Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dallas Scouting Director Tom Ciskowski defends draft picks


Dallas Cowboys scouting director Tom Ciskowski said the organization is pleased with the recent draft despite criticism for selecting Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee in the fourth round and concentrating on special teams players.

With no picks the first day and 12 selections the second day, the Cowboys added depth at linebacker and the secondary but didn’t address what some felt were the biggest needs — safety and wide receiver.

"Because a lot of these players will be good special teams players, the media has misconstrued that all they can do is play special teams,” said Ciskowski, an Oklahoma native. "That’s not true at all. We drafted football players that can play special teams.

"Because we signed (three veteran free agents), for the most part we have our 22 starters penciled in. But some of these draft picks will be quality backups that can ascend into starters.”

After a mediocre career at Texas A&M, McGee has been the Cowboys’ hot-button selection. He started only three games his senior year, but the Cowboys contend McGee was miscast with the Aggies and that he’s a strong-armed, mobile, pro-style quarterback with potential.

"He didn’t lose his job. He got hurt,” Ciskowski said. "We have (Tony) Romo in his prime. We have (Jon) Kitna, who probably will be good for two years. (McGee) is going to be able to develop and can ascend to being a backup, maybe even a starter.

"We have the perfect situation (at quarterback). We have our starter. We have a veteran who can fill in and give us a chance to win if something happens to (Romo). Then you have a young guy who can learn. We can take our time with him.”

Ciskowski, who grew up in Medford, attended Cameron and coached at several colleges, including East Central and Oklahoma State before becoming a scout with the Cowboys 17 years ago, has a reputation for evaluating players beyond 40-yard dash times and Wonderlic scores.

His career began to rise in 1994 as an area scout when he strongly urged Dallas to select offensive lineman Larry Allen. A potential Hall of Famer from Sonoma State, Allen proved to be one of the top picks in franchise history.

Ciskowski, 53, also is credited for convincing owner Jerry Jones five years ago to place more emphasis on scouts’ evaluations, a strategy that overrode some of Bill Parcells’ opinions.

Last year, the Cowboys’ first draft under Ciskowski, received rave reviews. This draft has received lower marks, although it takes a couple of years before a draft can be accurately graded.

The Cowboys drafted four linebackers, Cincinnati’s two starting cornerbacks and USC kicker David Buehler, who will kick off and also be a cover man on special teams, a unique combination.

"We feel good about this group,” Ciskowski said. "When you look at the history of this league, there are good players in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. The more picks you have the more will stick.

"Granted, you’d love to be in the first round and get a player like Felix Jones (in the 2008 draft). But we knew we didn’t have a No. 1. We tried to get good football players with no intentions of taking a backup or a special teams guy.”

Mosely upgrades Cowboys draft in NFC East wrapup


Dallas Cowboys: Grade: 5.8
Explanation: OK, I'll admit it. This draft's not as bad as I made it out to be -- based on my discussion with personnel types across the league. Taking a kicker in the fifth round is still somewhat of a head-scratcher to me, but three different scouts and one draft guru (Rick "Goose" Gosselin) told me that USC's David Buehler actually represented excellent value in the fifth round.
Gosselin explained to me that Buehler could be flipped for a fourth-round pick when someone needs a kicker in training camp. But if the Cowboys keep him, Buehler may emerge as one of the best kickoff specialists of our time -- if there is such a thing. After extensive research (thanks, Mike Sando), I've determined that only two teams deployed the two-kicker approach for at least half the '08 season (Ravens and Panthers).
The league leader in touchbacks finished with 33. The Cowboys think Buehler could eventually surpass that mark, and the extra 10 yards or so in field position might come in handy. Still I don't totally agree with it, but some of the explanations make a little sense. Scouts and coaches are divided on Western Illinois outside linebacker Jason Williams as the No. 69 player overall. One scout said he had a seventh-round grade on Williams. But an NFC scout told me that Williams would have an immediate impact as a pass-rushing specialist. And even though some early reports had Williams eventually replacing Keith Brooking at inside linebacker, I'm told the plan is to keep him on the outside. There's also some thought that he could be a special teams demon. In other news, I'm hearing that Cincinnati cornerback Mike Mickens had excellent value in the seventh round. The Cowboys may be as excited about Mickens as anyone they took. Not sure what that says about them

So...he gave us 3rd best in the Beast...which I agree with.

Ware Might Not be unresticted in 2010?

Is Ware Aware He Might Not Be Unrestricted?

Posted by Mike Florio on April 30, 2009, 9:16 a.m. EDT

The range is set for the new contract eventually to be signed by Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. At the high end? Albert Haynesworth’s $100 million contract in Washington, with $41 million guaranteed. At the low end? James Harrison’s $51 million contract in Pittsburgh, with $20 million guaranteed. So where does Ware fall in the $49 million gap?

“It’s not $51 [million],” Ware told Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News. “It might not be $100 [million]. It’s somewhere between the two. Maybe it’s $94 [million].” (Ware’s jersey number is 94.) But there’s a big difference, as we see it, between Ware’s situation and those of Haynesworth and Harrison. Haynesworth was fully unrestricted, with no ability by the Titans to put the franchise tag on him, under the terms of his one-year deal in 2008. He hit the market free and clear, and the Redskins opened up their vault for him. Harrison, like Ware, was entering the final year of his contract. But Harrison would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2010. Ware won’t be. It’s the one fact that many players seem to be overlooking. Absent an extension to the labor deal, 2010 will unfold without a salary cap. And, under the rules of uncapped free agency, players with less than six years will be eligible only for restricted free agency.

After the 2009 season, Ware will have five years of service. As a result, the Cowboys will be able to squat on Ware in 2009 by tendering him a non-guaranteed one-year deal in the range of $3 million or so. And if someone else wants to swoop in and take him away, they’d have to cough up a first-round pick and a third-round pick. We wonder whether Ware knows this. We wonder whether any other players with four years of current service whose contracts expire after this season think otherwise.

Ware is worth more than a 1st and a 3rd.. But I don't think he's gonna get more than Fat Albert..

DC.COM: Blog: Can The Cowboys Afford To Keep Two Kickers?

Posted by rphillips at 4/30/2009 4:23 PM CDT on

The Cowboys' 2009 draft class and rookie free agents are trickling into Valley Ranch this afternoon for their physicals on the eve of a three-day rookie mini-camp. Of the 20-player group, USC kicker David Beuhler might be the most intriguing prospect.

The Cowboys have no complaints about Nick Folk's career 86.8 field-goal percentage, but they drafted Beuhler as a potential kickoff specialist/special teams player. In addition to his powerful leg, they like his athleticism; he originally was recruited as a safety coming out of high school and outlifted 27 offensive linemen at the NFL scouting combine in February.

Carrying two kickers is a luxury. Bill Parcells kept Mike Vanderjagt and Shaun Suisham for four games in 2006 and it drove him crazy. He would've rather kept another backup/special teams player with that 53rd roster spot. The difference here is, the Cowboys think Beuhler might be athletic enough to do more than kick off.

I asked head coach Wade Phillips if he could afford to keep three quarterbacks (Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, presumably fourth-round pick Stephen McGee) and two kickers on his 53-man roster if he ends preseason with some injury problems at other positions. He said the Cowboys discussed that scenario before the draft, knowing full well they'd likely keep their rookie quarterback on the 53 as a developmental player and not risk placing him through waivers en route to the practice squad. So they would've have taken Beuhler in the fifth round without confidence he could fit somewhere.

Phillips recalls the Broncos signing Brad Daluiso as a kickoff specialist during his time in Denver. Asked about Beuhler's kickoffs, he said, "This kid is far better than anyone we've seen in a long time. He consistently kicks it from the 30 into the end zone and sometimes deep into the end zone. It gives you a chance. I think we can do it."

-Rob Phillips

Michael Lombardi suggests Saints-'Boys trade

I would call the Cowboys and try to twist their arm to see if they'd trade 2008 fourth-round pick Tashard Choice. He's 215 pounds and has the skills for the Saints' offense and the power for short yardage. I might even dangle first-round pick Robert Meachem in front of them to see what they think. Cowboys back-up offensive tackle Doug Free would be another target of mine.

PFW Nawrocki: NFC East Post-Draft Analysis


The Cowboys saw players they liked come off the board in Round Two — Max Unger was their target at No. 51 — and traded out of Day One. They were busy on Day Two, starting with OLB Jason Williams, who has the athleticism and blitzing ability to fit as a nickel ’backer, but he must play stronger and hone his instincts. A college right tackle, Robert Brewster projects inside, where depth is a need. He is a hard worker who started 50 college games. QB Stephen McGee is a player to watch with intangibles, leadership, toughness and the mobility to move behind a heavy O-line. Victor Butler and Brandon Williams are developmental nickel rushers. Butler might be more polished, but Williams has more upside. DeAngelo Smith is a press-zone corner who isn’t terribly athletic, and college teammate Mike Mickens has a great nose for the ball but doesn’t run fast and needs to stay healthy. Michael Hamlin is rangy and could play either safety spot. He might be better in the box. David Buehler has NFL leg strength and will be a kickoff specialist, with Nick Folk rarely driving touchbacks. Stephen Hodge is a bulked-up hitter but must make it on special teams. TE John Phillips is a solid blocker who does a little of everything. Manuel Johnson was overshadowed at Oklahoma and has tiny hands, but he showed big-play ability.

Nolan Nawrocki's scouting perspective — The Cowboys were without a first-round pick after dealing it, as well as third- and sixth-rounders, to Detroit to acquire WR Roy Williams, but owner Jerry Jones shrewdly moved down several times to pick up more late-round picks. Most of his selections were solid — even if he was forced to draft nickel LB Jason Williams earlier than he would in a normal draft — and have developmental potential. OG Robert Brewster, QB Stephen McGee and CB DeAngelo Smith could all become solid pros in time, and LB Stephen Hodge and PK David Buehler could both make an impact in special-teams coverage. Adding an elite receiving talent to a talented roster and filling many specialty roles gives this draft promise.
Grade: Good

Rd Pick Player Pos College
3 69 Jason Williams OLB Western Illinois
3 75 Robert Brewster OG Ball State
4 101 Stephen McGee QB Texas A&M
4 110 Victor Butler OLB Oregon State
4 120 Brandon Williams DE Texas Tech
5 143 DeAngelo Smith CB Cincinnati
5 166 Michael Hamlin FS Clemson
5 172 David Buehler PK USC
6 197 Stephen Hodge OLB TCU
6 208 John Phillips TE Virginia
7 227 Mike Mickens CB Cincinnati
7 229 Manuel Johnson WR Oklahoma

NY Giants

With no deal materializing for a veteran receiver, the Giants opted to stockpile pass catchers in WRs Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden and TE Travis Beckum. Nicks will have a chance to compete with Dominik Hixon as the starting split end. Hicks is big and attacks the ball, and he will win over fans and coaches with his competitiveness, sticky hands and ball skills. Barden has raw upside but could develop into a red-zone target at 6-foot-6 if he can learn to beat press coverage, read pro coverages and improve his route running. Beckum has been productive when healthy but is coming off a leg injury and was limited in pre-draft workouts. Beckum has the athleticism to be a nice contrast to starter Kevin Boss. In Round Two, the Giants grabbed LB Clint Sintim, who fits the team’s pressure packages but is in a crowded situation, and OT William Beatty, who can be groomed as a future left tackle. Andre Brown reminds some of the departed Derrick Ward with the strength, hands and contact balance to fit in the mix with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware. Brown’s durability, though, is a question. Rhett Bomar has the arm and competitveness worth developing; he’ll battle for the third spot with Andre’ Woodson. DeAndre Wright might be a step slow but has good ball skills and toughness. Stoney Woodson is nearly identical in size but faces a full roster.

