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  1. #2541
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    BloggingTheBoys notes that the big Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler may be talent that looks to be taken right around our 2nd round pick at #45, he led college football with 142 knockdown blocks and had 33 blocks that resulted in touchdowns, obviously a major reason Wisconsin had a per-game average of 44.62 points and 467 total yards, including 237 on the ground.:

    National Football Post (Wes Bunting): 5th-rated OG; 49th overall

    A good looking guard prospect with a thick trunk and natural girth through his base. Sits into his stance well, displays natural bend, can keep his base under him off the football and create an initial snap into contact. Isn't overly powerful as an in-line guy, but creates good initial movement, works his legs hard through the play and extends his arms well into defenders. Displays very good hand placement, consistently is able to gain inside leverage and stick to blocks well through the play. Demonstrates above-average balance as well through the play making him tough to disengage from. Is also coordinated on the move. Possesses good short area quickness for his size when asked to pull from the backside, displaying solid range. Breaks down well and can hit a target off his frame and eliminate on contact.

    Needs to do a better job getting off the ball consistently in the pass game. Too often is one of the last lineman moving and will allow defenders to threaten gaps off his frame or get into his body. Possesses natural anchor strength when he can get his hands on you, but when he's late off the ball will get rocked on contact and doesn't display the type of athleticism to quickly recover. Possesses average lateral quickness when asked to mirror. At his best when engaged and showcases some shuffle and slide ability through contact with good hand placement. However, isn't' overly laterally gifted in space and will lose balance into blocks trying to get his hands on defenders and will overextend. Works well in tandem, sits into his stance well and can keep the pocket clean when picking up the blitz. Displays good awareness and keeps his head on a swivel.

    Impression: A tough, strong in-line guy who you can run behind and also has some coordination on the move. Not as effective in the pass game, but can mature into an average NFL pass blocker if he learns to get off the ball more consistently. Looks like a gritty type starter early on in his NFL career to me.

    Drafttek (Long Ball): 4th-rated OG; 48th overall

    Kevin Zeitler (6'4", 314 lbs) comes from one of my favorite offensive line factories in Madison, Wisconsin. Now while I might be tempted to compare Kevin to one of my 2011 pet cats (former teammate and 3rd round pick John Moffitt), and quite frankly they should both have a nice NFL career, the native of Waukesha (although not quite as big as Moffitt) may be a better interior OL prospect for the following 3 reasons: 1) lower center of gravity (strong lower body definition), 2) agility in pass protection, and 3) consistency hitting his targets on the move.

    Zeitler's results at the Combine were a 5.39 forty (1.75 for 10 yard split), 4.61 shuttle, 7.77 3-cone, 29" vertical, 8'05" broad jump and 32 bench reps: this gives him an explosion factor of 70 and a lateral agility factor of 0.78. His 32-3/4" arms promote a wingspan of 80-1/2".

    In pass blocking, Zeitler comes out of the snap and anchors well against larger DL in the middle, exhibits good initial hand position and resets hands in order to maintain distance. He's just athletic enough to help on nose tackle and then pick up a twist, cha-cha or late blitz. Footwork is good enough to mirror quick interior rushers and is observant of his teammates, looking to help the center or tackle if he is uncovered.

    Kevin would be a good fit in a ZBS, as he uses mobility and strength to move defender down the line. He dips his shoulder and moves his feet to get outside leverage to provide cut-back lanes outside. Zeitler comes out of his stance strong and low, allowing him to maintain leverage in short-yardage situations. He gives the necessary effort to get to the 2nd level, locate defenders, and hit as many targets as possible. He could improve on keeping outside leverage when doubling on the nose, and might drop a few "belly pounds" to improve his agility on pulling and trapping.

    Kevin Zeitler is not a quick-twitch, agile athlete; however, he is a technician, as well as a dependable, no-nonsense mauler who works hard in the weight room and on the field.

    Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki): 4th-rated OG; 24th overall

    Positives: Outstanding size and strength. Thick-bodies, wide-shouldered and carries an imposing physical presence. Plays under control with great balance and footwork. Very good functional football-playing strength. Can lock up, steer and control defenders. Strong finisher. Plays smart—quick to see pressure unfolding and react to stunts and games. Switches off blocks to help. Extremely tough, competitive and determined. Grounded—hardworking, Midwestern values are ingrained in him.

    Negatives: Average arm length. Appears almost overly muscled. Not an elite athlete. Can be stressed by quickness and do a better job of guaging his power and striking with authority. More of a grabber than a puncher. Limited versatility—guard only. Durability needs to be evaluated—has a history of ankle problems.

    Summary: Big, smart, steady, physical run blocker with the girth, strength and efficiency to plug-and-play in multiple schemes. Is a very safe pick and cold give decision makers comfort knowing exactly what they are getting.

    ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton): 3rd-rated OG; 45th overall

    Pass Protection: Initial quickness is just average and can get beat off the snap when footwork isn't sound. Flashes quick hands in sets and can get into defenders pads and lock on. Also shows ability to shuffle and mirror to stay in front of rushers once engaged. Can get caught lunging at times which can make him vulnerabl to quicker interior rusher. Does not panic when getting knocked off balance initially and flashes ability to recover and get back into position. Can sink and anchor to neutralize bull rush attempt.

    Run Blocking: Sound initial fit more times than not and can wall off assignment. Displays quick and compact hands to lock on to defenders. Drives legs once in position and flashes ability to drive defenders when stays low and generating leverage. However can play too high on occasion and does not have an elite inline power base to overcome and get adequate movement when pad level raises up. Shuffles feet well upon contact to stay engaged with blocks. Plays under control and takes good angles in space or when climbing to the second level. Also displays ability to adjust on the move to cover up targets in space.

    Awareness: Possesses above-average instincts and football I.Q. More instinctive as run blocker than in pass pro at this point. Generally assignment sound in the run game. Locates targets pre-snap and executes assignments. Also does a nice job of identifying targets at the second and third level on the move. Keeps head on a swivel in pass pro. Can be step late getting into position when picking up pressures from the second and third level.

    Toughness: Flashes an edge and can deliver the big block when catches defenders off guard. Needs to become more of a finisher at this point. Does not back down from challenges but would like to see more of mean streak.

    Intangibles: Hard worker that won the Badger Power Award for his dedication to the weight room in 2010. Has added substantial weight and gotten much stronger during collegiate career. Lost starting job because of an injury during 2010 camp but stayed positive and regained it in time for the Big Ten season opener. Has practiced at center. 2010-11 All Academic Big Ten.

  2. #2542
    Quote Originally Posted by Assassin View Post
    Check this out - first I've heard that Vikes are not sold on Kalil:

    Vikes not sold on Kalil?

    There has been a near consensus that the Minnesota Vikings' first-round pick will be used to take USC OT Matt Kalil, but nothing is a certainty until the pick is actually read by the commissioner on the night of Apr. 26. And our own NFL Insider Adam Schefter isn't so sure that the Vikes are entirely sold on Kalil.

    There are some scenarios where Kalil is not taken third overall -- either the Vikings take someone else or trade with a team that is targeting Ryan Tannehill, for example -- and this could potentially open the door for the Buffalo Bills, should they be interested in trading up a few spots from No. 10 overall to nab him:

    Kalil could be a Bill - Adam Schefter

    "It could be that Kalil falls and if Buffalo wants to go trade up to No. 5 (Tampa Bay) or No. 6 (St. Louis), those teams would be all ears in terms of listening to offers. If Buffalo stays where it is, the sense around the league is that the Bills will have their choice between Kuechly or DeCastro and other good players who will be available at that spot. But I like your Kalil idea, Jake. It makes sense to me. The key to that would be Minnesota passing on Kalil, which I happen to believe the Vikings will. I'm in the minority there, and the Vikings are still deciding what to do, but I don't think Kalil is the lock that others do -- even if Minnesota stays at No. 3."
    I think that's just typical pre-draft smoke. Kalil is the obvious no-brainer choice for them. The only other consideration for them is trading down. They're probably just teasing other teams that they want to bait into trading up at a premium price, but I really don't think it will happen.

