Dallas Cowboys: DeAndre McDaniel

Draft Watch: Clemson S DeAndre McDaniel

April, 20, 2011
Position: Safety
College: Clemson
Scouts Inc. ranking: No. 142 overall

Bio: Two-time first-team All-ACC selection finished his college career with 285 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, 15 interceptions, 16 quarterback pressures, 20 pass breakups, and three caused fumbles. … Only player in Clemson history who had at least 15 interceptions and 15 tackles for losses. … Moved from a rover position to strong safety for his junior season, when he tied a school record with eight interceptions. … Big hitter with nose for the ball who has drawn comparisons to Clemson alum Brian Dawkins. … Overcame a difficult childhood with his mother reportedly being arrested dozens of times. He was raised by his grandmother and godmother and matured into an honor roll student in college.

[+] EnlargeDeAndre McDaniel
Jeremy Brevard/Icon SMIClemson safety DeAndre McDaniel has a reputation for being a big hitter, but that wasn't always apparent on game video.
Size: 6-foot-1, 217 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.64
Arm length: 32 1/2 inches
Hand size: 10 1/8 inches
225-pound bench press reps: did not lift at combine
Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
Vertical jump: 35 inches
(Did not run shuttles or three-cone drill because of groin injury)

Broaddus Breakdown (viewed Auburn, Florida State, South Carolina, South Florida games): Physically, is a good-looking player. Really looks the part of a strong safety. Has a slow, upright pedal without the feet quickness. ... You can tell that he sees plays develop, but he will struggle to get going. In scouting terms he is a "creeper." He pedals slow, creeping along, then he reacts. ... Can tell that he is aware of his lack of foot speed because he will play very deep. Not as deep as Ed Reed did at Miami off the screen, but at a good distance. ... Made two nice plays on the ball in the Auburn game when he came off the hash and played the ball well in the air. Was able to get over on the play because Cam Newton hung the ball up to the receiver and allowed McDaniel to break on it. ... Had 15 interceptions in his college career, which is amazing to me because I don't see the quickness or the burst to make a bunch of plays in the passing game. Is really not a smooth-moving player. Not a fluid moving player at all. Will labor when he has to get in position. ... Is a very aggressive player and will get fooled on play-action trying to come forward. Will tend to float and drift in the secondary, then read the route and break on the ball. Will bite on routes. Looks like he is trying to read the quarterback or play, then make his move. ... Was used as a blitzer against Florida State but did a poor job of timing the blitz, using his hands and shedding the block. Didn't pressure the back at all. ... Bothered me that for his size, he isn't in many piles. He is a chippy guy around them but not always in them. Would not call him a wrap-up tackler. As a matter of fact, he was worst of the safeties that I studied. He will come at the ball carrier, then just throw his body in the way. There are scouts that say that he is a big hitter, but I did not see that in the games I studied. ... Strong safety only that will struggle to cover down field consistently; will need to go to a team that has a free safety that will play with some range to help him.

Position Series: Safeties

February, 23, 2011
Players: Alan Ball (free agent), Gerald Sensabaugh (free agent), Barry Church (signed through 2012), Danny McCray (signed through 2012), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (signed through 2013), Andrew Sendejo (signed through 2011)

Top free agents: Michael Huff, Oakland Raiders; O.J. Atogwe, St. Louis Rams; Bob Sanders, Indianapolis Colts; Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints; Quintin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles; Danieal Manning, Chicago Bears; Dawan Landry, Baltimore Ravens

[+] EnlargeBall
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireDon't expect safety Alan Ball to be a starter next season, if he's even on the Cowboys' roster in 2011.
Top draft prospects: Rahim Moore, UCLA; Quinton Carter, Oklahoma; DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson; Robert Sands, West Virginia; Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple.

2010 review: To put it simply, this position was a problem. The Cowboys made a major misevaluation with Alan Ball, who doesn’t have the instincts or tackling ability to be a starting free safety for a decent NFL defense. Gerald Sensabaugh was a disappointment for most of the season, although he finished strong by making four of his five interceptions in the last six games. He was not a factor against the run or an intimidating presence in the middle of the field. Barry Church and Danny McCray didn’t perform well enough in limited playing time to make a case to contend for a starting job. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who missed much of camp due to shoulder surgery and was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury, essentially had a redshirt season.

Offseason preview: The Cowboys have to find at least one, and preferably two, new starting safeties. If Ball is on the roster next season, it’ll be as a backup and core special teams player. There is a chance that Sensabaugh could return as a starter, but the Cowboys won’t give him the lucrative long-term deal he’s looking for in free agency. It would behoove the Cowboys to be aggressive in free agency, but they haven’t set up a visit with O.J. Atogwe, who is available to sign immediately after being released by the Rams this week. There are no safeties who are projected as top-10 picks, so don’t expect the Cowboys to draft one in the first round. They should be able to find a starter in the second or third round.

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