(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is Auburn defensive end Dee Ford).*
Height/Weight:6-2 / 252
Honors: After a stellar week of practices in Mobile, Ala., with hundreds of scouts and coaches observing, Ford capped off a great week at the Senior Bowl, being named the game's MVP after a two-sack performance to help the South squad to a 20-10 win over the North.
Key stat:Ford led the SEC in sacks per game with .88 last season. Despite missing the first two games because of injury, Ford had 10.5 sacks for a whopping 96 yards lost in the process. Ford was one sack shy of the SEC leader Michael Sam, who had 11.5 sacks for 71 yards lost in 14 games.
Where He's Projected:Ford has been slated as a mid-first round pick who could slide into the 20s of the first round. He's one of the better pass-rushers in the draft but his lack of a true position is hurting his stock. Some teams only view him as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
How He Helps the Cowboys:While he's probably not big enough to come right in and play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, Ford would instantly be a nickel pass-rusher off the edge. That's why it would be hard for the Cowboys to pick him at No. 16 because he probably wouldn't grab one of the starting spots. Now, if the Cowboys did trade back to acquire picks, a player like Ford makes a lot more sense because his role as a specialist pass rusher would be easier to justify. [embedded_ad]
Scout's Take: Will usually line up on the left side as the defensive end. Is a fluid moving player that plays with a huge burst. When he comes off the ball he can attack the blocker on his first step. Like most really good rushers in this league, he has a plan coming off the edge. When you study Ford, he shows those kinds of traits. He will carry his man hard up the field, than you will see him take his right shoulder and work it underneath the tackle's hand, the whole time while gaining ground up the field. What Ford tries to do is create is as small of a hitting surface putting the blocker at a disadvantage in trying to slow his momentum. Can be a hard man to control when he is able to get this type of run on the blocker. Can get the corner quickly and has the bend to make it around the corner. Is able to mix up his rush and is effective in the way he does it. Makes it hard for the tackle to get a good read on him. Can break a tackle down with his ability to come off the ball. No wasted opportunities. Was able to see him practice live at the Senior Bowl and was impressed with how he was able to handle blockers. Is not the biggest defensive end that you will see weight wise but he played with nice toughness and the ability to extend on blockers with his arm length. Was able to stand in there and hold his ground. Did not see many plays where he was washed out of the play. Can really run the play down from the backside, have to account for him in the scheme. Would try him as a SAM linebacker and a nickel rusher. Good enough movement skills to make this work for him.