Filling Cowboys Needs: Wes Bunting Talks Centers and Fullbacks

Peter Konz

Part One of this week’s chat with the National Football Post’s draft expert Wes Bunting covers an intriguing fullback prospect who has popped onto the radar late, and a junior center who would jump to the top of his position ratings were he to declare. 

Cowboys Nation:  I’m looking at a piece you put up today, on Temple’s F-back, H-back, you call him a “new-age fullback” Evan Rodriguez.  You talk up his versatility and I’m thinking this is exactly how Dallas uses its fullbacks, or wants to use its fullbacks.

When they get a guy who meets their profile, they use him in the backfield, in an I or an off-set I as the F-back.  They’ll put him on the wing when they go double tight end, and they’ll flex him out into space.  They want a guy who can block and catch, and they can either get one quality with their recent fullbacks, but not the other.  This guy can apparently do all of those things.  Tell us about him.

Wes Bunting:  He reminded me at first of USC’s Stanley Havili, who came out last year.  Havili was more of a finesse fullback;  he was more of a running back than anything.  This guy can catch the ball like Havili.  He’s a bigger stronger kid, a similar athlete and he’ll get down and dirty.

This is the first time I’ve gotten a good look at Evan Rodriguez.  I don’t know if I want to start with Temple tape or fullback tape today but he’s one guy I could start with ’cause he’s on both.  He’s really good.  They line him up at H-back and he’ll pull on running plays inside.  He’s a former strong safety and quarterback in high school and a basketball player who could dunk.

He was 6’2”, 220 and now he’s up to 250 and he’s a really good athlete.  He can run.  He’s coordinated.  He can play low.  He’s got a snap when  he plays as a tight end as an in-line Y.  He can reach out to the second level and pull.  They don’t ask him to be a traditional guy but I see enough qualities to his game that I certainly think he can develop into an inside F-back as well.  He’s very good in that area.

Evan Rodriguez

Plus he can really catch the football.  He can make plays down the field.  He’s a unique athlete for the position and he’s got a physical nastiness to his game as well.

CN:  Where do you project him?

WB:  I’m thinking 5th to late rounds.

CN:  Sounds like this guy could be a folk hero if he pans out, wherever he winds up.

WB:  I’d go to bat for this guy.  He really jumped out at me.  He’s not a traditional guy.  When they use a lead guy they use another player, but you see enough situations where he’s pulling where he acts as a lead guy.  And he’s got the perfect fullback build.  

He’s going to run well at the Combine.  They have him at 4.67 and he looks a little faster to me, maybe low 4.6s.  And he can go pluck the football.  He’s a basketball guy.  He’s my top-rated fullback now.

CN:  I’m looking at your big board, which you’re updated and I’m impressed by how the guards have moved up.  The Osemele’s, the Kevin Zeitlers, the Cordy Glenns, the Lucas Nixes.  These guys are all in your top 20 now.  Let me do the annual disclaimer.  When you put this list together, this is your projection of how you think they will play as  pros. This is not your prediction of where they will be drafted, correct?

WB:  That is correct.

CN:  You still have Osemele as the of the bunch.  Are you still holding to these guys as 2nd-to-3rd round prospects?

WB:  I would say Osmele and Cordy Glenn both could go late-1st to early-2nd.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a team like the Steelers of the Packers, who like those big wide-bodied players, grabbed one.  They fit what these teams like to do.  Depending on where they pick, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys took a look at them.  They’re athletic wide-bodied guys who can play with power but also pull and get out to the second level.

Depending on how well they run and test.  I’d say mid-to-late 2nd on Zeitler and Nix, with Mix maybe in the early 3rd.   This is a good year for guards.

CN:  What this team really needs is a center.  Where will the centers begin to go, in your opinion?  In the 3rd?

WB:  Because of need, and this is always what happens, they go a bit high.  If Peter Konz from Wisconsin comes out I wouldn’t be shocked if he snuck into the late 1st, because he’s a step up from everyone.  And then I would say 2nd round Ben Jones (Georgia) would have a chance, Brewster from Ohio State would have a chance.  There’s a hole in each of those players’ games and I think they’re really 3rd round value picks, but depending on need and when teams want them, I could see both going in the 2nd.

Then, David Molk from Michigan is more of a 3rd-to-4th round pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went in the 3rd, because of the need for centers.

