Dallas Cowboys: 2010 Draft Series

Calvin Watkins mailbag: Ask now

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
3:45
PM ET
How do you feel about the Cowboys drafting Dez Bryant in the first round of the draft? How do you think the Cowboys fared overall? What would you do with Roy Williams and the receiving corps?

Calvin Watkins will answer all your questions related to that and anything else involving the Cowboys in his weekly mailbag, which will appear Monday. Get your questions in now.

Draft series: FS Earl Thomas

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
10:47
AM ET
video
This wraps up a 10-part series by ESPNDallas.com looking at a potential Cowboys pick leading up to the draft. Too see the entire series, go here.

EARL THOMAS

School: Texas
Size: 5-10 1/4, 208
Position: Free safety
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 2 at safety, No. 8 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] EnlargeEarl Thomas
John Rivera/Icon SMIEarl Thomas intercepted 10 passes and recovered five fumbles during his 27-game college career at Texas.
Thomas’ coverage skills are so impressive that some teams project him as a cornerback. He has excellent speed and agility, comes out of breaks smoothly and quickly and possesses exceptional closing speed. He’s a natural playmaker, intercepting 10 passes and recovering five fumbles during his 27-game college career. He has outstanding ball skills. Despite his height, he’s very good at fighting for balls in the air, timing his jumps well. He’s a heady player who spends a lot of free time in the film room.

NEGATIVES
The biggest knock on Thomas is that he’s not that big, although he added 10 pounds from the end of the season to the scouting combine. There are questions about whether he can be a good run-support safety in the NFL. He’s a willing tackler who doesn’t shy away from contact, but he has difficulty getting off of blocks and bringing down big running backs.

COWBOY FIT
Thomas is exactly what the Cowboys want in a free safety. They’d love to have a playmaker back there who is comfortable in man coverage against slot receivers. Of course, so would a lot of other teams, which is why the odds are slim to none that Thomas slides to No. 27. If the Cowboys really want Thomas, they’ll have to trade up to get him. If Thomas is still on the board in the late teens, don’t be surprised to see Jerry Jones start wheeling and dealing.

TEXAS SECONDARY COACH DUANE AKINA
“The common thread with all the great ones that I’ve coached is that they’re so passionate about the game and work so hard. Here’s a kid who has tremendous talent and works so hard. He loves the game and prepares for the game, not only during the season but all year long. …

“He’s got a natural gift for [making plays]. And what he’s done is gotten in the film room and studied releases, so he understands how a pattern will develop. He started getting into all the little things at the position. … Earl could be a great corner, too. He can play the nickel. He’s a DB who can line up on that slot receiver who runs a 4.3 and cover him. I would put his cover skills and his playmaking ability up against anybody else in the draft. He’s got tremendous position flexibility. …

“He had one punt return for 73 yards. Don’t tell anybody, but the punter tackled him. We’re trying to keep that a secret. …

“We really ask our safeties to do quite a bit. We ask them to make a lot of calls out there, depending on formations. He loves that. He loves to be a student of the game. … He’ll be fine [in run support]. The intent is there. He’s a tough kid by nature and he’ll continue to get bigger. He will hold up. He’s a very tough and prideful kid. I don’t think that’ll be a problem for him, but he’ll continue to grow in that area. … He’s just a real unique talent. Whoever gets him is going to be really lucky.”

Draft preview: S Nate Allen

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
2:41
PM ET
video
ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

NATE ALLEN

School: South Florida
Size: 6-0 1/2, 207
Position: Safety
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 4 at safety, No. 54 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] Enlarge Nate Allen
Chris Livingston/Icon SMISouth Florida safety Nate Allen is a tough guy and a willing tackler, but he isn't consistent enough in run support.
Nate Allen, who started his last 39 games at South Florida, is a smart free safety who possesses excellent leadership skills. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.5 40), but he has good range, in part because he does a good job diagnosing plays and has good instincts. He was a high school basketball star and has good leaping ability, allowing him to frequently win jump balls with receivers. His fluid hips give him the ability to play man coverage against most tight ends and some slot receivers.

NEGATIVES
He’s a tough guy and willing tackler, but he isn’t consistent enough in run support. He doesn’t always take the proper pursuit angles. He needs to do a better job of wrapping up, as he slides off too many tackles, and is vulnerable against elusive backs and receivers in space. He struggles getting off of blocks when matched up against tight ends. He had nine interceptions for South Florida, including four as a senior, but doesn’t have great hands.

