Dallas Cowboys: Future focus

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Cowboys future focus: DE Clifton Geathers

January, 28, 2011
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CLIFTON GEATHERS

Position: Defensive end
Height: 6-7. Weight: 300
College: South Carolina
How acquired: Claimed on waivers from Seattle

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Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireFree agency may give Clifton Geathers a shot at defensive end for the Cowboys.
What he did in 2010: Geathers bounced around the league before arriving at Valley Ranch in early December. The Cleveland Browns drafted him in the sixth round and released him in final cuts before the season. He signed with the Miami Dolphins, playing in one game before getting dropped to the practice squad. The Seahawks picked him up and released him a couple of weeks later, when the Cowboys claimed him off of waivers. He was active in only one game with the Cowboys.

What to look for in 2011: Geathers will get a chance to compete for a reserve defensive end role. Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher are all free agents, so there will probably be an opportunity for a young player to make his mark. Geathers looks the part at a lean 6-7, 300 pounds. He needs to prove he can play during training camp and the preseason.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: Here’s once again the pro department seeing the guy in the preseason and having an evaluation on him. When you get a guy with size and strength, that’s what you’re looking for at a defensive end. Obviously, they thought he had some of those traits. He’s got the measurables. This is the pro department looking ahead and knowing they’ve got three defensive ends coming up in free agency. This is a guy you take a shot on.

Cowboys future focus: Kenwin Cummings

January, 28, 2011
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KENWIN CUMMINGS

Position: Linebacker
Height: 6-3. Weight: 250
College: Wingate
How acquired: Signed off New York Jets practice squad.

[+] EnlargeKenwin Cummings
US PresswireKenwin Cumming has had experience playing for a Ryan, just not Cowboys new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Cummings played for Rex Ryan with the New York Jets.
What he did in 2010: Cummings was active for only two games and played solely on special teams. He was credited with one tackle. He was nearly pressed into action Dec. 19 vs. Washington because of injury but Bradie James was able to return.

What to look for in 2011: He was with the Jets for parts of three seasons and, if Rob Ryan runs a similar scheme than his brother Rex, then he could a regular backup and special teamer. Does Keith Brooking return? Will the team re-sign Leon Williams? The more numbers at the position, the more it hurts his chances but he does possess the size and strength you like in 3-4 inside linebackers.

Quotable: He is a physical two-down type of linebacker because he is limited in his range. He looks to have some instincts and can find the ball. He has some thump and plays with toughness. – NFC scout.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: It’s pretty hard to get feel for this guy but I think he’s going to play on all four special teams. I thought he did a pretty nice job seeing how the play developed and them working to get into position to try and make a play. He used his hands pretty well and showed some awareness. Just watching him on special teams I don’t know if he runs well enough to be a regular contributor on defense.

Cowboys future focus: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

January, 27, 2011
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AKWASI OWUSU-ANSAH

Position: Safety
Height: 6-0. Weight: 208
College: Indiana (Pa.)
How acquired: Fourth round pick, 2010 (126th overall)

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Geoff Burke/US PresswireAkwasi Owusu-Ansah, who played seven games before suffering an ankle injury, will remain a project for the Cowboys as he enters his second season
What he did in 2010: Owusu-Ansah played in the first seven games before an ankle injury ended his season. He played mostly on special teams, returning 25 kickoffs for a 21.7-yard average and a long of 41. He made one special teams’ tackle. He did not play any defensive snaps.

What to look for in 2011: Considered a project when the Cowboys drafted him out of Indiana (Pa.) because of the jump in level of play and the move from cornerback to safety, Owusu-Ansah enters his second season still a project. The injury did not help his cause because he likely would have seen action on defense down the stretch. With the safety position in a state of flux, Owusu-Ansah cannot be ruled out as a possible starter but he will not be helped if there is a prolonged lockout. Athletically, he can do just about anything he’s asked to do but he still has much to learn.

Quotable: “He has the size and speed you look for. He’s raw and I don’t know if he’s a corner or a safety but he can close and he has range. He looks to be a willing tackler but his lack of awareness at times hurts him. As a returner he has the speed but I wonder about his vision and feel.” – NFC scout.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: The thing with Akwasi is you could see the quickness and see his speed. I don’t know how aggressive he really is and how tough he really is. You have to be patient with this guy. He does have some physical traits but again a lot of it has to do with toughness and desire I think. If you’re going to play that position you have to be a willing tackler. I don’t know if he doesn’t have that because we just haven’t seen enough.

