The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Nate Allen, S, USF

USF's Nate Allen would add a dimension to the defense which is currently lacking.

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.

Scouting Report

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).

Projection

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.

By Jonathan Bales

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.

By Jonathan Bales

Top 90 2010 NFL Draft Prospects: Post-Combine

Below is our revised list of the top 2010 NFL Draft prospects, along with a rundown of big risers and fallers. Players changed positions not only based on Combine results, but also due to extra opportunity for us to study game film.

Risers

Sean Weatherspoon, Devin McCourty, Dan Williams, Morgan Burnett, DeMaryius Thomas, Arrelious Benn, Vladimir Ducasse, Golden Tate, Eric Norwood, Kareem Jackson, Ryan Mathews, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Geno Atkins, Roger Saffold, Ricky Sapp, Marshall Newhouse, Major Wright, Ben Tate

Fallers

Dez Bryant, Joe Haden, Anthony Davis, Dezmon Briscoe, Donovan Warren, Brandon LaFell, Jon Asamoah, Everson Griffen, Brandon Ghee, Chad Jones, Jordan Shipley, Damian Williams, Myron Rolle, Jason Fox, Aaron Hernandez, Micah Johnson

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.

Concerns about Dez Bryant's attitude and work ethic have dropped him on our board.

1 Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

2 Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

3 Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

4 C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

5 Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

6 Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

7 Earl Thomas, S, Texas

8 Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

9 Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan

10 Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

11 Joe Haden, CB, Florida

12 Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

13 Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF

14 Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

We are very high on Devin McCourty, rating him as the 21st best player overall.

15 Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

16 Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

17 Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

18 Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

19 Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

20 Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

21 Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

22 Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida

23 Jahvid Best, RB, California

24 Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

25 Brian Price, DT, UCLA

26 Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU

27 Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

28 Morgan Burnett, S, Georgia Tech

Dezmon Briscoe, once our second-rated WR, has dropped due to his lackluster speed.

29 DeMaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech

30 Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois

31 Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

32 Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas

33 Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

34 Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan

35 Charles Brown, OT, USC

36 Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

37 Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss

38 Taylor Mays, S, USC

39 Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

40 Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati

41 Vladimir Ducasse, G/T, UMass

42 Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

43 Chris Cook, CB/FS, Virginia

44 Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech

45 Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

Perrish Cox is one of a handful of players to comprise what we believe is a very underrated cornerback class.

46 Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

47 Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

48 Nate Allen, S, USF

49 Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State

50 Daryl Washington, LB, TCU

51 Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

52 Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana of Pennsylvania

53 Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

54 Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

55 Jon Asamoah, G, Illinois

56 Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

57 Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia

58 Roger Saffold, OT, Indiana

59 Everson Griffen, DE, USC

60 Alex Carrington, DE, Arkansas State

61 Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest

62 Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama

Mike Neal is a player Dallas may target as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme.

63 Chad Jones, S, LSU

64 Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson

65 Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

66 Mike Neal, DT/DE, Purdue

67 Marshall Newhouse, G, TCU

68 Major Wright, S, Florida

69 Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern

70 Reshad Jones, S, Georgia

71 Joe McKnight, RB, USC

72 Amari Spievey, CB, Iowa

73 Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

74 Mike Johnson, G, Alabama

75 Ben Tate, RB, Auburn

Myron Rolle is very intelligent, but he displayed poor hips and ball skills at the Combine.

76 Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas

77 Carlton Mitchell, WR, USF

78 Cam Thomas, DT, UNC

79 Damian Williams, WR, USC

80 Myron Rolle, S, Florida State

81 D’Anthony Smith, DT, Louisiana Tech

82 Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale

83 Tony Washington, OT, Abilene Christian

84 Jason Fox, OT, Miami

85 Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida

86 Micah Johnson, LB, Kentucky

87 Zane Beadles, G/T, Utah

88 Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss

89 Clifton Geathers, DE, South Carolina

90 Navarro Bowman, LB, Penn State

By Jonathan Bales

2010 NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0

Sam Bradford jumps to the first overall pick in our latest mock draft.