COWBOY FIT
Allen could compete immediately with Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin for the starting free safety job that’s open after the release of Ken Hamlin. He would be a reach at No. 27 overall, but the Cowboys could opt to trade down and target him with a second-round pick they acquire in the deal. His best asset might be his high football IQ, which is what the Cowboys valued most in Hamlin.

Draft preview: OT Bruce Campbell

April, 19, 2010
4/19/10
10:31
AM ET
video
ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

BRUCE CAMPBELL

School: Maryland
Size: 6-6 3/8, 314
Position: Left tackle
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 7 at OT, No. 49 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] EnlargeBruce Campbell
Brad Schloss/Icon SMIBruce Campbell is a project who needs a lot of work on his technique. That being said, he'll immediately be one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the NFL.
After watching Campbell weigh in at the scouting combine, one personnel man declared that he had never seen a better body in his two decades in the business. Campbell had an awe-inspiring combine, running a 4.8 40 and putting up 34 bench press reps with arms that were measured at 36 inches. He will immediately be one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the league. His long arms, massive hands, strength and quick feet give him the potential to be a dominant pass-blocker.

NEGATIVES
Campbell’s film isn’t nearly as impressive as his physique. He started only 17 games at Maryland and wasn’t named All-ACC. He’s a project who needs a lot of work on his technique. His footwork is inconsistent, and he tends to lunge because he gets caught out of position. Despite his strength, he wasn’t a dominant force in the running game for the Terps. He’s a finesse player, raising questions about his toughness. There are also durability concerns after he missed three games as a junior (two with turf toe, one with a knee injury).

COWBOY FIT
If Campbell is available at No. 27, the Cowboys will have to decide whether to gamble on his immense potential. He’s a top-10 athlete who performed like a late-round pick in college. It’d be at least two years before Campbell could be expected to compete for a starting job, which means the Cowboys would be thin behind Doug Free and Marc Colombo this season. USC’s Charles Brown isn’t in Campbell’s class athletically, but he’s a safer pick. Given the Cowboys’ recent history of offensive line draft busts, can they afford to take perhaps the biggest boom-or-bust player in the draft?

MARYLAND OFFENSIVE LINE COACH TOM BRATTAN
"You’ve got a 6-6, 310-pound offensive lineman and you can see his abs. He’s exceptionally strong, just sculpted. If you want to draw up what a left tackle should look like, he’s what you’re looking for. … He’s very, very, very good in pass pro. He can set quickly. He can lock out. He’s strong enough to stop the bull and athletic enough to stop the veer moves. … [As a run blocker], somewhat inconsistent with technique. That’s an area he’s good but needs improvement. … He plays with pretty good fire. I wouldn’t say he’s very loud or vocal, but it’s very important to him. He’s going to do what it takes to play. He played hurt all last season. He had turf toe from the first quarter of the first game. If you’re 310 pounds and balancing on that toe, it makes it very difficult. He played with that all year. … He’s an unfinished product, but you look at physically something you want to work with, the sky’s the limit for him. … He was a delight to coach. No hidden agendas. No issues. … We ran a West Coast offense. He’s been exposed to a lot of the stuff they run in the NFL as far as pass pro and blocking schemes. We’re not as complex, but he will have heard a lot of the stuff. He won’t be in total shock. He will have seen it."

Draft preview: CB Devin McCourty

April, 16, 2010
4/16/10
10:55
AM ET
video
ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

DEVIN McCOURTY

School: Rutgers
Size: 5-10 3/4, 193
Position: Cornerback
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 4 at CB, No. 26 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] EnlargeDevin McCourty
Rich Kane/Icon SMIDevin McCourty averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return and blocked seven punts in his college career.
McCourty, a three-year starter whose twin brother Jason was a rookie for the Tennessee Titans last season, is a well-rounded cornerback who should be an immediate impact player on special teams. He has good speed, showing the ability to recover if a receiver gets separation, and he changes directions quickly and smoothly. He’s an intelligent player with an excellent understanding of route concepts, defensive schemes and positioning. He’s a big hitter by cornerback standards who does a good job in run support. He averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return and blocked seven punts in his college career.

NEGATIVES
His size can be a disadvantage against big receivers, especially on slants and crossing routes, on which they can use their frames to shield him from the ball. He also struggles in jump ball situations when he’s at a height disadvantage. He sometimes has difficulty getting off blocks when he’s facing bigger receivers. He doesn’t have great ball skills or hands. He didn’t create many turnovers in college, picking off only six passes.

