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Tag:Dallas Cowboys
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:14 am
 

Source: OT Matt Kalil "set to return" to USC

Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil is "set to return" for his senior season according to a source close to the situation.

Kalil, 6-6 and 295 pounds, just finished his second season as the Trojans' starting left tackle. He earned First Team All Pac-12 honors and is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 3 overall prospect in the country. Though his older brother, Ryan, returned for his senior campaign at USC prior to the center being drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft by the Carolina Panthers, most expected Matt to leave early.

A high-ranking NFL scout confirmed that he'd also heard Kalil was "definitely leaning towards returning" and that the decision surprised he and his scouting peers, as well.

"If he does indeed return, it would be a bit surprising. He's the top offensive tackle in the country. The senior class [at offensive tackle] is a weak group. At worst, he'd be looking at a top ten pick. That fact alone would send most guys into the draft."

Kalil's remarkable combination of size and athleticism had kept the Dallas Cowboys' 2011 first round pick Tyron Smith playing on the right side during his career with the Trojans. That didn't keep Jerry Jones and his staff from selecting Smith with the No. 9 overall pick. Smith, incidentally, has performed well this season as the Cowboys' starting right tackle.

Kalil has long been projected to enter the 2012 draft. Chad Reuter and I have each projected him as a potential top five pick in our current first round mock drafts.

Should Kalil return, it could set off of chain reaction pushing other talented USC underclassmen -- including quarterback Matt Barkley -- to shun the NFL and return for their senior seasons. The Trojans' bowl ban ends this year. Considering the talent this team has potentially coming back, a return to national title contention would appear possible.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 2:06 pm
 

10 Undrafted Free Agents Who Could Make the Cut

Those of us who root for the underdog seem to latch on to an undrafted free agent or two each summer in the hopes that our favorite NFL team has unearthed the next Tony Romo, Arian Foster or John Randle.

With limited opportunity to make a strong impression on coaches this year due to prolonged holdout and lack of mini camps, it has been a steeper climb than ever for undrafted rookies, and yet there are several throughout the league who appear well on their way to making active rosters.

These ten undrafted free agents have stood out for Brad Noel (a regular contributor to this blog, NFLDraftScout.com) and myself during film review of the first three weeks of the preseason.

If you feel there are other UDFAs we've missed, please don't hesitate to identify and provide your own scouting report in the comment section below. Brad and I are watching as much tape as possible, but we haven't seen every game. At least not yet...

Players are listed alphabetically.

1. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks (Stanford): Had impressed brass with his reliable hands, route-running out of the slot and that was before he returned a kickoff 105 yards for a TD against Denver.
2. Nick Bellore, ILB, Jets (Central Michigan): Instinctive and a terrific open field tackler, Bellore made several standout plays Monday against the Giants.
3. Ryan Donahue, P, Lions (Iowa): Seems to have a legitimate chance of unseating veteran Nick Harris for the starting punting (and holder) positions for the Lions.
4. Kevin Kowalski, C, Cowboys (Toledo): I'm told Kowalski's solid play was one of the factors that led to the team's surprising release of former Pro Bowler Andre Gurode.
5. Josh Portis, QB, Seahawks (California of PA): Has easily won the Seahawks No. 3 position and some argue he holds more upside than current No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
6. Weslye Saunders, TE, Steelers (South Carolina): Big bodied blocker with the hands to be a threat in short yardage situations.
7. Ricardo Silva, S, Lions (Hampton): Appeared to be a loooong-shot heading into the preseason, but has proven to be a playmaker (two interceptions, fumble recovery) and is practicing ahead of veterans Aaron Francisco and Michael Johnson, among others. 
8. Willie Smith, OT, Redskins (East Carolina): The same athleticism that Brad and I found so intriguing before continues to be obvious. While there are concerns about Smith's technique and ability to handle the playbook, he played well as a second string left tackle against a physical Baltimore front last week. In fact, according to Brad, Smith outplayed veteran Sean Locklear (78 career starts for Seattle) who served as the team's second string right tackle in the same contest.
9. Cedric Thornton, DT, Eagles (Southern Arkansas): Andy Reid's willingness to shuffle the deck at defensive tackle makes listing Thornton a gamble, but he's shown good athleticism at 6-3, 310 pounds.
10. Will Yeatman, TE, Patriots (Maryland): Won't push Gronkowski or Hernandez for fantasy consideration, but is a big body (6-6, 270) who has stood out as a blocker.



Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:42 am
 

What to expect in today's supplemental draft

Pushed back over a month from its regularly scheduled date due to the lockout and a bizarre controversy over player eligibility (Terrelle Pryor), the NFL's supplemental draft will begin today at 1 pm Eastern.

This draft, unlike the one in April, will be carried out via email. Teams won't even known the order until approximately 30 minutes prior to the draft. There will be no television cameras in the war rooms. The event won't spark much more than passing interest from your local sports media outlets -- unless, of course, your team elects to draft one of the six players deemed eligible. Alphabetically, they are: Western Carolina cornerback Torez Jones, Georgia running back Caleb King, Lindenwood University/Allen Wranglers (IFL) defensive end Keenan Mace, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Northern Illinois safety Tracy Wilson.

The vast majority of the focus on these six players has been on Terrelle Pryor -- and for good reason. At this point, he is the only player seemingly assured of being selected. Though his workout was not nearly as impressive in its totality as his 4.38-4.41 second 40-yard dash was to begin the Pro Day, the speed shown by the 6043 (six foot, four and 3/8"), 232 pound has definitely created a buzz. I have consistently heard the Steelers, Raiders and Bengals are the three teams most interested in adding Pryor. There has been a lot of talk of a third round pick. The fact that Pryor is suspended for nearly a third of the regular season might push him down a round or two.

King has also generated a great deal of interest. There were at least seven teams at his Pro Day workout last week, including Washington, Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Media reports following the workout had King (listed at 5-11, 225) as having run in the 4.4s. According to one high level league source, however, King's "officially" was measured at 5106 (five foot, ten and 3/4") and 211 pounds. He was timed at 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash on an ideal outdoor field turf surface. King has some power as an interior runner, flashes an impressive spin move and shows some lateral agility to avoid defenders. As his slow time suggests, however, he does not have the speed to gain yardage in big chunks against NFL competition. One element of his game that will help his cause is that King is a physical and responsible pass blocker. Still, measuring in slower and lighter than expected, King is looking at a late round (6th-7th) selection, at best. He will almost surely be signed as a free agent if not drafted.

McAdoo is thought by some to be the most intriguing of the remaining prospects. Listed at 6-7, 245 pounds, however, scouts were surprised when he instead showed up to some private workouts in the 230s. McAdoo's length and surprising strength still make him quite a developmental prospect as a pass rusher. He flashed throughout his career and appeared poised to enjoy a real breakout season as Robert Quinn's primary backup for UNC. McAdoo could get a late round sniff, but the feeling among most teams is that he'll slip to free agency.

Mace was signed by the Dallas Cowboys out of the IFL following a collegiate career at Lindenwood University. After a few days practicing with the Cowboys, however, Mace was informed that because he signed with Dallas having not used up all of collegiate eligibility (and not petitioning the NFL for early entry), he was not allowed to be on an NFL roster yet until having gone through the supplemental draft. At roughly 6-4, 313 pounds, Mace played defensive tackle at Lindenwood before switching to defensive end for the Allen Wranglers. He is at his best inside, showing a quick burst off the snap and good strength. He does not possess the lateral agility and closing speed to make many stops outside of the tackle box, but plays with effort and has an intriguing big body capable of contributing to a team using either front. Most teams view his best position as a three-technique defensive tackle for the 4-3. Opinions vary signficantly with Mace. Many clubs view him as a free agent, though there have been some rumblings that he could sneak ahead of King and McAdoo and be a 6th or 7th round pick.

Unfortunately for Jones and Wilson, there does not seem to be a great deal of interest from NFL clubs. Wilson's Pro Day workout was taken in by a few teams, though the NIU safety was unable to demonstrate the caliber of athleticism scouts were looking for.

 
Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pryor dazzles 17 teams w/speed. Less so w/ arm?

Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor proved both dazzling and perhaps a bit disappointing Saturday in hastily organized "Pro Day" workout at a Hempfield (Pa) high school in front of a collection of scouts, front office executives, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and even Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay.

Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was also on hand for the workout, showing his support for the player some blame for the program's recent troubles.

Measuring in at 6-5, 232 pounds Pryor wowed onlookers with his straight-line speed early in the workout, posting times between 4.38-4.41 seconds on a soft FieldTurf surface, according to Zac Jackson's Twitter feed. The soft turf generally slows a player down, at least in comparison to a hard turf or track surface. Therefore, these are lightning fast times for Pryor; ones certain to boost the intrigue of teams considering the playmaker.

As impressive as Pryor was running for the stopwatch, he did not run routes or catch passes as a receiver and was apparently less impressive when throwing the ball. While he threw a tight spiral on many of his throws, he also threw a "duck" after instructing one of his four receivers on hand which route to run and there were several incompletions, according to Jackson.

According to The NFL Network's Albert Breer, Pryor completed 27 of 39 passes. Of the 12 incompletions, Breer counted four drops.

Having not been at Pryor's workout, myself, I can't fairly grade his performance during the throwing session. I have been to multiple Pro Day workouts from quarterbacks, most notably Sam Bradford's, Mark Sanchez's and Jake Locker's. Passes rarely hit the ground during these orchestrated workouts with no defenders.

There were 17 teams present at the workout: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Washington.

While the fact that more than half of the league's teams were represented at the Pro Day shows that there is a great deal of interest in the former Buckeye, it also should be noted that there were only a few decision-makers on hand. Most of the scouts in attendance were lower-level area scouts, likely close by due to their normal scouting responsibilities at local colleges during the late summer months. The Steelers, not surprisingly given their close proximity, were well represented. Besides Tomlin, Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert was also reportedly at the workout. Irsay tweeted that his Colts are "not taking Pryor" though he also mentioned that his team is "evaluating the QB [situation]."

The workout, while exciting, isn't likely to change the opinions of teams heading towards Monday's supplemental draft. I've argued for a long time that Pryor is quite an intriguing prospect at wide receiver. He, however, has indicated a strong preference for remaining at quarterback, though he did tell teams and the assembled media at the workout today that he'd play any position asked.

As a quarterback, Pryor's average accuracy and decision-making means that he's at minimum a two-year project for playing the traditional quarterback role. He could, however, make a significant and exciting contribution early in his career as a glorified Wildcat option for a club.

His athleticism and size are such a unique combination that Pryor most likely will earn a middle to late round pick. Most expect that it will come in the 4th to 5th round.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:23 am
 

Mallett, Ridley impress in Patriots rout of Jags

Over the past few days, I've played catch-up, watching as much preseason tape as possible to get a feel how the rookies played in their first NFL games.

There were some impressive performances from rookies across the league. The Rams may have a young star at tight end in Lance Kendricks. The Seahawks' young right side of the offensive line (RT James Carpenter, RG John Mofffitt) effectively cleared holes against the Chargers. Wideout Dwayne Harris, one of my favorite "steals of the draft," certainly looked the part against Denver in his preseason opener, catching five passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite Tom Brady not taking a snap, there were plenty of highlights for the Patriots in a dominating 47-12 victory over the Jaguars. Among them was the play of the team's two third round picks -- former LSU running back Stevan Ridley and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

The Patriots leaned heavily on Ridley, giving the rookie 16 rushing attempts (for 64 yards, two touchdowns) and also completing seven passes to the 5-11, 225 pounder for another 47 yards. Ridley showed enough burst laterally to escape defenders and showed off the leg drive to get the tough yards.

Mallett's stat line is impressive (12 of 19 for 164 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions), but even moreso was Mallett's poise. The rookie played the entire second half and led the Patriots to touchdowns on each of his first four drives.  Of course, the tall quarterback proved that the strong and accurate right arm he had shown while at Arkansas (and previously at Michigan) was very much still there. Mallett took the vast majority of his snaps out of the shotgun, but also showed some mobility in escaping the pocket, even scrambling when the pocket broke down around him. Most impressive, of course, was his velocity. Mallett recognized holes in the defense and zipped passes through narrow gaps. Fans often equate arm strength with the deep ball. Mallett certainly has that skill, as well, but was most impressive about his ability to drive the football was on slants and crossing routes -- critical routes in the Patriots' offense.
 