Nolan Nawrocki's scouting perspective — Giants GM Jerry Reese accomplished his plan of adding playmakers for Eli Manning to replace the released Plaxico Burress, adding WR Hakeem Nicks, one-dimensional pass-catching TE Travis Beckum, RB Andre Brown and WR Ramses Barden, all of whom should make the roster and contribute as rookies. They also found great value in OLB Clint Sintim in the second round, upgrading an already strong pass rush. OT William Beatty has developmental potential, although his lack of passion may have been undervalued, as may have been the immaturity and injury history of Nicks, Beckum and Brown. A disciplinarian coach (Tom Coughlin) able to get the most out of his players makes it easier to take chances in New York, however, and the Giants likely added seven new bodies, including QB Rhett Bomar, to an already talented roster.
Grade: Good

Rd Pick Player Pos College
1 29 Hakeem Nicks WR North Carolina
2 45 Clint Sintim OLB Virginia
2 60 Will Beatty OT Connecticut
3 85 Ramses Barden WR Cal Poly
3 100 Travis Beckum TE Wisconsin
4 129 Andre Brown RB North Carolina State
5 151 Rhett Bomar QB Sam Houston State
6 200 DeAndre Wright CB New Mexico
7 238 Stoney Woodson CB South Carolina


Considering the team dealt two 2009 picks for OLT Jason Peters, the Eagles had quite a haul and even acquired *third-,* fifth- and sixth-round picks in ’10 to boot. Andy Reid didn’t target Jeremy Maclin but couldn’t pass on a top-10 talent who slid to the 19th slot. Maclin joins a deep WR corps and likely won’t start, but his speed and run-after-the-catch ability will put him in three- and four-WR sets. He also will vie for the punt- and kickoff-return duties. The Eagles added LeSean McCoy, who might lack a second gear but runs hard, catches the ball and has great inside vision. McCoy must get out of his bad cut-blocking habits to be the third-down back. With Sheldon Brown angering the team with his demands for a new contract, it acquired Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs, who will have a chance to start at right corner — whether or not Brown is traded — and drafted “Macho” Harris, a tough cover-2 defender. Serious medical red flags have been raised on TE Cornelius Ingram, but he has very good athletic ability and could be redshirted a la Jack Ikegwuonu if Ingram’s knee requires another surgery. A college left tackle, Fenuki Tupou has the size Reid likes but might have to move to guard and play tougher. Massive Paul Fanaika likely will battle Tupou for a reserve OG spot. Brandon Gibson is a possession “Z” receiver who might have trouble cracking a deep rotation. Moise Fokou is athletic and could help on special teams.

Nolan Nawrocki's scouting perspective — Andy Reid and GM Tom Heckert sacrificed the selection of OT Jeff Otah last year, trading the pick to Carolina for an additional first-rounder this year that they were able to use, along with a third-rounder, to acquire OLT Jason Peters from Buffalo. They also made a shrewd deal with the Patriots to acquire CB Ellis Hobbs for two fifth-round picks, coming away from this draft with two established veterans. Most impressive, however, was how they continued to work trades to upgrade the offense, adding a multipurpose playmaker in Jeremy Maclin and a change-of-pace back, LeSean McCoy, both of whom possess starter potential. Cornelius Ingram could turn out to be a steal in the fifth round when he recovers fully from a torn ACL, and CB Victor "Macho" Harris should find a role in sub packages. Overall, no team came away with as much proven talent as the Eagles did in this draft.
Grade: Outstanding

Rd Pick Player Pos College
1 19 Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
2 53 LeSean "Shady" McCoy RB Pittsburgh
5 153 Cornelius Ingram TE Florida
5 157 Victor "Macho" Harris CB Virginia Tech
5 159 Fenuki Tupou OT Oregon
6 194 Brandon Gibson WR Washington State
7 213 Paul Fanaika OG Arizona State
7 230 Moise Fokou OLB Maryland


When Daniel Snyder failed to acquire Jay Cutler, many assumed the Redskins would sell out to trade up for USC’s Mark Sanchez, who more than piqued their interest. But with the Jets beating them to the punch, they instead waited for Brian Orakpo, one of the top five players on their board. Orakpo is incredibly strong and fiercely competitive, and he should have a great chance to play immediately. His technique and pass-rush arsenal are still raw, but Orakpo figures to get better under the tutelage of DL coach John Palermo, who has a history of developing young pass rushers. The Redskins addressed the defense again in Round Three with CB Kevin Barnes, who has good height and could match up with the NFC East’s big wideouts, but he must answer questions about durability and toughness and might not get on the field much right away in a deep secondary. A converted running back, LB Cody Glenn has intriguing upside and likely will make his mark as a special-teamer, especially if the team doesn’t re-sign Khary Campbell. The similarly sized Robert Henson probably will be restricted to special-teams and backup ILB duties. Eddie Williams is a hybrid fullback/H-back who has durability concerns, but he’s a smart, high-effort pass catcher who takes the game seriously and could complement Mike Sellers. WR Marko Mitchell is a size-speed prospect who might not have the hands or strength to make it.

Nolan Nawrocki's scouting perspective — Owner Dan Snyder and vice president of player personnel Vinny Cerrato aggressively tried to make some moves on Draft Day and were even willing to deal their first-round pick next year, but ultimately they were beaten out by the Jets to Mark Sanchez and had to settle for upgrading their defensive line. DE Brian Orakpo can bring heat off the edge, but CB Kevin Barnes is coming off injury and likely won’t see action early. LBs Cody Glenn and Robert Henson and WR Marko Mitchell are all developmental prospects with some character concerns who could struggle making the roster. However, the Redskins received great value last season by having acquired OG Randy Thomas for their 2009 fourth-round pick, even if injuries cloud his future. On the other hand, they had already parted ways with their '09 second-round pick, which they had given up last July for DE Jason Taylor, who has since been released, leaving a need for more youth and overall depth as priorities that were not addressed in this draft.
Grade: Average

Rd Pick Player Pos College
1 13 Brian Orakpo DE Texas
3 80 Kevin Barnes CB Maryland
5 158 Cody Glenn LB Nebraska
6 186 Robert Henson ILB TCU
7 221 Eddie Williams FB Idaho
7 243 Marko Mitchell WR Nevada

DMN Blog: ETAs on draft picks' development into starters... Mosley Post #6

by Tim MacMahon

The Cowboys' draft is being questioned because they didn't select enough potential starters with their dozen picks.

The guys who were in the War Room would tell you that they picked several potential starters who can make an immediate impact on special teams.

Let's take a look at the timetable on when these picks could crack the starting lineup:

LB Jason Williams (third round, 69th overall): If Williams develops as the Cowboys anticipate, he should be a starter by his third season. Keith Brooking will be 35 years old when his two-year contract expires. The Cowboys need Williams to be ready to take over the weakside inside linebacker job when that happens.

G/T Robert Brewster (third round, 75th overall): The Cowboys want competition for Kyle Kosier this summer. They'll need replacements for Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo in the not-too-distant future, although both tackles have several years remaining on their contracts. The Cowboys say Brewster can all four guard or tackle positions, but it's difficult to envision a guy who played right tackle in college protecting Tony Romo's blind side. Left guard is his best chance to crack the starting lineup within the next two seasons.

QB Stephen McGee (fourth round, 101st overall): With Tony Romo and Jon Kitna, the Cowboys can be patient with their developmental QB. The best-case scenario is that Romo stays healthy and goes to a few more Pro Bowls while McGee develops into a starting-caliber QB the Cowboys can flip for premium draft picks. If Romo has health problems or falters as the franchise QB, McGee could have a chance to be the Cowboys starter in 2012 or so.

OLB Victor Butler (fourth round, 110th overall): The Cowboys are counting on DeMarcus Ware dominating for a long time. Former first-round pick Anthony Spencer will have to be a disappointment for a starting OLB job to become available. Butler was drafted to be a rotational pass-rusher.

OLB Brandon Williams (fourth round, 120th overall): Ditto.

FS/CB DeAngelo Smith (fifth round, 143rd overall): It will be very difficult for a rookie to beat out Gerald Sensabaugh, who signed a one-year deal to replace Roy Williams. The job could be wide open next season, especially if the rookies' development convinces the Cowboys that Sensabaugh doesn't need to be re-signed.

FS Michael Hamlin (fifth round, 166th overall): Ditto.

K/special teams dude David Buehler (fifth round, 172nd overall): Unless Nick Folk loses it or gets hurt, Buehler won't be scoring points for the Cowboys.

ILB Stephen Hodge (sixth round, 197th overall): If the converted safety develops into a starter, that'd be a pleasant surprise. The Cowboys hope he can have a Bill Bates-like career as a special teamer.

Virginia TE John Phillips (sixth round, 208th overall): Jason Witten is the league's best all-around tight end. Martellus Bennett might have more talent. It'd be stunning if Phillips ever starts.

CB Mike Mickens (seventh round, 227th overall): Even if his knee isn't an issue, Mickens is a long shot to ever become a starter. The Cowboys drafted Mike Jenkins in the first round last season. Orlando Scandrick was one of the top rookie corners in the league last year.

WR Manuel Johnson (seventh round, 229th overall): Seventh-rounder Patrick Crayton or undrafted Miles Austin will start at receiver for the Cowboys this season, so Johnson has a shot to someday develop into a starter. But it's a long shot.

FWST: Blog: Ware Supports Ellis

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware did right by his teammate Greg Ellis today. Not that you'd expect anything less from Ware.
Ware was at a photo shoot today for Venom Energy Drink; he's one of the athletes who is endorsing the energy drink.
Ware was asked about Ellis, who once again appears may be one his way out of town with another round of linebackers being drafted.

"When I first came in he was a mentor to me and all the rookies. I’ve learned a lot from Greg," Ware said. "He’s a guy people leaned on. He’s also a guy that shows and leads by example. And then they brought - I’m not going to call any names - they brought a lot of guys in to take his position and you see how hard he works and nobody has been able to beat him out yet. He’s out there working hard and playing hard. I think he fits in our defense. I hope he’s here to stay."