COWBOY FIT
The Cowboys have two Pro Bowl cornerbacks and a solid slot man in Orlando Scandrick. Do they need another corner? Absolutely, especially with Terence Newman (32 in September) getting up there in years. Drafting a corner would allow Alan Ball to focus full-time on free safety, and McCourty ought to be able to make his presence felt immediately on special teams. The Cowboys could either take him at No. 27 overall or move down a little bit and hope that he’s still available.

RUTGERS HEAD COACH GREG SCHIANO
“He’s a great player and an even better person. He’s as reliable as they come. Having coached that position in the league, I can tell you that’s a guy a secondary coach can count on. He’s a student of the game, a detail guy and has all the physical attributes necessary. …

"He actually enjoys contact, which is a rarity at that position. And he’s a great [special] teams player. He does it all. He’s a great kick returner, blocked seven kicks in his career and is the best flyer [on punt coverage] I ever coached. Peoples’ answer was to put double-press on him, and he’d still beat them and make the play. … He can really run. He’s got great catch-up speed, but he understands the importance of footwork. He’s an NFL-level technical player coming out of college. …

"We would put him on the opponents’ best receiver and he’d usually shut them out or give up only one catch. I don’t think he had a deep ball on him all year. … He’s a great nickelback. Good blitzer, too. … He was a great offensive player in high school as a running back and wide receiver. He has a great feel for the ball and, when he gets his hands on it, he’s dangerous. He’s a quick-twitch type of guy.”

Draft preview: C Maurkice Pouncey

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
10:21
AM ET
video
ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

MAURKICE POUNCEY

School: Florida
Size: 6-4 1/2, 304
Position: Center/guard
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at center, No. 19 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
Maurkice Pouncey
Kim Klement/US PresswireMaurkice Pouncey never missed a game at Florida, displaying his toughness by playing in the Sugar Bowl hours after being treated for kidney stones.
Pouncey, who started at guard as a freshman before moving to center, is a tough, physical player with a high football IQ. He made all the line calls for the Gators, consistently displaying an excellent understanding of blocking concepts and defensive schemes. He’s explosive out of his stance and plays with great power and leverage. He’s a dominant trap blocker and has good timing on combo blocks and gets to the second level smoothly. As a pass protector, he has a strong initial punch and light feet that allow him to shuffle and mirror pass rushers. He displayed his toughness by playing in the Sugar Bowl hours after being treated for kidney stones.

NEGATIVES
You have to nitpick here. He can occasionally get into trouble in pass protection when he gets caught lunging. He sometimes is too aggressive. He made most of his snaps out of the shotgun and will have to adjust to playing in a traditional NFL offense. He never missed a game in college, but there are minor durability concerns due to surgery he had to repair a torn labrum last spring.

COWBOY FIT
With left guard Kyle Kosier entering the final season of his contract, the Cowboys need to get a replacement ready to go. Pouncey could push Kosier for the starting job immediately. Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode is 32 years old, so it’s not too early to start grooming his eventual replacement, either. At the least, Pouncey would be a major upgrade for the interior line depth. He could be a guy who starts for a decade, spending a few years at guard before moving back to center.

FLORIDA OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/OL COACH STEVE ADDAZIO
“He’s the toughest guy I ever coached and he knows football. He can call defenses. He understands protections and where the blitzes are coming from and those kind of things. … He’s relentless. He’s going to defeat his guy and get down field. … He’s a mauler. He’s going to knock you off the ball. He started at guard as a true freshman. The only reason I moved him to center is because you take one of your smartest guys and put him in position to make all the calls.

"He’s really a guard that became a great center. He can play each equally well. And I’m telling you, put him out at tackle and you’d be shocked. When a guy is a football guy, they understand being in football position and understand ball, they can do all that. That’s when you understand you have a great one. … I think he will be a Pro Bowl player. He’s got it. The hardest part of the game is always [pass] protection, and he’ll continue growing in that area.

"We play in the SEC. This is an NFL-ready conference. Against Joe Blow U. in the Big East, they don’t go against 330-pound guys every week. Maurkice played against those guys every week. He played against the biggest nose in America at Alabama, a guy who would eat me if he had the chance. As an 18-year-old freshman, he played against [Glenn] Dorsey in Tiger Stadium. He’s NFL ready. He’s not going to blink. … He’s the best I’ve ever coached. I think he has all the components to be great. He’s going to be great. He’s going to bring the locker room and team up with his energy, his enthusiasm and love for the game. He’s a home run.”