Cowboys future focus: Robert Brewster

January, 27, 2011
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ROBERT BREWSTER

Position: Tackle
Height: 6-4. Weight: 320
College: Ball State
How acquired: Third round pick, 2009

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AP Photo/David J. PhillipRobert Brewster Brewster still needs work from a technique standpoint and must get stronger.
What he did in 2010: Brewster was on the practice squad since October after spending four weeks on the active roster. His only impact came during the preseason. When the Cowboys were down three offensive linemen, including both tackles, Brewster had to start at tackle vs. San Diego. There were questions of then-coach Wade Phillips about sitting Tony Romofor the Chargers game with Brewster starting. Brewster didn't play that badly and Romo survived without getting hit. But it was clear Brewster, despite his second season in the league, just wasn't ready to play full-time.

What to look for in 2011: It will be interesting to see if Brewster is here if at all. The Cowboys liked the ability of Sam Young, another young tackle, and there is a thought the team will draft an offensive lineman this spring. Brewster still needs work from a technique standpoint and must get stronger.

Quotable: "I'm pretty confident in what I can do. I'm not really afraid of competition and welcome it. You just want your opportunity when it comes and hopefully it will happen soon." - Robert Brewster

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye:He was in a competition with Sam Young for the right tackle spot and Young looked better than Brwester did at right tackle. Brewster has to remake himself physically. He's going to have to get a lot stronger, work on his footwork and technique. You can tell Sam Young played at a big time program like Notre Dame and even though Brewster had a year of experience on him, you can tell he didn't play and he was like a rookie. Brewster was a year behind. Sam Young was the better player.

Cowboys future focus: RB Lonyae Miller

January, 26, 2011
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LONYAE MILLER

Position: Running back
Height: 6-0. Weight: 221
College: Fresno State
How acquired: Undrafted free agent, 2010

[+] EnlargeLonyae Miller
Jody Gomez/US PresswireIf Lonyae Miller is to emerge from Cowboys training camp as the team's third running back, he'll have to contribute on special teams.
What he did in 2010: Miller, who backed up San Diego first-round pick Ryan Mathews in college, spent most of the season on the Cowboys’ practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster in December, when Marion Barber missed games because of a strained calf. Miller didn’t play a down on offense, but he proved that he could be a solid contributor on special teams. Miller’s most memorable moment came when he recovered teammate Bryan McCann’s fumble on a kickoff return in the win over the Colts, which was Miller’s NFL debut. Coach Jason Garrett, who gave Miller “attaboy” recognition for that game, praised him for his hustle and called it the most significant play in the game.

What to look for in 2011: Miller’s ticket to the 53-man roster will come on special teams. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones has made it clear that he wants his third running back to be a strong special teams player. Marion Barber is likely to be released, so it’s likely that Miller will enter training camp as the favorite for the third running back job. He’s not likely to figure prominently into the Cowboys’ offensive plans, but they are intrigued by his combination of strength and speed.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: The Cowboys were looking for that third back who could play special teams. Lonyae Miller showed well enough on special teams to be that back. He showed enough on the practice squad. Obviously, Joe DeCamillis thought he was tough enough to do it. That’s where he found his niche. He was tough enough and reliable enough and wasn’t going to make any mistakes. They’re going to have to see if he can be a running back. They have an idea that he can be the special teams guy they need, but can they draft a back who can play special teams and be a better running back? Is it more important for them to have a better runner or a better special teams player?

Cowboys future focus: DL Sean Lissemore

January, 26, 2011
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SEAN LISSEMORE

Position: Defensive lineman
Height: 6-4. Weight: 298
College: William & Mary
How acquired: Seventh round pick, 2010 (234th overall)

[+] EnlargeLissemore
Larry French/Getty ImagesSean Lissemore will have the chance to earn a roster spot and be part of the defensive line rotation with Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher all scheduled to be free agents.
What he did in 2010: He was something of a surprise to make the 53-man roster out of training camp after being limited for most of training camp with an injury. He was inactive for the first six games and saw limited action in the next two before suffering an ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve. He finished the year with three tackles, a half sack and a quarterback pressure.

What to look for in 2011: With Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher all scheduled to be free agents, Lissemore will have the chance to earn a roster spot and be part of the defensive line rotation. In the final preseason game vs. Miami he was active and he was around the ball in his two games in 2010. He offers some position flexibility in that he can play nose tackle in a pinch, however, most of his time was spent playing end. Can he be considered a long-term fixture? Not at this point and the Cowboys could look to the draft and free agency to reload at the position.

Quotable: “He has average size but plays with quickness and motor. He’s more of a one-gap guy than a two-gap guy, so his size could be an issue if the Cowboys play more of a true 3-4 scheme. He can be overwhelmed at times but he flashes some pass rush potential.” – NFC scout.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: What you saw in the Dolphins game was that he played with great effort. He probably needs a lot more technique work, but I liked how he was relentless coming after the bal. He’s probably more of a backup guy than would be a starter one day.

