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4/16/2005

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Onward to NFL Draft 2005: Defensive Ends

With less than a week to go, the Cowboys will finish up any last minute interviews with possible prospects and complete their draft board. You’ve seen all the mock drafts throughout the season, and now its time for the real draft to get here. This could be one of the most pivotal Cowboys Drafts in years and I expect the Cowboys to draft smart and with a chessmaster’s aptitude in order to get those impact starters on day 1 of the NFL draft. I’ll examine some team needs and priorities and some other draft thoughts.

So, at this point, the Cowboys have made moves in free agency with starters at DT with Jason Ferguson, RG with Marco Rivera, and CB with Anthony Henry. What’s left to fill?....lots.

Cowboys Priorities on Day 1 should address DE. This is a definitive consensus among the organization and fans all around. The Cowboys have desperately missed the speed pash rush of a Charles Haley type. This will be addressed early. Lets take a look at some defensive ends the Cowboys may be targeting.

Defensive Ends

Shawne Merriman – Maryland – 6’4’’ 272lbs 4.60/40

The Cowboys have shown interest in Merriman, he is athletic and is versatile, which is why Parcells & Co. may be looking at Merriman. Merriman can play in stance at DE or standing up OLB. His versatility puts him at the top of the list. Taking Merriman at 11 is a possibility, and depending what the Cowboys draft with #20 or #42, Merriman may be drafted to fill the OLB spot vacated by Coakley. Merriman would do well as OLB in a 4-3 and probably excel in a 3-4 as a pass rushing LB. Merriman is a big hitter, playing OLB would be a good addition, coupled with Roy Williams in the box, the big hit combo’s could spell doom for opposing offenses.

Draft thought: Merriman’s atheleticism and quickness make him one of the top defensive players this year, Merriman would excel as a 4-3 DE (drafted #2-15 overall)

DeMarcus Ware – Troy – 6’4’’ 260lbs 4.55/40

You want speed, Ware can get to the QB with quickness on a regular basis. Ware is another versatile player that specializes in OLB rush, but can also play at DE. Ware has good onfield experience playing since his freshman year, another desirable asset. Ware has been a focal point of discussions at Valley Ranch. His experience, speed & explosiveness are very enticing.

Draft thought: Although Ware is one of those “tweener” types, I think he would be drafted for OLB and a big weapon in a 3-4 formation, pure havoc creation. Cowboys could get their guy as a OLB and take DE with their second first rounder. (drafted #10-32 overall)

Marcus Spears – LSU – 6’4’’ 300 lbs 5.00/40

Spears is a big body that eats up space and can get to the QB. His versatility will get him drafted as a DE and DT. Spears is a prospect that the Cowboys spoke with at the Senior Bowl. Spears brings a consistent rush from the DE spot, and can make some plays in the backfield. Spears would do very well in a 4-3 or a 3-4. In the 3-4, you really want some big ends to surround a big NT. Taking Spears would accomplish this need. Hovering around 300 lbs he would be a DE in the 3-4, coupled with Jason Ferguson at NT, and Glover or Ellis at the other DE. This would be a solid 3-4 front, and a solid 4-3 front. You get your value from Spears with his size and bigtime game experience.

Draft thought: Get the big guy for DE spot and get your speed OLB, and we could be on our way to a 3-4 formation that could succeed. (drafted #9-20 overall)

Justin Tuck – Notre Dame – 6’5’’ 275lbs 4.72/40

Started out at LB, was moved to DE where he became ND’s alltime sack leader. Tuck brings speed, agility, stamina, and experience to the field on every play. His main goal is to be in the QBs face at all times, in an interview I conducted with Tuck he stated, “fun for me on the field is sacking QB's and hitting someone in the mouth.” Tuck will bring the outside speed rush since we had Haley. Adding Tuck with Ferguson, Glover, and Ellis will define a dominant front four for years to come. Could Tuck be our gem as Julius Jones was last year. Bring in another Fighting Irish player and we’re in business on both sides of the field. You can bet the Cowboys have been watching him and a reference from Julius Jones should do well.

Draft thought: Tuck will excel in the 4-3 as a pass rushing DE, a big hitter, and high work ethic make him a desirable pick for the Cowboys. (drafted 15-32 overall)

David Pollack – Georgia – 6’2’’ 275lbs. 4.75/40

You want speed, leadership, experience, and playmaking ability? Pollack may be your guy. Could he be a “Parcells Guy”? He fits the description. Pollack has been a focal point in the Georgia Bulldogs defense and has played since his freshman year. Pollack has bigtime game experience playing in big rival games, and has played at a high level. His playmaking ability and ability to change the tide on defense make him a big asset. Whether its getting in the QBs face, or busting plays in the backfield Pollack does it all, perhaps one of the better well rounded DEs coming out this year. Height may be his only knock for a DE, but then again, don’t tell that to Colts Dwight Freeney (6’1’’)

Draft thought: Pollack will do well in a 4-3, will play DE, and will play his heart out. Bigtime motor and wills himself to make plays happen. (drafted 15-32 overall)

Other Notable Defensive Ends to Watch:

• Dan Cody – Oklahoma – 6’5’’ 260lbs. 4.75/40

• Matt Roth – Iowa – 6’4’’ 270lbs. 4.80/40

• Bill Swancutt – Oregon St. – 6’4’’ 270lbs. 4.90/40

• George Gause – S.Carolina – 6’5’’ 275lbs. 4.75/40

Next: Linebackers

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