Draft preview: RB Dexter McCluster

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
11:50
PM ET
video
ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

DEXTER McCLUSTER

School: Ole Miss
Size: 5-8 , 172
Position: Running back/slot receiver/return specialist
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 4 at RB, No. 83 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] EnlargeDexter McCluster
Jim Brown/US PresswireDexter McCluster isn't big, but he has the ability to break tackles and is a better blocker than might be expected.
McCluster is an explosive playmaker with significant experience as a tailback and slot receiver, racking up 1,169 rushing yards and 520 receiving yards as a senior. He has tremendous acceleration and burst and a knack for making tacklers miss in the open field. He excels at changing directions without slowing down, which is why he’s projected as an impact return man despite not filling that role much for Ole Miss. He’s tough and has excellent intangibles. He’s a much better blocker and breaks many more tackles than his size would suggest.

NEGATIVES
He’s tiny and has a troubling injury history, missing games in college due to a concussion and shoulder injury. For a player considered a home run threat, he has pedestrian speed, running in the mid-4.5s at the combine and mid-4.4s at his pro day. He has soft hands but isn’t a polished receiver, having run very basic routes for the Rebels. He has small hands (8 3/8 inches) and had problems protecting the ball in the SEC. While he has the athletic ability to be an outstanding punt and kick returner, he returned only 19 kickoffs and eight punts in college.

COWBOY FIT
Jerry Jones is intrigued by a prospect who could add some juice to his team’s substandard return units, and the Cowboys might be willing to take a shot on McCluster if he’s still available in the third round. He could have a niche role in certain offensive packages as a rookie and could develop into a multi-purpose threat, similar to ex-Cleveland star Eric Metcalf. The Cowboys’ backfield is crowded at the moment, but that could change if the Cowboys decide to part ways with Marion Barber within the next two years. McCluster has been compared to San Diego mighty mite Darren Sproles as a diminutive but dynamic change-of-pace and third-down back. There’s always room for “wow” threats at Valley Ranch.

OLE MISS RB COACH DERRICK NIX
“He has the quickest first step of any guy I’ve ever coached. He has the ability to stop on a dime and go back 100 miles per hour. ... He can dot the I, motion out of the backfield and go to wide receiver or line up in the slot and run bubble screens. He can returns punts and kicks. He also ran the Wildcat for us. He can run that inside zone or get to the corner and makes good decisions. ... If you get him in space in one-on-one matchups, he’s hard to tackle. The key is getting him in space. ... He was really, really, really good in pass protection. Every defender thinks he’s going to cut every time. Sometimes he hits them up high, but he gets them to the ground almost every time. ... You’ve got to be real selective and choose your spots [to use him], but he’ll last. Physically and mentally, he’s very tough. I’ve seen him fight through pain. His ribs were hurting against Auburn and he got back in there and busted a 70-yard run. He’s a guy you want to go in an alley with, because he’s going to leave everything he’s got out there. ... As good of a player as he is, he’s a better person. You don’t have to worry about him when you lay your head down at night. He’s going to do the right thing and be a leader for whatever team gets him.”

Draft preview: DT Jared Odrick

April, 13, 2010
4/13/10
11:38
AM ET
video

ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

JARED ODRICK

School: Penn State
Position: Defensive tackle/end
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 5 at DT, No. 28 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] Enlarge Jared Odrick
AP Photo/Carolyn KasterDefensive lineman Jared Odrick had 10 tackles for losses and six sacks as a senior at Penn State.
Odrick, the 2009 Big Ten defensive player of the year, has an excellent first step and anticipation of the snap count. That allows him to be disruptive, making 10 tackles for losses and six sacks as a senior. He has good strength and competes to get off blocks, often controlling offensive lineman with his powerful hands in one-on-one situations. As a pass rusher, he’s effective with bull rush and rip moves and is relentless.

NEGATIVES
He doesn’t have elite lateral mobility or the ability to change directions quickly. That limits his ability to make tackles on plays that aren’t run right at him or to chase down scrambling quarterbacks. He can be robotic as a pass rusher and needs to develop counter-moves to be consistently effective against NFL offensive linemen. He was arrested for disorderly conduct in February 2009 after a fight with three students on the Penn State campus, registering some concern about his character.