Will such comments matter? Probably not ... but they're nice comments regardless.

- Mac Engel

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cowboy's Defensive Draft Class: Sacks, forced fumbles and ints

Originally posted by TONYHILL80 from a sports forum:

After a little research, I am likeing this draft more and more. Its easy to see what our theme was on drafting for the defense. Turnovers! We were 11th in the NFL in FF and 30th in ints but #1 in sacks. The guys we took in the draft on defense all have a certain skill set. Forcing turnovers and putting pressure on the QB are what they all have in common.

Jason Williams
As a sophomore, he tied for 10th in the country with three forced fumbles and ranked second in the Gateway Conference with 10.5 stops for loss. In 2007, he placed fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision with five forced fumbles, tying the school and league record. His 16.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage led the team and conference. He would capture the forced fumble title in the FCS with six in 2008, as he also finished second in the league with 17.0 stops for loss.
Williams' 14 forced fumbles set the NCAA FSC career-record and is tied with Adam McGurk of Division II Adams State (2002-05), Kenechi Udeze of Southern California (2001-03), Terrell Suggs of Arizona State (2000-02) and Antwan Peek of Cincinnati (2000-02) for the overall collegiate record.

Victor Butler
A standout pass rusher who broke out to register 10.5 sacks as a junior despite only starting one game, Butler was first-team All-Pac-10 and tied the single-season sack record at OSU with 12 as a senior and leaves second in school history with 25.5 career sacks.

Brandon Williams
Williams led the conference with 13 sacks, earning first-team All-Big 12 accolades as a junior, and leaves Tech ranked fourth in school history with 22.5 career sacks.

Deangelo Smith and Mike Mickens
Smith teamed with Mike Mickens to form one of the elite cornerback tandems in college football. The two combined for 26 interceptions during their careers together, more than any other active duo in the NCAA in 2008.

Stephen Hodge
Hodge was a first-team All-Mountain West performance as a senior, making 91 tackles including 10 for loss. His eight sacks led all Football Bowl Subdivision defensive backs in 2007, though he basically played linebacker in TCU's defense and blitzed often.

Micheal Hamlin
The Tigers' defensive captain started 43 games for Clemson, the most by a defensive back in school history. His 14 interceptions rank third in school annals and his 243 yards gained on interception returns rank second. He also ranks second in school history with 18 takeaways (four forced fumbles, 14 pass thefts).

Cowboys pick brimming with bravado

By Tom Orsborn - Express-News

It's hard to imagine Dallas Cowboys draft pick Jason Williams ever having a crisis of confidence.

In an interview Tuesday, the linebacker from Western Illinois called himself a “great football player” and indicated he likes his chances of beating out veterans Bobby Carpenter and Keith Brooking and fellow rookie Stephen Hodge to replace Kevin Burnett in the substitution packages.

“I'm not going to say I'm definitely going to start, but I definitely feel I can come in and get the job done right away,” said Williams, who was selected in the third round. “I'm a playmaker, a great football player.”

Picked 69th overall, Williams was the first player from a Football Championship Subdivision program taken in this year's draft. He said it would be a mistake to underestimate him just because he's from a small school.

“I've been underrated for so long, I have a chip on my shoulder,” Williams said. “Nobody realizes what a great player I am. Now that I'm on a national scale, playing with the best players, everyone is going to see what a great player I am.”

With San Diego signing Burnett in free agency, the Cowboys considered moving up to select Williams. In the end, they remained at No. 69 and took Williams with an eye toward him starting at inside linebacker when the 33-year-old Brooking's three-year deal expires.

Williams wonders why he has to wait.

“I don't ever want to settle for being a backup to anyone,” Williams said.

Such talk doesn't surprise Western Illinois coach Don Patterson.

“He recognizes he's been genetically blessed with great athleticism,” Patterson said. “He also understands part of being successful is playing with great confidence.”

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Williams wasn't invited to the NFL combine, but he dazzled scouts at his school's pro day with impressive showings in the 40-yard dash (4.49 seconds), vertical jump (39 inches) and bench press (26 repetitions of 225 pounds).

“He recognizes very few guys can run as fast as he can or jump as high as he can,” Patterson said. “He understands that football, if played right, is a game of physics. If you can have decent mass and acceleration, you can exhibit more force than the guy you're going against.”

Williams played quarterback as a two-way star at Chicago's DuSable High School. He was a running back and safety for Western Illinois before moving to linebacker as a sophomore.

Playing for a coordinator who emphasized turnovers, Williams forced an FCS career-record 14 fumbles.

“We do emphasize turnovers, but that record was mostly Jason,” Patterson said. “It relates to his athleticism. It's an unusual ability he has.”

Williams also excelled on special teams.

“Even as a senior after he became a star, he was out there protecting the punter, covering kickoffs,” Patterson said. “A lot of stars don't understand the importance of special teams.”

Said Williams: “It's one of my favorite parts of the game. You can change the game with one play.”

Williams proved that when he forced a fumble on the opening kickoff in the season opener against Arkansas last year. He finished with seven tackles, two sacks and another forced fumble in a game that saw the Leathernecks lead 24-14 in the fourth quarter before falling 28-24.

“My best came out when I played better competition,” Williams said. “I went into those games wanting to dominate.”

AUDIO: Hostile breaks down Cowboys 2009 Draft Class

Audio by dcfanatic:

Here's how this went down.

Hostile breaks down 2009 Draft Class

Hos wasn't able to be on live tonight for DCFanatic Radio's Post Draft Show.

So we decided to record something for the show.

He calls me and I said just give me your thoughts on the draft picks.

This isn't a scripted piece. This is off the cuff.

This is just him being one of the most educated and honest fans of the Dallas Cowboys I know.

Ware says contract offer between himself & cowboys getting closer

Todd Archer, of The Dallas Morning News, reports Dallas Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware said the negotiations regarding a contract extension for him are getting closer. He said he is not frustrated that a deal has not been done.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Agent: Dallas Cowboys' Ellis at ease despite draft influx

By CALVIN WATKINS / The Dallas Morning News

With the Cowboys drafting two outside linebackers Sunday, it raised the question about the status of veteran Greg Ellis.

In the last two seasons, Ellis has expressed concern about his role with the franchise and hinted he might be released or traded because the team wanted to go with Anthony Spencer as the starter.

Ellis' agent, James Williams, said that despite the team's drafting Brandon Williams and Victor Butler in the fourth round, his client is not concerned.

"Greg is looking forward to playing football and he's looking forward to playing in the new stadium for the Cowboys," Williams said. "It's outside of our control anyway. But Greg is happy with the Cowboys and wants no controversies."

If the Cowboys release or trade Ellis, he would be owed $1.5 million by the club. His base salary for the 2009 season is $4.175 million.

The Cowboys would receive a salary-cap savings of $4.15 million should Ellis get cut, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones didn't think that would occur.

"I know he had that same concern when Spencer came in," Jones said of Ellis after the draft ended Sunday. "He had that same concern when he moved over [from defensive end to outside linebacker]. And that's rightfully so. I think the world of Greg, but anything we do there one way or the other, I don't want him to read about it. I want to sit down and talk to him about it."

Off-season moves make Dallas Cowboys more 'Wade Friendly’

The Star-Telegram

IRVING — An off-season that has been designated as "Romo Friendly" can now also be labeled "Wade Friendly."

Not only was Dallas head coach Wade Phillips not fired after a disappointing 9-7 finish last season, several of the moves made so far this year have been designed to make his job a little bit easier.

The most recent moves include a draft that was heavy on defense, especially linebackers.

The Cowboys now have 15 linebackers on their roster. Even if the number seems high, the way Phillips’ prefers to run his defense, that’s a desirable figure.

"We kept 10 one year at San Diego. It’s just keeping as many good players as you can," Phillips said. "You can do more things. Just a lot of linebackers in the game at the same time, especially with [DeMarcus] Ware. It gives you the chance with more matchups where we moved around a lot."

In his third season as Cowboys coach and first as the team’s full-time defensive coordinator, Phillips has the defensive side of the roster more suited to run his style of the 3-4 alignment. More movement up front and more man coverage on the back end should result in even more pressure on the quarterbacks.

If it works out the way he — and his boss — envision, the result should be one of the best defenses in the NFL, complete with the sacks he covets and the turnovers he wants and didn’t get last season.

Phillips is quick to mention the Cowboys led the NFL in sacks last season with 59. But there are no NFL Team Sack Champion Trophies, nor was there any correlation between sacks and wins.

The Cowboys defense ranked eighth overall last season, but their 22.8 points per game was 13th in the league. That’s the figure that needs to change — of the teams that ranked in the bottom 17 in points allowed per game, only one made the playoffs.

There should, however, be a correlation between sacks and turnovers. Last season, the Cowboys’ eight interceptions ranked 30th in the NFL.

"I hope we are progressing to be a top pass-rush team and pressure team to help us get more turnovers than we did. That’s an emphasis," Phillips said.

If that turnover figure improves, then so should the wins.

"We’ve come a long way pass defense- and pass rush-wise — leading the lead in sacks," Phillips said. "We are progressing the way I’d like our defense to progress. But we still need pass rushers."

The other area where the Cowboys changed significantly this off-season is in the secondary that will emphasize pass coverage more than run defense. By releasing safety Roy Williams, Phillips no longer has to try to accommodate a player who clearly was not suited for his scheme, nor well-matched for today’s pass-drunk NFL offenses. The addition of free agent Gerald Sensabaugh is an upgrade at safety as far as coverage.

These decisions are consistent with the rest of an off-season that has been decidedly "Wade Friendly:"

Cutting receiver Terrell Owens and Adam "Pacman" Jones; the moves at least gives Phillips the relief of not dealing with two large distractions. Phillips had no choice but to side with the notoriously touchy Owens on just about every subject or run the risk of losing his receiver. Now, Owens is Buffalo’s problem.

Although the move quickly flopped, the team tried to bring in Dan Reeves as an advisor.

Hiring Joe DeCamillis as the team’s special teams coordinator. Special teams was a weak area last season, and in the draft DeCamillis was given any assortment of players who were picked to play special teams. The team will also carry two kickers on the game-day roster in 2009.

By allowing former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart out of his contract, Phillips no longer has to go through the awkward charade of Stewart actually having power when it had been effectively stripped last October.

"The idea is — we’re sitting here with a new menu of sorts relative to players," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "I look at now. I just look at now."

Right now, this is a more "Wade Friendly" team.

