Wes’ Weekly Draft Tips: Running Game Muscle
Part Two of this week’s chat with the National Football Post’s Director of College Scouting Wes Bunting looks for players who can bring some muscle and consistency to Dallas’ weak running game. Today we discuss guard prospects and a bumper crop of fullbacks.
Cowboys Nation: Let’s move to another need position. There’s a chance the Cowboys may be looking for two new guards next year. I can’t believe they would look for both of them in the draft but let’s review the top layer or two from this class. First, do you anticipate any underclassmen guards coming out?
Wes Bunting: There could be, but none that are highly rated that are worth a mention at this time.
Of the seniors, Demarcus Love from Arkansas is a name to watch. He plays the weakside tackle position for the Razorbacks. He’s 6’5”, 315 lbs. I don’t think he’s a left tackle. He gets too leggy working out in space but he has some really impressive tape working as a sophomore at guard. He’s a sloppy body type but he’s got long-arms and I think he translates to a guard in the NFL, and a good one at that.
Jason Pinkston from Pitt also plays tackle. I think at 6’4”, 308 he gets kicked inside. Marcus Cannon from TCU is 6’5”, 358 lbs. If I’m a Cowboys fan, I think this is a guy I circle. He’s a big, physical player, a really good athlete for his size. He’s going to test out extremely well at the Combine. He’s got a powerful base, the kid can drive people off the football. Some scouts think he’s one of, if not the best tackle prospects. I disagree. I think he’s an excellent guard prospect, though and he’s going to go in the top two rounds at some point.
As for true guards, Benny Ijalana from Villanova is 6’4”, 320 and might have as much upside as any guard in the draft. He’s got a mean streak going that he didn’t demonstrate last year. He’s a long armed kid, plays some tackle there. He’s a long-armed kid who’s a bit raw in pass protection, gets too upright at times, but he’s got a strong upper body, very strong hands, can pull and get out to the second level and can dominate people on contact. He could be one of those Jahari Evans-type guys, a small-school guy who gets taken in the 2nd or 3rd round range, a dirty starter who needs a year or two to develop, but who will then take off because he’s so physically gifted.
Cowboys Nation: Let me bring up a shortcoming that I’m seeing from the current Cowboys guards and then you can rate these names on this skill and maybe bring other names into the conversation. Dallas runs a lot of counters, they like to toss. They want to work Felix Jones out in space. A problem that I’m seeing a lot, especially with Leonard Davis, is that these guys will pull and try to lead the back to the edge and they have trouble engaging linebackers. They can’t get low, they often over-run the play or lack the body control to slow down and lock on, and many times quick linebackers will cut inside them or underneath them and blow up the play. The current group of guards, Kosier aside, can’t consistently hit moving targets.
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