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.
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.