In my initial 2011 Big Board, I rated the defensive ends as follows:
- 1. Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC
- 2. Justin Houston, DE, Georgia
- 3. DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson
- 4. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
- 5. Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
- 6. Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
- 7. Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas
- 8. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pitt
- 9. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Bowers, Clayborn and Kerrigan would be poor fits for a 3-4 system. The others would all transition to outside linebacker. It’s worth noting that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan thinks highly of the Cowboys’ current outside linebackers, as he should—I graded Ware, Spencer and Butler as the team’s first-, ninth- and third-most efficient players in 2010, respectively.
To me, Quinn and Houston are a cut above the rest. I know I’m much higher on Houston than just about anyone, but he appears to be a much safer pick than second-tier players such as Bowers and Clayborn, both of whom have concerns about their body.
My second-tier has also remained the same, but after studying more of today’s feature, Sam Acho, I have dropped the Texas product to ninth, below Ryan Kerrigan.
Acho is a workout warrior, running a 4.68 40-yard dash at the combine, including a 1.66-second 10-yard split—a tremendous time. However, I don’t see that sort of burst or initial explosiveness on tape. Acho has an average “get-off” despite his measurables.
Acho isn’t stout against the run at all. He fails to get off of blocks and doesn’t utilize his strength. He also fails to properly break down in space. A 3-4 outside linebacker who isn’t a run-stuffer but won’t be an elite edge-rusher is bad news.
The reason the senior DE timed so well is that he’s a solid straight-line athlete. I liken him to a player like Ted Ginn: great straight-line speed, but an inability to break down or make quick cuts. Thus, Acho has a difficult time securing sacks from the front side. When he’s on the back side and the quarterback is unaware of his presence, Acho is a far superior player, because he doesn’t need to break down and react.
Acho is by no means an awful player, however. He displays great effort and hustle. Despite being poor against the run, he doesn’t miss many tackles when he does get in proper position. He’s very smart and a tremendously hard worker.
There are zero character concerns with Acho. He won the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy for a combination of academics, community service and on-field performance, as well as the 2009 and 2010 Arthur Ashe Award (national award for minority student-athletes). His parents live in Nigeria, and he travels overseas for medical and religious missions.
Overall, however, I don’t think Acho’s awesome character and measurables make up for being an average football player.
Acho could get selected anywhere from the second to fourth round. At best, he’s a mid- to late-round talent who will get overvalued because of his athleticism. I wouldn’t take a serious look at Acho until about the fourth round, but he will probably be gone by then.
With Rob Ryan’s favorable reviews on the current outside linebackers and Acho’s mediocre tape, I think he’s a longshot to land in Dallas.
Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011