Let’s Take a Stab at an OT Board

Following up on Monday’s story about the 2010 OTs on Dallas’ draft board, let’s look at the candidates who have come through Valley Ranch this year and where they might rank on the Cowboys’ board.

Let’s begin by reviewing the short list of OTs who make last year’s board:

1-4  Russell Okung, 6’6”, 305 lbs.
1-5  Trent Williams, 6’5”, 306 lbs.
1-13  Bryan Bulaga, 6’5”, 310 lbs.
3-42  Anthony Davis, 6’5”, 325 lbs.
3-58  Roger Saffold, 6’4”, 312 lbs.
4-74  Vladimir Ducasse?, 6’4”, 326 lbs.
5-103  Sam Young, 6’7”, 305 lbs.
6-118  Jared Veldheer, 6’8”, 321 lbs.

To repeat, I’ve been told the level grade weighs long-term ceiling much more than immediate return.  This group contained three players the Cowboys project as quality, Pro Bowl caliber starters, at some point, in Okung, Williams and Bulaga.  Davis and Saffold were rated as solid starters and Young and Veldheer as possible starters, but hardly sure things.

Using the Cowboys own initial rating of Sam Young, I’m sticking with the proposition that the Cowboys will spend a very high pick on a player to plug in on the right side.

Here’s the list of o-line prospects who have visited Dallas this week:

  • Gabe Carimi
  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Will Rackley
  • Derek Sherrod
  • Tyron Smith
  • Nate Solder
  • Danny Watkins

This list does not include Villanova’s Ben Ijalana, who was prepping for today’s pro day, but I imagine he’s somewhere high on Dallas’ board.

If we add him here, we then should consider as OTs on Dallas’ board?  I think Rackley and Watkins will get really high or fairly high grades, but as guards, so I’m filtering them out.  That gets us to this early-rounds list:

Carimi, Castonzo, Ijalana, Sherrod, Smith, Solder

Who gets the first round grades and in what possible order?  Let’s look at last year’s grades for some guidance.  Okung and Williams were rated 1-2 by a lot of teams, ahead of Bulaga, who some saw as a RT only, where others saw a possible pro LT.  That seems a separator.  And the long-term value of a LT is more than a RT only prospect.

Figuring long-term ceiling into the equation, I’m going with this:

1 – Smith
1 – Castonzo
1 – Sherrod
1 – Carimi
2 – Ijalana
3-  Solder  

I waffle between a 2 and a 3 for Solder.  If you compare him to Anthony Davis and Roger Saffold’s 2010 Cowboys rankings, 3 may be his draft-board neighborhood.  Solder has a lot of athleticism, but I keep reading about Solder’s narrow base, and concerns that will prevent him from building the lower-body strength to become a powerful run blocker. That pushes him below the other guys, in my opinion.

We can hash this list all we want, but I’d be quite happy with any of the top four names on this list.  I think Smith will be the best player long-term and can play immediately, but if the team moves down and picks up one of the next three guys on this list, that’s fine with me.  They could all play right tackle for the Dallas Cowboys.

As a bonus, here’s blogger Corey Grodner’s  board.  He goes all the way to seven, to paraphrase Nigel Tufnel:

1 – Tyron Smith: For all the obvious reasons that have been talked about on this website.
1 – Gabe Carimi: I think the name John Runyan will keep coming up in the Cowboys evaluation. A big, nasty, anchor on the right side for a decade plus.
1 – Derek Sherrod: Pro ready, big upside, potential to grow. Everything the Cowboys look for in a first graded prospect.
2 – Danny Watkins: Tempted to put as a first round grade, but as noted in the article, long-term potential is important for the grade. He’s already 26.
2 – Ben Ijalana: I expect that the Cowboys would view him more as a guard, but not quite as elite as the guys they ranked high last year (Iupati and Pouncey).
3 – Anthony Castonzo: When I see Castonzo, I don’t see a guy that has the same growth potential as Tyron Smith, despite being 6-7. I don’t think he is quite as technically solid as most would have you believe, either.
3 – Marcus Gilbert: Big, carries his body well, mauler in the run game. He’s probably the last guy with any moderate chance of having an impact as a rookie.
4 – Nate Solder: Was tempted to leave him off, but with the Cowboys bringing him in for a workout, they had to see something they like on film. But I don’t think his play matches his athleticism, which knocks him down. Certainly not ready to play right away.
6 – Orlando Franklin: I think we’d take him if he really fell hard because of his potential versatility. I don’t think he is talented enough to develop into a regular starter, though.
6 – David Mims: Massive and high potential. Lots of development needed, though.
Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Senior Analyst Cowboys Nation.com at Sports Talk Line
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ TheBoys.com in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for SportsTalkLine.com
Rafael Vela

