Bunting: D-Line Thin on Rush Prospects

“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.


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