Ravens Adrian Hamilton: One the Dallas Cowboys Let Get Away

AdrianHamilton_news

Rookie Adrian Hamilton will be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend for the Baltimore Ravens. He will play as a pass rushing specialist and on special teams.

Hamilton was an undrafted free agent that the Dallas Cowboys brought into preseason camp. He was born in Dallas, Texas and played college football at Prairie View A&M where he led the nation in sacks with 20.5 and was named an all american at the sub division level. This all happened right under the Cowboys’ nose so they had to at least bring him in to have a look.

Hamilton tried to show Dallas what he could do as a pass rusher in a preseason game with the Rams when he absolutely body slammed QB Kellen Clemons to the turf forcing the ball loose on a sack. VIDEO That had to hurt.

Just before final cuts, I blogged that I was impressed with Hamilton’s pass rushing potential and hoped they would find a roster spot for this young talent. HERE

In it I said of Hamilton, “I hope the Cowboys are able to hold on to Hamilton a nice looking prospect.”
A few days later On August 30, when the 53 man roster was announced, Hamilton was not on the roster and that’s when the Ravens wisely stepped in and signed him to their practice squad on September 3rd.

Hamilton remained on the practice squad until December 22 when he was added to the roster for the Ravens.

The Cowboys certainly could have used a pass rushing specialist as their sack numbers were modest this season and down from 2011. One reason Dallas cut him is because Hamilton had no experience on special teams but now he plays on the kickoff team and is doing it well. In his first game with the Ravens he recorded a couple kick coverage tackles and said, “I guess I’m not that bad,” Hamilton said with a laugh. “I’m not as bad on special teams as [Dallas] thought I was.”

Now here the Cowboys are today transitioning to a 4-3 defense and in need of a good hand in the dirt DE pass rusher as the prospects of resigning Anthony Spencer look difficult. Could sure use that sack machine from right there in Dallas about now huh? Even if Spencer is kept, he doesn’t bring a strong ability to rush the passer. The last couple seasons Ware has provided the pass rush.

To build a championship team, a GM has got to know who to keep and who to discard and the decisions aren’t always easy, but getting those right is important to a team’s success. It takes a few undrafted talents to get an advantage in the NFL where creating a level playing field is the policy. I think while watching the super bowl Sunday, Cowboy fans will see one that got away in Adrian Hamilton.

Just go back and watch that video again of the Rams preseason game and tell me Dallas couldn’t have used a player like that this season and next. Now Dallas will likely have to look in the draft for a DE that can sack QBs.

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Rob Ryan Resumes Job Search

Ryan said he would be out of a job for like 5 minutes.

Ryan said he would be out of a job for like 5 minutes.

The Rams and Jeff Fisher dodged a bullet by announcing that they actually would not be hiring Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. STORY

Ryan, whose mouth is known to run much faster than his brain, had said he would be out of a job for like 5 minutes. Fisher only said that the scheme was not a good fit. I hear ya bro, Ryan runs a 3-4 and the Rams are running a 4-3 so don’t ask me why Fisher even gave this thing a look. It made no sense to me as the Rams had a significantly better defense last year than Dallas.

Ryan managed to take the Cowboys defense to some all time lows in interceptions and over all defense. Now I guess the Rams will join the Cowboys, Raiders, and Browns on Ryan’s list of teams to hate. In 10 years, Ryan had 1 top 10 defense. Of course some say “but all the injuries” this year at Dallas. Jerry spent a lot to get DBs Carr and Claiborne who weren’t injured. The lack of turnovers is what head coach Jason Garrett said was the reason they broke off Ryan.

The Eagles are still searching for a defensive coordinator and they are a 4-3 team considering the 3-4 change. His dad coached there so maybe the Eagles will hire him? Then he could play Dallas twice a year.

Be warned that Ryan’s defense is so complicated that even he doesn’t understand it.

Stock May be Rising for These 7 NFL Prospects After Senior Bowl

Ezekiel Ansah is going to be trouble for NFL QBs.

Ezekiel Ansah is going to be trouble for NFL QBs.

