IRVING, Texas – He tried his best not to single anyone out, but when Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was pressed for details about his undrafted free agents, he came up with one name.
"Coe," Jones said. "There are reasons he didn't get drafted. But he certainly has a lot of ability, and I think a coach like Rod Marinelli will do wonders for him in terms of his up and down career."
Jones was referring to Rodney Coe, who signed undrafted out of Akron in the hours following the NFL draft. The 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle was a pre-draft visitor at Valley Ranch in the weeks leading up to the draft, and the Cowboys' supportive words didn't go unnoticed.
"It's a great feeling, honestly," Coe said last weekend. "Coming from being unknown to actually people are talking about me and actually starting to realize the type of player I am, I can be – it means a lot. It's very humbling."
Coe is one of the more intriguing undrafted prospects that signed on with the Cowboys and participated in last weekend's rookie minicamp. He posted 47 tackles and 2.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position last fall at Akron, after a winding journey that's best described by Coe himself.
"Coming out of high school, I didn't score high on the ACT, so I had to go to junior college. After junior college, I went to Iowa State," he said. "When I was at Iowa State, it didn't go good. Me and the coaches didn't get along, broke a few teams rules, nothing major, no failed drug tests or anything like that, but they kicked me out so I had one year left. One of my friends that was going to Akron, I guess he talked to one of the coaches, he called me up and offered me a full scholarship. That's how I ended up at Akron, redshirted and played my last year."
That helps explain, as Jones alluded to, why Coe's stock dropped during the lengthy process of draft preparation. Whatever baggage he carries wasn't enough to turn NFL teams off to him, though. Coe said Friday that he made pre-draft visits to Kansas City and Green Bay in addition to Dallas.
He also drew a decent amount of interest from one of the NFL's most successful organizations.
"Really it came down the Patriots or Cowboys, who I knew was really going to give me a shot," Coe said.
Despite the Patriots efforts, Coe said he told his agent in advance that he wanted to wind up in Dallas. His relationships with the coaching staff were key, given that the Cowboys had been regularly in touch with him since the end of his season.
"I'm going to do everything I can to prove myself and earn a spot and be a part of this defensive line, help them out on game day," he said.
If he's going to do that, Coe will have to prove to the Cowboys that the concerns that pushed him off of draft boards weren't indicative of his abilities. Starting from last weekend's minicamp through the end of the preseason, he'll have roughly four months to do that.
"They know what I'm capable of," he said. "It's just me going hard every play. All I can just do is come out here and show them I do have a motor and I have a motor every play and just prove myself, really."