Puni Looking To Go From Division II To The NFL

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(Editor’s Note: Now that offseason practices are in full swing, let’s get to know 30 Cowboys players who are new to the current 90-man roster. Today we’re featuring offensive tackle Derrick Puni.)

How He Got Here: Every year immediately after the draft, NFL teams sign upward of a dozen undrafted free agents. It’s only natural some of those guys get overlooked, and it’s even more likely to happen to a small school prospects. Enter Derrick rt, who comes from one of the smallest programs we’ve seen on the Cowboys’ roster in quite some time – Division II Central Missouri, located in Warrensburg, Mo. Puni is one of three undrafted offensive tackles to join the roster this year, as he’ll fight alongside Mitch Hyatt and Brandon Knight to stand out during training camp.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Puni describes himself as an avid gamer during his downtime, citing Fortnite and Apex Legends as two of his favorite games.

Quotable: “We used them as an example in college a lot, put up their film a lot, how they run things, just kind of how they do things, try to take as much from that as we can.” ­­– Derrick Puni, on the Dallas offensive line

Bryan Broaddus’ Take: This was a guy I liked on college tape while at Central Missouri State. He was more athletic in those looks than he was live during the OTAs and minicamp. He played as a left tackle in college, but I don’t see him doing that with the Cowboys. This might be one of those players that needs the pads on in order to have success. I did like his nasty streak and his size. He’s going to need to work on his hands. He will need to extend them better. He will also need work to not get overextended on his blocks. When he ducks his head, whether that’s run or pass blocking, he doesn’t have the ability to recover. He’s an out of control player. He will likely see work at both guard and tackle. Some of his second-level blocking was workable. If he finds his way onto the practice squad it would be a major accomplishment on his part.

Role/Roster Chances: It’s a tall order for any undrafted rookie to grab a roster spot, but the challenge gets even steeper for an offensive lineman. Odds are that the coaching staff will keep eight or perhaps nine players on the offensive line, and most of those spots are accounted for by experienced veterans and young draft picks. Puni’s best bet would probably be to play well enough to convince the coaching staff to carry an extra guy. If that doesn’t work out, teams always want to keep versatile offensive linemen on their practice squad. Puni has the versatility to play both guard and tackle, and that could come in handy when the coaches are trying to fill the 10 spots on their practice squad.

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