Cowboys future focus: K David Buehler

January, 25, 2011
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DAVID BUEHLER

Position: Kicker
Height: 6-2. Weight: 225
College: USC
How acquired: 2009, fifth-round pick

[+] Enlarge David Buehler
Geoff Burke/US PresswireDavid Buehler missed eight field goal attempts in 2010, ranking 13th in the league with a 75 percent conversion rate. The Cowboys signed Kris Brown to be his competition for 2011.
What he did in 2010: David Buehler converted 75 percent of his field goal attempts in his first year on the job, which tied for 13th among NFL kickers. Buehler continues to display his strong leg -- he made four of six kicks of 50 yards or more -- but his inconsistency shook the Cowboys' confidence in him. Of his eight misses, five were to the right. He missed a game-tying attempt vs. New Orleans, and his missed PAT vs. Arizona led to another loss. But Buehler won games vs. Washington and Indianapolis with fourth quarter field goals. He struggled on makeable kicks, missing three of seven tries between 30-39 yards. His kickoffs were strong once again and he's a good tackler, but he has to take the next step and become an accomplished field goal kicker.

What to look for in 2011: Competiton. The Cowboys brought in Kris Brown to compete with Buehler for the field goal job. Brown is a veteran who has made big kicks in his career, but his struggles in 2009 forced the Houston Texans to open the job up to competition, which he lost to Neil Rackers. Brown will be given the chance to win the field goal job in training camp, and it's unknown if the Cowboys will go with two kickers in 2011.


Quotable: “I’m obviously curious about my future but I haven’t asked [about it] no. I hope they give me a chance. I’ve proven I can get the job done. I’ve been through some ups and down and learned from it. This season has definitely been a building year and I feel like I’ve been through pretty much every scenario a kicker can go through in one year. I’ve learned how to overcome them, how to take the positive out of negative situations." - David Buehler

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: There is still that doubt with him. Yeah, you can put him out for a long field goal and you have a good opportunity to make it. But where kickers make their money is between 40-49 yards, and there is some concern there with him. That's the thing that bothers me the most. If you don't have a guy who is consistent between 40-49 yards, I don't know how you can live like that every week.

Cowboys future focus: ILB Sean Lee

January, 25, 2011
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SEAN LEE

Position: Inside linebacker
Height: 6-2. Weight: 242
College: Penn State
How acquired: Drafted in 2010 second round, 55th overall

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Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAs a rookie, Sean Lee showed great potential but also was injury-prone. Will he be a starter in 2011? That's a big decision that the Cowboys have yet to make.
What he did in 2010: A hamstring strain during training camp and groin strain suffered during the season opener delayed his development, but Lee showed late in the season why the Cowboys considered him a mid-first-round talent. He displayed playmaking ability in several games, highlighted by his two-interception, one-touchdown performance against the Colts to earn the NFC defensive player of the week award. But Lee still had trouble staying healthy after earning increased playing time. He hurt his shoulder on his touchdown return, causing him to miss several practices, and left the Week 15 win over Washington due to a concussion.

What to look for in 2011: Can the Cowboys trust Lee enough to make him a starter? That’s a decision they’ll have to make this offseason – and it directly affects whether team captain Keith Brooking will return for a third season with the Cowboys. The durability issue is the only reason to doubt Lee. He’s a good athlete with excellent instincts and commitment to football. He has the potential to be a core member of the Dallas defense for the next decade.

Quotable: “He’s got all the physical ability, is extremely intelligent and loves the game. That’s what you ask for. If I’m building a team, I want 53 of those guys.” – Keith Brooking

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: There were things you saw this year that made you feel like he could be a starter. Injuries are the thing that hurt him the most. It’s never going to be about smarts. It’s never going to be about preparation. It’s going to be about health. He’s so aggressive, sometimes even a little too much. He had to learn to play within the scheme and be where he was supposed to be – not playing beyond the scheme. Once he gets accustomed to what he’s supposed to do, we’ve seen this guy make plays.

Cowboys future focus: FB Chris Gronkowski

January, 24, 2011
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CHRIS GRONKOWSKI

Position: Fullback
Height: 6-2. Weight: 245
College: Arizona
How acquired: Undrafted free agent

[+] EnlargeChris Gronowski
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireWhile seeing plenty of action as a rookie, Chris Gronkowski missed two key blocks that led to injuries for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
What he did in 2010: He was active for 14 of the 16 games and started eight times as a rookie. He finished the year with 17 yards on five carries and caught seven passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys elected to go with him as the lone fullback after cutting an injured Deon Anderson but he missed a blitz pickup that ended up with Tony Romo breaking his collarbone. He also missed a block that led to Dez Bryant’s fractured ankle on a kick return.