COWBOY FIT
He has the prototypical frame to play defensive end in a 3-4, and his explosive first step makes him a good fit in Wade Phillips’ one-gap system. Odrick is expected to be selected in the late first round, so he wouldn’t be a reach for the Cowboys at No. 27. With three defensive ends playing on one-year tenders, it’d make sense to draft Odrick if the Cowboys believe he’s the best available player. If that happens, don’t be surprised if they try to trade one of their defensive ends (Marcus Spears?) for a mid-round pick.

Cowboys draft preview: Dez Bryant

April, 11, 2010
4/11/10
11:39
PM ET
video

ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

DEZ BRYANT

School: Oklahoma State
Position: Wide receiver
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at position, No. 12 overall (scouting report)

POSITIVES
[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Brett Davis/US PresswireDez Bryant is a potential gamebreaker as a receiver and punt returner, but he ran into trouble while at Oklahoma State.
He’s a potential gamebreaker as a receiver and punt returner. He has great strength and incredible burst for his size. He attacks the ball in the air, and his outstanding leaping ability and amazing body control allow him to make acrobatic catches in traffic. He has a rare ability to make people miss and break tackles, making him extremely dangerous after the catch. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he can create separation from defensive backs. He’s not afraid to make tough catches over the middle.

NEGATIVES
There are serious concerns about whether Bryant, who had an extremely difficult childhood, is mature enough to succeed in the NFL. He was suspended for the final 10 games last season for lying to NCAA investigators inquiring about his relationship with Deion Sanders. The bigger concerns are his problems with such simple things as being on time. His work ethic has also been questioned. He tends to take plays off when he isn’t the primary option and can be lazy with his route-running.

COWBOY FIT
Bryant is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft. In the unlikely scenario that he slips to No. 27, Jerry Jones has to decide whether it’s worth taking a risk on a receiver who oozes Pro Bowl potential. If Jones likes Bryant enough, he could entertain the possibility of trading up to the late teens to get him. Bryant and Miles Austin would form one of the biggest, most athletic receiver tandems in the league for years if Bryant pans out. He’d be an immediate upgrade as a punt returner and should be able to contribute at least in three-receiver packages as a rookie.

OKLAHOMA STATE WR COACH GUNTER BREWER
“He can be a game-changer. He’s a guy that’s big and physical. He may not have the 4.4 or 4.3 speed that people seem to think you need, but he’s a big guy like Larry Fitzgerald that doesn’t seem to get caught. A lot of those corners are 5-9, 5-10 and 180 pounds. They might be faster than him, but they have a real hard time covering him. ... He’s the best at everything that has to do with going up and getting the ball in the air. He’s better than Randy [Moss, who Brewer coached at Marshall] at the fade. He’s just got an amazing feel at getting to the ball in the air. He can tweak his body and get to it, and he’ s so strong. His vertical and ability to play is the in the air is tremendous. ... People are concerned about his speed [as a punt returner], but he’s so strong that people fall off of him and he has the ability to make people miss. He has that quick-twitch ability to get going fast. And he’s fearless to catch the ball. ... I don’t think he has a character issue at all. It’s a time-management and life skills issue. He comes from a terrible background, but he’s never been in any [legal] trouble. ... Saying he’s a pathological liar, that’s not true. The only time he lied was when he got scared by the NCAA about losing his [college] career, which ended up happening. Nine out of 10 guys in that situation would probably have done the same thing. ... It’s going to be important wherever he goes for the receivers coach and offensive people to get to know him as a person and not just as a piece of meat. He’s a kid who has a good heart and wants to learn the game. He’s going to need some attention as far as the life skills part of it.”

Cowboys draft preview: Tyson Alualu

April, 9, 2010
4/09/10
12:00
AM ET
video ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

TYSON ALUALU

Size: 6-2 3/8, 295
School: California
Position: Defensive end/defensive tackle
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 6 at position (DT), No. 35 overall (scouting report)

Tyson Alualu
AP Photo/Michael ConroyCal's Tyson Alualu, projected as an early second-round pick, has experience in the 3-4 defense.
POSITIVES
Alualu is a tough, experienced 3-4 defensive end with the versatility to also play nose tackle. He's similar to Jay Ratliff in that he doesn't have prototypical size but plays with a nonstop motor. Alualu has extremely strong hands and does an excellent job playing with leverage, allowing him to be a force at the point of attack. He sheds blocks well and is a powerful tackler. Alualu, who is married with two kids, is considered a high-character prospect.

