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Pre-Draft Day Final Notes

  • I just spoke (briefly) with Texas safety Earl Thomas.  I mentioned the rumors concerning Dallas trading up to select him and he said he hadn’t even heard anything about it.  It is funny how media can sometimes dig so far into a player’s draft stock that we know more about his future than he does.  However, Thomas said he would love to become a Cowboy.

  1. Scouts often take pictures of the board because coaches will sometimes move players around to their liking.
  2. The Cowboys were the first team to utilize computer in the draft process.  “We were 15 years ahead of anybody,” said Gil Brandt, the former VP of player personnel.
  3. Jerry Jones & Co. love to eat barbecue in the War Room.
  4. Jerry was once so deep in trade talks that he nearly forgot to submit the Cowboys’ pick to the league.  Son Stephen Jones had to (literally) dive across the table to phone it in.
  5. The Cowboys have all 31 of the other teams on speed dial.
  6. The final decision on who to draft comes down to (yup, you guessed it) Jerry Jones.  When he makes the decision, Jones like to call the players himself, some of whom hang up on him in disbelief.
  • We will be posting an Ultimate 2010 Draft Guide for you tomorrow morning.  It will have our mock drafts, big board, list of potential Cowboys’ picks, a link to our live draft blog, and everything else you need to be prepared for tomorrow night.


Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Reshad Jones, S, Georgia

We have discussed the Cowboys’ safety position ad nauseum the last few weeks, so there really isn’t much left to say.  As of now, Alan Ball and second-year man Michael Hamlin would compete for the starting job at free safety, with Gerald Sensabaugh manning the strong safety position.

Neither Ball nor Sensabaugh lit up our 2009 Safety Grades, but Ball did perform adequately during his short stint replacing ex-Cowboy Ken Hamlin.  Still, Dallas is undoubtedly seeking an upgrade at free safety.

The team’s 27th overall draft selection seems like the most natural spot to fill this hole.  However, we don’t see either of the two top-tier safeties, Tennessee’s Eric Berry and Texas’ Earl Thomas, dropping to Dallas.  With the offensive line positions also a possibility in the first round, Dallas may not address the safety spot until later.

If so, Georgia’s Reshad Jones is a possibility.

Scouting Report

At 6’2”, 215 pounds, Jones is in the “Goldilocks Range” for Cowboys’ safeties–not too big, not too small.  However, Jones plays the run as if he was 230 pounds.  His tackling form is superb and he displays tremendous aggression in run support.  This is undoubtedly the strongest part of Jones’ game.  Forward to about the 1:12 mark in the video below to see the definition of a ‘form tackle.’

Jones’ speed is by no means elite, but it is adequate.  He is capable of getting beat deep due to his short stride length.  However, that short stride length makes cutting quite easy for him, thus allowing him to be better in man coverage against a slot wide receiver than, say, running deep with a burner.  Ultimately, his quickness is better than his speed.

Others have knocked Jones for having poor ball skills, but we don’t see it.  He has shown good hands in the tape we have watched and an above-average ability to make a play on the ball.  He has rather fluid hips and good change of direction.  The only thing Jones is really lacking is elite straight-line speed.

Jones is not a first round talent due to his limited upside–he does everything well, but nothing outstandingly.


Originally considered a surefire second-rounder, Jones has dropped a bit of late.  He may still go in the late second round, but the early-to-mid third seems more likely.  If he does drop into the back of the third round, he will becomes a legitimate option for Dallas.


2010 Draft Revised Big Board: Top 90 Prospects

Below is our list of the top 90 prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft.  As before, players we see as potential Cowboys’ draft picks are listed in bold.  Some players not in bold may be good fits in Dallas but the team just won’t be in position to select them.