1. St. Louis Rams- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

In Version 1.0 of our 32-team mock draft, we had Clausen going first overall. That changes as St. Louis is rumored to have more interest in Bradford as the ticket to future success.

2. Detroit Lions- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

The Lions are rumored to have heavy interest in OT Russell Okung, but look for them to take the highest-rated non-QB on their board. We doubt Okung will be rated higher than Suh on any board.

3. Tampa Bay Bucs- Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

McCoy’s 23 bench press reps are a concern, but he has displayed good overall intelligence and character, making any worries about his work ethic a bit less concerning.

4. Washington Redskins- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

Will Jimmy Clausen be the pick? The Redskins placed a first round tender on Campbell, so he isn’t going anywhere. Washington needs to fix their line or no quarterback will be able to succeed.

5. Kansas City Chiefs- Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

The Chiefs are in dire need of a left tackle, and Bryan Bulaga has steadily been moving up boards. Safety Eric Berry could also be the selection here.

6. Seattle Seahawks- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Although we do not believe Clausen represents great value (we had him as the #37 rated overall player on our initial Big Board), it is tough to pass up what you consider to be a potential franchise quarterback. Pete Carroll is very familiar with Clausen’s skill set.

Trent Williams is the third Oklahoma player in the top eight of this mock draft.

7. Cleveland Browns- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

The Browns would be doing cartwheels to grab Berry here. They have been rumored to be seeking either him or Florida CB Joe Haden. It will be interesting to see if they select Haden if Berry is off the board despite Haden’s poor 40-yard dash time.

8. Oakland Raiders- Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Could it be? The Raiders don’t select the biggest, fastest player on the board? Look out for Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell here, but Williams ran just three-hundredths of a second slower (4.88) than Campbell, so his game tape could be the deciding factor (if Al Davis even looks at game tape).

9. Buffalo Bills- Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

The Bills have a lot of holes to fill. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do if Clausen or Bradford is still on the board at this point.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF

Despite signing DE Aaron Kampman, the Jags will still be searching for talented pass-rushers early and often come April. Pierre-Paul is an athletic freak (260 pounds, 4.64) and a good fit in Jacksonville’s scheme.

11. Denver Broncos- Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

This may seem a bit high for the DT from Tennessee, but we have talked to multiple scouts who say Dan Williams may be the most under-the-radar player in this year’s draft. Denver desperately needs to improve their run defense, and at 330 pounds, Williams may be just the man for the job.

12. Miami Dolphins-Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan

Lately there have been concerns about Anthony Davis's work ethic, but tackles never last long on draft day.

Graham has been soaring up the rankings since the Senior Bowl. After losing Jason Taylor, the ‘Phins will be on the lookout for a player such as Graham who is versatile enough to stuff the run as efficiently as he gets to the quarterback.

13. San Francisco 49ers- Earl Thomas, FS, Texas

An overwhelming amount of Dallas fans want Thomas to be the team’s selection, but there is just no way he drops to the back of the round. A cornerback could also be the pick if San Fran releases Nate Clements.

14. Seattle Seahawks- Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

Davis’ stock could be slipping after he did not even weigh in or participate in drills at Rutgers’ Pro Day. Still, Seattle needs a replacement for LT Walter Jones.

15. New York Giants- Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

In a bit of a shocker, we have Kyle Wilson as the first CB off the board. Successful corners generally have either great size or speed, and Joe Haden has neither. That is not to say he won’t be a good corner, but Wilson is a more fluid athlete with greater versatility. He could help New York in the return game.

16. Tennessee Titans- Joe Haden, CB, Florida

Picks #15 and #16 could be flip-flopped on draft day, but we are going to stick with what we have heard from scouts. Ex-Ravens and Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah told us there is a chance that Haden drops into the 20′s.