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  • kameleon_o

    I listen to Talkin Cowboys every week and Solder always comes up when Spagnola and Phillips talks about O-linemen. Spagnola seems to think that the Cowboys like Solder 2nd only to Smith. I just don’t see it. He just seems like the most likely of all of them to bust. I would be VERY disappointed if we drafted him. I like Sherrod though.

  • Tex

    Tex enjoys how the scouts talk about draft prospects… similar to how Fred Couples talks about cougars at the Montecito Country Club, loose in the hips.

    The big question of late April… should Tex spend most of spring in Barcelona, Madrid, the Andalucia region of Spain or in Portugal?

    • Oklahoma

      Given the state of their economies Señor MoneyBags de la Montecito will undoubtedly be welcome in either Spain or Portugal. How comforting that Tex can break away for a season of siesta after the stress and tumult the Cowboys rained down upon him in winter. May I suggest that the chivalrous Montecitan make himself and his loyal friend Spagnola especially useful whilst on holiday and ride Rocinante into Barcelona for a nose around FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium. I would like to know how the fabulous Barcelona team is organised with communal ownership – ala the Packers – and whether or not such an arrangement could be foisted on the Cowboys, Redskins, Panthers, and Raiders, whose owners strike me as irksome at best and destructive of the sport at worst.

  • Nspirals

    So, here’s a question for you Raf…
    Let’s say we are operating under the assumption that we ARE trading back. Further, let’s operate under the assumption we ARE taking an OT in the first round.
    I think the question is, who do the Cowboys want to be offensively?
    If we are going with the usual, a big nasty mauler (Carimi) on the right side, then I think it says that we believe we can still be a power run team in a pass happy league.
    If we go with the high upside, finesse pass blocker (Sherrod), then I think it says Garrett believes we can learn to be a Patriots-like, pocket passing team and sprinkle in the run.

    Could you weigh in that idea? Does it have merit? I would be very happy with either pick, but I do think we have the weapons to be very threatening downfield with the pass…would LOVE to give Romo a real pocket for the first time since 2007 with Dez, Miles, Roy, and Jason out there.

    • kameleon_o

      Me too. I was thinking about this today while delivering my route. It would be such a welcome surprise to see a RT for Dallas actually be able to slide out in front of those speed rushers and give Romo a clean pocket for once. It’s not something we’ve seen a lot of

  • cowboyny

    If I was in charge of putting a board together, here is my breakdown of grades I would place:

    1-Smith, Sherrod-both are expected to be able play either side and have all-around games.

    2-Carimi, Watkins, Ijalana, Gilbert-all are considered more right side players, either at RG or RT and need to prove on the next level that the can effectivley be able to hold up in pass protection.

    3-Soldier, Castonzo-both players bodies appear to be maxed out. Most refine their technique and get stonger. Will not be productive intially, will need some time to refin their games.

    4-Rackley,Pinkston, Cannon, Franklin-all could see field time in their rookie seasons and could survive at RT for a season, but better served inside.

