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Mailbag: What About Edge Rusher In The Draft?


With Aldon Smith headed to Seattle, can't the argument be made that edge rusher as just as big of a need as any position on defense? Not only that, the Cowboys have a chance to take the best pass rusher in the draft. How often does that happen? — MICHAEL SMITH / DALLAS, TX

Nick: You're making a solid argument. After all, pass-rusher is a position that is always a higher priority. I think the problem is, there isn't a guy in this draft they feel is a real difference-maker. Trust me, if there was one out there, he wouldn't be available at No. 10. Those guys are gone off the board quicker. And it's a position that teams will reach on, so even if there is a pass-rusher taken in the 10-15 range, he's probably not as good as some of the players, but there is such a need to take guys that can get to the quarterback. I would imagine the Cowboys have studied the pass-rushers as much as any other position. And yes, if they felt it was a close decision between the two positions, they'd go with the rusher.

David: Everything you just said is correct, but here is the cruel irony: I don't think there is a pass rusher worth drafting at No. 10 this particular year. Kwity Paye's athleticism is enticing, but I'm not interested in using a Top 10 pick on a guy who managed 11.5 sacks during a four-year college career. Both of the Miami edge rushers, Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips, come with concerns of their own. Now, that doesn't mean there are no options. Micah Parsons has some pass rush ability, or maybe they could use a Day 2 pick on a guy like Wake Forest's Carlos Basham. But there just isn't a ton of star power in this class of edge rushers, and that's why you aren't hearing a lot about it.

Reminiscing about Cliff Harris, Rayfield Wright, Erik Williams and Larry Allen, I begin to think about Michael Gallup and Tony Pollard and Tony Romo. It all leads me to this question: Who are the small-college miracles hidden in this draft that no one seems to be talking about? — KEITH HUDDLESTON / MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Nick: Yes, the small-school gems are always fun. Let's not forget about a guy like Miles Austin, who came from Monmouth and had a really good career. But in this draft, let's talk about someone like Dillon Radunz, an offensive tackle from North Dakota State. At 6-6, 304, he's got the measurables that teams are looking for. He's been dominant against just about any competition that has been in front of him. I could see teams taking a chance on a player like that in the early-to-mid rounds.

David: Memphis has averaged 10 wins per season over the last four years and recently played Penn State in the Cotton Bowl, so I don't think I agree with your assessment that Tony Pollard came from a "small college." But to answer your question, I think you should familiarize yourself with the name Milton Williams. The Louisiana Tech DT turned a lot of heads with some insane athleticism at his Pro Day. He turned in a 40-yard dash time of 4.63 and a 3-cone time of 6.96 – which are insane numbers for a guy who weighs in at 6'4, 280 pounds. Add that to the fact that he had 10.5 sacks in his last two seasons in college, and I think there will be a bunch of teams trying to snag him on Day 2 of the draft.

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