Dallas Cowboys Draft Profile: Concerns
Pass Pro (Kind of)
Darrisaw is good in pass protection but Virginia Tech’s protections are built off their run games. (Heavy RPO offense) They do have some dropback passes in their playbook, but a lot of other protections force him to lead step inside and simply contain the edge.
The issue that results from this is Darrisaw utilizing a jump pass set when he should be utilizing a vertical or angle jump set. The variation allows him to maintain a half-man relationship with more explosive defenders or defenders lined up outside of the 5-technique spot. He has solid lateral quickness, but it is only solid, not elite.
Varying the type of pass sets allows him to take advantage of his frame because he can reach the necessary set points on time and at the right location instead of taking a different path that causes him to miss his set points and subsequently lose positioning on his defender.
Mental Processing (kind of)
Darrisaw possesses good instincts. (For someone consistently mocked in the first round, one would hope that was the case) However, because his protection plans are quite a bit different. For example, the offense is trying to get the ball out quickly so picking up defenders closest to the line is the first priority even if he isn’t the outside option.
Because of these protection calls, he can incorrectly key his assignment pre-snap. He does display the ability to adjust to the rusher post-snap, but he doesn’t effectively communicate the adjustment with the rest of his line allowing some rushers to win at the line of scrimmage.
Combo Blocks (kind of again, sorry…)
Me having to preface each concern with kind of can only be viewed positively because it just shows how technically refined Darrisaw is as a prospect. Considering all these concerns are fixable too, it gives me more faith in Darrisaw’s projection as a starting tackle.
When discussing mental processing, I mentioned Darrisaw’s struggle to communicate blitz protections. A similar issue exists when he has to combo block on any run. Sometimes when he chips or reaches the first-level defender he doesn’t seal the defender inside enough before he moves to the second level allowing the first-level defender to break the grasp of the other lineman.
Darrisaw is a top 15-20 prospect in this draft and his expertise in blocking in a zone running offensive scheme will have him highly coveted by teams like Atlanta, Carolina, Denver, and San Francisco. (Atlanta doesn’t really need a lineman but they’ll definitely have him highly rated.)
Analysts keep mocking Rashawn Slater to the Dallas Cowboys. Northwestern utilized a heavy amount of inside zone runs and when Slater was forced to gap block, he didn’t have the same power as Darrisaw did at Virginia Tech.
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The Dallas Cowboys, under Jason Garrett and by extension under Kellen Moore, have tried to vary their runs but tend to use a heavy amount of gap runs like dives, powers, and duo runs. For that reason, Darrisaw might provide more to the team than Slater even though the Cowboys showed they were going to pass the ball a lot under head coach Mike McCarthy and Moore, something Slater seems more comfortable doing than Darrisaw.
The expectation is that the Dallas Cowboys will not select an offensive lineman at the tenth overall pick. April is still a long time from now. Tyron Smith could force an exit similar to that of Travis Frederick’s from the previous offseason forcing the front office to potentially change their plan of attack.
If that were the case, the Cowboys should not hesitate to grab Darrisaw as early as pick number ten. He displays consistent technique and good athleticism to succeed at the next level and will only get better with coaching. Offensive line coach Joe Philbin seemingly worked wonders with substitute linemen all across the board for this team, imagine how much Darrisaw could improve under Philbin’s coaching?