IRVING, Texas– On Thursday I listed 10 offensive players I'm interested to see at the 2016 NFL Combine next week. Let's continue with a handful of defensive players worth watching in Indianapolis:
Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
All eyes will be focused on Ramsey and how his workout will go. His tape is outstanding and rumor has it that he will blow the top off his on-field work. He's listed as a cornerback but there are teams that will consider him as a safety. The Cowboys defensively are big into the flexibility of a player and Ramsey is just that. If you ask me my feeling right now, I could see them keeping Byron Jones at safety and looking at Ramsey initially as a corner to try and help two positions. In the back of their mind, like Jones they have to feel like if they get the player they could get him in the right spot. Need to keep in mind that San Diego is selecting in front of them and are likely feeling the same way about the player.
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Need to keep an eye on how things go for Bosa during these workouts. Getting a vibe from around the league that there are several teams that are split on him – not in a good / bad way but in how high you would select him. There are some scouts that absolutely love the player and others that feel like he is not quick-twitched enough to be an outstanding edge rusher in this league. I tend to side with this group. I see a very good player but not a great one. If the Cowboys were to draft him, I believe that he has to play on the left side and that would mean potentially moving DeMarcus Lawrence to the right side.
Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky[embeddedad0]
In my opinion, Spence is the best pass rusher in this draft. There is no question about his ability and if you have the chance to visit with folks from Ohio State, to a man they would tell you that he was a better prospect and player than Joey Bosa. Spence was asked to leave the Buckeyes and Big 10 Conference reportedly due to testing positive for the drug ecstasy. Spence could have chosen to come out after his suspension but instead he went to Eastern Kentucky in order to try and help his image. Spence later was asked to play in the Senior Bowl and it gave clubs the opportunity to meet with him further to get a better gauge on him. Something tells me he is doing things the right way and this Combine should continue to prove that.
Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State
Will be working out at this Combine between Andrew Billings and Joey Bosa, so you will notice him. To use a Bill Parcells phrase, Blair has become my "Pet Cat." Was not a highly recruited player at all out of high school – had offers to South Alabama and Georgia Southern. His tape was fun to watch. Was outstanding against Clemson as were other games. At 6-2, 272 has the perfect build and ability to play as a 4-3 defensive end. Can line up all over the place and cause problems. Thought he was the second-best pass rusher in the draft behind Noah Spence.
Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU
Cowboys fans don't want me bringing up another LSU cornerback to look at, but we all have to get back on that horse. Robinson missed the entire 2015 season after reportedly being suspended from the LSU team in 2014 and then not rejoining the program. If you grade his tape from the 2014 season, he is one of the best corners in this draft. He has all the traits that scouts covet in a corner: length, range and speed. There is no question that he will impress scouts with his on the field work, but can he convince them to look away from his past? The meetings he has with these clubs will determine where he is selected in this draft.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Depending what happens with Rolando McClain in free agency the Cowboys could be looking for a MIKE linebacker. I personally would take a chance and draft Myles Jack and play him at the spot but they might opt to draft a player like Ragland who has played the position throughout his college career. I would be surprised if they selected Ragland with the fourth overall selection, but if they were to instead trade back in the round then he surely is an option there. Ragland is a three-down player that even gives you some pass rush if he is asked. What I am interested in seeing during the Combine how his movement skill is in coverage and the field workouts will show me that.
Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
If teams are going to look at Jalen Ramsey as a corner, I am curious who the first safety off the board might be? My bet is that Vonn Bell could be that guy. Karl Joseph might be another consideration or Jalen Mills, so we will see. I want to see how Bell moves in these drills and what he really runs. I had some questions about his change of direction at times but I have to admit that he did show some range. His 40 time that scouts were carrying was 4.52, so I was curious if he could possibly run a little better?
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jack has already informed the Combine that he would be limited in the drills due to the rehab of his knee. I am not worried about this at all because I want him to be at his absolute best when it is time to work out. The film and the player is just too good to write off and no question I would consider him with the fourth overall pick if he is available. The medical information that we get from the Combine will give us a better idea where he is at.
I know this category is not just one guy but there are just too many good players to focus on one. This is where the Cowboys have the best shot of upgrading a position in some time. They are looking for a more athletic defensive tackle and there are a couple of players on my board like Andrew Billings and Jarran Reed that have first-round grades who might be available when the Cowboys select in the second round. I am also interested in seeing how Austin Johnson, Hassan Ridgeway and Vernon Butler preform say if Billings, Reed and A'Shawn Robinson are all off the board. It's a good group to choose from.
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Like Rashard Robinson, another one of those cornerbacks with length and range. Plays in press. Uses his hands. Will wrap-up tackle. He's assignment-aware with good feet and movement. Plays both sides of the field. Can change directions, pedal, turn and burst. Will work under the route and fight to stay in position. Would be a strong consideration for me in the third round but might have to consider him before that. Interested to hear the buzz about him in visiting with the scouts.