Bunting: D-Line Thin on Rush Prospects

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“the safest player in the draft”

In the final part of this week’s chat with the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting, he runs down the thin defensive line class and talks up junior David DeCastro.

Cowboys Nation:  Are there any defensive linemen in this class who resemble Ratliff — long-armed, strong base, really quick who can be disruptive, who know how to use their hands?  Cause Ratliff got down to 287 this year, but because he’s swinging between 1-technique and 3-technique, he’s only playing a ”true” zero technique, two-gap nose around 10 percent of the time.

Wes Bunting:  It’s not a great defensive lineman class.  I’d say maybe Billy Winn, from Boise State.  He’s 6’4”, 295.  Mike Martin from Michigan, guys with good get off.  They play low, but they’re not as sudden as a guy like Ratliff.

Jerel Worthy, from Michigan State is an interesting guy.  He’s not overly sudden laterally, and that affects his ability to shed.  He looks to beat you off the snap, and if you get your hands on him he doesn’t disengage overly well.  But he’s got a good get off, he can keep his pad level down.  He has some character concerns.  It’s more on-the-field, with motivational issues.  That could cause him to fall in the first.  He’s a big talent, but I don’t know if I trust him.

CN:  It doesn’t sound like you would take him in the 1st.  Would you in the 2nd?

WB:  I think I’d roll the dice on him in the 2nd, but it depends on who’s there.  I think he grades out closer to that point.

CN:  You went to a bowl last week, the HBCU Bowl in Georgia.  You talked about an end from Prairie View A&M named Adrian Hamilton.  Your early-week tweets were positive, then the workouts started and he didn’t show up in your reports.

WB:  He had a good-looking frame.  He ran about 4.75, 4.72 somewhere in that area.  So you have a productive kid at the small-school level, and he still looked tight when he ran, so he could crack 4.70 when he learns to run better.  6’2”, 240, very good straight-line speed, productive at his level.

He just wasn’t overly impressive pass rusher in practice.  He looked stiff.  He had a good get off, but had trouble getting his pad level down and flattening out around the edge.  You can get away with that at the I-AA level, but I was watching USC’s Nick Perry today and it’s hard to give a high grade to a player who is an edge rusher only, who doesn’t flatten out overly well.

It’s like you’re a pitcher with a fastball only.  So it’s fastball, fastball, fastball.  You can get away with that at the lower levels, but if you get up to the big leagues and you have a 90 mile an hour fastball as your out pitch, guys are going to start hitting it.  It’s not even a plus fastball that Adrian Hamilton possesses, because he can’t bend.  So I gave him a free agent grade.  I’ll look at more tape on him when I get it, but there were other players at that game who get drafted ahead of him.

CN:  the juniors are coming out.  Matt Kalil just announced.  I saw tweets over the weekend that David DeCastro will announce once Stanford’s bowl game is over.

WB:  One thing to consider when you look at the underclassmen — is the player a true junior, or a redshirt junior?  Kalil is a redshirt.  Andrew Luck is a redshirt, DeCastro is a redshirt.  These guys all have their degrees, so unless they’re trying to pump up their draft stock there’s no reason to come back.  They’ve been in college for four years.

On DeCastro, I watched tape of him for the first time today and was really blown away.

CN:  You put up a tweet this morning saying he was the most impressive o-line prospect you’ve seen since Maurkice Pouncey, and you had Pouncey in your top seven or eight, if I recall correctly.

WB:  He was my second overall prospect behind Suh.  It went Suh, Pouncey, Gerald McCoy, Eric Berry that year.

CN:  Where would DeCastro fit on your board?

WB:  I gave him the same grade I gave Andrew Luck.  He will be the 2nd rated prospect, just behind Andrew Luck.

CN:  That’s an 8.5, correct?  In your grading scale that’s a guy who can be a difference maker right out of the box.

WB:  If I have the number two overall pick am I going to take him?  No, because he’s a guard and I’d go quarterback, offensive tackle or a plus defensive lineman.  Once you get past the top five elite players at those push positions, I wouldn’t think twice about taking DeCastro in the top 10.  The only thing maybe keeping him down is that he doesn’t play a premium position.

CN:  Where does he go then?

WB:  I’d say 6 to 15.  In my opinion this is the safest prospect in the draft.  Once you get past Luck and Griffin and Kalil, it’s do I want to risk a top 10 on a guy like Quinton Coples, or take a guy like DeCastro who I know will be a Pro Bowler by year two and he’ll give me phenomenal guard play for ten years.