Wade Is Turning Up The Defensive Pressure A Notch!

by Carl Shelton (GloryDayz88) on Apr 27, 2009 6:56

You can never have too many pass rushers. That’s Wade Phillips’ modus operandi, correct? Say what you want about the amount of influence Wade has on the Cowboys’ draft plans, but this draft haul has Wade Phillips written all over it. Jerry Jones and Tom Ciskowski have now provided Wade Phillips with a potent pass rushing arsenal.

In this year’s draft, Dallas went heavy on "attack players". Nearly all of the defenders drafted by the Cowboys this weekend are active, aggressive, disruptive players who are natural pass rushers. The Cowboys even added some guys with pass rushing skills at positions that this team has not traditionally used to attack the quarterback. One thing is for certain, there are not many coaches in the business better suited to incorporate all of these weapons into a scheme than Wade Phillips.

Wade Phillips’ new crop of pressure players, and how they may be used in Dallas:

Jason Williams, ILB, Western Illinois - 69th overall selection (3rd round) - When this pick came down, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock gushed about Williams’ speed and natural pass rushing skills. Williams is definitely a "fly to the football" type of linebacker, who caused 14 fumbles in his collegiate career. While Mayock had Williams tabbed as an outside linebacker in our system, Jerry Jones said that he will play inside. It looks for now as though Williams will play the nickel linebacker spot vacated by Kevin Burnett, while being groomed to eventually take over for Keith Brooking inside on a full-time basis. The Cowboys have not blitzed a great deal from either spot; having a player in that role with such a disruptive skill set just might spark ol’ Wade’s imagination. Either way, teams will have to at least respect the blitz when Williams is on the field.

Victor Butler, OLB, Oregon St. - 110th overall selection (4th round) - A converted college end, Butler will compete for a spot as an outside linebacker in Dallas. When I finally found a little footage of Butler, two things really stood out about his game. Butler seems to play with a fantastic motor. He’s extremely active, and chases a lot of plays down from behind. Butler also uses his hands and long arms to control blockers. Offensive linemen are rarely able to get into his chest. Butler registered 12 sacks as a senior, and should give Wade Phillips another option attacking off the edge.

Brandon Williams, OLB, Texas Tech - 120th overall selection (4th round) - Another end transitioning to linebacker, Williams is similar in a lot of ways to Butler. Williams is a bit more raw as far as using his hands, but is really great at turning the corner. Despite his below average timed speed, Williams can really get up field and will not allow his momentum to push him past the quarterback. While Butler is a bit more of a "wrap-and-spin" tackler, Williams meets ball-carriers with malicious intent. The drafting of Butler and Williams could possibly spell trouble for veteran Greg Ellis.

Sidenote: When thinking of Butler and Williams, think of Chicago Bears defensive end Mark Anderson. As a rookie in 2006, Anderson’s role was limited almost exclusively to passing downs. Anderson still tallied 12 sacks and was a major factor in the Bears’ success. Though the Bears run a different defensive system, the same principles apply. Butler and Williams are raw, but both are natural pass rushers. Both can be used as situational players until they have learned enough to be counted on on an every-down basis.

Stephen Hodge, S/LB, TCU - 197th overall selection (6th round) - It is unclear what Hodge’s role will be in Dallas. What is clear is that Hodge, like many of the Cowboy’s other selections, is an attacker. Hodge was a roving linebacker at TCU, and was frequently used as a blitzer. If he makes the team, Hodge will earn his keep on special teams. If there is a spot on the defense for him, it may be in the hybrid safety/linebacker role that the Cowboys created for Roy Williams a few years back. We’re only talking about a sub-package role that is more of a coverage position, but putting a pass rusher in that spot presents a different dynamic.

Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati - 227th overall selection (7th round) - Mickens has to be in this conversation based on the fact that he is just so damn violent. If you watch a Mike Mickens highlight tape you see a ton of collisions. While he is a good cover man, Mickens is the type of defensive back who lives for the big hit. Mickens would be a great option blitzing off the slot in the dime package.

The Dallas Cowboys lead the league last season with 59 sacks. The team now has more pass rush options than it ever has in Wade Phillips’ tenure. If the front three can be effective, this team now has endless rush options at the next level. It is even conceivable that DeMarcus Ware may finally get a play or two off next season.

It will be interesting to see how Wade Phillips will utilize all of his new toys. I for one would like to see DeMarcus Ware inside, isolated on a guard every once in a while, much the way the Giants do with Justin Tuck. It will be interesting to see how many of these guys Wade can get on the field at a given time. Coach Phillips’ 46 subset may have a different look as well. While this draft should improve a dismal special teams unit, it will also allow Wade Phillips to turn the pressure dial one more notch to the right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

QB Carpenter, Seven More Undrafteds On The Way

Posted by jellis at 4/27/2009 10:46 AM CDT

After hauling in 12 rookies in this weekend's NFL draft, the Cowboys weren't done, working well into the night to add undrafted free agents.

As of Monday morning, eight are expected to sign with the team, and one or two more could be on the way. The biggest name is Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter, a four-year starter for the Sun Devils.

Carpenter threw for 81 touchdowns and 10,491 yards in college. He had long been thought of as a draftable prospect, but had arguably his worst season as a senior, passing for just 16 touchdowns to go with 2,493 yards. Carpenter is 6-3, 225, the same size as the Cowboys' fourth-round pick, Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee. The Cowboys typically carry four quarterbacks through training camp in order to keep everyone's arm fresh.

A pair of Fighting Irish teammates will also join the Cowboys, offensive tackle Michael Turkovich and fullback Asaph Schwapp. Turkovich (6-5, 305) was a two-year starter with experience at guard and tackle, and Schwapp is a 6-0, 257-pound blocker.

West Virginia guard Greg Isdaner (6-3, 325) is coming to the Cowboys as well. Isdaner started 38 games for the Mountaineers and earned Freshman All-America honors as a redshirt in 2006. He's been knicked up since then, however, and underwent shoulder surgery last spring.

The Cowboys are also close to agreements with BYU offensive lineman Travis Bright, Virginia wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, Boise State wide receiver Julian Hawkins and Texas-El Paso tight end Jamar Hunt.

After missing his sophomore season with a knee injury, Ogletree returned in 2008 to catch 58 passes for 753 yards and five scores. The 6-1, 196-pounder was a freshman for the Cavaliers when Cowboys tight ends coach John Garrett coached there. The Cowboys drafted on UVA player, sixth-round tight end John Phillips.

The 6-5, 316-pound Bright, who broke his leg in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl, was a team captain for the Cougars. Hawkins has nice size at 6-3, 223 pounds, and is a converted tight end. The 25-year-old Hunt has prototypical size, himself. He's 6-7, 260 pounds, and likely competes with Phillips and Rodney Hannah to be the team's third tight end.

The Cowboys might still try to add a first-year eligible player who would be able to attend this weekend's rookie mini-camp.

-Josh Ellis

DMN Blog: Rick Gosselin's Cowboys Grade: C

by Richard Durrett

Draft guru Rick Gosselin gave the Cowboys a C in his grading of the draft. His quick Cowboys thoughts on what they did overall:
After inexplicably opting out of the first day, the Cowboys finished strong with some solid second-day selections. Brewster gives the Cowboys insurance at guard and tackle. Hamlin, Mickens and Smith bolster the secondary.
Gosselin's top grade went to the Houston Texans, who got an A+. Here's how he graded the rest of the NFC East:

Philadelphia: B
NY Giants: B
Washington: D

BTW, some folks didn't like the Cowboys draft at all. USA Today gave Dallas a D+. Here's a look:
No primo picks after last year's deal for WR Roy Williams, then had 12 choices on Sunday. Not a team with a ton of holes, though. LB Jason Williams does everything at top speed, including making mistakes. But he brings athleticism and hustle on every snap. OT Robert Brewster is big (6-4, 325) but a little short on strength and power. QB Stephen McGee could be a find in the fourth round. Career at Texas A&M derailed by coaching change and injury. Grabbed a couple of DEs in fourth round to offset loss of Chris Canty.
How would you grade the Cowboys' efforts at the draft?

Czarnecki gives Dallas a C

The Cowboys used their first pick to acquire Lions receiver Roy Williams and then proceeded to trade out of the second round, too. Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams should give them speed off the edge. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was a very good selection at the top of the fourth round. Remember, McGee ran 4.66 in the 40-yard dash. McGee is in a good situation. He's a great worker and has solid pocket sense, but is missing that big-time NFL arm strength.

The Cowboys focused on defense with their picks and then used the 172nd pick on USC kicker David Buehler, who had better 40-yard times than teammate Rey Maualuga. But does Buehler beat out Nick Folk? TCU strong safety Stephen Hodge fills a need, but Cincinnati's Mike Mickens was viewed as a third-round talent until needing cartilage and meniscus knee surgery after playing 46 games. Good value in the seventh round. Grade: C

Kiper grades us with a D

Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: D

The Big D gets a D this year. They didn't get a lot of top-end talent due in part to their not having a pick until the third round, but they then went out and reached on Jason Williams and Robert Brewster. Victor Butler is a decent pick, as is Brandon Williams, but I'm not enamored with any of their later picks. They got players that could help them in terms of depth, but no one who is going to really strengthen this football team.

Cowboys signed Virginia WR Kevin Ogletree

Ogletree has good size (6'2/189), tremendous speed (4.37), and comes from a pro-style offense, but presumably went undrafted because of lingering concerns about his knee. Ogletree missed the 2007 season with a torn ACL.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

Player Update: DeAngelo Smith, CB


Fifth-round selection DeAngelo Smith will be expected to be able to play both cornerback and safety for the Cowboys, for the Dallas Morning News. He played mostly cornerback at the University of Cincinnati.

Our View: Smith will see most of his work at safety, which figures to be the weaker position for the Cowboys. He should also expect to see some time on special teams.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cowboy's 2009 Draft Players - "The Dirty Dozen"

Needs Analysis: Even though they signed Gerald Sensabaugh, the Cowboys should take another safety in the draft. The offensive tackles are getting old, and finding a starting guard in the second round might be the way to go. The Cowboys like their receivers, even without Terrell Owens, but I expect the team to take another one in the draft.

Pick Player Pos Ht Wt College

Round 3, Pick 5 (69) (From Browns) Jason Williams OLB 6'1" 241 Western Illinois
Pick Analysis:The Cowboys pick up an athletic linebacker with outstanding speed and quickness. Williams has the ability to rush off the edge and is a potential playmaker as an outside linebacker/special teams player.

Round 3, Pick 11 (75) (From Bills) Robert Brewster OT 6'4" 325 Ball State
Pick Analysis:The Cowboys pick up a hulking interior prospect with the selection of Brewster. Though he spent his college career as an offensive tackle, Brewster will likely move inside to guard for the Cowboys.

Round 4, Pick 1 (101) (From Lions) Stephen McGee QB 6'3" 225 Texas A&M
Pick Analysis:He had a great workout at his pro day. He's more of a developmental project, but he has all of the physical tools. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said McGee has pro potential, and Sherman should know -- he was Brett Favre's coach for several years in Green Bay.

