Scout's Eye: Oxnard Day 3

August, 17, 2010
8/17/10
12:55
PM ET
My thoughts from Monday’s practice:

*The more you watch tight end Jason Witten, the more you should appreciate what a truly outstanding football player he is really.

While I was working with the Cowboys on the pro side of the department, I had the opportunity to sit in on the draft meetings and observe what the college scouts reported on the players from their area. I remember guys like Tom Ciskowski and Henry Sroka marveling at the talent of this young University of Tennessee tight end. When we watched the game tape, their words rang true of his ability.
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Bill Parcells also had a vision of the player. Parcells had a great eye for tight end play through his years of being with guys like Mark Bavaro at the Giants. Parcells had a way of painting the picture of the player and what his role could be with the club.

In that same draft, there were tight ends like LJ Smith and Mike Seidman. Smith ended up with the Eagles and Seidman with the Panthers. The college department liked those players but loved Witten. So Witten was given a grade of 1.19 and placed in the bottom of the first round.

As the draft wore on, and the names were coming off the board, in the third round, a name still remained on the board there in the first round, Jason Witten. As a gift from above, the card for Witten was handed in and there began the career of one of the best tight ends to ever play in the National Football League.

Witten had an outstanding day on Monday, catching two passes down the middle against a Cover 2 look in the two-minute drill. It’s amazing the feel that Romo has for Witten and where he is going to be in a route.

I talk about mismatch players and what they can do to a defense. Witten is too big for a safety to cover and too athletic for linebackers to deal with.

Linebacker Sean Lee will do a nice job in coverage, but Witten knows to gain separation then work away from the defender. Lee learned that firsthand on Monday.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jason Garrett will find a way to use Witten more in the red zone. Garrett knows that Witten is too good of a player working in the middle of the field and finding space.

*Reports are coming out that wide receiver Patrick Crayton is putting some work in as a long snapper. To me, this idea doesn’t sound crazy at all.

With the new NFL rules offering protection for snappers, it makes perfect sense. When John Phillips suffered the knee injury in the Cincinnati game, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis lost his emergency snapper. Crayton is a former college quarterback that still shows a nice arm when playing catch on the sidelines. As a former long snapper myself at LSU, snapping is like playing catch upside down.

Crayton has the arm, but the technique will need work. He will need to learn how to use his left hand as his guide hand and how to get a base with his feet and keep his rear down so the ball does not go high on him.

With some work, Crayton can learn and if something does happen at snapper, at least he could possibly get the team out of a game.

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