In the 2013 Senior Bowl played today, some NFL prospects were able to perhaps move themselves up in the draft. These are the 7 prospects that I was the most impressed with and think may have helped themselves in the draft.

OG Larry Warford, Kentucky

Has been impressive all week in one on one blocking and that carried over into the game too. Warford is a very impressive pass blocker. Defensive linemen appear to run into a brick wall when Warford steps in front of them. Has a low squatty frame that must be like trying to run through a tree stump.

This would be an excellent pick for the Cowboys who desperately need help at guard. Warford has slower feet than most guards perhaps and will need to develop his open field blocking like screens but is outstanding in stopping the pass rush up the middle. I noticed in the game that all three TDs by the south came when Warford was in at right guard. Draft this guy Jerry!

He is projected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round but after Senior Bowl week, I wouldn’t look for him to still be available after the 2nd round.

DE Ezekeil Ansah, BYU

His stock was already pretty strong as he was recognized as a raw talent with exceptional athletic ability. Ansah had a very nice game and was nearly impossible for some very good offensive tackles to block. I was impressed and surprised with how good of a bull rush he displayed. His quickness is obvious and while he needs more football development, he basically has no ceiling. He finished with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles behind the line.

Ansah may not be able to come in and start day one, but he could quickly develop into a rare talented DE. Expected to go in the late first round and only solidified himself as a first rounder today.

DB Robert Alford, Southeastern La

Alford showed what he could do on special teams right from the start with a 88 yard kickoff return that set up the first TD for the south. He also came up with an interception late in the game to show he has DB skills too. Alford offers value right away as a kick returner and could develop into a nice DB as well.

Expected to go in the 3rd round and helped himself today.

C Brian Scwenke, California

Yes a center. In this year’s draft there really aren’t many outstanding centers at all but this week Scwenke separated himself from the pack a bit. He is considered undersized but this week he has held his ground with some of the better competition. He moves his feet real well and lowers his hips to stay anchored after contact.

Scwenke is projected to go in the 4th round but may move up after this week.

OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse

Scouts were concerned about Pugh’s shorter than expected arms for an offensive tackle suggesting that he may need to switch to guard. However this week I think Pugh quieted the critics for now by showing that he could effectively block on the next level as a OT. Pugh was the first underclassman allowed to play in the Senior Bowl under a new rule that allows underclassmen as long as they have their degree.

QB E.J. Manuel, Fla. St.

He came into the Senior Bowl probably ranked lower than most of the participating QBs but had a nice game going 7/10 for 76 yards and a TD. He was able to move his team down the field more consistently than the other QBs as the South scored their points when he was at QB.

Manuel is projected to go around the 4th or 5th round but I think he may be on the move up a little after his performance today.

OLB Zaviar Gooden, Missouri

Clearly has outstanding speed and athletic ability. Intercepted a pass in the game and is an intriguing prospect.

Gooden is projected to be drafted in the 4th and I think he is likely getting the attention of scouts this week especially after a good game. I may be going out on a limb here but I think Gooden should move to safety with his 6’2 size and 4.49/40 speed. Reminds me of Darren Woodson the outstanding Cowboys safety who converted from LB.

Cheap Shots: Observations of News Around the NFL

Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been hired by the Rams. STORY
UPDATE 1/29/13: NOT SO FAST! The Rams are not going to hire Ryan. HERE

My Take: The Rams will play at Dallas in 2013 and you can expect Ryan to fire some verbal torpedos at Jerry and the entire Cowboys organization. Make that the whole Cowboy nation and everything with a star on it.

Ryan did that this season when Dallas played the Browns where Ryan coached previously. Ryan felt the Browns didn’t get him. Dallas was lucky to get a win against the Browns and their defense looked better than Ryan’s in the game. Good luck Rams and you may want to go ahead and tear off a big piece of duct tape the shape of Ryan’s mouth.