Round 4, Pick 10 (110) (From Bills) Victor Butler DE 6'2" 248 Oregon State
Pick Analysis:Butler had a great workout at his pro day and jumped on the radar after starting just one year in college. The Cowboys need to fix their special teams and Butler, combined with the Cowboys' earlier pick of Jason Williams, will help. Butler is a standout on the kicking units. He has similar skills to the Broncos' Elvis Dumervil, and he shined in Oregon State's upset victory over USC this past year.

Round 4, Pick 20 (120) (From Buccaneers) Brandon Williams DE 6'5" 252 Texas Tech
Pick Analysis:Williams was an underclassman that may have been better served staying in school. Nevertheless, he has pass-rushing potential and is extremely athletic. There are questions as to whether he can be a linebacker, so the Cowboys may use him as a rotation defensive end in their 3-4 scheme.

Round 5, Pick 7 (143) (From Raiders through Falcons) DeAngelo Smith CB 5'11" 194 Cincinnati
Pick Analysis:The former Bearcat is a zone cover corner with good awareness. Smith has a good feel for reading routes and is an aggressive ballhawk in coverage. The Cowboys may move Smith to safety due to his physical presence on the field.

Round 5, Pick 30 (166) (From Titans) Michael Hamlin FS 6'2" 214 Clemson
Pick Analysis:The Cowboys add a rangy safety prospect with hard-hitting ability. Hamlin lacks elite speed, but he has the instincts and awareness to develop into a solid player in spite of his deficiencies.

Round 5, Pick 36 (172) (Compensatory selection) David Buehler K 6'2" 227 Southern Cal
Pick Analysis:The Cowboys increase their competition at the kicking position with the selection of Buehler. Incumbent kicker Nick Folk hit 91 percent of his field-goal attempts last season and was perfect on PATs, going 42-for-42. Still, Buehler is a physical specimen for a kicker and should contend.

Round 6, Pick 24 (197) (From Dolphins) Stephen Hodge SS 6'0" 234 TCU
Pick Analysis:Hodge is a special teams ace. He played safety at TCU and he will be a backup on defense. Still, he helps Dallas in the kicking game and continues the trend of the team trying to fortify what was a weakness last year in special teams.

Round 6, Pick 35 (208) (Compensatory selection) John Phillips TE 6'5" 251 Virginia
Pick Analysis:Phillips is a good blocking tight end, who has had some injuries. He'll always be a third tight end, but he'll be good there. He won't get a lot of reps as the backup, but he's smart and will make the team as a solid role player. He will replace Tony Curtis, who left the Cowboys and signed with the Chiefs.

Round 7, Pick 18 (227) Mike Mickens CB 6'0" 186 Cincinnati
Pick Analysis:Mickens led the nation in interceptions last season and was a track superstar in high school. He has speed and very good quickness. This is exceptional value for a pick in the seventh round. Mickens has a chance to be the third corner for the Cowboys.

Round 7, Pick 20 (229) (From Bears through Buccaneers) Manuel Johnson WR 5'11" 189 Oklahoma
Pick Analysis:Johnson has the quickness and speed that teams crave at the wide receiver position. He may have been better than Juaquin Iglesias (Round 3, 99th overall to the Bears) at catching the ball at Oklahoma. Johnson is a small receiver, but he's got the ability to stick in the NFL.

Cowboys #229: Cowboys select WR Manuel Johnson in seventh round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Manuel Johnson, DS #41 WR, Oklahoma

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #71 WR, #548/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: FA
2007: 14 GP; 7 GS; Pass: 1-1-100-25-0-0; Rec: 31-448-14.5-4; 1 Sol-1 TT; Seventeen of his 27 regular season receptions and 341 of his 423 yards came in the last five games ... all four of his TD receptions came in back-to-back games against Baylor and Texas Tech ... four receptions for a career-high 126 yards and two touchdowns vs. Baylor ... also caught four passes in the Fiesta Bowl ... 2006: 12 GP; 5 GS; Rush: 2-13-6.5-0; Rec: 36-378-10.5-3; KR: 2-34-17-0; Had a big jump in production as a sophomore … set career highs with six receptions for 87 yards against Texas Tech … missed the Baylor game due to knee injury...2005: 10 GP; 1 GS; Rush: 1-8-8-0; Rec: 10-170-17-1; Speedster who made an impact as a true freshman ... had a 55-yard catch and run touchdown against Oklahoma State.

01/21/09 - Nic Harris, Juaquin Iglesias and Phil Loadholt continue to practice in front of NFL scouts this week in Mobile, Ala., in preparation for Saturday's Senior Bowl (Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. on the NFL Network). We're getting word that WR Manny Johnson (wearing No. 22) was also a late addition to the Senior Bowl North roster. - Oklahoma football

01/13/09 - East-West Shrine Monday practice: Manny Johnson (Oklahoma) struggled to catch the ball a bit early, yet came on with quickness in his cuts and solid hands throughout the rest of the session. - Chad Reuter, The SportsXchange, NFL Draft Scout

01/08/09 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: Manuel Johnson had seven touchdown receptions over the TCU, Baylor and Texas games with at least one in each. Malcolm Kelly was the only other OU player to accomplish that feat. - Oklahoma football

Cowboys #227: Cowboys select CB Mike Mickens in seventh round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Mike Mickens, DS #9 CB, Cincinnati

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #2 CB, #12/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 1
2008: All-Big East Conference second-team selection...Semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award... Started eleven games at left cornerback, including the team's first ten contests...Suffered a left knee torn meniscus and cartilage damage vs. Louisville, undergoing arthroscopic surgery that would sideline Mickens for the final three regular season games...Still produced the fourth-best interception return yardage total (158) in school history, as one of his four pass thefts were returned for a touchdown...Deflected ten passes and ranked second on the team with 70 tackles (46 solos), including two stops for losses totaling 6 yards...Mickens started all 47 games that he played in for Cincinnati; 10 at right cornerback and 37 on the left side...Recorded 233 tackles (156 solos) with a 6-yard sack and eight stops for losses totaling 28 yards...Caused one fumble and recovered two others...Deflected 45 passes...Set the school career records with 14 interceptions for 296 yards in returns (21.14 avg), topping the old Bearcats marks of 12 thefts by Blue Adams (1998-2002) and 263 yards by Jocelyn Borgella (1990-93)...2007: 13 GP; 13 GS; 33 Sol-53 TT, 1 TFL, 6 INT, 6 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR; First team All-Big East. 2006: 13 GP; 13 GS; 39 Sol-59 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 SK, 3 INT, 15 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF; Second-team all-BIG EAST choice ... ended the campaign second in the BIG EAST and eighth nationally in passes defended (3 interceptions, 15 breakups) ... finished sixth on the team in tackles (59). 2005: 10 GP; 10 GS; 38 Sol-51 TT, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 14 PBU; Won the starting position at cornerback during preseason practice and became a mainstay in the secondary... earned second team Freshman All-American recognition by Football News and was named honorable mention Freshman All-American by The Sporting News... a second team All-BIG EAST selection... took home a share of the UC's Defensive Newcomer of the Year award... ended his rookie year second nationally in passes defended, averaging 1.5 per game... team's sixth-leading tackler with 51 stops... launched his career with a five-tackle performance in the season opener vs. Eastern Michigan.

03/31/09 - University of Cincinnati and former Wayne High School defensive back Mike Mickens was considered by NFL scouts as a Top 5 cornerback prospect entering this year’s draft. However, a lingering knee injury sustained midway through the 2008 season caused the player’s stock to dip. But after an impressive pro day on March 19, Mickens’ stock is on the rise once again. The 5-foot-ll, 186-pound Mickens ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash and was even clocked in the high 4.4’s by some teams. He was cleared to run three weeks ago which makes his time pretty amazing. Mickens posted a 35.5-inch vertical; 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump and a 4.18 in the pro agility drill. NFL teams in attendance apparently like what they saw from the defensive back. Mickens worked out recently for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He is scheduled to visit the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and New York Jets next week. - Carlos Holmes, Dayton Daily News

03/24/09 - Cincinnati Pro day: 28 NFL teams sent representatives and 12 position coaches were in attendance. CB Mike Mickens (5-11 5/8, 186 pounds) looked very good in position drills, and he turned in 40-yard dash times of 4.57 and 4.59 seconds. He had a 35 1/2-inch vertical, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump, a 4.17 short shuttle drill and a 6.94 time in the three-cone drill. He did not participate in the bench press. – Gil Brandt,

03/20/09 - When healthy, he has the ability to make quarterbacks hesitate before throwing near him because of his explosive closing speed. He was slowed last year by a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in November. He played in the Orange Bowl but was at less than 100%. He also did not work out at the combine after aggravating the injury at the Senior Bowl. Mickens holds school records with 14 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 296 interception return yards. Scouts look forward to his March 19 pro day workout. - Frank Cooney, The SportsXchange,

Cowboys #208: Cowboys select TE John Phillips in sixth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
John Phillips, DS #11 TE, Virginia

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #10 TE, #154/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 5-6
2007: 13 GP; 8 GS; Rec: 17-193-11.4-2; 1 Sol-4 TT; Part of the team's trio of outstanding tight ends ... eight starts and played in all 13 games ... fifth on the team in receiving with 17 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns, figures that were more than his career totals coming into the season ... tied for ninth in the ACC in receptions and 10th in yards among league's tight ends ... did not catch a pass in the first three games but ended the regular-season with a nine-game streak with at least one catch ... 2006: 12 GP; 4 GS; Rec: 2-65-32.5-0; Appeared in every game, started four (Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech) ... used primarily as a blocker, but has good ball skills ... two catches for 65 yards on the year ... 2005: 12 GP; 3 GS; Rec: 2-27-13.5-1; Appeared in every game, including starts against North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech when the team started in a two-tight end set ...good blocker who also played on the kickoff return team and the kick scoring unit ... played only special teams in the first two games ... has an older brother Jake, who is the starting quarterback at William & Mary ... cousin Scott Perkins also played football for the Tribe (1985-88).

02/11/09 - PRO POTENTIAL: TE John Phillips -- The Cavaliers have produced NFL tight ends Heath Miller (Pittsburgh) and Tom Santi (Indianapolis) in the past five years. While not as strong a blocker as Miller, he's a solid downfield threat, who was second on the team with 48 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns last season. Phillips is a likely late-round selection, but his ability to contribute on special teams as well could be attractive.