1  Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

2  Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

3  Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

4 C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

5 Earl Thomas, S, Texas

6  Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

7  Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan

10  Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

11  Joe Haden, CB, Florida

12  Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

13  Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF

14 Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

15 Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

16  Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

17 Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

18  DeMaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

19  Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

Sean Weatherspoon is a great player, but we don't think he would fit well in Dallas' system.

20 Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

21 Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

22  Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

23  Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

24  Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois

25  Jahvid Best, RB, California

26  Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

27  Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

28 Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech

29 Vladimir Ducasse, G/T, UMass

30  Nate Allen, S, USF

31 Brian Price, DT, UCLA

32  Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

33 Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida

34  Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas

35  Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

36 Charles Brown, OT, USC

37  Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

38  Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State

We really like CB/FS Chris Cook as an option for Dallas in the second round.

39  Daryl Washington, LB, TCU

40  Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

41  Chris Cook, CB/FS, Virginia

42 Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss

43 Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

44  Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

45 Taylor Mays, S, USC

46  Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

47 Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati

48  Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech

49  Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

50  Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

51  Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana of Pennsylvania

52  Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

53  Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

54  Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana

55 Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

56  Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia

57  Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson

58  Major Wright, S, Florida

59  Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern

The Cowboys had Brandon Ghee in for a visit.

60  Everson Griffen, DE, USC

61  Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State

62  Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest

63  Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama

64  Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois

65  Chad Jones, S, LSU

66 Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

67 Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas

68  Koa Misi, OLB, Utah

69  Navarro Bowman, LB, Penn State

70 Mike Neal, DT/DE, Purdue

71  Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan

72  Marshall Newhouse, G, TCU

73  Reshad Jones, S, Georgia

74  Joe McKnight, RB, USC

75  John Jerry, OG, Ole Miss

76  Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa

77  Tyso Alulalu, DE, California

78  Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

If Tony Washington drops to the third round, the Cowboys might jump all over him.

79  Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale

80  Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida

81  Tony Washington, OT, Abilene Christian

82  Mike Johnson, G, Alabama

83  Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

84  Roy Upchurch, RB, Alabama

85  Carlton Mitchell, WR, USF

86  Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma

87  Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss

88  Cam Thomas, DT, UNC

89  Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami

90  Ciron Black, OG, LSU


NFL Draft Boards: Why Do They Change So Easily?

Immediately following the season, we heard that Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas was a third or fourth round prospect.  His raw route-running and inexperience in a pro-style offense, “experts” said, would drop him on draft day.

Fast forward to the present day, and Thomas has been projected in some mock drafts to go as high as the 10th overall selection (and in the first round of most others)–all despite breaking his foot during pre-draft preparations and ultimately failing to work out for any NFL team.

So what happened?  How did a guy with a “third round grade” who did NOTHING all offseason climb boards faster than Chuck Norris can roundhouse kick?  More on that in a bit.

Why is Georgia DT Geno Atkins so low on boards? Might he be a "surprise" pick come draft day?

On the other end of the spectrum is Georgia DT Geno Atkins–a guy whose name you may have not heard mentioned all offseason. Atkins, however, has had tremendous pre-draft preparations.  He dominated at the Senior Bowl and ran a 4.75 forty-yard dash at 293 pounds, perhaps the best weight/speed ratio of anyone at the Combine (yes, even Maryland OT Bruce Campbell).

Combined with a productive career in the SEC, you’d think the Atkins would be high on boards, right?  Nope.  We’ve seen him as low as the sixth round in a multitude of mock drafts.

Nowadays, it seems as though a player could fall on a draft board due to improper sneezing technique. “Did you see how that kid just sneezed?  He barely even covered his mouth.  That’s the sort of mindlessness that will get a whole team sick.  I’m lowering him on the board.”

Don’t think it could happen?  Well, you’d be right, but for some draft “experts,” it isn’t that far from reality.

How could this be the case?  Why do players rise and fall so quickly?