CN:  It’s not going to be a situation like Pouncey’s, where there were a lot of plus players at premium positions, which is why he fell to 18.

WB:  I remember that was a good offensive and defensive linemen in that draft.  The Steelers just sat there and snapped him up.

CN: When can we look for the junior writeups?

WB:  I think I’m going to take all of Christmas to get my mind back together.  I think we’ll have around 520 prospects on the draft page by then.  I feel well ahead of the curve on that.  With the juniors declaring, we’ll have around 600-650 again when it’s all done.

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Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

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
  • THE BOLD

    Having to Face the PASS RUSHES of NY Giants, Philly and Wash TWICE a year and to WIN the Division

    We can ONLY afford to draft O-Line with #1 and #2 even if we have to trade up both times

    Imagine MURRAY & FIAMETTA behind a MONSTER O-LINE

    Romo with all day to throw

    We need to shop for Defensive F/A’s too and use the later picks on better depth

    I would LOVE DeCastro & Konz even if we traded up both times  

    • rabblerousr

      Well, they’d have to score 40 per, cause the defense is old, not particularly talented, and descending. If you wanna be the 80s Chargers, be my guest. Me? I’ll take average guard play (which they are currently getting) and a plus pass rush.

      • Ridgelake

        Agreed.  I’d love for a great OL.  But its the defense thats costing us games, not the offense.

        Would I be upset if DeCastro fell to us and we took him?  No.  He does appear to be an elite talent at a position of some need.  But I don’t know that I’d trade up for him given that OL isnt the biggest problem on the team.  Not saying OL isnt a problem, just that it isnt the biggest problem.

        • Bluefin

          As things stand, Dallas doesn’t have the needed draft ammo to make much of a trade up even if they wanted to do so.

          And the team isn’t just one impact player away from total dominance, either.

          They will look for some value additions in free agency prior to the draft and hopefully find some front seven help on defense, where a big ticket purchase could really help.

          The D needs a better edge rusher than Anthony Spencer or the base four man rush will continue to be average (great units scare offenses with just their base rush and it makes blitzes more effective because of all the attention given to the known threats).

          Get an OLB/Nickel DE in free agency, maybe another DL, and use the draft to bolster the secondary.

          On offense, WR Laurent Robinson needs to be re-signed, but will he prioritize dollars over being on a good team where he fits?

          I hope he stays.

          Adding an interior OL early in the draft would then be top my draft list along with CB.

        • THE BOLD

          So if the Giants put Romo out for the season again next week or the eagles do this week

          We are good at the O-Line?

          We can make F/A moves for defense

          The top half of the draft is light so we will have to move up

        • Lee1936

          If he’s rated so highly, but he’s still available when we pick, would you really take a lower rated defender?

          IMO, you have to take superior talent when you can get it.  You can’t choose who is available when you pick, unless you trade up.

          • greatwhitenorth

            Jerry’s round 2 picks of Lee and Carter agree with your thinking, premium talent at a position of need is always good value.  However…if a DeCastro is really rated that highly, he’ll probably get picked before Dallas.  And if he’s not already picked, then chances are good that he’s not rated as highly as Bunting has him.  Besides, Jerry does have a long history of taking a lower-rated defender in those cases, or of trading down till he gets the good value for the player he wants anyway.

          • kameleon_o

            Maybe we should be looking for a defensive player with something broke on him right now, who won’t be ready to really contribute until 2013, who’ll probably slip a round, who Jerry’ll think he can get a good value by taking, to try to anticipate who we’ll be looking at in the draft?? LOL

    • Lee1936

      Ryan would quit.

      • The Bold

        Romo is hurt Again

        NOW CAN WE DRAFT O-LINE in Rounds 1 & 2   ?????

  • fivetwos

    I don’t see it as big of a need as others.

    Lissemore is on the rise.

    JBP hasn’t even had an NFL offseason yet. He could be a force next year after getting with Woicik.

    Don’t dismiss Geathers either.

    This team is not devoid of young talent on the D-Line.

    • Lee1936

      The only thing we know about our “young (OL) talent” is that they’re young.  What we do not know is, how much talent?  You want to just presume that they’ll be good enough next year? 

      Romo is our ignition key.  Without him, our engine doesn’t run, and we’re going nowhere.  Lose him, and we lose another season.  So protecting him is a HIGH PRIORITY (along with several other high priorities, like pass rushers, replacements for Newman and Ball, etc.)