17. San Francisco 49ers- C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

We debated listing Spiller as the 49ers’ first pick in the round, which is a definite possibility with Seattle selecting right behind them at #14. If Spiller lasts this long, expect the Niners, who will have already addressed one position of need, to bring in the home-run hitter to complement Frank Gore.

Maurkice Pouncey is an option for Dallas, but he might not last until pick #27.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

The Steelers’ linemen are getting old quickly, and the organization always places an emphasis on do-it-all players. Iupati, who will likely play guard in the NFL, has the potential to kick out to tackle, a characteristic which will surely boost his draft stock.

19. Atlanta Falcons- Maurkice Pouncey, G/C, Florida

We had Pouncey as the Cowboys’ selection in our last mock draft, but in this particular version he won’t be available for Dallas. A lot of people may be surprised to see Pouncey this high, but some teams reportedly have him as a top 10 overall player.

20. Houston Texans- Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

Local Houston newspapers have reported the Texans are going to select either Earl Thomas or Ryan Mathews. We think Thomas will be long gone, so Mathews will come into Houston with an immediate opportunity to start over Steve Slaton.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

With the signing of WR Antonio Bryant, the Bengals’ focus will likely shift to the defensive side of the ball. Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall are excellent cornerbacks who could benefit from the pass rush abilities of a player such as Derrick Morgan.

22. New England Patriots- Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Stories of Bryant missing meetings and even showing up late to games could be erroneous, but they still may hurt a player who already had character concerns. If Bryant drops into the 20′s he is dangerously close to Jerry Jones’ trade range. If the Cowboys stand pat, the Patriots would love a play-maker like Bryant to possibly replace Randy Moss in 2011.

23. Green Bay Packers- Charles Brown, OT, USC

Charles Brown is an undersized, athletic tackle who fits best in a West Coast offense because of his superb ability in pass protection. Green Bay re-signed tackle Chad Clifton but will lose OT Mark Tauscher, so Brown fills a need.

24. Philadelphia Eagles- Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

We love the upside of Texas LB Sergio Kindle.

Weatherspoon impressed at both the Combine and Missouri’s Pro Day, displaying the sort of consistency NFL coaches love. Philly may also go with Kyle Wilson or Joe Haden here if they happen to fall, but linebacker is a prime need.

25. Baltimore Ravens- Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

We had Kindle rated as the #8 overall prospect on our Big Board, so Baltimore would be acquiring tremendous value here. Their wide receiver position is no longer weak with signings of Donte Stallworth and Derrick Mason and the trade for Anquan Boldin.

26. Arizona Cardinals- Taylor Mays, S, USC

Honestly, we think Mays is going to be an average player at best in the NFL, but a lot of people obviously disagree. Some team will fall in love with his workout numbers, and Arizona would probably love to see Mays drop to them after losing Antrel Rolle.

27. Dallas Cowboys- Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

At this point, Cowboys fans will likely be screaming for the team to select Maryland LT Bruce Campbell. Despite the need for an upgrade at tackle, we still see Odrick as the most likely pick. There is a good chance either Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, or Stephen Bowen will not be back in 2011, and in addition to playing defensive end, Odrick can also become the primary backup to DT Jay Ratliff. If Odrick is gone at this point, which is a decent possibility, we see Bruce Campbell, Golden Tate, Brian Price, and Devin McCourty all as legitimate options for Dallas.

McCourty may seem like a reach to some, but don't be shocked to see him be a first round selection.

28. San Diego Chargers- Jahvid Best, RB, California

We love Jahvid Best’s skill set, and despite concerns about his size, he is actually the same size as C.J. Spiller. RB Darren Sproles may or may not return to San Diego, but either way the team must address the position early in the draft.

