IRVING, Texas – We're back in Texas, but I wanted to post some notes and reports about the more intriguing defenders at the NFL Combine this year. These are all guys who have worked out in the past two days, and could be very interesting targets for the Cowboys this spring.
DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson DL #04
Plays with his hand on the ground as a defensive end but really is more suited to play as an outside linebacker. Will extend on the blocker with his hands and work off. Slide down the line and tackle. Needs to play with better awareness in locating the ball. Can beat blocks on the move with quickness. Can really run. Played off the low block and made the tackle. Got walled off inside against Georgia for a touchdown. Was able to get up the field and turn the ball back inside. Can get washed outside. Will show some pop with his hands (BC). Initial quickness off the snap with some shake on pass rush moves. Can get up the field. Will attack the corner. Will draw his share of double teams as a pass rusher. Has the ability to capture the edge. Needs to be a tad quicker on his inside rush. Will get chipped as a rusher. Blockers are well aware where he is rushing from. Can show an explosive first step. Cannot rush blockers down the middle. Awareness to read the screen. Can be a very hot and cold player. Going to need to play as an OLB.
DE Owa Odighizuwa, UCLA DL #34
Will line up as the strong side end. Will also line up in certain situations as a tackle. Wrap up tackler. More catch and then react. Would like to see him get off the blocker quicker. Will extend his hands to control but stays engaged. Needs to find the ball better. Appears strong but doesn't play strong when it comes to shedding blockers. Can play into the blocks but doesn't get off them. Ride blocker wide then work back inside. Uses his hands to play the low block. Will struggle against the down block by the tight end. Will get stuck along the line of scrimmage. Was able to get up the field and retrace his steps. Better getting off the block against Arizona. Some initial quickness off the snap. Missed low block with hands. Lateral quickness. Motor and effort better. Showed quickness and a burst around the corner. Will extend his arm then work around the blocker. Will play in a two point stance. Quick inside move. Aware for assignments. Play down the line, needs to finish tackle. Quick to come down the line. Better pass rush technique against Arizona. Quicker off the ball. Faced double team against USC. Able to burst inside. Can get penetration on the move. Had trouble when he had to disengage. Struggled to free himself. Doesn't have many counter or pass rush moves. Finally was able to get a pressure on an inside move vs USC. Physically looks better than he plays. Much better on outside alignment than he is inside. Burst in space. Stayed square worked down the line. There are times where he tackles well than other times not. Can push the blocker when he wants. Able to get edge vs Virginia tipped ball for INT. Will dip his shoulder to get around blocker.
DE Preston Smith, Mississippi State DL #46
Will normally line up at right defensive end. Quick arm over move. Will carry out assignment. Hard up the field but needs to counter. Doesn't have a burst. Had a really nice rush vs Ole Miss avoiding blocks on inside move. Worked up the field then back inside for a sack. Can hold the blocker off with one arm. Retraces steps works back inside for tackle. Doesn't seem to play in balance. Got down blocked by the TE. Has played some as a one but nose as well. Has no plan as a rusher. Was asked to drop in coverage vs Ole Miss. Not able to redirect. Has a hard time getting home on the twist. Needs to fight pressure. Can play inside or out.
LB Paul Dawson, TCU LB #06
Will fill on the run but will also miss tackles in the hole. Would like to see better wrap up. Can be physical but will bounce off tackles. Athletic ability to avoid blocks. Times where he over runs plays. Caused a fumble against Minnesota on a strip. There are snaps where he plays light. Like how he attacks the ball. Able to go in and out of holes to make tackles. Doesn't always play with the power at the point. Can make tackles when unblocked. Will dip around blockers to get to the ball. Shows the ability to find the ball. Very aggressive player. Baylor had success running the ball right at him. Had trouble with men in his face. Will sometimes run himself out of position. Will flow and fill. Timed leap well on 3rd and short play against Baylor. Bad read vs OSU where he jumped in the wrong gap with the ball at him. Aware for throw back to Maxx Williams vs Minnesota. Will try and jump routes. Had better success carrying tight ends up the field than running backs in the flat. It was like he was reaching or grabbing to stay in position. Is going to have to change the way that he plays pass coverage or he is going to be flagged a ton in the NFL.
CB Jalen Collins, LSU DB #07
Played the ball with his off hand. Plays both sides of the field. Will play out of the slot. Showed some catchup speed. Was aware playing in zone. Needs to drive quicker when play off vs the slant. Will wrap up as a tackler. Not good reactions when playing the slant. Quarterback throw back vs Ole Miss, played well but dropped the ball. Poor ball skills. When he gets his hands on the man he has a chance. Able to knock the ball away on cross. Can turn when he needs to. Will take some strange angles to the ball. When he tries to be physical will get knocked around. Can be all over the place with his technique. When he wants to mirror a receiver he can but then other times where he is not. Great job of covering Cooper of Alabama. Gave up a touchdown on the wheel route vs Ole Miss.
CB Marcus Peters, Washington DB #36
Looks comfortable playing in press coverage. Can turn and reroute receiver. Can adjust to the receiver on the move. Doesn't allow the QB big windows to throw in. Doesn't get help over the top. Nice position to play the ball along the sideline. Ability to carry his man across the field. Plays aware. Can redirect. Is a grab and hold on tackler. Will guess on coverage vs Oregon let man behind him in zone. Doesn't look as comfortable playing in zone. Will jump routes. Reads quickly. Can close some ground. When he sees it he will break. Will take a poor angle to tackle. Were some snaps where it appeared that he had some balance issues. Able to play off block to make tackle on the screen but there was another time where he just held the blocker in place and let teammate make a tackle. Much better player in press man than off. Best traits are ability to cover and move. Don't think he wants much to do with the tackling side of the game.
S James Sample, Louisville DB #42
Breaks down for the tackle. Will get rid of the blocker. Will attack the ball. Play with leverage on the outside when down. Has a nose for ball. Can cover some ground when he sees it. Wrap up tackler. Has a feel for how to blitz. Plays under control. Nice job against screen in Virginia. Able to read the slant and react. Missed interception on a crossing route. Has some stoutness in the way he plays. Can stop ball carrier in tracks. INT vs Clemson. Cover back in the flat. Gets his head around to find the ball. If he struggles he tends to get lost in play action coverage. Runs better than his 40 time. Just a really good football player. Makes all the plays in this secondary. His teammate Holliman is rated better as a player but to be honest it isn't even close. There are times where he crosses Holliman to get to the ball to make a tackle.