CN:  Some people have brought up Konz and I’ve cautioned that there’s been no news that he’s coming out. Have you heard anything?

WB:  I have not.  SEC guys are much easier to read, but those Big 10 guys, they’re loyal and they’re not looking for much fan-fare,  and it’s hard to get a read on them.  If you put a gun to my head, I’d say he’s coming out.

CN:  You do think he’ll declare?

WB:  As of right now?  I think he would come out.  My gut tells me he’ll leave, because he has to see how weak the senior class is at center and figure he’s got a chance to go pretty high this year.

CN:  Have you seen him play enough to have a book on him?  Can you give us a report on Peter Konz?

WB:  I’ve seen enough to know he’s better than the other guys.  He’s coordinated enough in pass protection.  He can anchor.  There’s a snap to the game on run downs. When he snaps the ball and steps he can create a push in the run game.

And he’s coordinated enough to pull when they run.  That’s what unique about the offensive line at Wisconsin. These big 6’5”, 320 lb. guys can pull and reach the second level and trap block and create inside.

CN:  Well, I’ve got to put him up then, because center may be the biggest need on this offense, and if there’s a chance…

WB: Oh, there’s more than a chance.  I’d say 60% for him right now that he comes out.

CN:  If a Peter Konz comes out and Dallas is in the back half of the 2nd round, they may have to move up a bit to get him.

WB:  If you are picking there, I think that’s where he’s likely to fall.

CN:  Great, but I don’t know if they would take that risk   In ’09, they missed out on Max Unger.  They were sitting at pick 50 or 51 and Unger started to fall.  He was the last player with a 1st round grade on their board and they thought they were going to get lucky, but the Seahawks moved one spot ahead of them and grabbed him.   Dallas didn’t have any ammo to move up because of the Roy Williams deal, and missing on Unger started that spiral.  They started moving down and stocking mid-round picks and they’ve got nobody left from that class.

WB:  John Phillips is all that’s left, right?

CN:  I think you’re right.

WB:   Yeah, that was a terrible draft.  And they had twelve picks.

CN:  And they were all…

WB:  Jason Williams

CN:  If they like Konz and had a shot at him, I can’t see them replaying that ’09 disappointment.

WB:  He would be a perfect fit for the Cowboys.

Next:   cornerbacks, quarterbacks and switching players to new positions in the pros.  

Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Senior Analyst Cowboys at Sports Talk Line
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for
Rafael Vela

Enjoyed this post? Share it!

  • NJcowboy75

    Here’s a piece on him within a show called Temple TUFF…starts at the 9:00 minute mark.

  • AustonianAggie

    I know it’s not going to happen but I’d love to see LSU vs Stanford. LSU has an amazing all around team except at QB, where it’s just ok. Stanford has an amazing QB and a good team. I’d like to see if any QB playing right now can beat LSU’s defense

  • Jon B.

    Norv Turner will get relieved of his Duties in San Diego……..the PERFECT Offensive Coordinator for Garret and Romo and the future development of a QB to be drafted soon.   

    Garret trust Norv to call the games and he can focus on the team at large and maybe even have time enough to extract the foot that resides in Jerry’s mouth constantly…………

  • Timwebbsite

    Regarding the FB, yes please.  If Fiametta can’t make it back for whatever reason, we have to prioritize the position because it’s obvious Murray can get the job done running behind a good blocker.

  • Timwebbsite

    I could easily see Konz coming out this year with the QB, WR and a couple of his Oline buddies graduating.  Ball, the RB might come out after his record setting season, too, so Konz would be coming back to a young, unproven team.

    He can take advantage of being the best Center and it’s not like he’s got to bulk up to play in the NFL…he’s a full-grown man now.

    I still see our first pick at interior OL, defensive front seven or CB.  I don’t see a QB, RB, WR, TE, OT, ILB or S being picked early.

    Prospects I’d want to draft in the first or early second if we trade down would be DeCastro, Konz, Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Winn and maybe Dennard….I’m not completely sold on him though.

    Players I would love to get but shouldn’t be around are Luck, RGIII, Claibourne, Kalil, Martin and Coples.

    Players that could be available but I don’t see us drafting due to Garrett-top’s emphasis on character are Still, Janoris Jenkins and Burflict.  Too much baggage even though Still and Jenkins are positions of need.


