Strengths: Excellent athletic ability on display at the NFL combine in vertical and broad jump. Has the quickness and size to cover top receivers in the NFL. Potential to be a shut down corner. Excellent character and team captain type, that should be very coachable and therefore develop quickly.
Weakness: Needs to become more physical when battling receivers for the ball. Could use more strength. A willing tackler but often comes up on the short end of collisions. Not a very physical tackler and NFL backs/receivers may break the tackle. Jones could benefit from an additional 5 pounds of muscle on his wiry frame. While not great in run support, he can cover and that’s why Dallas drafted him.
How he fits: Jones could be a day one starter at corner where Dallas has had issues in the past with an often injured and disappointing Claiborne. I think Jones may be Mo’s replacement sooner than later. Jones should also be capable of covering receivers out of the slot and he has experience at safety.
Player comparison: Broncos All Pro corner Aqib Talib who has similar size at 6-1, 205 and Talib wore #31 while a Patriot. Talib was drafted by the Bucs in the first round (20) in the 2008 draft. Talib was also a NFL combine stand out.
2. DE Randy Gregory 6-6, 245
Strengths: Outstanding quickness and good pass rushing instincts. Relentless in pursuit of the ball in run or pass. Long arms serve him well against offensive linemen.
Weakness: A little under weight for the position at 245 and the Cowboy coaches are going to want to put 20 pounds or so on him quickly. Needs to develop more pass rush moves for next level. There are the obvious off field character issues which have the potential to keep him from reaching his full potential.
How he fits: With Greg Hardy starting the season with a suspension, the Cowboys will expect help from Randy right away. A potential day one starter at DE and for sure we will see him in the rotation. Should have an immediate impact on the Cowboys pass rush struggles.
Player Comparison: Former all pro Cowboys DE Charles Hayley who was a bit undersized but had a real ability to get to the QB finishing his career with 100 sacks. He helped the Cowboys win a super bowl in 1992. Randy will wear #94 which was Haley’s number. Let’s hope he plays at that level.
3. OT Chaz Green 6-5, 300
Strengths: Good pass blocker in college, with nice feet work. Identifies and picks up blitzes well. Versatile along the line.
Weakness: Needs to develop as a run blocker. Not very physical and will need to become more physical to hang with the linemen Dallas currently has. Recently during rookie camp he struggled with the heat and with blocking as well. His technique needs work for sure. History of injuries (ankle) must be a concern too.
How he fits: With the departure of tackle Jeremy Parnell to the Jags, Green was drafted to provide depth at left and right tackle and I expect him to do just that. Not yet ready to be a starter but may eventually develop into an effective option when injuries dictate he play.
Player comparison: I’m comparing him to tackle Jeremy Parnell who was a solid backup for the Cowboys and I believe Green could develop into one as well.
4. LB Damien Wilson 6-0, 243
Strengths: Displays some instincts at the position. Good tackler and brings a hit with his tackles. Good at blitzing. Appears to have good size for the position.
Weakness: Average athletic ability and is often not particularly outstanding in his play. At times appears a step behind. Functional but not outstanding in any area.
How he fits: Appears capable of making the roster in a crowded position for Dallas. Likely providing depth at LB and seeing some action if injuries open the door. Appears to be a good blitzer and may be useful there. Stays low, finds the opening, and then adjust to the play. His ability to contribute on special teams may have a lot to do if whether or not Wilson makes the final 53 man roster.
Player comparison: LB Justin Durant who left Dallas in the off season to join the Falcons. Like Durant, Wilson should be a decent option at LB when needed.
5. DE Ryan Russell 6-4, 269
Strengths: Ideal size for the position. Good run defender and displays nice strength too. May have a lot of upside.
Weakness: Doesn’t appear to have great quickness like you would want from a DE. Looks the part of an NFL DE, but it feels like he has been a bit of an underachiever so far in his career. Just an average pass rusher (3 sacks his senior season).
How he fits: Russell should get an opportunity to contribute to the team as a backup DE. His size and run defense should be of use right away but he will need time to develop as a pass rusher at the NFL level.
Player comparison: DE Anthony Spencer played at Purdue like Russell, and was an OLB for Dallas before they switched to a 4-3 defense where he played DE. Spencer had a breakout season in 2012 with 11 sacks. Like Russell, Spencer was a better run defender than pass rusher.