Speaking of Ryan, head coach Jason Garrett says they “broke off” Ryan because of a lack of turnovers created by the defense. STORY

My Take: I think Jason makes a valid point here. Through out the season I pointed out that the Cowboys were near the bottom of the NFL in takeaways (minus 13). Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense allows yards but is designed to create turnovers. At USC, Kiffin’s Trojan defense had 19 INTs last season. We will see if the Tampa 2 can be effective at creating turnovers in Dallas.

Jason also pointed out that the Bears defense created 44 turnovers. While Ryan’s defense may have lacked turnovers, Garrett’s offense didn’t lack in giving the ball away. Garrett’s offense contributed to those impressive Bears numbers so perhaps Jason should focus on what his offense can do to keep from giving the ball to other teams. If not, he may be the one broke off next year.

Speaking of Garrett, Jerry announced that Jason will no longer be the play caller for the offense. It will now go to Callahan who has experience doing it in the past with the Raiders. STORY

My Take: Now that Jason Garrett has been completely neutered by Jerry, I just wonder exactly what is it that Jason does now beside stand on the sideline looking like a 10 year old kid. Will he focus on improving his clock management? It’s clear that Jerry is the conductor on this Cowboys train but if it jumps off the track next season, Jason will be held accountable. That’s got to be a bad feeling.

Speaking of Callahan, at the same time Jerry was crowning him as play caller, former Raiders Jerry Rice and Tim Brown alleged that Calahan sabotaged their super bowl game against Tampa 10 years ago. The timing of Jerry’s announcement couldn’t have been worse. STORY

My Take: I’ve not seen conclusive evidence that Callahan sabotaged anything and frankly I don’t believe it. It just doesn’t make sense. Having said that, it’s concerning that he has former players with trust issues on that level. It’s not a good sign. It appears Callahan’s game plan was so poor that it must have seemed like he was trying to lose. Often ineptness and corruption can have a similar appearance.

Manti Te’o interviewed with Katie Couric and she bluntly ask, “are you gay?” He replied, “no far from it, far from it”. STORY

My Take: Not sure how the Te’o interview escaped Oprah but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I’ve heard enough of this bizarre story. If Te’o ever watched the TV show “Catfish”, he would have known he was being punked by some guy.

As far as his orientation goes, who cares? But I do think the more Te’o tries to convince me he is not gay, the more I think he probably is gay. What does FAR from it mean anyway? Like there are different levels of hetero?

As Shakespeare wrote, “Te’o doth protest too much, methinks.”

Will Cowboys Support Jay Ratliff Unconditionally Too?

After the Steelers game in December, I blogged how I was pretty much disgusted with how the Cowboys let Josh Brent roam the sideline after being charged with manslaughter. BLOG HERE

In that blog, I sagely warned,

Is it really a good idea to have a guy with a known drinking and driving problem hanging out with the team? Can anyone else see how that may go wrong? Again….

Of course there is no way I could have known that something would happen so soon after that PR disaster for Dallas but I did speculate that as a coach and owner, you can always expect more of whatever you tolerate.

By not making a strong stand against Josh Brent and his crime, they left the door open for similar behavior in the future.

Fortunately, Ratliff wasn’t killed in his accident but it would be wise for Jerry and Jason to separate themselves from Ratliff……that includes no roaming the sideline or hanging out at Valley Ranch.

NFL Prospects Dallas Cowboys Should be Watching in the Senior Bowl

The 2013 Senior Bowl will be played Saturday in Mobile, Alabama. NFL coaches can be found attending practices and interviewing prospects to help their respective teams next year. The first name called for Dallas in the draft just may be on the field Saturday.

With the addition of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Dallas will be moving from the 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. While they have some players in place for this conversion, they will no doubt need rookies to come in and help complete that transition.

There are several good underclassmen prospects entering the draft that will not be participating in the Senior Bowl. Here I am only focusing on the ones playing in this all star game who I think are a good fit for Dallas and will likely be on the board where Dallas picks.

By position, these are the prospects in the Senior Bowl that I think the Dallas coaches and fans should watch in the game.

Defensive Linemen: With the new 4-3, Dallas will have Ware at a DE and Ratliff at a DT but they will need another DE and DT. If the Cowboys don’t take an offensive lineman in the first round, I think they will select a defensive lineman.

DE- Alex Okafor, Texas– Okafor has had an excellent week of practice for the Senior Bowl gaining a lot attention as a pass rusher. An excellent first step and a good all around run stopper and pass rusher. Ideal size for a 4-3 defensive end with a hand in the dirt, at 6-5 and 261 pounds. Expected to be picked in the late first round. If Dallas doesn’t resign Spencer, they should consider Okafor.

alex-okafor

DE- Ezekial Ansah, Brigham Young– Tremendous upside potential. Very athletic pass rusher who is a raw talent. Expected to be picked at about 18 where Dallas drafts in the first round.  Ansah is ranked just ahead of Okafor but while Ansah may have a lot of potential, it will take time for him to develop. I would not draft him in the first round for that reason.

DT- Sylvester Williams, North Carolina– Got the attention of Cowboys’ scout Broaddus in practice this week who described Williams as “disruptive”. Difficult to block one on one and could help free up Ware in the pass rush.  Expected to get picked in the 2nd or 3rd rd.

DT-Everett Dawkins, Florida State– I think Dawkins could be a nice mid round draft pick up (4-5 round) who offers a good pass rush for a defensive tackle. Could be a nice fit in a 4-3 defense. I prefer Dawkins over the higher rated John Jenkins from Georgia for a 4-3 defense because Jenkins is better suited as a nose tackle in a 3-4.

Offensive Linemen: In my opinion, this is an area that Dallas must focus on improving. They were not effective at running the ball and their pass protection left a lot to desire as well. Their guard play was just awful and Doug Free was a disappointment at right tackle.

Eric Fisher has been the most impressive OT at the Senior Bowl practices but he is expected to come off the board in the top 10 well before Dallas picks.

OT- Justin Pugh, Syracuse– Left tackle prospect who is intelligent. He is the first underclassmen to be approved to play in the senior bowl which requires that they have their degree. Speculation is that Pugh will move to guard at the next level because of arms that are not as long as scouts like on tackles. Will be interesting to see how he performs at tackle in the game. Expected to go in the 2nd round but if he is going to change to guard, then perhaps his stock drops.

OT- D.J. Fluker, Alabama– Part of the dominant offensive line at Alabama. Fluker is a true right tackle and could replace Free at right tackle right away I think. Fluker would provide Dallas an ability to get physical in the run game where he excels. However his pass blocking ability is not as impressive as the run blocking so he will need to develop there some. He is expected to be drafted in the late first round.

OT- David Quessenberry, San Diego St.- Started his career as a walk on but has been very impressive in one on one drills at practice on Tuesday. Moves his feet very nicely. He is projected as a 5th round pick but based on his performance this week, I have to think his stock could be rising. David was a team captain and Garrett has shown a tendency to draft team captains. I think he would represent value after the 3rd round. He is raw and may be a year away from being a starter however.

OG- Larry Warford, Kentucky– Didn’t allow a sack all season. Listed as a guard but could be converted to a center. He looks more like a center in the NFL to me. May become a very good one too. Played well against tough SEC defenders last year. Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus has developed a man crush on Warford. HERE Expected to get drafted in the early 3rd rd.

Running backs: Every season it seems Dallas is short on depth at RB as they experience a large number of injuries. I’m not convinced that Felix Jones will be around another season so it makes sense to consider drafting a running back at some point.

RB-Andre Ellington, Clemson– Explosive RB that has the ability to catch the ball and produce big plays. He runs a 4.4 /40.  A perfect replacement for Jones as a rotation back but may be hard to justify getting him in the 2nd rd. where he is expected to go.  But represents a steal in the 3rd round in my view.

RB- Robbie Rouse, Fresno State– a small 5-6 running back but was the all time leading rusher at Fresno State with over 4600 yards.  Tough runner who follows his blocks nicely and is difficult for defenses to find him.  I think the little guy is underrated as a projected 6th round pick. Could he be the Alfred Morris of this draft?

Safety: Going to a Tampa 2, Dallas could sure use more help at safety.