    The Turk loves Fiametta but if he does not shake the illness this  Evan Rodriguez guy is a TAKE NO PRISONERS kinda guy

    He will have HUGE shoes to fill Moose & Fiametta but I like the 250lbs, athleticism and soft hands he also launches VERY WELL !

    I hope Fiametta is FINE !

    But if we have to this kid will do some work !

  • doulos

    This whole post was weird to me. Costa’s PFF grades have been steadily rising, and we’ve got good center depth with guys who are young, developing, and haven’t disgraced themselves. Now we’re talking not only about drafting a center but also trading up for one? I hope JG doesn’t wait until this offense is pro-bowl at every position before he starts drafting for the D.

    Meanwhile, if Fiametta gets healthy, why are we looking at fullbacks at all? Let’s give the guys we’ve got a bit more chance and use those draft picks on positions where our roster is aging–not where it’s young and developing

    • fivetwos

      Center is too important of a position to have to scheme to hide him.

      I rewatch games looking at only him. He gets pushed in the wrong direction or totally blown up way too often. Even when that isn’t the case, many times he just appears awkward, for lack of a better way to put it.

      He’s in way over his head in this league strength-wise. At least the Arkins, Nagys and Kowalskis of the world can use the never-had-an-NFL-offseason excuse.

      I’m no scout, but I’ve been watching a long time and I know what an acceptable NFL starter should look like. Costa isn’t it. Not if you’re planning on winning.

      • Interesting point on Cs rising in recent years.  I don’t know if Konz is rated as well as the Pounceys, however.  If he does creep into the 1st, he’d probably be in that 22-28 range, and give Dallas a shot.

        And if they have to scratch that itch, look for a guy like Coryell Judie in the 2nd.  Wes has pointed out on several occasions that the CB talent will be strong in the 2nd — but to not wait past the 3rd to look for one if you want a quick return on the investment.  

    • THE TURK

      You have to believe that we can upgrade both sides of the trenches in F/A this offseason

      I aggree that we need to continue to build the offense though


    • You really think this team can grow with Costa?  He’s a placeholder in my eyes.  Barry Cofield ate him up.  Dallas had to help him a guard when they tried running inside on Paul Soliai.  His game against Wilfork and Brandon Spikes was unspeakably bad.   There are certain inside runs the Cowboys have not tried in weeks, because he can’t handle good NTs and DTs one-on-one.

      Plus, it’s early December.  The draft is just over four months away.  We’re going to consider EVERY position in the draft between now and then, because you never know who’s going to be atop the board when your picks come up.  

  • fivetwos

    Konz won’t see round two.

    The top centers go in the second half of round one these days.

    Mangold, Mack, Wood, Pouncey, Pouncey.

    By Feb we’ll be debating having to trade up with our TOP pick to get him.

    SOOO glad we passed on Wisniewski for a gimpy middle linebacker.

    That’s OK. Missouri State should be ready by 2014. No worries.

    • intothemystic

      and roll into next year with Lee as our only capable Mike backer?  We’ve been able to survive with Costa.  Another year with Brooking and James means we would be FUCKED.  We simply had to pick a middle linebacker.

  • AustonianAggie

    Has something changed in the way centers play to increase their value? They used to be among the last players drafted even when gifted. Has parity put a premium on every players value to such a degree that centers are more value, or is there a tactical reason they’re creeping up?

  • AustonianAggie

    I don’t want to be a reductionist — but — this season offers an almost binary comparison of our running game with a good FB vs our running game with out. Our need could not be more obvious than now. I hope Fiameta returns to game shape soon

  • Chia

    if they came out with a CB/OLB in the first, traded up for Konz in the 2nd and landed Rodriguez later that would be a home run draft in my eyes

  • Bluefin

    Peter Konz has been the apple of my eye since October.

    If the team could add Konz in the late first (G David DeCastro will be out of reach), it would strengthen the weak middle of the starting offensive line while also bolstering the second unit with Phil Costa becoming a young interior reserve with starting experience.

    Konz was very lucky two weeks ago, he dislocated his left ankle against Minnesota but suffered no structural damage (UNC top rated safety Deunta Williams’ career ended last December when he broke his fibula at the ankle joint and suffered ligament/nerve damage. Williams’ foot turned from 12:00 to 7:00, he’s been given disability and is focusing on a radio career).

    Konz wants to play in the Big Ten title game tomorrow night against Michigan State.

