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Drafting Right Kind Of Guys: Defensive Line

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AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Defensive end Alex Okafor #80 of the Texas Longhorns tackles running back Joseph Randle #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the fourth quarter on October 15, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Oklahoma State beat Texas 38-26.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Is defensive end Alex Okafor the ‘right kind of guy’? (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Defensive line is a huge need for the Cowboys in this draft, so let’s dive into my big red spiral scouting notebook and see if we can find the right kind of guys to play in Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 defense.

With the Cowboys picking at 18 in the 1st round, I am omitting likely top 15 picks Shariff Floyd, Star Lotulelei, Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah, and Barkevious Mingo from the discussion. With those players off the board, I don’t see any defensive linemen I would take at 18.

Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson is considered by many to be a 1st round player, but I don’t see it. He tested well, has the physical tools, but I haven’t seen the production to warrant a 1st round pick. He didn’t even start at Missouri his junior season, and from what I’ve seen, many of the limited stats he racked up his senior year (10 ½ tackles for loss and 4 sacks) came against inferior opposition. He was swallowed up for the most part when he faced Kentucky’s Larry Warford, Alabama’s Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones, and Tennessee’s Zach Fulton. He had one of his best games against South Carolina’s Ronald Patrick, a player who had scholarship offers from the likes of Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, and New Mexico.

Likewise, for similar reasons, I would not pick North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams at 18. I like Williams better than Richardson and would take him in the 1st round in a trade-down scenario, but taking a 24-year old nose tackle that early is not what I want to do. Watching him against Virginia, he fared well against backups but was totally neutralized versus starters Conner Davis and Luke Bowanko. Bottom line is, if you’re looking for Warren Sapp in this draft, good luck finding him!

But there are right kind of guys to be found in later rounds:

Right Kind of Guys – Defensive Tackles

Bennie Logan, LSU (6-2, 309, 2nd round)

  • Projected by some to be a 4th round pick but analysts making those claims must not have watched his one-on-one matchups with 1st rounder Chance Warmack of Alabama the last two years; Logan more than held his own against Warmack and won some key 4th quarter battles, wearing down the 317 pound left guard
  • A strong nose tackle type who can push the pocket – 30 bench reps
  • Wore the prestigious #18 as a junior at LSU – number is given to the player who best exemplifies work ethic and leadership
  • If you’re waiting around to the 3rd round to take Bennie Logan, you may be disappointed because he could be off the board

Kawann Short, Purdue (6-3, 303, 2nd round)

  • 2-time Team Captain and 2-time 1st team All-Big Ten
  • Most productive defensive linemen in this draft with 49 tackles for loss and 19 ½ career sacks
  • Helped lead his East Chicago, Indiana high school basketball team to 2007 Class 4A state title
  • Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage says Short was “unblockable” at Senior Bowl
  • May need to watch his weight as he gets older…enters the league as a 24-year old
  • Won’t likely still be on the board when the Cowboys select at 47 in the 2nd round

Jesse Williams, Alabama (6-3, 323, 3rd round)

  • 1st round talent who’s stock is sliding due to a knee injury that has teams concerned
  • Native of Australia who first started playing football at age 15 after playing rugby and basketball
  • Highly productive monster in the middle of Alabama’s defensive line who earned “Tha Monstar” nickname….wears the same #54 as former Cowboys Hall of Famer Randy White and plays like The Manster
  • In my opinion, Jesse Williams is a better player than Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams, but some teams may not have him on their board due to the medical risk

Jordan Hill, Penn State (6-1, 303, 4th round)

  • High motor, undersized overachiever whose passionate about football
  • Captain and 1st team All-Big Ten as a senior
  • Showed good explosion at his Pro Day with 28 bench reps, 30 vertical, and 9-3 broad jump
  • Former high school running back who grew into a 300 pounder, which probably reminds Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli of Henry Melton

Nicholas Williams, Samford (6-4 ½, 309, 5th round)

  • Athletic small school sleeper
  • Former basketball player who only played one year of high school football
  • Terrific 4.86 forty with 1.70 split and 28 bench reps
  • Smart, mature, well spoken – public administration degree
  • Don’t be surprised if he goes as early as 3rd round, much like Jason Hatcher out of Grambling in 2006

Josh Boyd, Mississippi State (6-3, 310, 5th round)

  • Strong (32 bench reps) and quick – can push the pocket
  • Outstanding 7.10 cone drill and 1.71 10-yard split for a 310 pounder

Damion Square, Alabama, (6-2, 299, 6th round)

  • 3 year starter out of Houston Yates
  • Captain on a 3-time national champion team
  • Didn’t test well while rehabbing a right knee injury that didn’t require surgery
  • 18 tackles for loss and 7 ½ sacks in 33 starts playing in a rotation

Right Kind of Guys – Defensive Ends

Alex Okafor, Texas (6-4 ½, 264, 2nd round)

  • Unblockable against Oregon State in Alamo Bowl
  • Relentless, hard worker who amassed 22 sacks, 56 quarterback hurries and 8 forced fumbles in 33 career starts
  • Compares athletically with more highly touted Damontre Moore of Texas A&M, and Okafor’s maturity and intelligence (honors student/corporate communications degree) give him a higher grade in my big red spiral notebook

Malliciah Goodman, Clemson (6-4, 276, 3rd round)

  • Cowboys have a real need to find a 3rd pass rushing defensive end to develop behind Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer and Goodman is an intriguing possibility
  • Great length (37 inch arms) with 11 inch hands and shows ability to bend his knees and turn the corner (7.10 cone drill)
  • Totally unblockable in bowl win over LSU when he abused a freshman right tackle
  • Earned his sociology degree in 3 ½ years
  • Highly touted Parade All American who didn’t live up to the hype in college but might have figured some things out

Joe Kruger, Utah (6-6, 269, 4th round)

  • very young (20 years old), intriguing prospect who has great length, speed, strength and productivity
  • youngest brother of former Raven and current Cleveland Brown Paul Kruger; middle brother Dave Kruger is a DT prospect in this draft
  • projected by some to be a 6th or 7th round pick but here’s another promising player who may surprise analysts and go as early as the 3rd round
  • similar size and athleticism to freakish SMU’s Margus Hunt, but Kruger is 6 years younger than the 26-year old Hunt:

table Drafting Right Kind Of Guys: Defensive Line

Lavar Edwards, LSU (6-4, 268, 4th round)

  • Caught my eye at the combine during position drills with surprising movement skills
  • Former high school running back who, like Jordan Hill, might remind Marinelli of Henry Melton. Melton came into the league as a 6-4, 269 pounder, who ran a 4.64 forty (1.58 split) with a 34 ½ vertical and 10-1 broad jump. At the combine, Edwards ran a 4.75 (1.67) with a 33 vertical, 9-11 broad, and 7.03 cone drill.

David King, Oklahoma (6-4, 275, 6th round)

  • Might be worth a late round flyer after posting a 4.72 forty (1.64 split) with 27 bench reps at his Pro Day
  • 1st team Academic All-Big 12

Wrong Kind of Guys

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M (6-4 ½, 250)

  • 12 ½ sacks caught the eye of scouts to the point he was considered a possible top 10 pick when the draft process began, but a very poor combine workout sent scouts scurrying for more information
  • Red flags have dropped his stock, making him the wrong kind of guy to spend a first round draft pick on…could be a 2nd round steal if scouts and coaches have done their homework

Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU (6-3, 262)

  • I liked this player when I studied tape…seemed confident, very expressive in his interviews…however, his stock has fallen after a photo of a note on the LSU weight room door listed Montgomery and others as lacking in work ethic. Whether valid or not, perception damage has been done.

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