  3. #2543
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dia_del_DougO View Post
    It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if the Cowboys drafted Kuechly at 14. He's a player. He's an upgrade. He has fewer questions than Carter, who is no sure thing by any stretch. You've then got four players that could make up a heck of a rotation inside. I'd rather have him than a reach and potential bust at another position of need.
    If he doesn't go before us and we take someone else, Philly will certainly go for him. They need ILB and a NT type.

  4. #2544
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dia_del_DougO View Post
    It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if the Cowboys drafted Kuechly at 14. He's a player. He's an upgrade. He has fewer questions than Carter, who is no sure thing by any stretch. You've then got four players that could make up a heck of a rotation inside. I'd rather have him than a reach and potential bust at another position of need.
    BTW - several pundits are on video saying "he's the best ILB since Sean Lee." Always nice to hear.

  5. #2545
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    Here's another kid that will probably go off the table in the 2nd - and I could really see him fitting right into the DL, taking over NT. That adds a DE to us as Ratliff goes outside. How about Rat and DWare going weakside? Sweet!

    Name: Alameda Ta'amu
    Position: Nose tackle
    College: Washington
    Height/Weight: 6-3/348
    Age: 21 (born Aug. 23, 1990)

    Strengths: Precisely. Ta'amu's most impressive feature is his power at the line. His wide frame allows him to occupy space in the middle of the defense, taking up double-teams and freeing up linebackers to run to the ball. When he is able to shed blockers and finds the ball himself, he is a smothering tackler. A team captain his senior year, he has displayed a total understanding of his role in a 3-4 defense and has a lot of experience at nose tackle. He's shown durability at one of the most physically demanding positions in the sport.

    Weaknesses: At Washington, Ta'amu reportedly played at upwards of 390 pounds, which sapped his explosiveness and now raises concerns over his ability to control his weight as a professional. He offers no pass rush ability, will only be on the field in the base defense, and even at that tends to wear down as games progress.

    Sound Bites: To Yahoo! Sports on his off-the-field attempts to gain quickness: "I've been working on those big bag drills ever since coach (Steve Sarkisian) came in here. It's important for the combine, just staying low and being violent with your hands."

    Where He's Headed: Most projections have Ta'amu coming off the board in Round 2, but some draft analysts see him falling all the way to the fourth round. He is at a disadvantage because as a true nose tackle, he is really only of interest to teams who run a 3-4 defense.

    How He Helps the Cowboys: The team continues to say Jay Ratliff will remain at nose tackle, but if the right player came along, the Cowboys would have to think long and hard about kicking him out to end on base downs. He brings something the club hasn't had since it first switched to the 3-4, a true space-eater who will always occupy a double-team but rarely budge, which makes things easier on the rest of the defense.

  6. #2546
    Quote Originally Posted by Assassin View Post
    BTW - several pundits are on video saying "he's the best ILB since Sean Lee." Always nice to hear.
    Wouldn't they make a heck of a pair? I still worry about Lee's durability.

  7. #2547
    Rotoworld/FWST:
    The Cowboys reportedly "like" Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox, but believe he will be off the board before the 14th pick in the draft.
    Cox appears to be a notch above Dontari Poe and Michael Brockers, two defensive tackles the Cowboys also "like" even if they haven't visited. Although Alabama OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw did visit Dallas recently, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears that he won't be a consideration at No. 14 overall.

  8. #2548
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dia_del_DougO View Post
    Rotoworld/FWST: the Cowboys reportedly "like" Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox, but believe he will be off the board before the 14th pick in the draft. Cox appears to be a notch above Dontari Poe and Michael Brockers, two defensive tackles the Cowboys also "like" even if they haven't visited. Although Alabama OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw did visit Dallas recently, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears that he won't be a consideration at No. 14 overall.
    Greggo said today that he has heard a lot of rumblings about Cox at the Ranch. But he still picked Mark Barron in his mock with Cox going next to Philly.

