The Senior Bowl was the final chance for NFL coaches and scouts to see the top prospects in the 2021 class in helmets and pads. With a number of attendees unable to perform last fall due to COVID-19 issues, the weeklong event provided evaluators with an opportunity to assess and project how players could perform at the next level.
For the Cowboys, the Senior Bowl enabled the scouting staff to pinpoint a handful of prospects to watch as potential fits for a team looking to make a run at a playoff berth in Mike McCarthy's second season. Given some time to review the film from each practice session and the game, here are five potential targets for the Cowboys:
Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington: Despite missing the 2020 regular season as a COVID opt-out, Onwuzurike is flying up the charts after an impressive one-day showing that confirmed his athleticism, explosiveness, and hand skills. The (cite dimensions) operates like Mr. Myagi between the tackles with "wax on, wax off" maneuvers that enable him to whip blockers at the line. Onwuzurike's relentless energy and competitive spirit combined with his high football IQ give him a chance to develop into a disruptive force in a one-gap scheme.
Richie Grant, S, Central Florida: It is hard to find safeties with a loaded toolbox that enables them to thrive near the box as a run stopper or in the deep middle as a centerfielder. Grant is an aggressive defender with excellent tackling skills and big hit ability. In addition, he is an instinctive ball hawk with outstanding instincts, awareness, and ball skills. The Central Florida standout repeatedly picked off passes in seven-on-seven sessions and team drills during practices while exhibiting the kind of playmaking ability that defensive coordinators covet in a safety.
Carlos "Boogie" Basham, EDGE, Wake Forest: The Senior Bowl practices enabled Basham to showcase his ultra-athletic game on a big stage against premier O-Line talent. The Wake Forest product didn't disappoint with a series of dominant showings in one-on-one drills, nine-on-seven sessions, and team periods. Basham's first-step quickness, violent hands, and finishing skills stood out while reviewing the practice tape. He is an active defender with natural pass-rush skills and a refined game that could enable him to flourish as an edge rusher or situational playmaker from an inside rush position.
James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati: The former Michigan transfer was the most athletic offensive tackle in Mobile. Hudson displayed outstanding balance, body control, and agility while shadowing pass rushers on the edge in one-on-one and team drills. In addition, he flashes the punch and anchor ability to sit down against power rushers attempting to utilize bull rush maneuvers and forklift moves to win. Hudson isn't a finished product at this stage of his development but he has a lot of intriguing traits that should make him a solid starter for a decade in the league.
Keith Taylor, CB, Washington: Long, rangy cover corners are always valued at a premium in the NFL, particularly by defensive coaches hoping to play more press coverage on the outside. Taylor measures 6-foot-2, 190-plus pounds with long arms and fluid movement skills. He disrupts receivers with his length and aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage, and his ability to hang in the hip pocket makes it difficult for quarterbacks attempting to squeeze balls into tight windows. As the NFL continues to evolve with bigger pass catchers dominating on the edges, defensive backs with Taylor's size and skills will continue to fly up the charts as the draft approaches.