NEGATIVES
While he's a good bullrusher, he doesn't have reliable pass-rushing counter-moves. He relies primarily on strength and effort to rush the quarterback and needs to improve his technique. His footwork against the run is inconsistent. He doesn't have the elite range required to chase down running backs in the backfield. He's not extremely explosive off the ball and doesn't change directions quickly. He doesn't have prototypical height for a 3-4 defensive end or the ideal bulk to play inside.

COWBOY FIT
Alualu is projected as an early second-round pick, so he could be the Cowboys' target if they trade down. The Cowboys have three defensive ends who will be playing on one-year tenders next season in Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen. It's unlikely that all three will return in 2011, so there is a need at the position. With his experience in a 3-4, Alualu could compete for playing time immediately.

CAL DEFENSIVE LINE COACH TOSH LUPOI
"If there's a word that truly represents Tyson's game, it's versatility. He can do so much at so many different positions and be so effective. We played him as a wide rusher, dropped him in coverage, used him as a 3 technique, as a 5 technique and as a nose. Amongst all those responsibilities, it was rare for him to make a mental error and his production was excellent, leading Pac-10 defensive linemen in tackles. ... He can be a starter for someone and provide depth at multiple positions. He'd be your 5 technique and 3 technique and be very effective at those two positions and still be able to contribute in other places. He's someone who can really get after the passer in third-down and nickel situations, but he can also be an every-down player. ... One of the strengths of his game is the ability to use his hands. He can very quickly shed a blocker and use that guy's body to close a gap while getting in the other gap. He's able to strike someone and defeat them mano-a-mano and he complements that with his movement. ... [His character] is literally as good as it could possibly get. He's a family man, very religious. He has a wife and two children, and football is very important to him. He constantly wants to get better and is always in the coaches' office trying to learn. He's someone you'll never, ever have to worry about."

Cowboys draft preview: Mike Iupati

April, 8, 2010
4/08/10
12:28
AM ET
video ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.

MIKE IUPATI

Size: 6-5 1/8, 331
School: Idaho
Position: Offensive guard
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at position, No. 17 overall (scouting report)

[+] EnlargeMike Iupati
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIMike Iupati is a raw talent, but the Cowboys would probably have to trade up from No. 27 if they want to draft him.
POSITIVES
Iupati has the prototypical frame and power. He’s a dominant drive blocker who frequently blows defensive tackles off the line of scrimmage, displaying a mean streak. He has impressive mobility and agility for a man his size, making him effective pulling and trapping. His initial punch, long arms and quickness allow him to be an effective pass blocker despite technique that needs polishing. He’s athletic enough that some scouts project him as a tackle.

NEGATIVES
He’s still raw, which is to be expected of a player who didn’t move from Samoa until he was 14, when he started learning English and playing football. Idaho ran a pretty simple offense, so Iupati will have to work hard to adapt to a thick NFL playbook, as well as complicated defensive schemes. His technique needs to be refined. He’s aggressive, but he doesn’t always sustain his blocks. He has a tendency to reach, the result of improper footwork.

COWBOY FIT
If the Cowboys want Iupati, they’d probably have to trade up to the mid-teens. San Francisco and Pittsburgh, who have the Nos. 17 and 18 picks, are among the teams that have shown heavy interest in him. Left guard Kyle Kosier is entering the final season of his contract, so the Cowboys have a need at the position. They could plug in Iupati and have that spot filled for the next decade.

IDAHO OFFENSIVE LINE COACH DAN FINN
“The athletic ability he has for his size is just phenomenal. He has such great feet and moves so well when he’s pulling and getting in space and getting to the second level. And he’s so physically strong at the point of attack. He’s a mauler. He’s going to move the line of scrimmage for you. … He’s a smart kid and he’s going to work at it. He’s a visual guy. He’s going to want to see it done. English is his second language, so sometimes when you tell him things, you have to simplify it. But he’s a smart player. He recognizes stuff. He’d see stuff in pre-snap and come over to the sideline to tell me things. … One of the biggest jumps that he made from his junior year to his senior year was really being technically sound, especially in pass protection. He’s so big and strong that before he’d sometimes drop his head and use it to butt people and not really bend his knees. He got much better, but he can still make a jump with it. There are still some things he does mechanically he can get much better at. That’ll be the difference between him being a good player and a great one. He knows it, too. He wants to be great and will work at it. … A lot of people ask me if he can play tackle. I think his natural spot is guard, and that’s all he played here. If somebody put him at tackle, I think it would be an experiment. I’m not saying he couldn’t do it, but I think he could contribute right away at guard.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES