NFL Combine 2012: Jerry Jones' Top 5 Players to Interview
Jerry Jones will surely make his presence known at the NFL Combine this week as he prepares to assemble his list of preferred players to select for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL draft. Jones will talk to many of the 300-plus players who will show their talents at the Combine. Also, he'll watch players along side scouts and other executives.
Jones will likely watch a good number of drills to get some sort of picture of the players' abilities. Watching the players at the combine will give him a bit of insight into how they might perform under pressure if drafted by the Cowboys.
However, he'll gather more accurate information on players' capabilities from Cowboys personnel at the pro day workouts.
The more important aspect of the combine for Jones will be the opportunity to interview players. Jones will have his chance to get to know prospective draftees little bit. He'll be able to talk to them to get some idea of the types of personalities he might be bringing to the Cowboys organization.
Based on that, he might gather what type of relationship he would have to establish with the players if drafted by the Cowboys.
Some players he'll be more invested in interviewing than others. Players who Jones may be most interested in drafting for the Cowboys would likely receive the most in-depth interviews. Those he'd like to grab in the first round would be most likely to field detailed or interesting questions.
The following are the five players Jones will be best served in taking his time in interviewing to a greater extent than others. Also included in the following slides are questions Jones and other Cowboys personnel may ask these players.
5. T.J. Graham
The Cowboys had problems with the return game. They placed No. 27 in punt return average and No. 21 in kick return average.
T.J. Graham of North Carolina State could be a good man for the return game. He was a dynamic return man in his four years with the Wolfpack. In 2011, Graham averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 12.1 yards per punt return. He totaled four return touchdowns in his career.
He came on as a receiver in the last two years with the Wolfpack, totaling 71 catches for 1,073 yards in his last two seasons.
Graham is a pure speedster. He's one of the fastest of all draft prospects. He ran a 10.44 100-yard dash in high school. The caveat is that he tends to drop the ball. He fumbled the ball 12 times in his college career, including six times in 2011.
Jones would be interested in Graham's speed and durability, due to his thin frame (5'11" and 180 pounds). He should like to ask him what he enjoys about being fast and what he feels are the drawbacks. Also, Jones may want to ask Graham how he reacts when the ball is coming his way.
4. Jared Crick
As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys struggled with the pass rush. DeMarcus Ware carried the bulk of the load in the pass rush, amassing more than 40 percent of the Cowboys' sacks. Since the Cowboys look to place the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer, per ESPNDallas/Fort Worth, the Cowboys don't seem likely to draft an outside linebacker.
That leaves the defensive end position as a point of interest. Cowboys defensive ends combined for 7.5 sacks in 2011, led by 4.5 by Jason Hatcher. Jared Crick of Nebraska would be a good candidate to help Hatcher with the pass rush. Crick is a tall, tough pass rusher, standing 6'4". He has strong hands that can throw off blockers.
A good fit for the 3-4 defense, Crick comes on strong to quarterbacks as he rushes them. Crick works hard and brings quarterbacks down with his torrential effort. Also, he's a solid player in run defense.
Jerry Jones may not be blown away by Jared Crick's performance in Combine drills since his game isn't about speed and explosion. Jones may like to ask Crick how he would work against blockers who possess great strength and quick reaction time.
Also, Jones would do well to ask Crick, who served as a vocal leader for the Cornhuskers, how he would use his leadership skills in his first year or two in the NFL.
3. Peter Konz
The offensive line was an issue for the Cowboys in 2011. Phil Costa struggled in his first year as a starter. The line struggled to protect Tony Romo, who was the sixth-most sacked quarterback in the NFL last season.
Peter Konz of Wisconsin would be a good addition to help at center. At 6'5" and 315 pounds, Konz is a big, physical mover on the line. He's good at blocking for both the pass and the run. Konz can help other blockers and get downfield to block. Also, he's fast and gets up quickly after the snap.
While Konz is projected several spots lower than the Cowboys' No. 14 pick, Jones should like to meet with Konz. Jones would be impressed by Konz's size and concerned with his health. Konz missed games in each of the last three seasons due to injuries, including three games in 2011 with an ankle injuries.
Jones would want to know how Konz's ankle feels, and may like to ask him a question about how he feels after running a fair amount.
Also, Jones should ask Konz about his relationship with Russell Wilson, his quarterback at Wisconsin, as well as Bill Nagy, current Cowboy and former teammate of Konz's. Chemistry between the center and the quarterback, as well as that which is forged between the center and his fellow linemen, is crucial to the success of an offensive line.
2. Dre Kirkpatrick
Like Jenkins, Dre Kirkpatrick is a cornerback Jerry Jones should consider drafting in the first round for the Cowboys. Kirkpatrick and Jenkins have about the same speed. Kirkpatrick is four inches taller than Jenkins. Kirkpatrick doesn't have quite the ball skills or timing required to get interceptions that Jenkins does.
However, Kirkpatrick is a little bit better at tackling than Jenkins.
Jones should be interested in seeing how Kirkpatrick and Jenkins compare in terms of skill set. Also, he should like see the contrast in personalities. Kirkpatrick is known as a quiet, well-respected guy off the field and a communicator on the field. Jones should ask Kirkpatrick how he would handle boisterous, abrasive personalities in the locker room.
Also, Jones should inquire about how Kirkpatrick prefers to communicate with teammates before the snap and during plays.
1. Janoris Jenkins
The cornerback position will be a focal point for the Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked No. 23 in pass defense. This was partly due to lack of a pass rush, and partly due to poor pass coverage. The Cowboys have bigger holes at cornerback than at pass rushing positions. Terence Newman had a dismal year.
Michael Jenkins suffered through injuries much of the year.
Thus, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys will have their eyes open for a cornerback in the first round. Janoris Jenkins is a strong candidate to fill this role. Jenkins possesses good speed and strong tackling ability. He's tough in press coverage and hangs tough in man coverage.
Jenkins' criminal background is an issue. He had two arrests in a three-month span in early 2011, leading to his dismissal from the Florida football team. That led him to play at North Alabama for his final season of collegiate football.
Jones should be especially interested in speaking with Jenkins. He'll be interested in Jenkins' speed and character. The questions Jones should most like to ask Jenkins is about the moral authority figures he may have had in his youth. It might turn out that Jenkins didn't have anyone to demonstrate any sort of moral authority for Jenkins in his childhood.
Another question of interest is how Jenkins, who stands 5'10", would use his speed and toughness to compensate for his lack of size in the NFL.