01/20/09 - 2009 Senior Bowl Monday Practice: Virginia's John Phillips could really boost his stock if he continues to display good hands and run crisp routes. - Chad Reuter, The Sports Xchange,

12/02/08 - 2008 ALL-ACC CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM (MEDIA): TE John Phillips, Virginia (88), has been selected All-ACC Conference First Team for the 2008 college football season by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Phillips continued the tradition of outstanding tight ends at Virginia under head coach Al Groh. He led ACC tight ends with 48 receptions for 385 yards and finished tied for seventh overall in receiving. His 48 catches are ninth most by a tight end in conference history. This is the first time Phillips has been named All-ACC. - Virginia football

Cowboys #197: Cowboys select OLB/SS Stephen Hodge in sixth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Stephen Hodge, DS #19 OLB, TCU

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #16 SS, #399/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: FA
2007: 13 GP; 4 GS; 43 Sol-57 TT, 10.5 TFL, 8 SK, 7 PBU, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 2 FF; Arrested in April 2007 for unlawful carrying of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm…case eventually dismissed. Police report said Henson had a handgun, then handed it to teammate Stephen Hodge who fired several rounds into the air. Led the nation in sacks by a defensive back with eight ... had seven sacks in the final seven games ... second-team All-Mountain West Conference ... was also a second-team selection on Dave Campbell's Texas Football All-Texas College Team ... placed second on TCU in sacks, trailing only defensive end Chase Ortiz (9.0) ... tied for second in tackles for a loss (10.5) and pass break-ups (7) ... took part in both defensive and special teams touchdowns ... started the final five games ... his 57 tackles on the year, which placed sixth on the Frogs, surpassed the total of 45 from his first two seasons combined ...2006: 12 GP; 0 GS; 25 Sol-30 TT, 1 FF; Reserve safety and special teams standout... had five solo tackles on kickoffs against San Diego State, helping him total a team-high and career-best nine stops in the game... 2005: 12 GP; 0 GS; 12 Sol-15 TT, 1 TFL; Totaled 15 tackles, including 12 solo stops, as a true freshman... one of four Horned Frogs to play as a rookie... saw action in all 12 games... brother, Anthony, played football at Baylor.

03/10/09 - Former Tatum Eagle quarterback Stephen Hodge has a very real shot at becoming a pro. Over the weekend, Hodge was a big reason why TCU had the largest number of NFL scouts assembled for the school's pro day. Hodge participated in the NFL combine but took advantage of another chance to wow NFL teams. Despite predicitions he could be a fifth or sixth round pick in this year's draft, Stephen still has some anxiety about the next seven weeks. "Nervous," Stephen said. "I'm just hoping that something comes through, hoping to get a phone call. But if I don't, I'll go free agent, just be ready to play when I get to minicamp." "I feel real good about what I did today," Stephen said of his Pro Day workout. "I just gave the scouts more to look at because I can play different positions which gives me a better chance of making it to the NFL. I feel real comfortable. It was no pressure coming in to today. It was more pressure at the NFL combine. By now, coming here just doing drills it was a lot of pressure off of me." The NFL Draft is April 25-26. - KLTV, Tyler, Texas

03/06/09 - Eleven members of TCU's 2008 senior class participated in the Horned Frogs' Pro Day on Friday inside the team's weight room and the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility. A combined total of 40 scouts and general managers, representing 26 National Football League teams, were in attendance. TCU's Pro Day also generated strong media coverage with all five television stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth market present along with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, and The following players participated in the Frogs' Pro Day: running back Aaron Brown, safety Steven Coleman, linebacker Robert Henson, safety Stephen Hodge, offensive guard Giles Montgomery, defensive tackle Cody Moore, offensive tackle Heath Raetz, tight end Shae Reagan, center Blake Schlueter, defensive tackle James Vess and running back Justin Watts. Linebacker Jason Phillips worked out previously for scouts at the NFL Combine. Hodge, a two-time All-Mountain West Conference selection in the secondary, also took part in running back drills. During his eight-year tenure as TCU's head coach, Gary Patterson has had 16 players drafted and 36 in NFL camps. - TCU football

02/23/09 - Stephen Hodge was a standout safety at TCU, but most teams he’s interviewed with are talking to him about being a weakside linebacker. "It depends on the scheme of the defense," said Hodge, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference pick last season. "I just want to play in the NFL. I don’t care what position I play." NFL teams have asked Hodge about his arrest in April 2007 for unlawfully carrying a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm, even though the case was dismissed. "It was a mistake that I made," Hodge said. "I owned up to it. I made the mistake. It was done. I embarrassed my mom, my family, my teammates and my coaches. Most of all, I just embarrassed myself. I really don’t make bad decisions, and once I made that bad decision, people are like, 'This guy makes bad decisions all the time,’ which, that’s not me. I had to rebuild my character, and it took a long time, but I’m back, and I’m ready." - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram

Cowboys #172: Cowboys select K David Buehler in fifth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
David Buehler, DS #2 K, Southern Cal

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #7 K, #409/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: FA
2007: XP 52-54, FG 16-19, 40-49: 3-5, 50+ 0-0, Long 47, 18 TB-84 KO; 2007 Phil Steele's All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick… 2006: XP 1-1, FG 1-1, 40-49: 1-1, 50+ 0-0, Long 49, 3 TB-8 KO; Backup placekicker specializing in kickoffs and played on special teams, but also worked at fullback and safety (he did not see action at those spots)... JC: He made the 2005 All-Mission Conference National Division first team as a freshman placekicker, linebacker and running back at Santa Ana (Calif.) Junior College. He had 25 touchbacks on his 58 kickoffs in 2005, plus recorded 24 tackles and 1 interception on defense and rushed for 50 yards on 9 carries (5.6 avg.) with 5 touchdowns (he also caught a TD pass) on offense.

04/15/09 - He looks, runs and lifts like a linebacker but thrives at his true job on the field. Buehler converted 26 of 33 career field goal attempts, including six of 11 from 40 yards or longer. Of his 180 kickoffs, 69 were touchbacks. Because USC rarely had close games, he lacks experience with clutch kicks. His uncle, George Buehler, was a guard for the fabled 1970s Oakland Raiders teams. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

02/25/09 - Come on, kickers aren't athletic. (Right?) Well, if you were in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, you would've seen otherwise. Former USC kicker David Buehler, no physical slouch at 6 feet 2, 227 pounds, raised some eyebrows when he performed better at strength and speed tests than some linebackers and offensive linemen. Buehler recorded 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, according to That's more than projected first-round picks Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher, tackles who are both listed at 6-5, 309 pounds. Buehler even bested his former teammate, linebacker Rey Maualuga, who recorded only 23 reps. And he lifted as much as Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry, who could be the first pick overall in April's NFL draft. Even in the 40-yard dash, Buehler's unofficial times of 4.56 and 4.63 seconds were better than Trojans linebackers Brian Cushing (4.74) and Clay Matthews (4.67). Now how's that for an athletic specialist? - James Wagner, The LA Times

02/23/09 - I keep insisting USC’s David Buehler is a draftable commodity who can make a difference for an NFL team because of his leg strength, and he showed just how powerful he is at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Buehler elected to do the bench-press drill, and he lifted 225 pounds 25 times — more than some of the elite offensive tackle prospects! Yes, that’s right — USC’s kicker outlifted Virginia’s Eugene Monroe, Mississippi’s Michael Oher and Oregon’s Max Unger. Of course, that doesn’t mean Buehler can make a 50-yard field goal in the heart of winter to win a ballgame. But it’s still pretty darn impressive. - Michael Lev, The OC Register

Cowboys #166: Cowboys select SS Michael Hamlin in fifth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Michael Hamlin, DS #4 SS, Clemson

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #2 SS, #38/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 2
2007: 13 GP; 13 GS; 53 Sol-80 TT, 4 TFL, 4 INT, 5 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF; Suffered knee sprain in bowl game. Voted permanent defensive captain by his 2007 teammates… second-Team All-ACC by AP/ACSMA,, and…had four interceptions and six pass breakups…tied for 24th in the ACC in tackles per game, including fifth among defensive backs…tied for seventh in the ACC in interceptions…had four interceptions in 2007…second on the team in tackles (97)…won the coaches defensive player-of-the-game award for the Georgia Tech and Central Michigan games…showed his speed at N.C. State when he intercepted a two-point conversion pass attempt and returned it over 100 yards for two points, the first defensive score off an opponent's extra point in Tiger history…2006: 9 GP; 9 GS; 47 Sol-64 TT, 5 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 2 FR, 1 FF; Postseason honors candidate at CAT saety this year…missed first half of spring practice with a broken foot, his second broken foot in a year…also suffered broken foot at Boston College…2005: 12 GP; 7 GS; 30 Sol-55 TT, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU; Had two tackles and a team-best two pass breakups against Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl...had two interceptions for 42 yards on the season...had his career high in tackles in his first career start when he had eight at N.C. State in 53 plays. 2004: Red-shirted...Brother Markee is a 2010 NFL Draft prospect at South Carolina State.

03/30/09 - Clemson Pro day: Representatives from 25 NFL teams made their way to Clemson’s Pro Day on Thursday, March 26. The majority of drills were done indoors on what was a very fast rubber track, with the exception of the three-cone drill, which was held outside on FieldTurf. DB Michael Hamlin (6-2 1/8, 209) pulled his hamstring warming up, and stood on his numbers from the combine. – Gil Brandt,

03/24/09 - Clemson Pro day: Michael Hamlin was not sure how Tuesday’s Pro Day at Clemson was going to work after he came up gimpy nine days ago at the Athletes Performance Center in Pensacola, Fla. “After last Sunday, I was not even expecting to work out today,” the former Clemson safety said. “I got more done than I expected.” But Hamlin, who hurt his hamstring, said he started feeling better early last week and decided he was going to suck it up and make the best of it. It's a good thing he did because it appears he quite possibly helped his status for April’s NFL Draft. “Hopefully, I have moved myself up a little bit,” he said. He must have done something right because scouts from Houston, Dallas, Miami and Cincinnati all approached him Tuesday and talked to him about how he could fit in their system. He plans to try and meet with each of them again in the coming weeks. Hamlin has already spoken to Seattle, New England, San Diego, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Jets. In all, there were 25 teams in attendance to watch more than 20 former Clemson players workout in hopes of trying to improve their stock in the draft or maybe earn an invitation for a free agent tryout after the draft. Hamlin, who only did position drills, hopes the three-hour session moved him up the draft board. “I got to the point where I just sucked it up and did as much as I could today,” he said. - Will Vandervort,

03/20/09 - He is a strong safety prospect who has been productive since his redshirt freshman season. Hamlin emerged as one of the most productive safeties in the country as a junior, earning second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors after totaling 80 tackles and four interceptions. Last season, Hamlin received first-team All-ACC honors after collecting six interceptions to go with 97 tackles. At the combine, he ran 40 yards in 4.57 seconds and soared 37½ inches in the vertical jump. - Frank Cooney, The SportsXchange,

Cowboys #143: Cowboys select CB DeAngelo Smith in fifth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
DeAngelo Smith, DS #13 CB, Cincinnati

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #16 CB, #164/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 5-6
2007: 13 GP; 13 GS; KR: 12-296-24.7-0; 39 Sol-49 TT, 2.5 TFL, 8 INT, 8 PBU, 2 FR, 2 FF; Second team All-Big East...2006: 13 GP; 1 GS; 17 Sol-23 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU, 2 FR; Made the first start of his career vs. Rutgers and was named BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week after returning an interception 84 yards for a touchdown and finishing with six tackles, one for loss, and a pass deflection ... competed as a backup at cornerback and an extra defensive back in passing situations ... recovered a pair of fumbles as a gunner on the punt team ... Special Teams Player of the Week for the Miami (OH) and Louisville games ... carded three hits and two pass breakups in the International Bowl ... Bearcat Academic Honor Roll (Fall 2006)...2005: 7 GP; 0 GS; 1 Sol-1 TT; Saw action in seven games, mostly as a member of the special teams...recorded a solo tackle vs. Western Carolina... Bearcat Academic Honor Roll (Spring 2006)...2004: Redshirted.