  9. #2549
    I would not be pleased with that outcome.

  10. #2550
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dia_del_DougO View Post
    I would not be pleased with that outcome.
    I think FS is what we really would rather find. We have several SS types on board. Markelle Martin from OSU is the best in this draft and he's probably an 'end of the 2nd to 3rd rounder'.

  11. #2551
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    Interesting. Mel Kiper has Lavonte David from Nebraska ahead of Upshaw at OLB. Small at 6'1. Kiper says 233 but most sites seem to have him 10 pounds are so lighter.

  12. #2552
    Ingram is also 6-1 with short arms, and Upshaw just 6-2, neither very fast, but both bigger guys. David has decent speed but looks like a 4-3 OLB.

  13. #2553
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dia_del_DougO View Post
    Ingram is also 6-1 with short arms, and Upshaw just 6-2, neither very fast, but both bigger guys. David has decent speed but looks like a 4-3 OLB.
    He now has Ingram as the #1 DE.

  14. #2554
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    Tony Romo, recognizing that quarterbacks are "defined" by Super Bowl titles, said he won't be satisfied with his career until he wins one.

    And Romo believes the Cowboys, fresh off of signing the biggest free-agent class of Jerry Jones' ownership tenure, have taken significant steps to put the team in position to contend after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

    Jones, also the team's general manager, considered the Cowboys to be contenders last season until they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the New Year's Day season finale with the NFC East title at stake.

    "It's about time that we go to that next step and I think our team is going to be ready for that," Romo said during a Thursday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3's "Ben and Skin Show."

    Romo, a three-time Pro Bowler, had arguably the best individual season of his career last year, throwing for 4,184 yards and 31 touchdowns despite playing several weeks with broken ribs. However, the Cowboys crumbled down the stretch after putting themselves in the driver's seat of the division, losing four of their final five games, including two losses to the Giants.

    Romo, whose wife, Candice, gave birth to the couple's first child on Monday, said he doesn't spend any time thinking about regrets.

    "It's all going forward," Romo said. "I mean, to be good or great at what you're trying to do athletically or in sports, you've got to have a singular focus about what matters. That's good and bad. Whether something great's just happened, you have to put that behind you and just move on, because you have to go do it again. Something bad happens, you have to learn from it, put it behind you, get better from it and then move right on. I think that's our approach.

    "When I look at just myself, it's about how can I improve? How can I get better? How can I bring my teammates along with me? How can they get better and our football team can take that next step? We're doing some things that I think will allow us to do that. I feel good about some of the stuff that we've got going on. I think we're going to be an improved football team next year."

    Romo, who turns 32 this month, is in some ways one of the NFL's great success stories. He was an undrafted free agent out of Division I-AA Eastern Illinois who established himself as the franchise quarterback for one of the highest-profile teams in sports, following in the footsteps of Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

    “You don't rest until you feel that accomplishment. For me, that's always going to be there. That's going to be a very singular-driven focus. That's the way I am, and that's the way it's going to be until that happens. That's the way I'd like to be remembered.” -- Tony Romo, on winning a Super Bowl

    Yet, at this point, Romo's career is recognized as much, if not more, for his failures as his accomplishments. He has only one playoff victory, and Romo's most memorable moments have been disappointing season finales: the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks sealed by his botched hold on a field goal, losing to the Giants as a No. 1 seed in the 2007 playoffs, a 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008 with a playoff berth on the line and the loss to the Giants in last season's finale.

    "You never really get over letdowns," Romo said. "You just use them as a tool to get better. I think what you do is you don't basically use it as a crutch. ...

    "There's a couple different ways you can go mentally when things don't go your way. One of them is just to sulk and have pity about either, 'Why me?' or 'How come we're not good enough?' or 'How come we didn't get the job done?' and all that. The other side is, 'OK, why?' You just say, 'Why wasn't our team good enough?' or 'Why wasn't I good enough?' or 'How can we do things to get better?' And you analyze it and you learn from it. Every time you can do that, you get better the next time."

