So with the NFL Combine starting the Dallas Cowboys will be scouting their prospects heavily. They no doubt have their draft board built and are waiting until the next phase of the offseason to finish before adjusting. Instead of which players they are looking at, let’s look at what they are looking for.
We can all agree that the Dallas Cowboys need D Line, O Line, Safeties, LBs, and a few other positions. On the D Line they will be looking for athletic guys who can put pressure on the QB. As it stands they have guys who can stop the run fairly well. At defensive tackle, the Dallas Cowboys need a bigger guy who can push the line back and into the face of the QB. There is more that they will be looking at than just the strength however. They will need a guy who can jump and has a long arm span. Watching many other teams this season there was never really guys who stuck their hands up in the passing lanes. So when it comes time for the D linemen watch for more than their power, watch how high they jump, their arm span, and size.
On the secondary of course you want to look at speed. There is a lack of height on this team in the secondary and I would think the scouts will focus on not just the guy who can run a sub 4.4, but guys who have the ability to get up and knock a pass down. Here I would say the scouting department needs to look at strength more than they have. I don’t mean the guy who will knock your head off (although that would be nice too), but the guy who can throw a receiver or tight end off of his route to allow more time for the linemen to get to the QB.
On the O line I would say guard is the position they will be studying intently. Getting a big linemen will do just fine, however there needs to be better study on not just the hand techniques, but foot techniques as well. If the Cowboys want to open up passing lanes and running lanes, they will need a guard to can move guys around or pull to get to the linebacker in the second level. There is more to it than just how many times he can throw up the bench press.
If the Cowboys decide to look at QB at the combine, I would think they will go with a QB who is a lot like Romo. A guy who has an arm to get the ball down the field, has mobility to get out of the pass rush, and has the ability make plays in the passing game. Due to the lack of commitment we have seen from the running game I don’t think the Cowboys will lean toward a guy who has a higher tendency to run. I would look again at not just the height and weight or arm strength, I think they will pay attention to the footwork and lateral speed of the QB.
At linebacker the Cowboys need speed. They have some guys who can support in the run game, what they are missing is a guy who can cover the athletic TEs or get to the QB on a regular basis when asked to rush. Instead of looking at guys who specialize in rushing the QB, I think scouts will look at lateral and vertical speed. They will not minimize size, but they might take a slightly smaller LB with the ability to cover the flats and middle better than they have.
The Combine is more than just watching the bench press, 40 times, and throwing/catching abilities. There are a lot of drills that show other facets of a player. If the scouting department does its job they will have a sheet on each position and what they are looking for in each. It should list all of the things that fit in the schemes the Cowboys want to run, and how to fit guys into that scheme. I would think this year there will be less looking at flat out speed or strength than previous years and hopefully a more specified tailor approach to each position. Building the draft board is fluid and quite difficult. If done right there can be not just the stars you find, but the guys who play their role better than the next guy. So bring on the Combine, the Dallas Cowboys staff will be watching, and as twisted as it is, so will I.