Wes Bunting Tuesday: Matching Talent to Needs

Today brings the last part of last week’s chat with the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting.  Wes talks about defensive linemen here, offering one name who could fall into Dallas’ orbit and be a replacement for Anthony Spencer, should the team not re-sign him next spring,.  Wes also discusses depth positions, which nicely match up with two of Dallas’ bigger offensive needs:

Cowboys Nation:  We’re a Cowboys site, and we’re looking at Cowboys needs.  For the longest time, until Tyron Smith declared, the focus was on defensive ends, guys like J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan.  My guess is had Smith stayed in college Watt would have been the guy.

You’re mentioned Courtney Upshaw a couple of times, going back to the first chats after the ’11 draft.  Compare him grade wise and game wise to guys like Watt and Jordan.

Wes Bunting:  Upshaw is more of a stand-up guy.  He’s not the most explosive, quick-twitch guy, but he plays with power, balance and he’s got enough suddenness to get after you as a rusher.  At ‘Bama they play him standing up and with his hand down in passing situations, so you can get creative with him.

I think in a 3-4 front you stand him up on the strong side, and he can set the edge and give you pass rush ability.  A lot of teams look at right and left, the right playing over the tight end and the left being the purer pass rusher.  I think Upshaw can beat up the tight end, but he’s not a speed blitzer;  he’s a natural pass rusher who wants to get into the blocker’s body, who can overwhelm.  I think he’s an 8-12 sack a year guy at the next level, which is saying something for a strong-side backer.

CN:  You’re saying he’s not going to have trouble taking on right tackles when he rushes the passer?

WB:  No.  This is stout, 6’2”, 260 lb. linebacker.  He looks like a stocky defensive end.  Alabama likes to play him standing up and that’s where I think he can be his best.

Cowboys Nation:  Based on what you’ve just said, there will be another chance to fill that defensive line need this spring if Dallas wants to do it.  Are there guys in the 2nd half of the 1st, early 2nd who could be the hybrid Rob Ryan wants, who can play the 5-technique and also slide inside and be explosive?

Wes Bunting:  It’s a pretty nice defensive line class overall.  We talked about Keeston Randall from Texas.  I haven’t been a big fan of him playing inside, but I would not be surprised if he’s a 4th or 5th round value playing the 5.  He’s got some burst off the football.  He’s not a natural pass rusher, but he’s 6’4”, 300 lbs.  There are some talented guys in this class who you can get later in the draft.  

In the 1st, Alameda Ta’amu, from Washington.  Brandon Thompson from Clemson is moving up.  I think he could go in that 15-25 range.  Wherever the Cowboys pick, and depending on when they want to address defensive line, they should find some talent available.

Jared Crick from Nebraska was a highly rated player coming into the year.  I think he’s more of an outside player.  He plays inside for Nebraska but I think he could play the 5-technique.  He just tore a pectoral muscle, so he’s fallen a bit.  Medically you don’t know where he’s at.  A lot of people had him rated as a top-5 pick.  I never thought he was that good, but I do think he’ll be a solid pro.  I would not be surprised if he’s there late 1st, or in the 2nd round.

CN:  What are the value positions.   If this is an “impact position” draft at the top, with quarterbacks, pass rushers, offensive tackles and cornerbacks taking up most of those spots, which positions with depth and top talent will drop overall as a consequence?

WB:  I was putting my charts together and I looked at the guard position, and I had 18 draftable guards.  Now some are guard/tackle tweeners and I moved them around, but that’s a really high number for the guard class.  I think there’s some real depth at the guard position this year.

Now the wide receiver position is really deep.  I think I gave 28 draftable grades to seniors alone.  That many guys are not going to get drafted.  You see 30 to 35 total in an average year, and I have not even started to grade the juniors.  That’s a pretty deep class as well.  Those are the two positions where I said wow, there’s a lot more depth there than you usually see.

CN:  So if you’re sitting there in the 3rd, 4th, 5th rounds and you want a player at these positions, you could have a really solid fit of quality to need?

WB:  Without a doubt.  There are guys like Jarius Wright from Arkansas, Marvin McNutt of Iowa, Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma, T.Y. Hilton from Florida International.  These are all good players who could help you right away, who could all be around in the 3rd round.

Take a look at Bunting’s first mock draft, which does include underclassmen.  Later today, I’m going to play the 6-up, 6-down game, moving half a dozen spots up and down from Dallas’ current projected position and see which players could fit the Cowboys plans.  There are a lot of good names to consider.  

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

Enjoyed this post? Share it!