    Romo said he wants to be remembered as a player who reached every bit of his potential.

    "And when I say that," Romo said, "I'd like to think that the bar is pretty high and I can get to a level that's very high."

    The Super Bowl is the standard for a franchise that has five Lombardi Trophies. Romo realizes that, saying the chance to compete for a championship is the driving force that motivates him.

    "The Super Bowl is obviously the biggest team accomplishment, and also as a quarterback, it's what we're defined as," Romo said. "I think for me that would be the one obvious (thing) that you play the game for. All the hours and the sweat and the time that you do and those tough moments when I'm alone doing what I do, that's what you think about.

    "You don't rest until you feel that accomplishment. For me, that's always going to be there. That's going to be a very singular-driven focus. That's the way I am, and that's the way it's going to be until that happens. That's the way I'd like to be remembered."

  15. #2555
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    If we trade to the back of the first round, check out UFC Lt Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones' brother, Chandler Jones:

    Chandler Jones DEFENSIVE END
    92 SCOUTS GRADE, Syracuse, 6'5", 247 lbs

    OVERALL FOOTBALL TRAITS
    Production 2 "2008: Redshirt. 2009: (12/8) - 52-10-2.5 2010: (13/13) - 57-9.5-4 2011: (7/7) -- 38-7.5-4.5 Career (2008-11) - 5 FFs -1 FR - 6PBU - 1INT."

    Height-Weight-Speed 1 Above average height and has extremely long arms (35 4/8'). Possesses good bulk and is continuing to grow into frame. Top-end speed and agility is above-average and 10-yard split (1.69) is very good for size. Hand size is average (9 6/8').

    Durability 4 Missed five games in 2011 after suffering a knee injury during the first game of the season against Wake Forest.

    Intangibles 1 Hard worker and accountable. Well respected by coaches and teammates. Comes from a close knit family. Baltimore selected brother Arthur in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Other brother Jon is a UFC Fighter and current light heavy weight champion. Has a wrestling background. Member of 2010 Spring Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

    1 = EXCEPTIONAL2 = ABOVE AVERAGE3 = AVERAGE4 = BELOW AVERAGE5 = MARGINAL

    DEFENSIVE END SPECIFIC TRAITS

    Pass Rush Skills 2 "Still a raw but has tremendous upside in this area. Possesses above-average snap anticipation and above-average first step quickness. Uses long arms well and is effective with his outside arm to swat blockers hands and gain the advantage to the outside. A flexible athlete that can bend at the torso making it tough for offensive lineman to get into his frame and stop penetration. Flashes ability to generate an effective speed-to-power move when playing with proper pad level. Hands still need polish but flashes a natural dip and rip move to the outside. Needs to learn to be more compact with movements and hands. Also still developing as a counter puncher once momentum is initially stopped. Closing burst is above-average when turning the corner. Bottom line though, he has the size, athleticism and tools to develop into one of the premier pass-rushers in this years' class when it all said and done. "

    Versus the run 2 Displays good core strength and point of attack skills. Flashes an explosive punch to jar and stack blockers on the edge. Needs to play with more consistent pad level but improving in that area. Has long arms and strong hands. Can lock out and anchor when his pads are low and his hands are properly placed. Flashes playmaking instincts but can do a better job of finding and redirecting when creating initial penetration. Protects feet well and plays with good overall balance. Changes directions well and can redirect to the find the ball in space. Above-average closing burst to make up ground when chasing in pursuit. Adequate tackling skills and flashes explosive power.

