FRISCO, Texas – All through the pre-draft process, it feels like there are players you could be doing more work on.
The Cowboys’ activity in undrafted free agency proves exactly why. On Saturday night, they signed seven different free agents with draftable grades on their board – which should provide even more competition on the roster when this group reports to training camp.
To familiarize myself – and you – with the newcomers, I’ll be brushing up on my tape and writing reports on these guys over the next few days.
My reporters continue on Friday with a handful of offensive linemen who could make a real difference.
Name: Larry Allen Jr.
- From his college tape, Allen lines up primarily as a right guard.
- He appears to be undersized for the interior of an NFL offensive line, but he is an athlete.
- That athleticism allows him to excel when it comes to pulling. He locates his man and is on the block. He gets away from the line well – very smooth.
- His hands and feet work well together, and this allows him to keep his man in position.
- Plays with a solid base. Doesn’t look stressed or uncomfortable handling the rush.
- Allen is a much better angle blocker than he is a drive blocker. He has a feel for how to shield his man from the ball.
- Going back to that athleticism, he can adjust to his man in space.
- He has the awareness to pick up blitzing linebackers. He looks impressive in the way that he stays after his blocks.
- Will need to develop some strength in order to help his overall game at this level.
Name: Mitch Hyatt
- Hyatt was an All-American left tackle twice during his four-year career at Clemson.
- Much like Allen, he has more athleticism than power. His feet work very well.
- He stays after his block. You’ll see him do a nice job of securing his down block, then getting to the second level.
- Speaking of his foot speed, he has the quickness to push rusher past the quarterback. He does an outstanding job of positioning himself in order to finish the block.
- This is a hard guy to trick. He has the awareness to pass the stunts.
- There are snaps where the lack of power/strength shows itself. He will get thrown on the ground, and I ave seen him get walked back into the quarterback's lap.
- He doesn’t have the power to consistently make the inside cutoff block.
- Good at working with his teammates on double-team blocks. Can get some movement this way.
Bottom line: he should have been drafted, but that lack of power was a concern for teams. Some scouts around the league felt like he never fully developed physically as a player despite being a four-year starter at Clemson.
Name: Brandon Knight
- Knight lined up mostly as a right tackle during his time with the Hoosiers.
- To put it simply, this guy is a bully. He has upper body power and strength
- This is a push/shove blocker. He will tend to play a little straight-legged, which causes him to become a little overextended.
- He can get some movement in the running game on the down block when he uses his power.
- There are snaps where he will miss with his hands and the defender gets inside position on him to control him.
- That said, he’ll work to stay in position. He can be a hard guy to move out of his pass set if you rush down the middle. He has more trouble when guys get on the edge with him.
- Plays with toughness. Technique can come and go but overall doesn’t quit on any plays. He is always going to the echo of the whistle.
Name: Derrick Puni
College: Central Missouri State
- Puni lined up at left tackle during his college career.
- Watching his tape, he has a nasty streak to him. This is a massive man.
- I would like to see him extend his hands a little more as a pass blocker. His hands tend to get outside of the man.
- Gets away from the line in good shape.
- He has shown the ability to handle the twist stunt. Passes his man off well, and he has the power to punish his man on the down block.
- Keeps his feet working as a drive blocker. But there are snaps where he ducks his head and he becomes overextended.
- He needs to make contact with his hands. He can be late with them, and this puts him at a disadvantage.
- When he gets overextended he plays out of control.
- He has the athleticism to get to the second level and secure his man.
- Plays with violence and physicality, just like you want from an offensive lineman. Small school player that has the traits you look for in a large school offensive tackle. Shows up on tape.