What to look for in 2011: Early in his first training camp Jerry Jones told Gronkowski he reminded him of Daryl Johnston. It was a heady tribute and one that Gronkowski still has to earn. He will go to camp as the starter in part because there is not another fullback on the roster. The return of tight end John Phillips from a knee injury could cut into his playing time or slice his roster spot altogether. What helped his cause in the battle with Anderson was his versatility. He has decent hands and was not bad in short yardage situations.

Quotable: “He’s an average lead blocker at best but he has some athletic ability. He got better the more he played, but he’s not a banger.” – NFC scout

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: I had a lot of hope for him coming out of camp but to me he’s not a true fullback. Early on he was more of a one shot blocker – hit and then fall off. He got better at sustaining but there were too many times where he was unable to get his guy out of the hole. The good thing about him is as a pass catcher, but to me this team probably needs to go get a real fullback.

Cowboys future focus: Danny McCray

January, 24, 2011
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DANNY MCCRAY

Position: Safety
Height: 6-1. Weight: 214
College: LSU
How acquired: 2010, undrafted free agent

[+] EnlargeDanny McCray
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireDanny McCray led the Cowboys with 28 tackes on special teams, where he made his mark as a rookie free agent signing.
What he did in 2010: He led the Cowboys in special teams tackles with 28. McCray earned his spot on the roster in the preseason, where he led the team with five special teams tackles which helped him become one of four rookie free agents to make the team. McCray saw limited time at safety during the season but the team's trust in him was mainly on special teams. Late in the season, McCray struggled to make two open field tackles while on defense raising some questions about his ability to make plays.

What to look for in 2011: If the Cowboys let Sam Hurd go in free agency, McCray would become one of their special teams leaders. However, the problem for the Cowboys was secondary play. It appears McCray will be given a chance to compete for a safety spot if one isn't drafted. Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh are potential free agents in 2011, so the Cowboys could lose both players. McCray, who had 196 tackles in 52 games in college, has a chance to make his mark.

Quotable: "In college, I made my mark on tackles. I have to tackle and when I couldn't make a few of those tackles [late in the season] it bothered me. I think I can do better if given the chance. I understand the scheme and just need more chances to help the team." -- Danny McCray

Cowboys future focus: OT Jermey Parnell

January, 21, 2011
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JERMEY PARNELL

Position: Offensive tackle
Height: 6-6. Weight: 290
College: Ole Miss
How acquired: Signed off Saints’ practice squad in October 2010

Jermey Parnell
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyOT Jermey Parnell, who the Cowboys snared off the Saints practice squad last season, was a defensive end during his only football season at Ole Miss and didn't play high school football.
What he did in 2010: Parnell was inactive for every game after the Cowboys signed him.

What to look for in 2011: The fact that the Cowboys carried Parnell on their 53-man roster for most of the season is an indication that they’re willing to be patient with him. They’ll have to be. He’s still in the beginning stages of his development as an offensive lineman. He was a defensive end during his only football season at Ole Miss, where he played power forward for the basketball team, and didn’t play high school football. Next season will be another developmental year for the 24-year-old.

Quotable: “He’s a very good athlete for a tackle, but he’s so raw. You’re talking about a guy who really doesn’t have much of a football background. He’s an interesting project, but he’s a long way away from being able to help the Cowboys.” -- NFL scout

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: “The offseason is going to be huge for him. Will Parnell be the guy who works out and gets bigger and stronger? He looks athletic, but his body type looks like a guy who wouldn’t play with a lot of power and strength. Usually offensive linemen develop in two or three years, but it’s going to be about strength training with him. He looks athletic enough to play. Whether he’ll ever be strong enough is a whole other question. With him, it’s more about the future than it is about now. Are they going with more athletic guys on the offensive line under Jason Garrett? This guy might be what you see in the future.”

Cowboys future focus: LB Victor Butler

January, 21, 2011
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VICTOR BUTLER

Position: Outside linebacker
Height: 6-2. Weight: 246
College: Oregon State
How acquired: Fourth round pick, 2009 (110th overall)

[+] EnlargeVictor Butler
AP Photo/Rob CarrVictor Butler, who finished the season with 20 tackles and two sacks, remains an enigma but the Cowboys' coaching change to new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could help his cause.
What he did in 2010: Butler was active for all but one game -- Dec. 12 vs. Philadelphia because of poor special teams play. He played mostly in the nickel and dime packages and only for brief spells to give DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer rest. He finished the season with 20 tackles, two sacks and four quarterback hurries. On special teams he had 10 tackles.