    Versatility 1 "Best fit will be as a LDE for a 4-3 scheme. Can develop into 5-technique if he continues to get stronger and learns proper technique. Has good core strength, room on frame, and long arms. Appears to have enough athleticism to occasionally drop and play in space but has some stiffness in hips. Has experience reducing inside to a three-technique on obvious passing situations, as well. "

    Instincts/Motor 2 Overall instincts are adequate but have room for improvement. Can be a step late finding and reacting to the ball. More instinctive as a pass-rusher than defending the run at this point. Displays good awareness with pass rush to get hands up in throwing lanes when seeing quarterback start his throwing motion. Plays with a consistent motor and gives great effort chasing in pursuit.

  16. #2556
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    Also, Dallas is talking to former Dolphin and Jag TE, Joey Haynos - all 6'8, 280lbs of him. Doesn't offer much in the way of catching the ball but much better blocker.

  17. #2557
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    Interesting - in a Top 10 2011 "redraft" from NFL.com- the Cowboys still take T Smith at 9, but at 8 instead of Jake Locker, the Titans take DeMarco Murray. Guess the Cowboys are starting to do this thing right. Two decent drafts in a row.

  18. #2558
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    Update on Raymond Radaway. He's back running the straights again. Says there are no problems. Hasn't started cutting yet but should be ready in time for camp.

    He had a rod inserted into his leg for the break that happened in the last game of pre-season with 3 seconds left/

  19. #2559
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    Well Dougo, looks like Bob Sturm's been listening to you...

    Cowboys Mailbag

    This week's mailbag could potentially be a bit different. Since we have spent the last 3 weeks profiling so many of the choices at #14 for the Cowboys and their potential pick, I have literally dozens of emails from many of you asking me to rank one against two others.

    Do I like Poe over Brockers? And Brockers over Coples? And Kirkpatrick over Barron? And what about Upshaw and DeCastro?

    So, rather than bouncing too far around a number of wide ranging topics, I think we should set up my own, "14th pick big board".

    The idea here is simple. We have looked at the 9 players that I think are the finalists for the #14 pick. There are a few more I want to sift through next week - DontA Hightower, Stephon Gilmore, and Cordy Glenn, but these are the 9, that in my own research and visiting with those who are in the know, were the players that we needed to know best when it comes down the Cowboys 1st Round pick.

    From here, the idea would be simple. We simply work down on the list and take the highest ranked player left when Dallas is on the clock. I will do this from my perspective of who I like the most and then alter the list as I think the Cowboys see the list.

    Incidentally, I think we can operate under the assumptions that Morris Claiborne is #1 on their list. I did not do a breakdown on him because I don't see a scenario for him to get past #6 in the draft and I honestly don't see the Cowboys spending the assets necessary to get up to the Top 6. So, know that if he somehow got to the Cowboys, they would take Claiborne before anyone on this list. Beyond that, I think the Cowboys war-room cheers every time a player that is not on their plan goes off the board.

    Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Justin Blackmon, Matt Kalil, Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson, and perhaps even Michael Floyd and Riley Reiff are all expected to be in the Top 13 and not fits for what Dallas wants to do, anyway. So, add Claiborne to that list and you have 9 players who will not hurt the Cowboys at #14. Now, we build our list and say how they should be stacked if everyone else was still on the board from a Dallas perspective.

    Let's begin.

    1. Fletcher Cox - DT - Mississippi State

    If I could have any player left on the board and therefore my dream scenario for the 26th of April, it would be the impressive Mr Cox from Mississippi State. He can do so many things and make this defense so much better immediately after he arrives. He is both already developed as a ready-to-go player, and had tremendous upside moving forward where he can only improve. He is a difference maker in the backfield where he destroys plays, he holds up against the run very well, and he gets to the QB with some surprising pass rush gifts. He would be the best choice as far as I am concerned from everything I have looked at. A premium defensive lineman? Jump on it and run to the podium if he is still there.

    2. David DeCastro - G - Stanford

    Here is where i think the Cowboys and me have our first disagreement. I think the Cowboys did what they did in free agency so they would not be tempted to take another offensive lineman this high. But, I think that David DeCastro is actually the safest pick of this entire list. He is solid. He is as near to a "can't miss" guy as you might fine. He will fill the interior of your offensive line for the next decade and you would have almost no doubt about it. He can play guard or center and he seems to be the type of guy that the only bad thing people will ever say about him is that he plays a position that you just shouldn't take that high. Well, I have seen the Cowboys struggle at offensive line long enough. If you are telling me that with this pick I could take offensive line off my need list for the next several years, then sign me up. DeCastro would be a huge addition for the Cowboys and they should not apologize to do so.