  • Pmkaram

    It is very possible to win 6 of the next 7 games. If that happens the key is the last 4 games,2 against the Giants. Win 2 of those and you are 10-6. Three players, Ogletree,Choice and Bennett are unrestricted free agents after this year. I was hoping to bundle them together for a high pick next year or some young OL or CB help.

  • Taylor

    We need to be looking at top 10 picks, ’cause that’s where we’re headed.

    • Miguel

      naaa….  we wil be better than .500

      Have some faith.

  • Hjarrod22

    You all have to give Romo the next three years imho.  I think hes got top 10 qb talent and I believe he will lead us to the superbowl.  We are starting to come together, we win the division this year.  The super bowl next year.  I love you guys.

    • joey2zs


      You’re Tex’ alter ego, aren’t you?

  • Valmont

    I don’t want to hear anything from Bunting about DL until he explains why he had Jordan > Watt and why it won’t happen again. 

    • haha glad I was on the Watt side of that argument.  I never quite understood the whole “Yeah, Watt gets a bunch of hits, pressures, sacks, passes-knocked-down and has elite measurables… but we’re going to go with another 5-tech.”

  • Raja

    Why cut Harris?  To activate Bruce Carter?  Why not get rid of Buehler?  Or are the Cowboys hedging their bets waiting for Forbath?

    • Ridgelake

      I had the exact same thought.  Why do this?  Who can better fill those rolls right now?  I get it that the guy wasnt that great of a returner, but who’s going to do it now, Dez?

      • Miguel

        Our third reciever. kevin who?

  • Montecito Tex

    Speaking of the draft, how about this missed opportunity: Bengals get a 1st and a 2nd, possibly 2 #1s for Carson Palmer. Romo could certainly have fetched that, a moved that would have set up this organization for the next decade. Unbelievable, Tex needs an early Calvados.

  • M0rton

    DT Devon Still from Penn State would be a great pickup in the 2nd or 3rd round. He has the versatility to play either 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE and he has excellent size for the position (6’5″ 300lbs+).

  • Raja
  • AustonianAggie

    Montrae Holland rides again

  • Raja

    Who are the teams that absolutely need a QB or would like a QB –
    Needs – MIA, IND, DEN, KC (not entirely sold on Cassel – he is gone if Haley is gone), WAS, SEA
    Likes – BUF(maybe unless the Fitz gets an extension), CLE (not sold on McCoy), HOU (just maybe if they are in the last 3rd of the draft (which means playoffs) and a QB is sitting there)
    I have left out those teams that drafted a QB last year – of these teams, SF may be tempted just as Houston would be – if they are in the bottom 3rd and a QB is there.
    Which team(s) among the above group would trade for Romo?

    • Timwebbsite

      Miami, Washington and Seattle would be my first guesses, plus Cleveland if not sold on McCoy as you say.  I think all four of those teams think they have good teams that could really compete with a QB the caliber of Romo. 

      Having said that, I don’t trade Romo without knowing we have Luck in our back pocket.  Maybe I’ll come around on one of the other first rounders after I see more of them, but we have too much talent to rebuild unless it’s for the best QB prospect in decades.  Adding another solid interior OL (I like Brewster a lot, the C from The Ohio State) a DL and secondary help could really set us up to compete for The Super Bowl, imo.

  • Rafael Vela

    Great googly-moogly.  Just came up for air and saw the Palmer-to-Oakland deal!  Wow!

    • Sean N

      Oakland has now used 3 of their top for picks in next year’s draft on 3 different QBs.

      • Sean N


        • Jarhead

          and they’re has beens or never will be’s……?

          • AustonianAggie

            Carson is the best of these, though they were satisfied with Jason Campell.

          • DW94

            Carson in 2005 blows them out of the water; Carson in 2006 is better than them; Carson in 2011, who knows?

          • Carson in 2010: bad.

          • iowacowboy

            Carson never the same after knee injury . . .

    • M0rton

      Do you see shades of the Herschel Walker trade from the 90s, Raf?

      The Bengals already have a talented young core and this kind of influx of draft picks could push them over the top the way the Walker picks did for the Cowboys.

      I wonder – can Jerry fleece some desperate team eyeing Romo for a boatload of draft picks?

      • iowacowboy

        Walker trade was one of the most lopsided trades in sports history; Dallas ended up with about six vikings picks, three ones and two second rounders and a third.  There was some change floating around with players and conditional picks but essentially in ended up with three number ones, two second rounders and a third.  The Oakland trade is tiny by comparison.