    • Rszamora

      what about Gilbert and Ziemba? good programs. may be worth a look

  • Raf, I have a question. I’m very curious about where David Mims will be drafted. He seems to be this years Jared Vedelmeer (SP?) and Sebastian Volmer. Both of those guys were projected to go low in the draft but went much higher (2nd & 3rd round respectively) is it possible that we’re underestimating Mims and underestimating supply and demand? Could we see Mims go 3rd round since he fits the profile of a stud lineman?

    • Rafael Vela

      Look at those guys. I think Dallas liked Vollmer as a potential 3rd round guy and the Pats got him in the very late 2nd.

      Veldheer was what, either a 3rd or a 4th rounder.

      Even if they’re small school guys, OTs rise. Now, Vollmer went to Houston, so that’s not a small school, but Veldheer was a Division II guy.

  • desus32

    What, if anything, should we make of Gosselin’s rankings that have Solder as the #2 OT prospect? Considering he gets his information not from scouting guys himself but from GM’s, does this concern you? Do you think Dallas is one of those teams that thinks highly of him and thus influences Gosselin’s rankings? I’d hate to think that Dallas has him above other, more capable players like Sherrod, Carimi and Castonzo.

    • Rafael Vela

      Does he have Solder 2nd? I’m not following his stuff closely yet, partly because the DMN is putting it behind a firewall, but mostly because they dribble it out unti just a few days before the draft. My understanding was that Castonzo was 2nd, but I’ll take your word for it.

      • Bluefin

        Goose does have Nate Solder in his rankings.

        The question is if these rankings are Goose’s feelings or what he’s gathered from talking to NFL front office personnel.

        Gosselin won’t unveil his top 100 prospects until right before the draft and that list is said to even carry weight with NFL teams themselves as a way to guage what they’ve been hearing from other clubs during Lying Season.

        Goose’s ranking were posted over at the Ranch and there were some surprises on it.


        • Rafael Vela

          I didn’t see those because most of it was protected, but I vaguely recall a chat with him a few days ago where he puts Castonzo 2nd, but don’t hold me to it.

          • Bluefin

            Raf, the link is to a thread over at the Ranch that has Goose’s rankings in it.

            You don’t have to create an account to read it over there.

            Here’s the OL:


            1. Tyron Smith, Southern Cal (6-5, 307)

            2. Nate Solder, Colorado (6-8, 319)

            3. Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (6-7, 311)

            4. Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin (6-7, 314)

            5. Derrick Sherrod, Mississippi State (6-5, 321)


            1. Danny Watkins, Baylor (6-3, 310)

            2. Marcus Cannon, TCU (6-5, 358)

            3. William Rackley, Lehigh (6-3, 309)

            4. Clint Boling, Georgia (6-4½, 308)

            5. John Moffitt, Wisconsin (6-4, 319)


            1. Mike Pouncey, Florida (6-5, 303)

            2. Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State (6-3, 313)

            3. Rodney Hudson, Florida State (6-2, 299)

            4. Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock (6-4, 306)

            5. Jason Kelce, Cincinnati (6-2½, 280)

          • CowboyJohn

            Take a look at DT too. I trust Goose. But Mayock said that Muhammad Wilkerson had huge bust written all over him. on film he rarely dominated and seemed disinterested. Here was a guy that should dominate but doesn’t. How would teams rate him that high.


            1. Marcell Dareus, Alabama (6-3, 319)

            2. Nick Fairley, Auburn (6-3½, 291)

            3. Corey Liuget, Illinois (6-2, 298)

            4. Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple (6-4, 315)

            5. Marvin Austin, North Carolina (6-1½, 309)

  • CoreyGrodner

    Haha, sweet!

  • Jeswarr3

    I think we will end the ” no ol in first rd” thing this yr. Im pretty sure garrett knows that games are won in the trenches. He gets tutored by jimmie johnson and he had awesome lines back then. With that said i think we will have Tyron Smith on our team for the next 12-15 yrs.

  • I think Corey Grodner has a great board. I, too, an unimpressed by Catonzo and think he could be this year’s “Anthony Davis”; a 3rd round talent in reality but gets drafted in the 1st round based on hype, hope, and willfull blindness.