29. New York Jets- Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Questions about Tate’s speed disappeared after his 4.42 official 40 time in Indianapolis. WR Braylon Edwards may not be in New York next season, so the Jets have to stock up on weapons for Mark Sanchez.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

A bit of a sleeper to sneak into the first round, McCourty displayed superb fluidity and change of direction at the Combine. In addition, he also possesses above average size and speed. Minnesota is desperate for an upgrade over Cedric Griffin.

31. Indianapolis Colts- Brian Price, DT, UCLA

We see Price as a legitimate option to convert to defensive end in a 3-4, but a lot of teams see him as a three-technique defensive tackle. He is an underrated player that will fit in well with Indy’s undersized defense.

32. New Orleans Saints- Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

The Saints are pretty free to select the best player available at this point. Linebacker is a bit of a question mark right now, so Brandon Spikes may be an option. Also do not rule out the Golden Child, Tim Tebow. Sean Payton is creative enough to concoct ways to utilize Tebow’s talent without disrupting the productivity of Drew Brees.

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, UMass

UMass lineman Vladimir Ducasse is very raw, but his upside at all five offensive line positions is off the charts.

In our first Post-Combine Mock Draft, we had the Cowboys selecting Florida G/C Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. We anticipate that Dallas will greatly covet the versatility which Pouncey possesses. Selecting Pouncey would give the Cowboys a viable backup at both guards spots and center.

The quandary the ‘Boys find themselves in, though, is that their starters at offensive tackle are a bigger concern than those at guard and center. Doug Free is an excellent swing tackle (a tackle who is the primary backup to both the starting left and right tackles), so the depth is superior on the outside of the line than on the inside.

So does Dallas target an offensive tackle who may or may not have an immediate impact, or a guard/center who likely would not contribute right away but would provide much-needed depth for the interior line positions?

The solution to the Cowboys’ woes may come in the form of a Haitian-born lineman from the University of Massachusetts.

Scouting Report

Ducasse is the epitome of “high upside.” He was born and lived in Haiti until 2002 when he moved to Massachusetts to live with his aunt. He did not even play football until his junior year of high school.

At 6’5”, 332 pounds, Ducasse is a mammoth lineman. Scouts are drooling over his size and athleticism, but there is no consensus as to where Ducasse will make an impact in the NFL. At the Senior Bowl, Ducasse played all five offensive line positions, and even lined up on the defensive side of the ball. Ducasse’s natural strength is off the charts and he has very long arms, so there is no doubt that he could be the potential successor to Flozell Adams at left tackle.

Ducasse is very raw, so there are concerns about how fast he can make an impact for the Cowboys. He can sometimes get too high in his stance and may take a year or two to develop. The return on investment Ducasse could provide is huge, though. Just imagining a player who could potentially be a “swing lineman” (as opposed to just a swing tackle) must have Dallas ecstatic.

In a way, Ducasse’s inexperience is a good thing. It will allow coaches to teach him proper technique from scratch rather than having to correct poor habits. However, this may take a significant amount of time, and there are questions about how long a “win now” team like Dallas will wait.

There are also concerns about Ducasse’s intelligence after he scored just 13 on the Wonderlic exam, but we see these questions as unjustified. One must take into consideration the fact that English is not his first language and he did not speak it regularly until 2002.

Projection

Ducasse figures to get selected somewhere in the second round. We see him as a top 15 talent in terms of natural ability, but his inexperience will scare some teams away. Thus, the value and upside the team which selects Ducasse will receive is enormous. We believe his versatility and raw athleticism will shoot Ducasse up draft boards, so he may only be an option for Dallas if they trade out of the first round or move up in the second.

By Jonathan Bales

2010 Cowboys-Only Mock Draft: Version 3.0, Post-Combine

The Cowboys will likely value the versatility of C/G Maurkice Pouncey.

In versions 1.0 and 2.0 of our Cowboys Mock Drafts, we had the team selecting Penn State DT/DE Jared Odrick and USC OT Charles Brown, respectively. While we would still guess Odrick will be the pick if forced to select today, drafts can take wild twists as the result of just one event.