Our answer:  they don’t. Sure, it happens on media big boards all the time, but this is simply because, well, the media knows very little about the teams’ actual player ratings.   As they gather information and piece things together, the media’s boards change drastically.  The true boards–those of the teams–alter only slightly as the draft approaches.  In effect, the media–your Mel Miper’s and Todd McShay’s–are simply “catching up.”

So how did Demaryius Thomas rise up three rounds despite participating in zero offseason activities and breaking his foot?  Well, he didn’t.  Instead, media draftniks slowly gathered information on the scouts’ general consensus of Thomas, and he rose up their boards.

The media’s final draft boards will be more representative of the general NFL consensus, but not completely. Thus, you can still look forward to being shocked by a “surprise” draft pick who stuns everyone except NFL teams.

And we can all be surprised (31 of the 32 NFL teams included), when Oakland hands in their selection.


2010 Cowboys-Only Mock Draft: Version 4.0, Post-Adams and Hamlin

In our analysis of the ramifications of releasing Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin, we noted that Hamlin’s departure indirectly affects the Cowboys’ cornerback depth.  FS/CB Alan Ball will likely move to free safety full-time, leaving Dallas with just three viable options at cornerback.

Would Kyle Wilson's value in the late first round be too good to pass up?

So what happens if one of the Cowboys’ top-rated cornerbacks slides to their selection?  Would they have the bravado to pick him despite recently losing two starters at key positions?

In this Mock Draft Version 4.0, we will take a look at the path Dallas may take should they pull the trigger on a sliding cornerback.

Round 1

Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

Wilson would represent great value with the 27th pick, but he doesn’t fit an immediate need for Dallas.  Yes, the cornerback position is extremely thin, but the top three guys (particularly Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman) are exceptional.

Wilson could compete for nickel duties in 2010 and aid the Cowboys significantly in the return game.  Will that be enough to justify his selection?

Round 2

Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, UMass

We have a slight man-crush on Ducasse.  Big, athletic, and versatile, Ducasse has enormous upside–even more so than a lot of first-rounders.

The problem with Ducasse is that he is so raw that it may take some time for him to develop.  Could he have an impact in 2010?  Probably not as large of one as you might expect from a second-rounder.

Round 3

Darrell Stuckey, S, Kansas

The main issue with selecting Wilson in the first round surfaces itself here.  Stuckey is a project and not someone who can be counted on for immediate help in the secondary.  By drafting a lineman in the second round, the Cowboys would ultimately be forced to start either ball or (Michael) Hamlin at FS.

Round 4

Sam Young, OT, Notre Dame

We really believe Dallas could select a multitude of linemen this year.  With Ducasse able to play either tackle or guard (we think he is a tackle), the Cowboys are free to select an offensive lineman who plays basically any position in the later rounds.  Young or Miami’s Jason Fox could be options here.

Don't sleep on the Cowboys drafting a fullback.

Round 6

Clifton Geathers, DT/DE, South Carolina

We have been pushing the need for a versatile DT/DE of late, even projecting the Cowboys to select Penn State’s Jared Odrick in recent mock drafts.  However, selecting Wilson in the first round pigeon-holes Dallas into drafting an offensive lineman and safety in rounds two and three, so the DT/DE hybrid spot cannot be addressed until the later rounds.

Round 7

John Conner, FB, Kentucky

Conner may not last this long, but he is perhaps the top fullback prospect in this class.  With Deon Anderson’s future up in the air and John Phillips unable to convert to fullback full-time, Conner makes a lot of sense for Dallas.


Overall, this mock draft seems a bit weaker than our previous ones.  Sure, the Cowboys obtain a player of great value in Boise State CB Kyle Wilson, but at what cost?  Can this team really afford to go into the 2010 season with Alan Ball, Michael Hamlin, and Darrell Stuckey as the choices at free safety?

Ultimately, if Dallas does not make a move for a free safety or left tackle prior to the Draft, we fear their options could become quite narrow.


Cowboys News and Notes: 3/25/10

Dexter McCluster Path to the Draft



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.


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.


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