Posted on: July 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 10:53 am
 

NBA's Robinson could, likely still can play CB

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson is making alternative plans should the NBA go into an extended lockout as many fear.

Rather than sit and take it easy or sign with an international basketball team, he told Tzvi Twersky of SLAM that he "might go play football."

Now, before you simply laugh off the idea of the 27 year-old attempting to make this career change, know this. Long before Robinson starred as a point guard for the University of Washington, was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns and won three Slam Dunk championships, he was a standout cornerback for then-head coach Rick Neuheisel's Husky football team.

Robinson, following the footsteps of his father, Jacque Robinson, signed with the Huskies on a football scholarship. He only played one season for the football team, but saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting the final five contests and recording 34 tackles and two interceptions.

Statistics rarely tell the whole story and that is certainly the case here.

The 5-09, 180 pound Robinson is an extraordinary athlete whose quickness, vertical jump and surprising physicality always made him a better candidate for the NFL than the NBA, at least that was the opinion of one young NFL Draft analyst back in 2003. He certainly has been blessed with athletic genes. Father Jacque is the only player in college football history to have been named the MVP of the Rose Bowl (1982) and the Orange Bowl (1985). A running back, he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the eighth round in 1985 and later played with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com agrees that Robinson could play in the NFL and emphatically states, "If I were a team that needed a cornerback, I'd sure as hell give Robinson a call."Brandt, of course, prior to working with the NFL as an analyst, spent nearly 30 years as the Dallas Cowboys' Vice President of Player Personnel.

It has been nearly ten years since Robinson played competitive football with helmets and pads. That said, there were many who doubted whether he could make the leap from the Pac-10 to the NBA strictly because of his lack of prototype height. His height wouldn't be quite the detriment as a nickel or dime cornerback, however, precisely why Robinson could surprise if given an opportunity.


Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:32 am
 

5 Biggest Steals of the 2011 Draft

I am taking the first of several mini-vacations tomorrow and wanted to write a final blog post identifying some of the players I believe will prove to be the true steals of the 2011 draft before I begin breaking down the crop of 2012 prospects in earnest upon my return.

I'm sure you have your opinions on which players will prove to be steals. I'd love to read them.

Here are mine.

Five Biggest Steals:

1. RB Mark Ingram, Saints -- selected No. 28 overall: Ingram was the 5th rated prospect on my Big Board, so obviously I'm quite high on his talents. Clearly, the Saints had other needs, but the reliable, hard running by Ingram will give New Orleans the strong rushing attack that helped win them the 2010 Super Bowl.

2. OC Rodney Hudson, Chiefs -- selected No. 55 overall: A career left guard, Hudson will be moved inside to center for the Chiefs and prove a star. His agility, underrated strength and instincts will make him an immediate and long-time standout.

3. RB Daniel Thomas, Dolphins -- selected No. 62 overall: In leading the Big 12 in rushing each of his two seasons at that level and playing the position for the first time, Thomas has already proven his ability. His size, surprising agility and acceleration could be put to the test early and often for Miami, as they attempt to replace the production potentially lost with free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams expected to play elsewhere next season.

4. WR Dwayne Harris, Cowboys -- selected No. 176 overall: I wasn't particularly high on the Cowboys' draft, overall, but I believe they found a steal in Harris, one of the better slot receiver prospects in this draft. Harris is everything Roy Williams is not. Dedicated, tough, and possessing reliable hands.

5. ILB Greg Jones, Giants -- selected No. 185 overall: I've panned several of the Giants' top picks over the past few years because I was stunned they didn't recognize their need for help at linebacker. They again showed their unwillingness to invest a high round pick in the position, but in Jones, they found a productive leader who should help stabilize the middle.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Offensive Line

Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

After several strong years in a row for offensive tackles, the 2011 crop was lacking in elite talent -- at least when it comes to blindside protectors. The strength of the 2011 class lay on the opposite side, as many of the top blockers -- while left tackles in college -- will be asked to switch to the strongside in the NFL. This is likely to be the case with virtually all of this year's top tackles, including the first one selected (Tyron Smith) and the most celebrated offensive tackle of the class (four-year starter Gabe Carimi, the reigning Outland Trophy winner).

