Scouting Combine Prospects Who Fit Dallas Cowboys' Biggest NFL Draft Needs
With the next step in the NFL draft process being the scouting combine and all players who will participate announced, let's take a look at who'd fit for Dallas.
The Cowboys are transitioning to a new 4-3, Tampa 2-style scheme and are still in need of offensive line help. All that adds up to a rather hefty laundry list of needs to address this NFL draft and that means Cowboys scouts will be quite busy at the combine.
Here are seven players at this year's combine that fit some of Dallas' biggest position needs.
OG Larry Warford, Kentucky
Some people may point to Larry Warford's size as a possible flaw at 6'3", 333 pounds, but that's just what Dallas needs. Football has changed a bit since, but the old Dallas ways on the line used to be to find the biggest guys out there to protect the quarterback.
Warford is a big, strong body that knows how to keep his feet moving and keep his assignments occupied.
Considering how ineffective Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings proved to be last season, Warford would be a fine prospect to draft in hopes of replacing one of them. A replacement that some Dallas fans would mind seeing right after Warford donned his Cowboys draft day hat.
The Kentucky Wildcat's performance will be closely monitored by the Cowboys in Indianapolis.
DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Oregon's Dion Jordan is one of the biggest defensive line names at the combine, so the Cowboys won't be the only ones watching his performance by any means. That being said, it doesn't change the fact that he'd be a great fit for Dallas at defensive end.
Jason Hatcher and Marcus Spears are adequate players at both end positions, but neither have, or ever really did have the potential that Jordan possess. He has the long arms teams want in any lineman, but like DeMarcus Ware, he has the ability to play either end or linebacker given his 6'7", 241-pound frame.
The only way Jordan dons the star on his helmet next season is if the Cowboys draft him with their first-round pick. The combine will help Dallas decide if it's worth ignoring the offensive line with its first pick for an end as talented as Jordan.
DE Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
If Dallas does not choose to go the Dion Jordan route in the first round, another defensive end that is built similar to the Oregon standout is Cornellius Carradine.
The Florida State product stands 6'5", 264 pounds and has the strength and speed to move off his assignments in an impressive manner. Carradine posted 13 tackles for losses, 80 tackles overall and 11 sacks in his senior season with the Seminoles.
It's hard not to like that stat line paired with his physical attributes. If the Cowboys want to wait a little bit to find an end that would still work well in the Tampa 2, Carradine is a fine option.
He could easily move up the draft board of many teams with a solid combine effort though, so Dallas will need to hope he doesn't climb too high.
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Montee Ball probably won't turn into a high-profile starting running back in the NFL, but he'll make a fine hard-running backup.
Ball has a bruising-type strength to him despite standing just 5'11". His hard running style and ability to fight out yards would make him an ideal replacement to Felix Jones.
Jones in all likelihood won't be back in Dallas next season, which makes Ball a nice middle-round draft pick for Big D. The former Wisconsin Badger is in need of a solid combine to overcome some worries about his height and ability to translate to the NFL.
Even if Ball doesn't have a great combine, that doesn't mean he shouldn't remain on Dallas' radar. He'd be a fine change-of-pace and short-yardage back to work with DeMarco Murray.
RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
When considering Marcus Lattimore's history of big-time knee injuries, the Cowboys and others will be watching him for late-round pick purposes.
The South Carolina Gamecock needs to show that explosive speed and power at the combine. If he shows the same burst he showed during his college career, Lattimore is worthy of attention.
He sees the hole develop and doesn't hesitate to run through it which is exactly what you want out of a downhill runner like Lattimore.
Given that DeMarco Murray has had his own injuries, it's a bit risky to take the Gamecock with a history of knee injuries. Still, if Lattimore is available in the last few rounds, the name of the game at that point is lottery picks anyway.
OLB Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Sean Porter is elusive, fast and has a solid closing speed to get to the ball-carrier. His short arms are a bit of an alarm, but he's still shown a fine ability to beat his assignment.
The former Aggie isn't going to be drafted in the first few rounds come April, but that works out just fine for Big D. The Cowboys need to address the offensive line and safety before thinking linebacker, which means Porter probably has a few Dallas scouts eying him.
Porter would be a useful player to have on the roster, especially if Dallas loses Anthony Spencer to free agency this offseason. The Cowboys' need at this position depends on what happens with Spencer, but Porter has the potential to be a valuable player in time for whoever drafts him.
S Matt Elam, Florida
Even though he will not warrant a first-round pick, Matt Elam should be one of the most-watched players by the Cowboys.
Both safety positions are in need of an upgrade, and Elam is arguably the best safety in the NFL draft. Not hard to see why he should be on Dallas' radar.
Elam has great closing speed and just tends to fly around the gridiron. He is decent in coverage but also has the ability to blitz when asked. The Gator has a reputation for being one the harder-hitting safeties out there too. When he hits the quarterback on those blitzes, he makes them feel it.
His 5'10" height isn't exactly an ideal one for his position when being the last line of defense against 6'-something wide receivers though. Still, his physical ability and football IQ outweigh what he lacks in the height department.
Elam should have no problem impressing whichever team scouts are eying him in Indianapolis.