating the ball-carrier and working off of blocks to make tackles. You really need to check him out at the 1:04, 1:47, and 2:56 marks below. In my opinion, he’d instantly become the Cowboys’ top run-stuffing lineman.
The only negative I could find in Liuget’s run defense is that he occasionally loses containment when he’s a five-technique end. In certain Dallas defenses, that can’t happen. The good news is that can be taught (and learned rather quickly, I would imagine).
Liuget’s bull rush is excellent, but he will lose leverage once in awhile when he shoots the “wrong” gap. I’m not too familiar with Illinois’ defensive scheme, but it appears they allowed Liuget to be very aggressive. He may not be able to freelance so much in Rob Ryan’s two-gap scheme.
Liuget’s overall pass rush repertoire isn’t extraordinary. He doesn’t display much of an arsenal, throwing in a mediocre spin move every so often to go with his bull rush. If he can develop a secondary move, his bull rush will be even more effective.
Overall, I’m not as high on Liuget as many of you. I agree the Cowboys need someone to stop the run, particularly if Marcus Spears departs, but there are two schools of thought on this. One is that stopping the run is essential to not giving up big pass plays later in the game (which is certainly true). The other is that stocking your team with as many pass defenders as possible will force the other team to run–something most NFL offenses already do too much. Getting run on can be demoralizing, but forcing the opposition to perform sub-optimal tasks can lead to wins, too.
In reality, balance is key. You need to be able to stop both the run and the pass. Is one more important than the other? Yeah, probably, but running and passing are inherently intertwined. They are the yin and yang of football. Each gives way to the other, and the more “in tune” you are with one, the more efficiently you’ll be able to perform the other.
Sorry if that got got a little weird. What do you expect from a philosophy major?
Some of you think Liuget is an option at No. 9 overall, but I don’t see his ability as great enough to warrant value anywhere in the first-round. I know many of you disagree, and perhaps you can persuade me more in the comments.
If Liuget is available in the early part of the second-round, then go for it. He’ll certainly upgrade the run defense. But if my Marcus Spears comparison is correct, then would you still want Liuget in the first-round? Would you select Spears there if you could go back in time? Probably not.
I do think the work Spears has done in Dallas has always been under-appreciated. Still, his contributions didn’t warrant the first-rounder the ‘Boys spent on him. To me, such a one-dimensional player (even if that dimension is superb) is a second-round pick through and through.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011