Dallas Cowboys Potential Draft Pick In 2011: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

Jonathan BalesAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 19:  Robert Quinn #42 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after a sack with teammate Marvin Austin #9 against the East Carolina Pirates at Kenan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Thus far this offseason, I have produced scouting reports on Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan.  Today I will take a look at another player the Cowboys will look at in the first round, UNC defensive end Robert Quinn.

I’m analyzing defensive players initially because I have almost completed my 2010 Player Grades for all defensive positions.  To know where to go in the future, the Cowboys must properly assess their current roster.  As far as Quinn is concerned, the team’s thoughts on their current outside linebacker group will dictate the value they place on securing Quinn, who would move to that position in the 3-4 defense.

In my opinion, the squad’s outside linebacker group isn’t nearly as poor as everyone makes it out to be.  Everyone knows DeMarcus Ware is a beast and one of the top defensive players in the NFL, but most people are very down on Anthony Spencer.  Spencer wasn’t outstanding this season, but I still provided him with a ‘B’ in my 2010 Outside Linebacker Grades.  He actually tallied 11 more tackles than Ware.

Further, I gave second-year man Victor Butler a ‘B+’ overall grade.  I’m extremely high on Butler, particularly since he dramatically improved his run defense.  He’s now a complete player (his .118 pressures/rush beat out Ware) and I think he’s ready to challenge Spencer for a starting job.

I don’t think the Cowboys need to prioritize the outside linebacker spot early in the draft.  Others may disagree, however, and if Jerry Jones is one of those people, the organization will take a hard look at Quinn with the ninth overall selection.

Scouting Report

At 6’4”, 270 pounds, Quinn may need to bulk up to remain at defensive end in a 4-3 defense.  In a 3-4, however, he has prototypical size.  To go with that size, Quinn possesses elite athleticism.  Some have compared him to Julius Peppers, and while I don’t think he’s on that level, there’s no doubt that Quinn has the size/speed combo to be on the Raiders’ radar.

Quinn excels as a pass-rusher, utilizing an incredible rip move and overall great hand placement to reach the passer.  I haven’t seen much of a spin move or bull rush, but that could due to the fact that his edge rush was so effective that he didn’t really need to use anything else.

Quinn’s “get off” seems to be average, he doesn’t anticipate the snap like a DeMarcus Ware (but who does?).  He has great speed when he gets going, but I don’t think his quickness is jaw-dropping.  I think his short shuttle time could surprise some people (in a bad way).

Quinn also seems to use poor leverage at times against the run, which is surprising for someone who uses his body so effectively as a pass-rusher.  However, Quinn always seems to be in the right place at the right time.  He plays very under control and doesn’t over-pursue the football, so plays like counters and bootlegs won’t trick him.


Quinn figures to go anywhere from No. 3 overall to the Bills to somewhere in the early teens, although it’s unlikely he’ll drop that far.  I personally think he’ll get scooped up by a 3-4 team, which could limit potential suitors.  It isn’t like he doesn’t have the skill set to play in any scheme, however.

The Cowboys won’t be able to trade down and still nab Quinn, so they’d have to grab him with the No. 9 selection.  As I stated above, however, the team has more pressing needs than outside linebacker, and unless they deem Quinn a can’t-miss edge rusher, they should pass.