With Mike Pouncey and Danny Watkins each top 23 picks, some have mislabeled the 2011 crop of interior linemen as a very good one. In reality, the depth inside was worse than outside this year.

There are, however, plenty of intriguing schematic fits for this year's class.

This is the last of the Finding the Fit breakdowns for offensive prospects. Earlier, I broken down the quarterbacks , running backswide receivers and tight end fits.

Players are listed alphabetically.
Good Fits:

James Carpenter, Seattle Seahawks: Many were surprised to see Carpenter make the first round, though I was not . Carpenter had been steadily rising up draft boards following a quietly impressive week at the Senior Bowl in which he demonstrated the athleticism, versatility and toughness to "plug and play" at any of the four exterior positions. Some pegged quarterback as the Seahawks' greatest need, but considering the fact that the Seahawks received zero or negative yardage on a staggering 26% of their runs last season, upgrading their offensive line was clearly a focus. Carpenter isn't flashy, but he's the physical road-grading right tackle the Seahawks have been missing for years.

Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts:
The knock on Castonzo was he wasn't as physical as some teams would prefer. Though he's made massive gains in the weight and strength department in his four seasons at Boston College (after starting as a 260 pound RT), he is still not the intimidator in the running game that most OL coaches are looking for. Castonzo does, however, possess good lateral agility, long arms and the dedication to play well immediately. For a team needing immediate help up front to keep Peyton Manning upright, Castonzo was the ideal fit. Castonzo, in fact, was the best fit for the Colts among any of the eight offensive linemen drafted in the first round.

Marcus Gilbert, Pittsburgh Steelers: As I mentioned previously, I had forecasted the Steelers taking an underrated and athletic left tackle from the SEC in Carpenter in the first round. With Carpenter off the board, the Steelers built their defensive line instead with Ohio State's Cameron Heyward at No. 31 overall, but found a similar blocker in Florida's Gilbert at No. 63. At 6-6, 330 pounds, Gilbert is bigger than Carpenter (and more ideal for Pittsburgh's preference for extra large blockers) and yet plays with a similar brand of physicality and toughness. He's capable of competing immediately for playing time at either left or right tackle.

Rodney Hudson, Kansas City Chiefs: A two-time winner of the Jacobs' Blocking Trophy as the best offensive lineman in the ACC, Hudson's consistency and athleticism are unquestioned. At only 6-2, 299 pounds (he played closer to 280 at Florida State), Hudson lacks the girth most teams prefer and will almost surely be asked to switch from his customary left guard position to center by the Chiefs. Kansas City operates out of a zone-blocking scheme, however, that places a premium on athleticism over mass in its offensive linemen. Furthermore, head coach Todd Haley prefers smaller, quicker offensive linemen, as well. I'm not as high on Kansas City's draft as some appear to be. Hudson is a significant exception, however. I believe he'll prove a Pro Bowler one day.

Andrew Jackson, Atlanta Falcons: Just as Hudson was an ideal match for the Chiefs due to his quick feet, "The President" is an intriguing fit for the power-based Atlanta attack. Jackson isn't a nimble athlete, but his size (6-5, 299), strength and tenacity could make him a pleasant late round (7th round, No. 210 overall) surprise for a Falcons team potentially in need of reinforcements up front with guards Harvey Dahl and Justin Blalock scheduled for free agency. Jackson would have gone a few rounds higher had he not lost most of his senior season to a nagging ankle injury.

Questionable Fit:

Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys:
There is no denying Smith's athletic upside. If there is a tackle in this class who could wind up being a perennial Pro Bowler a few years from now, Smith is the favorite. That said, due to his athleticism, Smith's best position in the NFL will ultimately be on the left side -- a position he never played while at USC. Jerry Jones would like to believe his Cowboys were only a player or two away from legitimate Super Bowl contention... and perhaps he's right. Smith, however, is likelier to struggle as a rookie than star, making him an questionable choice for a team largely built to win now.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com