      Final point: no matter who we add in the off-season, it’ll not be enough to make a complete team.  Too many vacancies!  Other than 3 or 4 guys, we need upgrades at every other position on defense.

      • kameleon_o

        You’re too kind. I was basically thinking we could use an upgrade at every position on D except for 2 or 3 guys. :)

  • Lee1936

    Since I expect to finish 8-8, he might be there when we pick in the 14-19 range.

  • iowacowboy

    I have heard and seen other stuff about De Castro similar to what WB says here.  Assume this is true, that he grades out as one of the absolute best players in the draft, and you could move up to say about six to get him, then I would dip into a future draft stock to try and move up to take him.  I would even throw in a skill player, be it Miles or Murray or even Dez – it has been too long since Dallas had an elite line.  Imagine De Castro and Tyron Smith on the left side . . .

    • greatwhitenorth

      No way we take a true guard at #6, even if we didn’t have to trade anything to get there.  When’s the last time a guard was drafted in the top 10?  Jerry went way out of character to pick Tyron last year, so I’d be shocked if he goes OL again in round 1, even if we end up picking at the bottom of the round.  This team has far too many holes at impact positions on defense to waste a pick where a 3rd-rounder, or even a Montrae Holland, can fill in decently.

      • kameleon_o

        I just wish we had gone O-line in the 2nd round again last year instead of drafting an injured player who wasn’t ready to contribute. We could have Wisniewski starting for us right now and be ready to draft one of the very good ILB’s in this upcoming draft. Instead of Jerry hoping for a gem with Carter.

  • cowboyny

    Here is my objective for first FA and then with the draft:

    Free Agency

    Pass Rushing OLB, NT, CB and a low cost veteran MLB.

    Spencer is 50/50 in returning, I do not forsee any of these CB’s with the team after the season, Newman, Ball, Walker. The team may be alright with both Jenkins/Scandrick as starters, but it is unrealistic to expect a rookie to handle the #3 CB role, which is the reason why a veteran needs to be added. No inside pocket push, makes moving Ratliff a priority. Need a veteran inside linebacker for depth and insurance if Carter isn’t ready as a starter.

    Draft

    CB x2-one in the first 2 rounds and one in the middle of the draft. A CB with size who can handle playing outside, the other would be more of a slot, nickel CB.

    C/G-1 in the first three rounds, I have heard some rumblings that the team will be moving Kosier to the Center position next season and are prepping Arkin as a starter not next season, but in 2013. A plug and play interior starter is a major need to fill.

    TE-I do not forsee Bennett being resigned as he hasn’t improved too much since being drafted. Team needs to replace him with a TE who excels in run blocking, now if you can find a balance TE, that would be icing on the cake.

    DL/OLB-even with help in FA, the team has to load up with as many pressure players as possible.

    Safety-team first needs to make a decision on Elam, may look to use FA to replace him, but in either case depth at the position is awfully thin, need more numbers on the roster.

    Tackle-I really do not know if Parnell can handle spot duty if called upon and having just 1 backup Tackle makes me very nervous, 1 injury away from disaster. Maybe a College Tackle who projects as a Guard on the next level could fill 2 needs with 1 selection. 

  • kameleon_o

    How would he rate DeCastro compared to Danny Watkins from last year?? At least so far as ability to contribute right away. I’d heard that Watkins was struggling, and remembered that Wes was really high on him as being able to contribute early, but haven’t really paid much attention to him.

  • LT

    I know the Cowboys had scouts at a few South Carolina game so I’m sure Ingram is on their radar.

    My favorite edge rusher in this draft is still DE Andre Branch from Clemson. He’s 6-5 260lbs with long arms. He’s relentless.. never gives up on a play. Really good hand usage and has good quick twitch movement. I think he’d be a terror as a 3-4 OLB. He’s currently listed as a 2nd or 3rd round prospect but he’ll rise at the combine. I’d rather have Branch than Ingram.

    • 99yard_TD_Run

      Hey LT,

      Imagine for a moment if we were lucky enough to land DeCastro or Konz in the 1st & then someone like Irvin in the 2nd & Branch in the 3rd.  We could then better protect Romo, improve the running game, improve the pass rush immediately & cut down on the amount of time the DBs have to cover receivers.  Win-Win situation &  a year closer to a SB before the window of opportunity closes.  cheers!