2013 NFL DRAFT PRIMER: Three interior lineman prospects the Dallas Cowboys could target
At times this season, the Cowboys’ pass protection has been suspect and the run-blocking has been subpar. Most point to the interior of the Cowboys’ offensive line as the source of the problems. The center position has been destabilized with starter Phil Costa suffering multiple injuries and backup Ryan Cook getting hurt as well. The guard spots, occupied by free-agent acquisitions Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, are also viewed as weak areas.
Will the Cowboys be on the lookout for interior line prospects in the upcoming draft? That seems to be a certainty.
Here are three players they may target.
Chance Warmack, Alabama; Head coach Jason Garrett has close ties to Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and the 6-3, 320-pound Warmack (jersey number 65 above photo) has distinguished himself on one of the country’s best offensive lines. This season, the left guard has been named SEC offensive lineman of the week twice. Alabama plays Western Carolina on Saturday at 11:21 a.m.
Cyril Richardson; Baylor; In the preseason, the 6-5, 335-pound fourth-year junior from Fort Worth was named as one of the contenders for the Lombardi and Outland Trophies. Richardson, whom Kansas coach Charlie Weis described as “by far” Baylor’s best offensive lineman, has a bit of a nasty streak. The left guard got ejected from a game against Iowa State earlier this year. Baylor faces Kansas State at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Barrett Jones; Alabama; The 2011 Outland Trophy winner, the 6-5, 302-pound senior is about as accomplished a lineman as there is in the college game. He’s also extremely versatile. After playing right guard and left tackle he is now Alabama’s center. That Jones has shown the ability to play all of these positions is not surprising. He graduated in August with an accounting degree and a 4.0 grade point average. Based on his track record, this is the kind of player head coach Jason Garrett covets. Alabama plays Western Carolina on Saturday at 11:21 a.m.
SPECIAL FEATURE: Barry Sanders Jr. chases father footsteps on his own terms
(Photo by Tim Hipps)
Barry Sanders Jr. sweeps left for a 10-yard touchdown run during the West team’s intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday in preparation for the 2012 U.S. All-American Bowl, set for Saturday at 12 noon CST at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game is being televised live by NBC, right now.
SAN ANTONIO – Barry Sanders Jr. says he feels no pressure to live up to standards established by his father.
“People ask me the question all the time, if I’ll ever be as good as him, and I don’t think anybody will ever be as good as him – just by the numbers he put up,” Sanders said after Tuesday morning practice for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “So I just come out here and do what I can, and just work at it every day.”
The younger Sanders will play for the West in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for high school seniors Saturday at 12 p.m. CST at the Alamodome. The game will be televised live by NBC.
With this event, the son of a man who became the third-leading rusher in NFL history in a short 10 years makes his debut on the national stage. The son knows the numbers his father generated: an NCAA single-season record 2,628 rushing yards en route to winning the 1988 Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma State and an NFL career-high 2,053 rushing yards in 1997, his next-to-last season with the Detroit Lions.
Selected for the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons, the senior Sanders’ career rushing yards per game average of 99.8 yards rank second in NFL history behind only Jim Brown’s 104.3 yards per game. He set dozens of records en route to 15,269 NFL career rushing yards, which trail only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726). Though he did not play the position until the middle of his last high school season, his is listed as the most elusive running back of all time by NFL.com.
Sanders Jr., however, is not exactly sure about his own numbers, compiled during a career at Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City.
“Career-wise?” he asked. “I think I finished at 5,000 career yards. I can’t remember how many touchdowns. I looked at the yardage, but I didn’t calculate the carries. I averaged around nine yards a carry.”
Along the way, he also lost track of career touchdowns.
“Maybe 50-plus or 60, I don’t know,” Sanders Jr. said. “I would have to go back and look, but I haven’t looked at that stuff in a long time.”
The Oklahoman reports that Sanders rushed for 1,343 yards and 20 touchdowns on 141 carries – an average of 9.52 yards per carry – during his senior season in 13 games for Class 3A Heritage Hall.
Standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 180 to 185 pounds, Sanders plans to keep growing.
“I hope so,” he said. “I’ll be 18 in April. I may have a couple more inches in me. My dad said he played best about 195. I don’t want to get too heavy.”
