The 2014 Dallas Cowboys Rookie Mini Camp has wrapped up and it’s time to look ahead to the Dallas Cowboys OTA workouts scheduled to begin next week.
Here’s a look at the rookie class of defenders and offensive players to keep an eye on as the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys season transpires …
Of all the position groups in this mini camp, this was the one that showed up the best from a talent standpoint. DeMarcus Lawrence was able to get back in time for the Saturday walk through practices, and he got a full dose of work on Sunday.
Athletically, you saw everything you did on his college film. He showed the ability to get up the field, then redirect when the ball went outside on him. Where he is going to improve the most is working at his technique with Leon Lett. He can extend and bend, but where he will need the most work is playing with his hands. The quicker that he can free himself, the better shot he has to work his rush.
A defender that can play with technique is Ben Gardner. He doesn’t have the athletic ability or quickness of Lawrence, so you see him come up with creative ways to free himself.
If this front office stole one, it might be Davon Coleman playing the three-technique. This guy is always attacking the blockers. Ken Bishop was solid at the one (technique) as well. As for signing a workout guy out of this group, there is something to Dartwan Bush from Texas Tech. He lines up at right defensive end and down-after-down, he was in the middle of the action. He plays with solid technique and deserves a shot.
Not much was expected from Joe Windsor out of Northern Illinois, but there were several snaps where he dropped in coverage, knocking a ball down or knifing through the line to tackle the ball carrier behind the line. There is nothing physically impressive about Windsor but he just kept showing up.
Dontvis Sapp of Tennessee does look good physically and you can see it in the way he plays. This guy plays with a nose for the ball and he has the ability to work his way through the trash to make a play.
When the defensive coaches put their secondary on the field, they lined up Terrance Mitchell at one corner and workout guy Tyler Patmon at the other. From watching these two young guys go at it, despite the talent that was opposite them at receivers, they didn’t back down from the challenge.
Matter of fact, there were reps where these corners shut them down. Mitchell played with far more aggressiveness than he did from what was seen at Oregon. His catch-up speed didn’t appear to be an issue as he went through these practices.
The scouting staff here should push for signing Patmon quickly. The kid can play off or press and he does it well.
The best safety of the group was Ryan Smith from Auburn. Smith plays with really nice movement and flexibility. He not only lined up at safety, but he played some corner and in the slot as well. The only thing scary on tape was his lack of ability to finish the tackle but he is around the ball a bunch.
Marvin Robinson from Ferris State hurt his knee on Friday but his movement skill before that looked improved.
How ‘bout that offense …
Both Dustin Vaughan and Kolton Browning had their moments where they flashed confident play, but they also had their moments where they were nowhere as good as they needed to be — especially considering they didn’t have to deal with consistent pressure. Vaughan has the stronger arm, but he had no clue where the ball was going when he let it go. They like the opportunity to continue working with him. After watching Browning, who was here on a tryout basis, thank him for his effort and move on.
Everyone liked what they saw from Devin Street and what he can bring to the scheme with his ability to make plays. In this camp, he showed ability as a route runner, but he needs to run them with a little more zip. That might have to do with his post draft conditioning, which will improve the closer we draw toward camp in Oxnard, California. L’Damian Washington was much better after the first practice, where he wasn’t nearly physical enough. If there was a bit of a disappointment, it was Chris Boyd. The year off from football apparently didn’t help him. After watching tape from Vanderbilt, more was expected. Hopefully we see a different player as he works through the summer.
Among this group, Jordan Najvar was the best. There are limitations to his game as a blocker, though he can catch the ball. Kane Friel was a tryout guy that did little to warrant signing him. Evan Wilson has the size to be a blocker and we will see if that is the case when the pads come on. No one from this group will make you sit up and take notice.
Ben Malena was the favorite of the group, with Josh Harris as a close second. Glasco Martin is too straight line limited and was released to make room for newly signed Ryan Williams. Malena has the ability to break down a defense in space with the ball in his hands. You’ll like the toughness he brings, as well. Harris was here on a tryout and flashed some nice skill but with the addition of Williams, that most likely hurts his opportunity for a spot on the training camp roster. Fullback J.C. Copeland needs to lose weight and this will help him with his ability to adjust on the move. When the pads come on, that is when he will have a chance to shine.
There were some really nice battles during these practices between guard Zack Martin and defensive tackle Davon Coleman, which gave you an indication of how well Martin handles quickness right off the snap. Coleman tested Martin plenty and that was a good sign. Coaches really liked what they saw from tackle Jarrod Pughsley from Akron. It’s rumored that he might be a guard when camp opens up in Oxnard. He looked plenty comfortable playing tackle – as he did in college. Like Martin, he had some nice battles, but he was against defensive end Ben Gardner. Keep an eye on Brian Clarke from Bloomsburg, who lined up at guard. Physically, he is not the biggest guy at 6-2, 299, but there is some nastiness to his game. He is one of those guys that battles to the echo of the whistle.
|Behind The Scenes: Rookie Mini-Camp
Must see video. Take a look behind the scenes as the Dallas Cowboys rookies take part their first mini-camp.