- Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter
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Each day over the next 10 days, we will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might be a fit for the Dallas Cowboys. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks. Today we look at outside linebackers.
Second round – Ryan Shazier (Ohio State): He was among the Cowboys’ national visitors leading up to the draft and has the build to be a weakside linebacker in their 4-3 scheme. He can run and cover, which are the top attributes of the Will in this system. He can get swallowed up by offensive linemen at times, but he is also a playmaker with 44.5 tackles for loss.
Third round – Telvin Smith (Florida State): Like Shazier, he can run. He was timed at 4.49 seconds in the 40. He is not afraid of contact, but he has a hard time getting off blockers. He looks more like a safety and does a good job in coverage. He’s quick at reading screens and does a nice job on running backs out of the backfield.
Fourth round – Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College): If you’re sensing a trend, he can run, too. He ran a 4.51 in the 40. As a senior he had 108 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks for the Eagles. As a freshman he teamed inside with Luke Kuechly and started all four years. He could be a big special-teams contributor.
Fifth round – Christian Kirksey (Iowa): He had at least 95 tackles in each of his final three seasons with the Hawkeyes. It should be noted that he was a two-year captain and that’s a trait the Cowboys like in players. He can get to the quarterback and is not lost when he is in space, however, he is at his best when he is coming toward the line of scrimmage.
Sixth round – Howard Jones (Shepherd): Like Shazier, he visited Valley Ranch before the draft. He has all of the physical traits you want (6-2, 235 pounds) and he can move. But he has not played at a high level of football. He could be a defensive end but needs to add weight. The level of competition will be an issue, but held up at the NFLPA All-Star Game.
Seventh round – Devon Kennard (Southern Cal): He might be more of a 3-4 outside linebacker with nine sacks last year for the Trojans. He played middle linebacker and defensive end for Monte Kiffin at USC. He has had some injury troubles. His father, Derek, played for the Cowboys from 1994-96.
Each day over the next 10 days, we will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might be a fit for the Dallas Cowboys.