In this version our our Cowboys Mock Draft, we will describe a path the Cowboys may take if they happen to sign an offensive tackle before April 22 (Marcus McNeil or Jared Gaither, for example).

Round 1- Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

A lot of mocks have Idaho guard Mike Iupati as the Cowboys’ selection at #27, but we believe they will value the versatility of Pouncey. If Iupati is still on the board, it will be interesting to see who Dallas has rated higher. Some scouts believe Pouncey is a top 15 talent. He would likely come in and be the immediate backup to both starting guards and center Andre Gurode.

Round 2- Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida

Spikes’ size makes him a candidate to play inside in a 3-4. Keith Brooking and Bradie James played well last year, but the Cowboys must soon look for their replacements (particularly for Brooking). We still think a play-making return man is an option here, but because players such as Mardy Gilyard, Dexter McCluster, and Jordan Shipley had such poor 40-yard dash times, the Cowboys may be able to wait a round to grab someone.

FYI: Despite these first two selections, no, we are not Gators fans.

We still aren't sure why teams aren't high on South Carolina LB Eric Norwood.

Round 3- Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

To play devil’s advocate, we have assumed the Cowboys do not see any return man at this point as providing great value. So which direction does the team go? Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will take the best player available at each position, and we really like South Carolina LB Eric Norwood.

A lot of fans will be disappointed in yet another linebacker, but we all know what a key position the edge rusher is in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme . As we detailed in our profile of Eric Norwood, he is a an excellent pass-rusher who should transition nicely to OLB. Further, we are not sure Dallas is convinced they have proper depth behind starters Ware and Spencer (Curtis Johnson, Victor Butler and Brandon Williams).

Round 4- Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

The Cowboys’ patience in this particular mock draft pays off, as Texas WR Jordan Shipley is still on the board. Shipley would come in and become the starting punt and kickoff returner, and also compete with Patrick Crayton in the slot. We see Shipley as an early second round talent, but his 4.57 at the Combine will surely drop his stock. Still, Shipley plays much faster than his time and displays excellent quickness and body control.

Round 6- Kurt Coleman, FS, Ohio State

Dallas may or may not upgrade the safety position before this spot, but we still maintain that the Cowboys’ brass is more comfortable with what they have at the position than fans. Despite interest from other clubs in Gerald Sensabaugh, the Cowboys remain likely to lock him up long-term. Ken Hamlin struggled last season, but members of the organization like what they have in second-year man Michael Hamlin.

Coleman is a small, ball-hawk type safety which the Cowboys lack right now. He would be a project, but worth the risk at this point.

Syracuse DT Arthur Jones would move to DE in the Cowboys' 3-4 defense.

Round 7- Arthur Jones, DT/DE, Syracuse

The importance the Cowboys place on the defensive end position is reliant on the futures of Spears, Bowen, and Hatcher. The second round tenders placed on all three players means the latter two are not going anywhere in 2010. Spears, however, could garner some interest from other 3-4 teams. We detailed what Dallas might do with him here.

If the likely scenario of all three defensive ends remaining on the team comes to fruition, the Cowboys may look at a late-round prospect like Syracuse’s Arthur Jones. Jones is a talented athlete who may drop this far due to knee surgery he underwent in November of last season.

Continue to check back for our ongoing “Potential Draft Picks” Series and ever-evolving Mock Drafts.

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Maurkice Pouncey, C/G, Florida

Florida's Maurkice Pouncey can play center, guard, and even right tackle in a pinch.

In our final Offensive Line Grades, we detailed how efficient the Cowboys’ interior linemen were in 2009. We gave Kyle Kosier a “B” grade and both Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode an “A-.” Thus, we see the interior linemen as one of the strengths of the Cowboys’ offense.

The problem, though, is that the backup situation at both guard and center is worrisome. Guards Duke Preston and Cory Procter received tender offers from the Cowboys, and there are rumors that the team is negotiating with unrestricted free agent Montrae Holland on a new deal. Despite this, Dallas would be ecstatic to add a more reliable and consistent backup interior lineman.

It is likely both this weak backup situation and the soon-expiring contract of Kyle Kosier which have the Cowboys linked to Idaho guard Mike Iupati. In our opinion, though, the Cowboys could kill two birds with one stone by selecting a player who can play both guard and center.

It is this sort of versatility that the team loves and which Florida C/G Maurkice Pouncey possesses.

Scouting Report

At 6’5”, 318 pounds, Pouncey has good size to anchor a line. In addition to center and guard, there is also a possibility that Pouncey could swing out to tackle in a pinch. This kind of versatility is almost non-existent and is what has some scouts rating him as a top 15 prospect.

Pouncey would fit well into the Cowboys’ scheme because of his run-blocking abilities. He has tremendous lower body strength and exceptional quickness off the ball for his size. This quickness and fluidity also allows Pouncey to be above-average in pass protection. He utilizes his athleticism in gaining leverage to overpower larger defensive tackles.

We talked to one scout who thinks Pouncey will be an All-Pro player almost immediately. The key for Dallas is whether they grade Pouncey as a guard as well as other teams will grade him as a center.

Projection

We think Pouncey may surprise people with how high he gets selected in the draft. The Cowboys are not the only team that values versatility, so we see Pouncey as a near-certain first round selection. In fact, we are not convinced Iupati will get drafted before Pouncey.

Having said that, there are so many talented players that someone must drop, and teams frequently value other positions more than center and guard. If Pouncey is still available at pick #27, we expect the Cowboys to seriously consider him. The downside to drafting Pouncey is that he may not provide an immediate impact, a trait for which Dallas could be searching in the first round of this draft.

By Jonathan Bales

2010 NFL Combine Losers

Dan Lefevour missed a chance to be the most talented quarterback to participate in the Combine.

Yesterday, we detailed the “winners” of the NFL Combine. Today, we analyze those players who may have substantially hurt their draft stock.

Ole Miss RB/WR Dexter McCluster

We think McCluster’s poor performance at the Combine is a bit over-hyped. Yes, he ran a 4.58 forty, but he showed explosion with a 37.5 inch vertical. In addition, McCulster also proved he has been working out with an incredible 20 bench press reps at just 165 pounds. McCluster certainly plays faster than he timed, so we think he will bring excellent value to any team that selects him.

Central Michigan QB Dan Lefevour

With so many quarterbacks not working out at the Combine, Lefevour had a shot to move up boards. He likely would have been the best signal-caller participating in drills. Instead, he chose to only work out at his Pro Day, displaying a lack of competitiveness which will hurt his draft stock.

Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe

Briscoe was a guy not many people were high on pre-Combine, yet we had him ranked as our #21 overall prospect. We knew he would have a sub-par forty (4.61), but his nine bench press reps call his work ethic into question. We still love his body control and ball skills, but Briscoe will likely slide down boards into the third or fourth round.

Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard

Ciron Black has been in a tailspin since the start of the '09 season.

Gilyard, a player most were expecting to run in the 4.40 range, posted just a 4.56 forty. In a way, this could help the Cowboys a lot, as Gilyard could easily drop to the back of the second round (after pre-Combine rumors of him jumping into the back of the first). We knew Gilyard plays fast and brings tremendous upside in the return game.

Texas WR Jordan Shipley

Like Gilyard, Shipley’s poor Combine performance could help the Cowboys. In addition to a 4.57 forty, Shipley also looked shaky in position drills. We have watched enough tape on him, though, to know what Shipley brings to the table. Instead of using their second round pick on Shipley, there is now a chance Dallas could grab him with their third.

LSU OT Ciron Black

We are not worried about Black’s numbers as much as what we saw in the drills. He looked slow, stiff, and out of shape. Black bent over at the waist instead of the knees, displaying poor form and an overall lack of athleticism. He could easily drop to the late rounds of the draft.

Is there a chance Joe Haden drops to pick #27? At least one scout thinks so.

Kentucky LB Micah Johnson

Johnson’s 4.99 forty was by far the worst of any linebacker (there was only one other player above 4.90). We were surprised by this result perhaps more than any at the entire Combine. Johnson displays good sideline-to-sideline speed on tape, so it is possible he was not completely healthy. We still like him as an option for Dallas at inside linebacker, but he would likely only be a two-down linebacker.

Michigan CB Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren had a shot of being the third cornerback taken in the 2010 draft. That is unrealistic now, as Warren displayed inadequate speed (4.59) and poor strength (12 reps). A cover two team might jump on him, but he is not a fit for Dallas’ scheme on defense.

Florida CB Joe Haden

How bad was Joe Haden’s Combine? He went from a consensus top ten pick to possibly losing his status as the first cornerback taken to Boise State’s Kyle Wilson. One scout we talked to actually said Haden could drop to the back of the first round because elite corners must have either size or speed, and Haden showed neither. If he somehow dropped to pick #27, Dallas would have to take a long look at him despite no immediate need at cornerback.

Nebraska S Larry Asante

Larry Asante is in the mix with Morgan Burnett, Nate Allen, Chad Jones, and Reshad Jones to be the fourth safety off the board come April. He may have dropped to the back of that pack after his Tuesday workout running a 4.63, posting just 14 reps, and exhibiting poor hips and change of direction in position drills.

LSU S Chad Jones

Chad Jones ran nearly as poorly as Asante (4.57), but at least Jones is 15 pounds heavier. However, at 230 pounds, Jones’ nine bench press reps are pathetic. His size and lack of speed make him an unrealistic option for Dallas.

Chad Jones doesn't fit the safety mold for which Dallas is searching.

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson

Clemson WR Jacoby Ford reminds us of Dolphins' receiver Ted Ginn.

It is no secret that Roy Williams has struggled in his year and a half with the Cowboys. When we watched the game film again, it was stunning to see how Williams’ confidence took a noticeable downward turn as the season progressed. It is true that Williams is a bit limited in what he can do, but this lack of swagger is what affected his play most in 2009.

Still, Roy is going to be on the team this season. Despite his lack of production, Williams was a very effective player in Detroit, so there is some potential there. It is up to Romo, Williams, and Garrett to figure out which routes work best for Roy and to develop the requisite chemistry for success.

A lot of people believe Kevin Ogletree could push for Williams’ starting spot in camp. This is certainly a possibility, but Williams will be given every chance to win the job. His contract means he really is not going anywhere in 2010.

Despite this, the number one position we hear fans claim must be upgraded is wide receiver. We disagree, as the position is actually fairly strong and deep, but a wide receiver who can return punts and kickoffs would be a nice addition. In reality, if a player’s primary role is as a returner, it does not matter which position he plays. The Cowboys used a roster spot last season on a return specialist (albeit for one game), so if a returner can play wide receiver that is simply a bonus.

Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford is a guy the Cowboys could look at to fill this role. The key, of course, will be to not overreact to his Combine-best 4.28 forty-yard dash.

Scouting Report

Jacoby Ford is a track star. He is literally one of the fastest people in the country, evidenced by his Combine forty time. In our opinion, though, his speed does not translate to the football field. Unlike his college teammate C.J. Spiller who is a football player who runs track, Ford is a track star who plays football.

Just as important in football as a player’s speed is how fast he can stop. If a wide receiver can only run one route, it is awfully easy to defend it. Ford appears to be one of these players. He is faster than he is quick, and this straight-line speed is rarely utilized on the field.

