Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Beyond the first round: Defensive ends
By Calvin Watkins
Each day over the next nine days, we will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might 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 after the first 32 picks. We continue the series with defensive ends.
Second round, Dee Ford (Auburn): He can play a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Ford's weight has fluctuated from 252 pounds at the combine to 244 at his pro day. He's got straight-line speed, ran a 4.5 40 at his pro day, and has good range against the run and makes plenty of tackles on the running back at the line of scrimmage. The only negative is he could be too small to play in a 4-3.
Third round, Chris Smith (Arkansas): Will owner Jerry Jones draft someone from his alma mater? Coach Jason Garrett likes players who were leaders on their college teams and Smith was a team captain at Arkansas. He's got an excellent upper body, bench pressed 28 at 225 pounds, and with long arms (34 1/8) he has the ability to keep defenders at bay. He doesn't play with a reckless abandon but he does rush the passer with a sense of urgency.
Fourth round, Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State): He was one of the 30 national visits at Valley Ranch. He proved to be a durable player in college because he didn't miss a game in two college seasons. However, he was suspended against UNLV in October and later for the Las Vegas Bowl against Washington for violation of team rules in 2012. He missed a game for disciplinary reasons against Tennessee Martin early in the season. Lawrence has above-average patience as a backside defender and has quick lateral movement.
Fifth round, Kareem Martin (North Carolina): Something that appeals to Garrett, he's a team captain. He has large hands (10 inches), long arms (35 inches) and was fantastic at the combine. He has fast straight-line speed (1.64 10-split and 4.72 40-dash) and high jumps (35.5 inch vertical jump and position-best 10 feet 9 inches board jump). He's been inconsistent at snap anticipation and there were too many times he got off the ball too late.
Sixth round, Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas): Can he play a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end? Might be better suited to play in a dime package his rookie year to find out. His dad, Jim Jeffcoat, played for the Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills. Jeffcoat has quick hands and feet to slip past blocks.
Seventh round, Marcus Smith (Louisville): Smith is an athlete. He moved from quarterback to linebacker after one week in 2010 and to defensive end in 2011. He has active hands that makes it difficult to block. He also shows the ability to work inside after starting his pass rush outside. He reads quarterbacks well and has good route recognition in underneath zone. Maybe he's more of a 3-4 end than a 4-3, but he is worth a look.