When the Cowboys report to training camp on July 22 in Oxnard, Calif., several questions will still need to be answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rowan Kavner, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp. The questions will vary in importance, with the most pressing topics getting brought up in the days closest to camp.
Today, the staff members look at seventh-round draft picks Ken Bishop, Will Smith, Ben Gardner, Ahmad Dixon and Terrance Mitchell and each predict one of the five who will wind up on the 53-man roster.
19) Which seventh-round pick has best chance to make it?
Rowan Kavner – He was the last one picked, but he was the first one to really make a mark during minicamp. Terrance Mitchell missed the OTAs because of league rules prohibiting a player to join a team while school is still in session. When his time at Oregon was done, he returned to the Cowboys for minicamp and quickly made a mark intercepting a pass. He then went to the stadium for the final minicamp practice and picked off another pass. There weren't pads on, and that's when the real test will come, but he still looked like he played physically and always seemed to be around the ball. This group desperately calls for game-changing, turnover-creating defenders, and maybe Mitchell can be that type of fourth or fifth corner. He was the last of five seventh-round picks and was forced to miss OTAs, but he doesn't seem a step behind. There aren't many spots available at the position he plays, but something tells me he finds a way in.
David Helman: From the time he arrived at Valley Ranch, Ben Gardner has not looked like a rookie. I don't mean that in a football sense, because OTAs hardly qualify as actual football. But whereas many rookies look small or undersized compared to the veterans, Gardner looks like he's spent time in an NFL weight room. I credit that to the physical, smashmouth style of football Stanford is often given credit for playing. What's more, Gardner was an all-conference performer at Stanford, a program that has pumped out pro talent in recent years, before he got hurt. In 2012, his last full season with the Cardinal, he finished with 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Now, factor in the undeniable truth that the Cowboys' defensive line is high on bodies but low on proven talent, and I think Gardner should be able to crack the rotation in some manner. Most of the other seventh-rounders are fighting the numbers in the hunt for a roster spot, but I think the numbers work in Gardner's favor. [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman: While I was the most excited to see them draft Ahmad Dixon, having watched his entire collegiate career and already done a few prior interviews with him, the guy I'm going with as my selection is Will Smith. Just looking at his physique and body type, he seems like he could be a natural on special teams. He might need to add a few pounds right now to be a contributor at linebacker, but if he can play fast and be a solid tackler, those players are always needed the most on special teams. And really, all of these seventh-round picks need to make their mark on special teams to have a chance. That's why I tend to give the edge to the linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks more than the lineman. But for some reason, even though he's got the movie-star name, Will Smith is flying under the radar somewhat in this draft class. I think he'll turn a few heads when the pads come on.
Bryan Broaddus: It will be interesting to focus on how all of these seventh-round picks preformed one year from now. If you asked me to select one guy that has the best chance, I am going to say it's defensive tackle Ken Bishop. What I really like about Bishop is that he plays a position on the line that has a great chance for a young guy to step in and get work in the normal rotation. I have always viewed Nick Hayden as a bridge to the next guy and in this case, the next guys are Terrell McClain and Bishop. With McClain getting some work at the three-technique during OTAs and minicamps, Bishop saw some action with the first defense and was more than comfortable at the spot. He plays with quickness, power and when the pads come on, we will notice him even more.