    3. Mark Barron - S - Alabama

    There is a bit of a drop off between #2 and #3 in my mind. After the top 2, I am now looking at players that I wish I felt were bigger slam dunks. But, they are not. They all come with some level of concern. But, I am placing Barron next and the reason is that he is the guy on the list who I think I trust the most to generate game-altering moments in 2012 and shortly thereafter. I think he can be one of those real difference making safeties that have defined defenses in this generation. Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Laron Landry, Darren Sharper and so many more are all at the heart of their team's takeaways. They are the guys who find the football and change games. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have had generic safeties that seldom make an impact of the positive nature. Barron looks like he could be special and he also looks like he could be a guy with a real voice on the team in time.

    4. Courtney Upshaw - Alabama

    Courtney Upshaw is next on this list, but it is not without reservation. I think he could be an exceptional replacement for Anthony Spencer, but I have a hard time convincing myself that the Cowboys defense improves if I make that trade. I want to add to my good pieces and replace my poor ones. And I will not accept this idea that the defense has been held back by Spencer. It just isn't true. So, while i think Upshaw is the 4th best player on my list from a Cowboys perspective, I think it would be unfortunate to settle for him because then I still have gigantic voids at safety and both defensive ends. This team has too many holes to simply swap out Spencer for a guy who could be slightly better in the short term.

    5. Dontari Poe - Memphis

    This is controversial, but I am sticking with it. If the Cowboys were to pick Poe at #14, I am now comfortable with it. I wanted to know that his motor runs high and after watching his film, I feel good about that. Yes, I wish he was more productive, but for the Cowboys specific needs, the idea of a nose tackle who would demand a double team on each down which frees up Ratliff to kick out to defensive end and make me better there is very intriguing. I think he is a bit raw and needs some coaching, but I really think his potential upside is too much to ignore at this juncture. He could really fill a need with a guy who could be a very, very disruptive player for years to come.

    6. Dre Kirkpatrick - Alabama

    Now, I am filling a real position of need with Kirkpatrick. I want to consider Gilmore here, too, but for now, Kirkpatrick's size and physical makeup is the type of zone or press corner that I think could really change things with Brandon Carr on the other side. If the Cowboys left their draft with 2 starting wide corners who were both 6'1 or 6'2 and physical, then I think you could finally feel really good about where the secondary is at. I am a bit concerned about his top end speed and whether or not the Cowboys would be able to deal with the smaller wide receivers in Philadelphia and the Santana Moss types, but with Mike Jenkins coming up for free agency, I believe I would be pretty pleased to leave with Dre.

    7. Quinton Coples - UNC

    These last three players would not be of great interest to me with regards to Dallas. Coples has all of the tools and is a player I personally like, but I have heard it on rather strong authority that the Cowboys just do not trust his motor and have no plans on allowing Coples to bring his talents to Dallas. For me, I think he could be a wonderful 5 technique and offers some of the best natural pass rush skills of anyone in this draft, but if Jason Garrett only wants players who "red line" their RPMs at all times and all snaps, then I endorse the Cowboys not dancing with someone they don't fully trust. He is very talented but they don't like him.

    8. Melvin Ingram - South Carolina

    I actually like Melvin Ingram's game. He is a very exciting player at South Carolina and I think he is the type of player that can really help plenty of teams. I just don't think the Cowboys are one of them. He needs to go some place where a team has the luxury to use his skills with creativity. But, to expect him to plug a spot in a traditional defense where you want 900 snaps out of him a season just doesn't seem reasonable in a 3-4 defense, unless you would play him at the weak side OLB. And DeMarcus Ware is your weak side OLB until further notice. He could not play on the strong side in my opinion and matchup with double teams and heavy run traffic. He just doesn't seem big or tall enough and strong enough at the point of attack. 4-3? Sure. Not here. The interesting thing here is that of all 9 players on my list, I feel he is the most likely to go in the Top 10. But, not a fit in Dallas.