03/24/09 - Cincinnati Pro day: 28 NFL teams sent representatives and 12 position coaches were in attendance. CB DeAngelo Smith (5-10 7/8, 191 pounds) had times of 4.63 and 4.66 in the 40-yard dash with a 32-inch vertical leap and a 9-foot, 7-inch broad jump. He had a 4.40 short-shuttle time and a 6.86 three-cone drill time, and he did not participate in the bench. – Gil Brandt,

01/21/09 - 2009 Senior Bowl, Wednesday practice: Cincinnati's DeAngelo Smith and Jackson State's Domonique Johnson have struggled a bit. Both are high cut and a bit choppy in their backpedal. They may run well in workouts, but receivers were too often able to generate separation from them Wednesday. - Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange,

11/23/08 - "It felt good to see that. I actually picked one up and ate it. It tasted good". -- Senior DB DeAngelo Smith on the students tossing oranges on to the field during the victory over Pitt, symbolizing a potential Orange Bowl berth.

Cowboys #156: Cowboys trade up to #143 with the Falcons

Fifth Round - 143th Overall

Fifth Round - 156th Overall
Seventh Round - 210th Overall

Cowboys #120: Cowboys select LB Brandon Williams in fourth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Brandon Williams, DS #10 DE, Texas Tech

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 1/12/09: #12 Junior DE, #96/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 3-4 in 2010
2007: All-Big 12 Conference Second Team and honorable mention ... led the team with 12.5 tackles for loss and six sacks ... 2006: Named to The Sporting News All-Big 12 Freshman Team ... true freshman who saw extensive playing time on special teams and at defensive end on passing downs ... finished third on the defense behind Keyunta Dawson and Jake Ratliff with his 3.5 sacks ... totaled 16 tackles (11 solo) on the season.

04/13/09 - Texas Tech defensive end Brandon Williams is driving from Fort Worth to Dallas every day to work out. On Monday, he will make a detour to Irving. Williams is among draft prospects who will visit Valley Ranch for Dallas Day. He goes to Denver to visit with the Broncos on Wednesday. Williams, who went to South Hills, is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round draft choice by NFL Draft Scout, a Web site. He is hoping to go higher. "Hopefully, I can go second or third," Williams said in a telephone interview. "A lot of teams are really hesitating on my speed. I ran another 40[-yard dash Friday]. We put it on camera, so we’re going to send it out to different teams. Hopefully, that will help." Williams said he ran times of 4.69 and 4.74 on Friday. He ran a 4.96 at the NFL Scouting Combine and a 4.78 on his Pro Day. - Charean Williams,

04/08/09 - Texas Tech's Brandon Williams led the Big 12 and finished fourth in the nation with his 13 sacks last season. Frankly, he thinks he can do better, which is why he elected to skip his senior season to turn pro. "Our defense wasn't really showing my abilities," Williams said. "That was a big part of me leaving. What we played wasn't showing my ability to move around and play more of a linebacker position." Williams started at both right and left end last season in the 4-3 scheme at Tech. But at only 6-2 1/2, he wasn't going to start at end for many NFL teams. His future is at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but his 4.95 40-yard dash at the NFL combine will likely keep him out of the premium draft rounds. Williams said he had help with his decision to turn pro. "It was a family decision," Williams said. "We decided it would be the best thing for me to do. It was tough leaving my teammates behind but they supported me." - Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News

03/15/09 - Texas Tech Pro day: DE Brandon Williams (6-3, 254 pounds) ran a 4.80 and 4.81 in the 40, had a 33 1/2 inch vertical jump, a 9-foot, 10-inch broad jump, 18 bench press reps and kept the rest of his numbers from the combine. – Gil Brandt,

Cowboys #117: Dallas trades pick to Tampa Bay at #120

Fourth Round - 120th Overall
Seventh Round - 229th Overall

Cowboys #110: Cowboys select LB Victor Butler in fourth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Victor Butler, DS #22 OLB, Oregon State

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #26 OLB, #325/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: FA
2007: 13 GP; 1 GS; 17 Sol-25 TT, 12.5 TFL, 10.5 SK, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 4 QBH, 2 FR, 2 FF; Victor may be the quickest defensive lineman on the excellent special teams contributor and a threat to block kicks...2006: 14 GP; 0 GS; 10 Sol-17 TT, 5.5 TFL, 3.5 SK, 1 QBH, 1 FR; Victor played in all 14 games and accounted for 17 tackles...a career-high four at Washington...of his 17 stops, 5.5 were for losses, including 3 sacks...2005: 9 GP; 0 GS; 1 Sol-3 TT, 1 BLK; One of seven true-freshmen to play...made three tackles for the season.

03/16/09 - Oregon State Pro day: DE Victor Butler (6-2 1/8, 239 pounds) ran a 4.72 twice in the 40, had a 33-inch vertical, a 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump and looked good in the drills. – Gil Brandt,

03/14/09 - Oregon State Pro day: We focus on Victor Butler, who is being worked out individually in the next few days by the Denver Broncos. OSU's QB gobbling defensive end - who will likely be asked to play outside linebacker in the NFL - had lost eight pounds since the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.58 40 at OSU, compared to 4.76 at the Combine. His vertical jump was 32 ½ inches, compared to 33 at the Combine. Butler's standing broad jump was 10-1 Friday, compared to 9-5 at the Combine. There were 23 NFL teams represented at the OSU workout. Vic trained at Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz. after the Sun Bowl, alongside Oregon's Patrick Chung. - Paul Buker, The Oregonian

02/11/09 - PRO POTENTIAL: DE Victor Butler proved he could hold up as an every-play end as a senior after being a pass-rush specialist before that, but his speed makes him a candidate to either return to a specialized use, or perhaps he becomes an outside linebacker in somebody's 3-4 defense.

Cowboys #101: Cowboys select QB Stephen McGee in fourth round

Source: 2009 NFL Draft Scout Player Profile
Stephen McGee, DS #6 QB, Texas A&M

Draft Scout Snapshot: DS Rating on 8/24/08: #13 QB, #236/750 Overall, Projected Rnd: 7
2007: 13 GP; 13 GS; Rush: 181-899-5-5; Pass: 364-211-58-2311-12-8; 3 Sol-3 TT; P 1-35-35, 1 TB, 0 FC, 0 in 20, 0 blocked; Named honorable mention All-Big 12 by the conference coaches … completed 211 of 364 passes for 2,311 yards and 12 touchdowns … led the Aggies and all Big 12 quarterbacks in rushing with 899 yards on 181 attempts … accounted for 3,210 yards of total offense (246.9 average per game) … also scored five touchdowns on the ground … turned in four 100-plus yard rushing games … had a career day in the Aggies second consecutive win over rival Texas by throwing for 362 yards and 3 touchdowns and running for another score … was one of only three quarterbacks in the nation to throw for 2,300 yards and rush for 875 more … named first team Academic All-Big 12... 2006: 13 GP; 13 GS; Rush: 146-666-4.6-4; Pass: 313-194-62-2295-12-2; Threw for 2,295 yards and 12 touchdowns on 194-of-313 attempts while starting all 13 regular season games … only threw two interceptions in 313 attempts and led the nation in interception percentage … rushed for 666 yards and four touchdowns on 146 carries … one of only a handful of quarterbacks with more than 2,100 passing yards and 600 rushing yards … has six 200-plus passing games... 2005: 8 GP; 1 GS; Rush: 43-235-5.5-2; Pass: 53-24-45.3-283-2-1; Was impressive at quarterback in the final five and a half quarters of the season after taking over for the injured Reggie McNeal, who suffered a sprained ankle midway through the third quarter against Oklahoma … in those five and a half quarters, McGee rushed for 175 yards on 34 carries (5.1 per carry) and completed 9-of-29 passes for 83 yards, while leading the Aggies to 10 scoring opportunities on 19 drives … for the season, McGee completed 24-of-53 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns and one interception in eight games... 2004: Redshirted… his father played quarterback for Blinn Junior College.

04/15/09 - His legacy in the state of Texas will always be that he was the quarterback who twice led the Aggies to upset victories against rival Texas. The rest of the football world is evaluating his future based on the fact he is a raw thrower who must learn how to be a passer. McGee played three games as a senior before being sidelined with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. A three-year starter, McGee passed for 5,475 yards and 28 touchdowns and ran for 1,750 yards and 11 scores while winning 18 of his 30 starts. Despite missing most of the 2008 season, he was the most decorated player on the team, winning the Aggie Heart Award for, among other things, leadership and courage, and the Bowden Award from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which he likened to "winning the Heisman Award for Jesus Christ," according to TheDallas Morning News. Coincidentally, McGee flew to the combine in Indianapolis on the same plane with Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak. McGee is the highest-rated Texas A&M quarterback in the draft since Kubiak was selected in the eighth round by the Denver Broncos in 1983. "I think he has a chance to be a very good quarterback," Kubiak says. But to fulfill that prediction, McGee will need to become more consistent at the technical aspects of the game, from footwork to reading defenses. He had an excellent workout at the combine that included a 40-yard run of 4.61 seconds and a vertical jump of 33 inches, though those benchmarks are of little consequence until his shoulder fully heals and he can show he has learned enough technique to be a consistent quarterback in the NFL. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

04/08/09 - Despite three years in an option offense and an injury-shortened senior season, former Aggies quarterback Stephen McGee is generating more and more interest as the April 25-26 NFL Draft draws near. McGee, who began catching eyes at the East-West Shrine Game and followed it up with impressive showings at the NFL Combine and at A&M’s pro day, already has visited the New England Patriots. Next week, he has trips lined up to the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys, McGee’s favorite team as he grew up, are an intriguing possibility. They recently signed 12-year veteran Jon Kitna to back up Tony Romo, but need a third quarterback on the roster. They have stockpiled nine picks in rounds 4-7. - Randy Riggs, The Austin American-Statesman

04/01/09 - The Patriots proved last season how important it is to have insurance at quarterback, and as part of their preparations for the NFL draft, they are closely perusing more possibilities to bolster their ranks. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee is scheduled to meet with the Patriots on one of the team's allotted 30 predraft visits, according to a league source. McGee is considered a mid-round prospect, and his trip to New England appears to highlight one of the main reasons NFL teams invest in predraft visits: for final medical checkups. McGee injured his throwing shoulder early last season and was limited to three starts. Because of that, and a scheme change at Texas A&M last season, he is one of the more challenging prospects for scouts and coaches to evaluate. - Mike Reiss, The Boston Globe

Article -- Jason Williams: Numbers Don't Lie

MACOMB, Ill. - When more than one-third of the NFL's 32 teams invite you to their house, somebody is doing something right.

