Are Cowboys Targeting A Pass Rusher With Their Second Round Pick?

You can never have enough pass rushers.

Jerry Jones addressed the media at the Combine yesterday, and as part of a lengthy State of the Union address, Jones also talked specifically about the pass rush and made it clear that the Cowboys' biggest defensive need is an improved pass rush.

"For defense, I'm into the pressure for us right now, above the corner, even if we franchise Spencer," Jones said. "I think we've got some good players in the secondary, though we need another good player there, and we don't need to be cavalier about passing on a significant pass-rusher in a draft.

"On the other hand, I think we've got better than it's perceived in Spencer as a potential pressure player. And we've got a guy that may not be the edge-setter that Spencer has been, but is very capable of coming in here and fulfilling the second pass-rusher on most downs that are passing situations, that's (Victor) Butler."

It's interesting that Jones makes the point about improving the pass rush even if they do keep Anthony Spencer, with or without a franchise tag.

Josh Ellis from dallascowboys.com notes that Jerry Jones wasn't sure an elite pass-rusher would fall to the Cowboys at No. 14 overall, but thought there were a number of pressure players who would be picked in the first two rounds.

The way the consensus mock drafts are aligning right now, Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw are the two first-round pass rushers that could be available when the Cowboys pick at no. 14, but there's also a feeling that the 14th spot might be a bit too high for both players, and that the BPA at no. 14 would likely be somebody else.

If the Cowboys are indeed targeting a pass rusher, they could trade down a few spots to get their player, but at no. 14, that could mean giving up on a potential bue chip prospect. For now, unless the draft takes a really bad turn in the first 13 picks, a trade-down scenario for the Cowboys looks unlikely.

That leaves the second round, with a couple of highly interesting pass rushing prospects. The following table shows the production ratio [Production Ratio = (Sacks + TFL)/Games] for pass rushers who'll likely be available in the second round. I've added where they are currently ranked on the big boards of CBSSports, Drafttek, and former Dallas scout Gil Brandt.

CBSSports Drafttek Gil Brandt Player School Height Weight Sacks TFL Games Production Ratio
35 61 31 Andre Branch Clemson 6-4 260 18.5 33 48 1.07
59 74 41 Vinny Curry Marshall 6-3 265 26.5 49 45 1.68
60 73 66 Chandler Jones Syracuse 6-5 265 10 27 32 1.16
62 69 - - Jonathan Massaquoi Troy 6-2 250 19.5 31 25 2.02
109 48 61 Bruce Irvin West Virginia 6-2 245 22.5 29 26 1.98

Out of these players, only Branch and Curry played a full four years of college ball. Bruce Irvin is a JUCO transfer and only played two years at West Virginia, Massaquoi is also a JUCO transfer with only two years at Troy and Chandler Jones only played for three seasons at Syracuse before declaring for the draft. And because they don't have freshman or sophomore years to 'sully' their records, their production ratios look better.

So here are the production ratios for the last two college years for each of those prospects:

- Curry: 2.52
- Massaquoi: 2.02
- Irvin: 1.98
- Branch: 1.55
- Jones: 1.28

Some of these guys put up intriguing numbers in college. On Monday, they'll be running their drills at the Combine, and depending on how those turn out, we're bound to see some significant movement for these guys on the various big boards. For now though, we'll consider them potential second-round targets for the Cowboys.

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