    9. Michael Brockers - LSU

    Brockers is a player I just don't like. Unlike Poe, there are not great reasons why he had almost no production to speak of. Poe was double teamed. Poe was keyed upon. But, Brockers had other players on that LSU defense attracting all of the attention and he still didn't make too many impact plays. He is not ready for the NFL and has a major learning process in front of him, I do believe. And, to top things off, Poe ran a 4.98 while Brockers ran a 5.35 in the 40. Poe lifted 44 bench press reps and Brockers had about half as many in his pro day. I feel Brockers is hanging his hat on arm length, and I need way more than that to fall in love. I would pass.

    So, that is my list. I like each player more than the players ranked below him. Simple, right?

    Now, how does the order change from a Cowboys standpoint? What do I think THEY feel about these players?

    1. Cox
    2. Barron
    3. Upshaw
    4. Brockers
    5. Kirkpatrick
    6. Poe
    7. DeCastro
    8. Ingram
    9. Coples

    I may be affected by smoke screens or poor information that I am being fed, but I think that if Fletcher Cox and Mark Barron are both on the clock at #14, there will be a massive tug-o-war in the war room over which direction they go. Beyond that, I think they are settling and happy, but not over the moon. I may have my 3-6 rankings a bit off, but that is where I think they are today.

    I think they just don't want to deal with taking a guard, and the Coples thing is explained above.

    Surely an odd version of the mailbag, since I used dozens of emails but reprinted none of them, but hopefully this helps answer so many of the questions that are up right now in my email box and on twitter.

  20. #2560
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    42,908
    Really good news here on Lissemore - "most productive player per play" on defense...

    Name: Sean Lissemore
    Position: Defensive end
    Height/Weight: 6-4/306
    Experience: 2 seasons
    College: William & Marry

    Key stat: In 273 defensive snaps – a fraction of the starters' work – Lissemore tied Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff for fifth on the team with 2.0 sacks. He also ranked 12th with 39 tackles, per coaches' film.

    Contract Status: Signed through 2013.

    2011 Impact: Defensive line coach Brian Baker summed up Lissemore's second NFL season by calling him their "most productive player per play" on defense. (Outside linebacker Victor Butler was rated another highly efficient backup, according to team owner/GM Jerry Jones.) Lissemore appeared in 16 games on special teams and all over the defensive line, tallying two tackles for loss and five pass breakups in addition to his tackle and sack totals. He was especially active with a team- and career-high six tackles in the Cowboys' Christmas Eve loss to the Eagles.

    Where He Fits: Anywhere, which makes him an asset in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's diverse schemes. Lissemore played a lot at defensive tackle, particularly with backup Josh Brent battling a knee injury, but he also can slide over to defensive end. He'll compete for a more central role in the rotation whether the Cowboys draft a defensive lineman or not.

    Writers' Analysis:

    Nick Eatman: He might have been the most productive player on the team with the most limited reps. If you think about Lissemore only playing about 250 snaps and having the same number of sacks (2.0) and only three less tackles than Jay Ratliff's 42 stops, you have to wonder if Lissemore just needs to play more. In fact, defensive line coach Brian Baker said he probably should've gotten more snaps for Lissemore. Throw in his versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle, and this guy might have something to offer. I've said it before that Lissemore could be exactly like Stephen Bowen and after two years, and I think he's on pace for that.

    Rob Phillips: Defensive line help should be a top priority in this year's draft, depending on how things fall. But the Cowboys are really happy with Lissemore's progress. When the team drafted him in 2010, then-head coach Wade Phillips called him a high-motor guy much like Ratliff, another former seventh-rounder. That's exactly what he's been, and his production helped ease the loss of Stephen Bowen to free agency.



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