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kyle wilson boise state | The DC Times

The DC Times

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2010 NFL Draft’s Future Best Players, Part II: Defense

Along with Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy may be the best prospect in this draft.

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.

Micah Johnson is similar to Brandon Spikes--poor forty times but great game tape.

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 McCouty 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.

Sleeper: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (Indiana of Pennsylvania)

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.

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Cowboys 2010 Draft: 10 Sleeper Picks

Idaho guard Mike Iupati. Texas safety Earl Thomas. Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell.

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.

Round 1

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.

Round 2

Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

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

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March Madness: Dallas Cowboys Draft Pick Style (Sweet 16)

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.

Idaho guard Mike Iupati is our #1 seed because he is such a popular selection for Dallas in mock drafts.

The Sweet 16

1 Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

vs.

16 Brian Price, DT, UCLA

  • 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.

8 Taylor Mays, S, USC

vs.

9 Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

  • 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.

5 Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

vs.

12 Charles Brown, OT, USC

  • #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.

We just profiled Nate Allen and he is moving up draft boards quickly.

4 Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

vs.

13 Nate Allen, S, USF

  • 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.

6 Earl Thomas, S, Texas

vs.

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

vs.

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

    Golden Tate has had a nice offseason, but we think Dez Bryant is the only WR Dallas would consider on round one.

7 Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

vs.

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

2 Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

vs.

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.

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)

1 Mike Iupati

Check back to see just how far sleeper Brandon Graham will go in our tourney.

vs.

8 Taylor Mays

5 Maurkice Pouncey

vs.

13 Nate Allen

11 Kyle Wilson

vs.

14 Brandon Graham

7 Dez Bryant

vs.

2 Jared Odrick

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Iupati, Bryant, Odrick, Wilson: Who Do You Select?

It is Thursday night, April 22nd, and the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the 2010 NFL Draft. By some stroke of divine luck, there are four stellar players left on the board: Idaho guard Mike Iupati, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Penn State DT/DE Jared Odrick, and Boise State CB Kyle Wilson.

The Cowboys have needs at all four positions, although some more than others. So, who do they select? The pros and cons of each player are listed below.

Mike Iupati

Pros

Iupati is the consensus #1 guard in this year’s draft, and the Cowboys brass are reportedly quite interested in him. Current starting LG Kyle Kosier’s contract runs out at the end of this season, so Dallas will have to make the guard position a priority in the near future.

Cons

Because of the stellar play of the guards in 2009, Iupati would be unlikely to crack the starting lineup this season without an injury ahead of him. Jerry Jones might want to secure a first round player with the ability to have an immediate impact in 2010.

There is also concern about Iupati’s inclination to hold defenders, a situation all too familiar to Cowboys fans.

Dez Bryant

Pros

Bryant is a physical freak and, in terms of pure talent, perhaps a top five player. Although we do not see wide receiver as an immediate position of need, Bryant would probably be an upgrade over Roy Williams. Combining him with Miles Austin would scare a lot of defensive coordinators.

Cons

There are a wealth of concerns over his attitude and work ethic, though, and a lot of scouts say he could drop out of the entire first round. Bryant reportedly showed up late to practice and even games.

Further, rookie receivers rarely have an enormous impact on a team, so like Iupati, Bryant’s 2010 upside could be limited compared to other players.

Jared Odrick

Pros

Odrick is a personal favorite of ours. He was a three-technique player at Penn State that would transition to the five-technique (defensive end) for Dallas. Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen, and Jason Hatcher are all restricted free agents, so Odrick could start as early as 2011.

He also has the versatility to be the backup for Jay Ratliff at nose tackle.

Cons

Odrick got arrested last March, so there are a few character questions. He also may not get much playing time in 2010 barring an injury, and could take time to transition to a new position.

Kyle Wilson

Pros

Wilson is an incredible athlete, listed as the #1 cornerback and #8 overall player on our Big Board. Wilson would come in and immediately compete with Orlando Scandrick for the nickel cornerback position. Scandrick struggled some last season, and we gave him a ‘C’ in our cornerback grades.

Wilson’s true impact, though, would come on special teams. He would be an upgrade at both the punt and kick returner spots. We listed a dominant return man as the Cowboys’ top draft need.

Cons

Scandrick is not a poor player and we expect him to improve in 2010. Remember, he played so well his rookie season that he earned the right to alternate starts in the beginning of the season with current starter Mike Jenkins. Bringing in Wilson could set back Scandrick’s progress, although you can never have too many cornerbacks.

Wilson may also have the toughest time of all these players eventually cracking the starting lineup. Iupati, Bryant, and Odrick could all be starters by 2011 at the latest, while Wilson might have to wait a little longer.

Who is the pick?

With the 27th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select. . . . . . . . . Kyle Wilson!

If these four players are somehow still on the board at 27, it will surely be hard for Jerry Jones to pass on Dez Bryant. Still, we see Wilson as a unique talent without the character concerns.

Dallas could also pencil Wilson in to have an immediate impact (as a returner), something they probably could not do with the other three options.