The elder Sanders topped out at 5-8.
Although the comparisons are inevitable, Sanders has enjoyed the challenge of being the son of a legendary running back.
“It’s not hard at all,” he said. “It brings about great opportunity and it’s up to me to take advantage of it. And I think I’ve done a great job of it.”
Just how good is this Barry Sanders?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. I guess the playing will speak for itself.”
Sanders is one of 99 players hoping to make a name in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“We’re all dedicated,” Sanders said. “We got here for a reason. It shows when we’re out here on the field. We’re all focused and want to get better. We’re looking forward to having good college careers.”
Several players plan to announce their choice of colleges at the game. Sanders narrowed his field to Stanford, Florida State, Alabama and his father’s alma mater, Oklahoma State, not necessarily in that order.
“I’ll decide at the game,” he said. “I just hope to go out and make as few errors as possible as far as having my technique down on pass blocking, make sure I get the right guy and stay in front of him and keep the quarterback safe. When I get the ball, make sure I hit the right hole, make the right moves, and just do the little things right.”
During the West’s practice on Tuesday, Sanders received the biggest hit of the morning from Aziz Shittu, a 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Buhach Colony High in Atwater, Calif.
“I was looking for the cutback and he was right there and made a good, clean hit,” Sanders said. “Aziz is a good player. We’ve seen each other on a couple of visits. He’s one of the more goofy guys. When I found out it was him, I was like, ‘Aw, man, he’s going to give me crap about that afterward.’ But it was good. I was glad it was him and not somebody else because he is a good dude.
“We’re all out here trying to do our thing and he did get me.”
Sanders later dashed 10 yards around left end for a touchdown.
“I guess that made up for it,” he said with a smile.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is considered a steppingstone for players hoping reaching the next level. Here, one can no longer count on domination through sheer talent.
“I’ve been thinking a lot before the snap to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing,” Sanders said. “I’m thinking probably more than I usually do. Everything doesn’t come as easy as it did playing with my high school team. Things are going fast. It’s definitely an adjustment. It’s going good, though. I’m having fun.”
The players are keeping busy and having fun off the field during Army All-American Bowl week.
“The guys from the West and East, we get along great,” Sanders said. “Last night, we went to the Hard Rock. We all joked, laughed and watched the OSU-Stanford game. We probably stayed up a little too late watching that because it ended late, but we’re all looking forward to competing Saturday, playing with the guys from the West and playing against the guys from the East.”
On Wednesday, the players will be paired with Soldier-heroes for a challenging evening of food and games. On Thursday, they will have a barbeque inside the Alamodome. On Friday, they will visit the Army Strong Zone, a sea of U.S. Army exhibits outside the Alamodome, and attend an awards banquet.
At some point, they must find time to rest for the main event.
“We are looking forward to the time when we get to lay our heads down and just get a quick nap or at night when we’re able to go to sleep because we’re out here working hard and after we eat, we’re all sleepy,” Sanders said. “That’s most of our routine when we’re back at home: play football, eat and sleep – so those three things get put into action this week.”
SCOUTING ALERT: Andrew Luck throws for season-high 370 yards as Stanford routs Colorado
STANFORD, Calif. — Andrew Luck brought out Stanford’s stars and delivered his best passing performance of the season.
Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns to pad his Heisman Trophy resume, and the seventh-ranked Cardinal stayed perfect with a 48-7 victory over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado on Saturday night.
With former Stanford standouts Tiger Woods and John Elway joining the crush of NFL scouts on the sidelines, Luck completed 26 of 33 passes to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 13 games. The latest romp delighted a rare sellout crowd of 50,360 that included some of the program’s greats.
“I don’t think we noticed it,” Luck said, chuckling that he missed some of his favorite athletes. “It’s awesome to hear that.”
Luck was the star attraction in this one.
The strong-armed and fleet-footed quarterback called his own plays again for long stretches, although the no-huddle offense first displayed last week against UCLA was used sparingly. Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona in 2009 did Luck throw for more yards, and he didn’t even play the final 10 minutes against Colorado.
“Every game he does something,” Stanford coach David Shaw said, “that not many human-beings can do.”