What to look for in 2011: As he enters his third year, Butler remains something of an enigma but the coaching change could help his cause. On a per-snap basis he is extremely active and makes plays. Playing behind Ware and Spencer he just doesn’t get many snaps. With Rob Ryan in as coordinator and a new linebacker coach coming, Butler will have a chance to make a new impression. While it’s not likely he would beat out Spencer for a starting spot, his ability to rush the passer could help him be more of a factor on third down. At 6-2, 246, he is not the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker, but he can be a situational pass rusher for Ryan, who likes to bring pressure.

Quotable: He’s an athletic pass rusher that will make some plays just on his athletic ability. He needs to get stronger and better against the run but has to do better against the run. He has upside but you want to see him do it more than every once and a while. –- NFL pro scout

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: Every time Victor Butler got to play, I thought he was productive. The guy shows good technique in getting of blocks. He has a good feel for how to get to the football and get to the quarterback and make plays. I would’ve liked to have seen him play more during the season because the times he did play he was productive. He’s always around the ball. He plays with great effort and plays with a lot of quickness.

Cowboys future focus: OLB Brandon Williams

January, 20, 2011
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BRANDON WILLIAMS

Position: Outside linebacker
Height: 6-3. Weight: 246
College: Texas Tech
How acquired: Fourth round, 2009 draft, No. 120 overall

[+] EnlargeBrandon Williams
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireBrandon Williams, who missed all of his rookie season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game, was inactive for 10 of the first 12 games during 2010 and finished the season with only four tackles.
What he did in 2010: Williams created a lot of buzz during the early portion of training camp, but he fizzled and failed to beat out Victor Butler for the third outside linebacker job. Williams, who missed all of his rookie season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game, played too hesitantly. He was inactive for 10 of the first 12 games. He finished the season with only four tackles. Three of those came in the win over the Washington Redskins, when he snuffed out a reverse to tackle Santana Moss for a loss.

What to look for in 2011: Williams will be fighting for a roster spot. The Cowboys like his potential as a pass-rusher, but it’s time for him to prove himself. He would help his cause significantly by showing during the preseason that he can be counted on as a core special teams player.

Quotable: “He has DeMarcus Ware-like burst off the ball.” –- Former coach Wade Phillips during training camp

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: “Brandon Williams was a guy that I really, really thought was going to be better than Victor Butler. Butler has more pass-rush skill. During the first week of training camp, I thought BW was going to be outstanding, but Victor Butler actually has better pass-rush skills than Brandon Williams. That’s really what separates the two guys. Butler is just a better player. There were times when you watched Williams rush during training camp that you thought he was going to be the guy, but as training camp wore on, he got progressively worse. Williams is going to have to develop some pass-rush moves. When you watch Victor Butler, he makes things happen. Brandon Williams doesn’t.”

Cowboys future focus: Kevin Ogletree

January, 20, 2011
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KEVIN OGLETREE

Position: Wide receiver
Height: 6-1. Weight: 198
College: Virginia
How acquired: 2009, Free agent

[+] EnlargeKevin Ogletree
Howard Smith/US PresswireKevin Ogletree, who only had three catches for 34 yards before suffering a right big toe injury in 2010, is in play to become the Cowboys' No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
What he did in 2010:Ogletree started off slow in training camp according to some team officials. But as the season progressed, Ogletree was one of the more improved players on the team. Jason Garrett wants his players to be consistent not only in games but in practices, and that was something Ogletree eventually did during the year. But Ogletree had only three catches for 34 yards before suffering a right big toe injury that placed him on injured reserve Dec. 15.

What to look for in 2011:The wide receiving corps might look different this fall if Roy Williams is sent packing and Sam Hurd finds a team willing to make him a receiver full-time. If that happens, Ogletree is in play to become the No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Ogletree runs good routes and has good hands but consistent he performs during the year can determine how much playing time he'll receive.

Quotable:"I just wait for my opportunities. When your name is called you got to play and produce, that's the NFL. I knew I had to stay patient because I had some other guys in front of me and I'm willing to accept that." -- Kevin Ogletree

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye:"He's a guy that when you watch him play, you do see the smoothness as a route runner and that's his game. He's got really good timed speed but you don't see him play that fast. He needs to be a little more consistent in catching the football, that's the biggest thing about him. Kevin needs to find a way to work to get himself open more and he needs to be a little more physical doing it that's the thing for him. I feel like he's got a lot of ability."

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