T.J. McDonald, Southern California– Played for Monte Kiffin at USC and I have to think Monte would like to have McDonald on his defense to help the secondary transition to the new defense. McDonald would be a better pass coverage option than Barry Church. I think they would compliment each other. Sensabaugh has played decent in the past but can’t be counted on a lot longer. McDonald’s father Tim McDonald played in the NFL.  Should be picked in the 3rd or 4th round.

S- Bacarri Rambo, Georgia- An impressive safety on the Bulldogs team but does come with major character question marks.  A good ball hawk safety that may fit in well with the turnover seeking Tampa 2 defense. Overall a better safety than McDonald but with character questions and McDonald’s experience with Kiffin, I think McDonald will be higher on the Cowboys draft board. Projected 3rd round pick.

Saturday: Last year in the Senior Bowl a QB named Russell Wilson threw a TD pass. At the time, I doubt many could have predicted that he would go on to have the kind of rookie season that he had for the Seahawks who came just a few seconds short of making the NFC championship game. On Saturday, be on the look out for a player that could be a difference maker next season.

How Will Ratliff’s Arrest Impact the Cowboys Draft?

ratliff
Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff was arrested Tuesday for a suspected DUI after crashing into an 18 wheeler. A particularly disturbing event having just recently buried a teammate killed from a drunk driving accident involving another teammate Josh Brent.

Ratliff has been a Pro Bowl defensive lineman in the past but in recent years, his productivity has fallen off and he has missed a lot of games from a variety of injuries. Ratliff was only able to play in 6 games last season for Dallas.

It was thought that Ratliff would play DT in the new 4-3 defense the Cowboys are putting together but will Dallas now consider cutting Ratliff? He is not getting any younger at age 31, he has had a difficult time staying healthy enough to be counted on to play, and he had an incident with Jerry Jones in December where they exchanged words in the locker room.

Even before this recent DWI accident, Ratliff was becoming more trouble than he is worth. The scales were tipping toward the cold fact that Ratliff isn’t worth his pay any longer. But this DWI could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for Ratliff.

By cutting Ratliff before June 1, Dallas will free up some much needed salary cap room. They may use that to sign Spencer but at this point we don’t know if Spencer is returning next year. Spencer had a good season but he may come with a higher price tag than Jerry is willing to pay.

DRAFT: How does it impact the draft if they part ways with Ratliff? Then adding depth at defensive tackle will become more urgent. Before this incident with Ratliff, I felt the Cowboys would draft either a defensive lineman or an offensive lineman with their first pick. My personal preference would have been an offensive lineman but now I think it may be leaning toward a defensive tackle for their 4-3. And they need someone who can play right away.

Options: The Cowboys do have Lissemore and Bass that can play DT. Also DE Hatcher could possibly be moved to DT. But still, the Cowboys will need to add depth at defensive tackle.

Prospects in the draft? Dallas will select at number 18 in the draft and to be honest, I actually think there are better DE prospects at that point in the draft but let’s look at the DTs thought to be available around 18 in the first round:

Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State– Solid run defender and can also pressure the QB as well. Not to be counted on to play every down as he gets noticeably tired. Could add depth right away at the DT position for Dallas.

Jesse Williams, Alabama– Very strong and a solid run defender but doesn’t offer much in a pass rush. Is probably more of a NT in a 3-4 defense.

Shariff Floyd, Florida– There are mock drafts that have Dallas drafting Floyd. A nice combination of quickness and hand use. He played DE in the past but is built for DT in the NFL.

John Jenkins, Georgia- In my view, Jenkins will be best at the next level as a NT in the 3-4. He is without a doubt a big wide run stopper in the middle but is not going to blow past offensive tackles to get a sack. If Dallas were staying in the 3-4, I like this pick but since they are going to a 4-3, he may not be their best option. Considered a “boom or bust” pick by most experts.

If Dallas parts ways with Ratliff and they do look for DT help early in the draft, I think Hankins and Floyd may offer the best fit in a 4-3. There are also solid DT prospects available in the mid rounds of the draft as well.