As a Stanford Cardinal fan, it has been great to watch the teams turn-around under Jim Harbaugh and the continuation of success under David Shaw. As a Cowboys fan, I am now more apt to root for the Boys to draft my favorite Stanford players as they are actual NFL prospects and are capable of great success in this league.
One of my favorite players in last year's draft was Richard Sherman. I knew he was undervalued as a CB since he spent most of his college career at WR and was praying that the Cowboys would draft him. The Seahawks took him in the 5th and they have not looked back. He has been a fearless defender with a nose for making plays on the ball (even though a lot have been passes defended instead of int's). He has graded as one of the best if not the best corner in the class as a rookie.Obviously, every draft analyst knows the talent of Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro.
As Guard is one of our bigger needs and Luck and Martin will both be off the board before we pick, I wanted to discuss DeCastro in a little more detail. He is 6'5, 310 pounds which makes him roughly the size of Kyle Kosier. The strongest part of DeCastro's game is his run blocking. He excels at pulling and gaining leverage over defensive lineman. He is not the strongest offensive line prospect but what he lacks in strength by comparison, he makes up for in sound technique. This is the type of interior lineman that we are looking for and he fits the mold of Garrett's RKG. As many BTB enthusiasts want DeCastro, I am sure the analysis of him will be thorough over the next few months so I want to highlight some other Stanford players that I would like to see the Cowboys draft.
Delano Howell (5'11, 190) - Safety
Howell is a hard-hitting safety. His 40 time is in the 4.5-4.6 range. I have seen him ranked as anywhere from a 3rd-6th round prospect. Before the season, he was ranked on the higher end; however, injuries kept him out of a few games this season which has probably hurt his draft stock. He played for most of the season with a cast on his arm (not everyone can do as well as Sean Lee did while wearing a Q-tip). I would love for the Cowboys to take a late flier on this guy. As a Junior in 2010, he had 5 interceptions. He has a knack for making plays on the ball. I believe that if we sign Abe Elam to another one year contract, we can let Howell learn the system and be a starter within the next 2 years.
Chase Thomas (6'4, 239) - OLB
Thomas has not officially declared and I am not sure if he is going to, but if he does, he could be the player that we have been looking for opposite Demarcus Ware. He had 4 sacks as a part-time player at DE in the 4-3 as a Freshman. The next year, Stanford switched to the 3-4 and he moved to OLB. Thomas had 7.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss and 70 total tackles. This season, he had another 8.5 sacks and an outstanding 17.5 tackles for loss as well as forcing 5 fumbles. Thomas seems projected in the 2nd-4th rounds and I think he could be the answer at OLB opposite Ware.
Coby Fleener (6'6, 245) - TE
Luck to Coby Fleener, Amazing One Handed Catch.wmv (via 16Un)
This is the least likely pick as it would require using a 3rd round pick on a TE. I understand that Jason Witten is still an amazing player, but he is getting up there in age and Coby Fleener is part of the new breed of matchup TE's such as Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. At 6'6 with speed, Fleener causes problems for all defenders. This pick would become even more important if we were not able to resign Laurent Robinson as we could then use 2 TE 2 WR sets.
Chris Owusu (6'0, 200).
I am unsure if Owusu will be playing in the NFL as he has suffered multiple concussions and there has been no report as to whether he will declare or choose a career not in football. He has a 40 time of 4.4. Owusu was Stanford's deep threat and return specialist when healthy. I do not believe that he would require more than a 7th round pick and very likely will be an UDFA. He would be a great player to bring to camp as he could be a 5th/6th WR (Miles, Dez, Laurent, Holley, Harris as the others, I want Ogletree gone) and return man.