IRVING, Texas - The Cowboys added the best defensive end in free agency and perhaps the most talented pass-rusher in the draft.
But that didn't stop them from adding depth to the position, drafting Ryan Russell from Purdue with the 27th pick in the fifth round and 163rd overall.
Russell, a local product from nearby Carrollton, started 47 games over his four-year career for the Boilermakers. The 6-4, 270-pound prospect had 44 tackles and three sacks in his 12 starts last season.
The Cowboys sent some defensive coaches to Purdue to work out Russell, who also came down to Dallas for a visit with the staff as well.
"I love watching the Cowboys, I'm so happy being near home and getting to play for a great organization," Russell said. "When I heard Jerry Jones on the phone, I was in awe, shocked, relieved, humbled, blessed, I just can't describe it. I just wanted a team to believe in me as much as I believe in myself and give me the opportunity to grow. I couldn't have picked a better team to go to."
Russell joins a defensive end position that has Greg Hardy and now Randy Gregory, along with Jeremy Mincey and last year's second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence.
The club lost Anthony Spencer (New Orleans) in free agency, but have now added another former Purdue standout in the fifth round.
Here's a look at Dane Brugler's scouting report on Russell:
STRENGTHS: Prototypical NFL measureables for the position with ideal size, strength and speed…physical hands and adequate length to work off blocks with balance to continue his path to the pocket…smooth body type to sink and redirect while in pursuit…stays low off the snap, using leverage and hustle…disciplined vs. the run when he locates, playing contain…effort isn't a question, working through the whistle…active on stunts, rushing from different angles…strong upper body to wrap and finish tackles, playing with a consistent temperament…experienced in multiple fronts and is well-versed with various front-seven responsibilities…four-year starter (47 career starts).
WEAKNESSES: Allows his pads to rise and plays too upright off the snap…not a twitchy athlete and doesn't play with burst of change of direction skills…runs around the pocket and too often can't figure out how to penetrate the backfield – struggles to control his momentum on the move and needs to improve his movement discipline…not overly fluid when asked to drop and slow-footed reacting to the action…will crash inside and be washed out of plays, abandoning his responsibilities on the edges…playmaking instincts have improved, but still not where they need to be for a four-year starter…appeared constantly dinged up with numerous nagging lower body injuries to his knee and ankles…unimpressive production, averaging with only 25.0 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks over 47 career starts…streaky off-the-field effort and had a tough time with the coaching change after the 2012 season, which affected his attitude, according to several within the program.
SUMMARY: When scouting Purdue's past defensive line prospects like Kawaan Short, Ryan Kerrian and Bruce Gaston, it was Russell who often grabbed the attention of scouts with his NFL size and promise. But he struggled to develop his talents the last few seasons, especially the last two years under the new coaching staff that implemented a 3-4 base scheme, which had Russell lining up all over the front-seven in a hybrid role. He is well-rounded, but also doesn't stand out in any area with the lackluster film to match. Although he looks the part, Russell is not the sum of his parts and lacks any type of "wow" factor – projected late rounder and back-up defensive end with a low NFL ceiling.