Because of these flaws, Ford is very raw at wide receiver. He is a terrible route-runner with average hands at best. Ford may be able to learn to run better routes, but unfortunately you cannot teach a player to have better hips or be more fluid. Ford reminds us almost exactly of Dolphins’ receiver Ted Ginn. Their straight-line speed is not matched by their on-field production.

On top of this, Ford is very small. At 5’9”, 186 pounds, he will not be anything more than a slot receiver in the NFL. Where Ford truly figures to make an impact is as a returner. Thus, if he is available in the middle rounds, Dallas may select him as a returner (and nothing more).

Projection

Before the Combine, Ford was probably a fifth-round selection. Now, we can see a team like the Raiders jumping on him as early as round three. In our opinion, he is nothing more than a late-round prospect, but the Cowboys will probably think long and hard about him if he is still available in the back of round four and they have not yet upgraded their return spots. In fact, we have the team taking the Clemson speedster in our latest Cowboys’ Mock Draft. This does not mean we want the team to draft Ford, as we believe there are other returners available that offer more upside at their particular position (Mardy Gilyard, Dexter McCluster, Jordan Shipley, or Javier Arenas).

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

Eric Norwood is one of the draft's top pure pass rushers.

We have discussed at length the Cowboys’ need to add depth to the inside linebacker position. Though outside linebacker is often seen as much less of a need, Dallas is somewhat thin behind starters Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

Second-year players Brandon Williams and Victor Butler are the backups, meaning if either starter goes down due to injury, the Cowboys could be in a bit of trouble. Thus, although not many experts are projecting the Cowboys to target an outside linebacker in the draft (at least not early), it is still a possibility.

This lack of experience, combined with the need for a young playmaker at inside linebacker, makes any player that is versatile enough to play both positions extremely valuable to Dallas. LB Eric Norwood of South Carolina may just be that player.

Scouting Report

Norwood is 6’1”, 252 pounds, meaning he has good size to play inside in a 3-4. Despite this, his exceptional pass rush skills have most projecting him solely as an outside linebacker. We do not totally agree with this assessment. Norwood would be somewhat undersized at OLB, meaning teams would target him in the run game. Because of this, he would likely only be a pass rush specialist if a team pigeonholes him as solely an outside linebacker.

Instead, we believe Norwood is capable of playing both inside and outside. He is fairly explosive at his size, registering a 4.67 forty and 36.5 inch vertical leap at the Combine. Playing him at inside linebacker on running downs, particularly short-yardage situations, might allow him to use his ability to pursue the ball-carrier more so than if he was outside.

His incredible pass rushing abilities could be utilized by moving him to outside linebacker in passing situations. In terms of solely rushing the quarterback, we would actually rate Norwood as a top three prospect in this draft.

Norwood is also durable, having never missed a game in his entire college career. This sort of consistency is also matched in his on-field play. Norwood is a sure tackler and is a rather safe pick for where he will be selected.

His biggest weakness is in coverage. He is very instinctual when rushing the quarterback, but sometimes seems lost in coverage. Thus, Norwood would be primarily an edge rusher in the Cowboys’ scheme, as the team would want to hide this weakness as much as possible.

Overall, we see Norwood as a guy who could become the primary backup to Ware and Spencer, perhaps spelling them in passing situations, with the ability to play inside in a pinch or during short-yardage situations. His versatility is what will appeal to Dallas, and Wade Phillips can never have enough talented rush linebackers.

Projection

Norwood is projected to go around the third round, but we honestly have no idea why he could get selected this low. It is probable that teams see him as a player with no exceptional qualities and limited upside. His perceived lack of outstanding traits will give whichever team selects him excellent value.

He reminds us of Tashard Choice in that his numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he is a leader who is solid in just about every aspect of the game. We have a feeling Norwood could rise to as high as the second round, but if he is available for the Cowboys in the third, it would be awfully tough to pass on a player with his versatility and pass rushing capabilities.