The final semester as a student-athlete for Western Illinois senior Jason Williams has been filled with ups and downs. And frequent flier miles. By the end of this week, the 6-1, 241-pound linebacker will have visited more teams than any other draft prospect, taken nearly 30 flights and traveled more than 13,000 miles in the last four weeks. That's a lot of job interviews for a college senior.

This week's itinerary: Jacksonville Tuesday to Cleveland Wednesday to the New York Jets on Thursday and Dallas on Friday.

Last week's schedule: New England to Tennessee to Seattle, then to Oakland which was added as the 12th team while he was interviewing with the Patriots.

Other visits since March 23: Miami, Tampa, Indianapolis, Green Bay.

"The whole process started out kind of rough because of all the travel, but the longer it has gone on the easier it has become," Williams said from a hotel room in Jacksonville, Fla., late Monday evening. "It's a lot more fun now than it was at first."

Fun? Not unless you actually enjoy being put through a job interview. But maybe a little more so than the cross-examinations of the corporate world.

From his Twitter account ( on Wednesday morning he shares with his 69 followers that he is rubbing elbows in Cleveland with likely first-round draft selections Aaron Curry and Andre Smith... "oh yea, and Brian Orakpo" one hour ago... and "now Chris Beanie Wells" one minute ago.

NFL teams are allowed to host 30 players on pre-draft visits before April 17, during which time the team doctors will examine them, the front-office personnel will interview them, and the position coaches will test them, physically and mentally, all in an effort to assure the team is getting the right fit in its draft selection April 25-26.

"They just want to get a feel for who I am and what I can bring to their organization," said Williams. "It really is no different than any other job interview."

Path to the Draft

Two months after his collegiate career came to an end Williams began to attract a lot of attention as one of only a handful of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) players chosen for January's East-West Shrine Game, an annual showcase of some of the nation's top collegiate talent. By the end of the week in Houston, which included practices in front of scouts and interviews with team personnel, Williams was appearing in articles by NFL bloggers and draft experts.

"I wanted to go into that week and make a name for myself," Williams said. "I wanted people to know who Jason Williams was. I had real good practices and then the people who were somewhat indifferent about me in the beginning of the week seemed to change their minds, which is what I set out there to do."

Williams' path to the draft this semester took an unexpected turn in February when his invitation to the NFL's scouting combine never arrived. Every year hundreds of college players have the right to complain about not being one of the 300 or so hand-picked prospects, but instead of complain, Williams welcomed the challenge of proving his critics wrong. All he has done since is impress every scout that passed him up in February.

"I quickly got over the initial disappointment of not being invited, and I took it as a challenge to go out there and do that much better than the players who were at the combine. I wanted to prove that I deserved an invitation," remembered Williams.

The Leathernecks held their annual NFL Pro Day in early March, providing Williams with his next opportunity to impress 14 judges in Macomb. Donned in a black t-shirt with white letters reading "NUMBERS DON'T LIE," Williams not only turned in the best 40-yard dash time and vertical jump mark of the day, but he recorded numbers that bettered every linebacker at the February combine. His time of 4.46 seconds was equal to the fastest defensive players invited to Indianapolis and was a full tenth of a second faster than the quickest linebacker. His vertical jump of 39 inches was two inches better than any of the combine’s linebackers.

Still his critics were loud, explaining Williams' impressive numbers away by mentioning the hardwood basketball court in Western Hall, to which they typically add .10 seconds.

So Williams arrived 10 days later as the main attraction at Northwestern University's Pro Day to find 17 NFL teams, this time including several linebackers coaches, awaiting his arrival. He helped his stock tremendously, running the 40 in 4.42 seconds on a much slower indoor artificial surface.

Then the personal requests began pouring in. At first eight, then nine, then double digits.

As the nation's most-traveled college senior continued his trek to all four corners of the country, web sites and newspapers started to tout Williams' name and numbers.

He was recently listed by The Sports Network as the eighth-best overall FCS player, and second-best FCS defender, in the draft. Josh Buchanan's NFL Draft Bible listed Williams as the seventh small-school prospect. NFL Draft Scout, the official scouting service of USA Today, said Williams is the ninth-best outside linebacker in the draft at any level. Several publications have written Williams will be the first player not invited to the combine to be drafted, some predicting he will go as high as the third round, and nearly all saying he will be selected by the fifth.

A Blue-Collar Mentality

NFL teams love speed and they love character. Williams has both. His proven athleticism combined with his lack of off-the-field troubles, two things that can't be taught, have made him an ideal interview.

His strong work ethic and character have been put to good use over the past three summers teaching football fundamentals to grade school and junior high children at the Chicago Bears Youth Football Camp. What started out as a summer job turned into an enjoyable experience for Williams, who says his heart for kids and for coaching made for a good fit.

"I can see myself doing some similar work in the NFL," he said. "something with inner-city kids and coaching for sure.

"Being a Leatherneck means being a blue collar guy, taking your lunch pail and helmet to work and getting the job done. We work hard at Western. We may not have the bright lights and the budget of a lot of other programs, but we take what we have and we play hard."

Hard work and football are what allowed Williams to grow up through the challenges of an inner-city Chicago neighborhood that most people would call rough.

"Football kept me grounded and kept me focused on something other than what was going on around me. I wouldn't say that's what necessarily kept me out of trouble, but it gave me something else to focus on when things were pretty rough all around me."

Williams was faced with the toughest challenge of his life as he prepared to enter his freshman year at Chicago's DuSable High School - the tragic loss of his father.

"I was naturally in shock for quite a while and I didn't really accept it right away. But it became a source of motivation for me."

Motivation is innate in Williams and surfaces immediately when he is challenged.

When Western Illinois defensive coordinator Thomas Casey was hired four years ago he began searching for an identity for Williams, keying in on the one place where the tremendous athlete could be used most effectively. A high school quarterback, Williams had been signed by the Leathernecks as an athlete, on a partial scholarship. He spent his redshirt season on the scout team as a running back, then was moved to strong safety for his freshman season. It was as a sophomore linebacker that Williams started to blossom, becoming the only linebacker that season to start all 11 games.

It was then that a little attention began to be turned Williams' way. In his second season ever playing linebacker, he was named to all-America teams by the AFCA, the Associated Press and the Sports Network, and was the runner-up for the Gateway Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award after leading the league in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. But there was still some unfinished business.

Casey had been riding the junior about the school's forced fumbles record, a mark which had been set by a teammate one year earlier. Every time Williams began to swell with pride ever so slightly about his accolades, Casey was right next to him to remind him of the record he didn't yet hold.

The result was a staggering 11 forced fumbles in his final two college seasons - numbers which earned him a plaque from the NCAA which reads "2008 STATISTICAL CHAMPION." His 14 career forced fumbles set an FCS record and tied the all-time all-division NCAA mark.

The NFL has always been a dream and a challenge ahead of Williams, so much so that he can't come up with an answer to what he would do if professional football was not an option.

He is now looking forward to the challenge of being a true linebacker in the NFL, having bounced from position to position and having only three years of experience at linebacker to his credit.

Williams hopes to follow a large number of Leathernecks who have had success in the NFL, including safety Rodney Harrison (New England), linebacker Bryan Cox (retired), offensive guard Rich Seubert (NY Giants) and punter Mike Scifres (San Diego). Thirty-three have been selected in the NFL Draft. Nine have won Super Bowl titles. And four have earned Pro Bowl status.

One Last Challenge

The last five years at Western Illinois have provided Williams with a building experience for sure. The cultural challenges of moving from the inner city of Chicago to rural central Illinois are many. And the challenges associated with a Division I football career and academics are countless.

"Being here has helped me grow a lot as a person and a football player," said Williams. "My independence has grown since I have had to make decisions for myself, being away from my family. And the level of football was obviously a lot higher than what I was used to, and it's going to translate very well to the NFL."

Through it all, Williams has taken a head-on approach, developing a strong work ethic that will prove beneficial for the challenges of the next level.

All of his travel has provided Williams with one last challenge in his college career - graduation. This month he has had to keep in touch with his professors, who have been very understanding and accommodating, through e-mail, contacting them on Sunday nights to discuss assignments for the week. He has done the majority of his work on-line in airports and hotels, and turns in any other assignments as soon as he returns to Macomb at the end of the week.

Williams will graduate in May with a degree in exercise science and a minor in nutrition, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother a long time ago.

"Momma Williams does not play," Williams said with a laugh. "Not graduating has never been an option.

"I really don't know what I have to do for football (after all the official visits end April 17), but I know I've got two comp tests next week and another one I have to make up.

"I'm leaving Western on great terms. I hope to still have a positive relationship with them and the community in the future."

By the way, J-Will's number of fans on Twitter has climbed to 78 by the time this article is complete - numbers that are piling up almost as fast as his frequent flier miles.

The "anonymous scouts" (and some not so anonymous) on our draft picks

JASON WILLIAMS Western Illinois 6-1 238 4.49 3-4

Small-school player didn't get combine invitation but was a big hit on pro day. "He's the hot guy in this draft," Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said. "He'll go third round because he ran in the 4.4s. Good player. He's tight. Plays on a straight line. He's a 'will' in both schemes." Three-year starter from Chicago DuSable High School with 289 tackles (42½ for loss), 15 sacks and 17 turnover plays, including 14 forced fumbles. "There's some intriguing things about him," said Baltimore personnel director Eric DeCosta. "I don't think he's really ready to play, but I like his size and speed. He's a raw guy that hasn't made a lot of plays." Vertical jump of 39 and Wonderlic of 21.

ROBERT BREWSTER Ball State 6-4 324 5.29 4-5

Started seven games at RG in '05 and the last three years at RT. "He's got good feet and is a pretty good competitor," Washington scout Shemy Schembechler said. "Coming from a small school, he's not sure how good he can be. He's better off playing guard." Overcame a serious weight problem early in college. "Big, strong, heavy guy," one scout said. "Tough kid. Kind of slow-footed."