Bunting: Edge Rushers from the 2nd Round Down

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How safe a 1st-round pick is
 Dontari Poe?

Today’s chat with the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting covers some later-round pass rushing prospects, the odds of drafting Dre Kirkpatrick as a safety and the current post-Combine thinking on Dontari Poe. 

Cowboys Nation: We talked about Adrian Hamilton way before his bowl game and you were very excited to see him, because he had 20 sacks at his level.  Then you reported back and said he was less than you expected. He’s getting more attention now because of those sacks.  Where does he fit in your current board?

Wes Bunting:  I gave him a high-end free agent grade.  He’s got a thin lower half.  He’s got a little explosion and he’s tight-hipped.  He’s got some production and he’s got some savvy as a pass rusher.  I just saw him against ho-hum competition and he didn’t stand out.  I gave him a free agent grade.  I wouldn’t draft him but you could bring him to camp.  I think you can stand him up in a 3-4 and let him rush that way, but as a nickel rusher?  I think there are more dynamic players out there.

CN:  Here’s another name we talked about at the Senior Bowl, Arkansas’ Jake Bequette.  The Cowboys have shown some interest in him and he had some really good workout numbers at the Combine.  He’s 270 lbs.  Is he somebody the wide-9 teams will pursue, or is he a player you can stand up in a 3-4, at outside linebacker?

WB:  This is what is so ridiculous about the Combine.  When I watched him on tape, I didn’t think he was a very good athlete.  I thought he was kind of blah, and then he works out well, so I went back and watched his tape again.

He doesn’t have a great get off.  He’s at his best rushing against offensive tackles who can’t anchor.  I think he’s a little stiff, doesn’t have a great first step.  But he plays hard.  He knows how to use his hands and he’ll overwhelm, but against stronger guys who can engulf him, he struggles to shed their blocks.  I think he’s a solid run defender.  I thought he may on his best day be a swing end at an okay level in a 4-3, but more and more 3-4 teams are liking these big guys.  Ryan Kerrigan made it work last year for the Redskins.  I don’t think Bequette is as good a pass rusher as Kerrigan, but I can see some 3-4 teams looking at him.

CN:  A reader asked you to compare Dre Kirkpatrick to Malcolm Jenkins.  Jenkins was a corner entering the draft and the Saints have moved him to safety.  I’ve seen chatter that some teams feel Kirkpatrick’s best position will be safety.  He’s 6’2″.  Do you see similarities in their games?

WB:  I’d say there are some.  I’d say Jenkins was more of a quick footed player.  That’s one area where I’m not a big Kirkpatrick fan.  I feel he’s not quick footed laterally, but he’s smooth and he’s flexible and he tracks the football decently.  He ran in the 4.4s at the Combine.  I think if he’s going to play corner he’s either got to be in a pure press scheme where he plays up on the line and uses his length to jam and re-route or he’s in a pure zone where’s he’s looking into the backfield, using his fluidity to turn and run and track the football and he tackles well.

As a safety? I think he’s an instinctive guy.   I think it could work, but I like him more as a corner.

CN:  Based on what you’ve heard through the scouting grapevine, what are the odds that Michael Brockers get to the Chiefs at pick 11?

WB:  This is interesting, because I remember a couple of years ago, when we looked at the Browns and said Joe Haden, Joe Haden, they’re going to pick Joe Haden.  And then right after the Combine, it was Kyle Wilson, Kyle Wilson, and it was Kyle Wilson all the way up to the draft and then it turned out they like Joe Haden all along.

I’m wondering if the same thing is going on with Brockers to the Panthers.  It’s been Brockers, Brockers, Brockers, and in the last week or so some people are saying, maybe it’s Poe.  So I’ll say there’s about a 40% chance that he gets to the Chiefs at 11.

CN:  The follow up then — what are the odds he gets past the Chiefs at 11?

WB:  I don’t think the Chiefs would take Brockers.  They have two 5-techniques.  If they take a tackle, they would pick a nose tackle.  If not they’ll take a right tackle.  [Note:  the Chiefs signed former Texans RT Eric Winston last night, which greatly changes the gaming directly in front of the Cowboys.  More on this later today.]

CN:  Have you heard any more buzz on Poe?  He was the guy at the Combine.

WB:  I know a scout that covers that region.  I may have told you this already. He’s seen Poe a lot and he refuses to give Poe a 1st-round grade.  And I’ve talked to him since the Combine ended, and he said, ”yeah, he can run as fast as he wants, but he doesn’t play that hard, play in and play out.  So how can you take a player in the top 10 that doesn’t play hard play-in and play-out and who doesn’t dominate Conference USA competition consistently?”

He gave Poe a 2nd round grade.  And I discussed Poe with him because I gave him a late 1st-round grade.  This is one of the few guys who thinks with his head.  He’s not somebody who thinks with his ears.  I really respect him.  He’s missed a bunch, but he’s also hit on a bunch.  Overall, he’s seen this guy up close.  He’s watched him in practice.  He’s seen Poe in the games.  He’s given me tape on the guy and I don’t see a high 1st rounder when I watch tape of him.  He’s a freaky athlete, but when you strap the pads on, I don’t think he should be rated that high.

I think Poe goes top-15, but I know a lot of scouts feel the same way, that he shouldn’t go that high.

But remember, the scouts only offer their input.  They’re not the ones making the decisions.  The GMs do that.

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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