Draft 2012: Are the Juniors Really Better Then the Seniors?


In part one of this week’s chat with the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting, he looks at the underclassmen who have just declared, and whether one of them would be a better fit for Dallas with its first pick.

Cowboys Nation:  Which juniors have you graded in the last week who look like possible 1st round picks?

Wes Bunting:  I watched Trent Richardson’s coaches tape for the first time today, and he’s as good as everybody has said he is.

The one I watched who could be interesting for you guys is Fletcher Cox, a defensive lineman from Mississippi State.  He’s 6’4”, 295 lbs.  They play him as a 5-technique and a 3-technique.  He’s got a quick burst off the ball. He’s athletic when he’s asked to stunt.  He plays with a poor pad level, however.  He gets upright off the football.  Even when he got a step one-gapping, you could still push him past the football because he played so high.

He did much better as a 5-technique, especially on perimeter runs.  He was okay with the bull rush.  If he learned how to play better if he got his pad level lower.  We’re always talking about these one-gapping guys who could rush the passer, and I think he could do this.  He could be a fit for the Cowboys in that role.  I don’t like him as a 1st round pick.  I think of him more as a 2nd rounder.  I know some people has him as a top-20 guy.  I don’t think he’s that good, but I do think that as a 5-technique, he’s a guy who could start in year two or three.

CN:  Let’s move to the Cowboys 1st round.  They can go in a lot of directions depending on the Giants outcome.  If they lose, they could jump all the way into the 14-16 range, and that might be the best situation for this team going forward.

Say they wind up there, around pick 15-16.  Who could be there for them, given Dallas’ biggest needs of interior offensive line, pass rusher and corner?

WB:  As pass rusher?   [Courtney] Upshaw from Alabama.  I still think Bruce Irvin has a run up the boards in him.  He’s talked about as an early 2nd rounder right now, but I believe he’ll test well at the Senior Bowl and with the lack of top pass rushers, he’ll rise.

Nick Perry from USC is an interesting guy.  He’s just declared.  He’s got a good get off.  He’s a bit linear, though, especially when he has to flatten out.  As a complement to DeMarcus Ware, however, you just need to have a good motor, which he does.  Some dynamic qualities, which he has, and you need the ability to find the quarterback.  He’s also good against the run, so Perry might be in play as well.

None of these guys are in Von Miller’s or Aldon Smith’s class.  When he talked about Smith last year, I thought he would be a 15 sack a year guy.  He’s got 14 as a rookie.  These guys, Upshaw, Perry, they’re more in the Ryan Kerrigan class, 8-9 sack-a-year guys.

[David] DeCastro may be there at 14-15.  I think it’s possible to have a guard in the top 10, but both Pouncey brothers went in the 15-18 range.