    Jason Garrett will know everything there is to know about Konz if he declares, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was offered a spot on staff in Dallas and is a friend.

    A blue chip center would do the offense a world of good.

    • Well, if there’s a guy who could confirm that 60% number Wes tossed out, it’s Jason Garrett.  All he needs to do is pick up the phone…

      • Chia


    • cowboyny

      I know you brought up his name a few months ago believing he would be an ideal 1st rd selection for the team if he ever decided to enter the draft. Who knows if he declares or where is grade will utimately be, but a player that can solidfy this OL for the future.

      I have dissected the OL personeel over and over again since the Viking Playoff loss and do see impovement, but still am not confident in their abilities. I need two more studs to be added to the stable. Doesn’t matter how they are arquired, but are needed to bring this offense to the next level.

      Rafael has been discussing the team’s weaknesses in the running game all season long, his anlaysis has been dead on, where it isn’t just about filling the OL needs, but also filling the FB, Blocking TE areas as well.  The problem with all these offensive needs is that the defense has alot huge holes to fill as well:

      -CB-minimum of two new CB’s if Newman gets released. 1 needs to be able to play right away as a rookie in the sub-packages. If possible, keeping Newman around 1 more yr could make sense, but at the price tag, highly unlikey.

      -DE/OLB-I want Anthony Spencer back, but I need another pass rusher, no matter of they play on the line or at OLB. Butler has been a big dissapointment and I believe could be upgraded, if they went in that direction. One player that I have watched here in NY has really impressed me from the Giants: Kiwi. He is better than Osi on the DL and has showed to be able to play the linbacker positon as well. Wade Phillips always said, he needed 3 pass rushers, time to fnd another one.

      -MLB-James/Brooking are gone in 2012. Is Carter the future starter or is he the team’s future nickel backer? FA is the place where a veteran needs to be signed to upgrade this spot.

      -S-Outside of some redzone coverage issues, Sensabagh has played awfully well and deserves an extensiion in my opinion. Elam is nothing more than a stop gap, where if healthy and doesn’t break the bank, I would love to sign Landry away from the Redskins, an impact/physical in the box safety.

  • Jarhead

    Butler is a solid role player and McGee is well on his way to being a good #2 for years, but that unger thing was a kick in the balls. he might have made that draft.

    If rodriquez is that good, why not the 4th? if the cowboys are “pretty damn sure” he can be that kind of dynamic football player, why not take him a round higher?

    so he is a 5th rounder on most draft boards, for teams who dont value a FB like we do…..but for our team, he is worth a 4th b/c of his impact, so again, if the boys are “pretty damn sure” he is the guy they’re looking for and a long-term starter, why not take him?

    Sounds better to me than the AOAs, Skyler Greens, and stanbacks of the world in round 4. 

    • Dallas’ offense would be a lot better if Max Unger were its center.

      • Jarhead

        hurts worse than that lions loss.

        we’d be 8-3 right now.

        • Jarhead

          and we’d own the tiebreaker if they make a run.

          • nowison

            they’re done.  Just like their coach, they can’t keep their composure

      • Bluefin

        I hope Red already knows the answer!

        Peter Konz is a redshirt junior and he turned 22 back in June. Konz is already regarded as the best center in the class and he had the recent health scare, so I don’t see why he’d wait.

        He’s one and a half years older than the Tyronosaur we have at RT.

        Another 10 days and Tyron can buy his first beer!

        • Another 10 days and he can demand his QB and RB buy HIM a couple

      • Chia

        oh but Robert Brewster was a great draft pick!

        I still don’t understand that pick, I remember Mel Kiper flabergasted by that one

        “I have no idea what Dallas is doing”

        • iowacowboy

          The theory on Brewster was that Dallas could turn his flab into solid muscle and then have an All Pro on the line for the next decade. 

      • iowacowboy

        Unger was just one of quite a few scenerios over the last four drafts/off seasons where Dallas could have upgraded the center position.  

    • NJcowboy75

      ERod has a personal friendship with Garrett already as they met two summers ago in NJ when Temple’s TEs all met Jason. ERod is a lifelong fan of the Cowboys and salivates at the thought of putting on the Star. He’s playing Dec 17th in the New Mexico Bowl on ESPN at 1pm local time for you all to check him out.

  • CoreyGrodner

    Victor Butler and Stephen McGee are still left from ’09. So… your point there is still valid. Haha.