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.