Cowboys Draft 2014: Scouting Dominique Easley

Sam Greenwood

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, it's important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you BTB is providing a series of detailed scouting reports on each of these targets. Today the series continues with our look at Florida defensive tackle, Dominique Easley.

Name: Dominique Easley

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Florida

Height: 6’2"

Weight: 288 LBs

Games Studied: Miami, Tennessee (2013), Louisville (2012)

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player's peers by position. A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Pass Game:

The best way I can think of to explain Dominique Easley’s game is this, 'Disruption is Production', and man oh man is Easley disruptive. He is lightening quick off the snap, quicker than any player I’ve studied, and plays with an attitude and relentlessness. At Florida he played both defensive end positions, as well as both defensive tackle positions in their 3- and 4-man fronts, and was the tone-setter on the unit.

His quickness at the snap, combined with his explosive hands and above average movement skills make him a terror to block, and he loves every second of it. He drew more holding penalties in three games than just about any player that I studied, as he is putting offensive linemen in horrible position as soon as the ball is snapped. From a pass rush perspective, he’s got the ability to beat an offensive guard to the inside, the outside, or right down the middle from the 3 technique, split the double team with quickness from the 1 technique, or convert speed to power on the edge from a defensive end spot.

When it comes to rush moves, Easley actually has room to improve, which is part of what is so impressive about him. He is immediately in the blockers chest at the snap, or in the gap, and fighting with his hands to clear the blocker, but you don’t see the refined arm-over, or hand slap move you might see from an Aaron Donald for example. I believe developing these moves could be key in helping him raise his statistical production to match his impact on the game. He plays with awareness and intelligence, showing the insight to get his hands up at the line if he ends up blocked, and batted a ball against Louisville that resulted in an interception.

Run Game:

Easley’s ability to penetrate immediately on the snap makes him a nightmare to run against, because any run you call up the middle is getting messed up by either an OG on roller skates into the backfield or a 288 lb man standing waiting for the RB ready to make a tackle. For a smallish DT he holds up well when teams double him, and doesn’t give ground as he is almost always the one delivering the blow rather than the one receiving it.

The one thing you see from him that needs work from the perspective of playing the run is that many times when he explodes off the ball into his man or the gap, he does so with his head down, doing this puts him in a position to run by plays which he does more than I would like. However, his penetration really just messes up the schemes of his opponents, and many times because he’s got an OG or the center 3-4 yards deep in the back field, a LB or safety is able to step up and make a play on the back before the run breaks.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: Dominique Easley is my favorite defensive lineman in this draft.  There is a series in the 2nd quarter of the Miami game that exemplifies the impact that Easley has on a game. On first down he blew up the middle of the line and crushed the RB for a loss of about 4, on the second play he blew by the OG on his outside shoulder, forcing the QB to scramble, and getting a holding call on the blocker. On third down he lined up at end in a 3-man line and bull rushed the OT into the QB’s face, forcing another scramble, and drawing another holding call, resulting in a 3 and out. In those 3 plays, the only real "stat" earned by Easley was the TFL on first down, however he virtually single-handedly disrupted an entire Miami possession forcing a punt. If it weren’t for the injury history that is well known by now, he would likely be the defensive tackle that all the teams seem to want in the Top 10.  However, I believe he’ll go in the 2nd round because of the injuries, and a team like Seattle, San Francisco, or New England could gamble on him in the first round.  He is the player I covet most for the Cowboys out of this draft, and I would not even be upset at all if they used the 16th overall pick on him to obtain him (if the knees check out). Easley plays with an energy and intensity that would make a major difference along the defensive front of Rod Marinelli’s group. I would play him at the 1 technique for about 10 snaps a game, and let him rotate with Melton at the 3 for another 10, while rushing in the nickel for an additional 10-15 snaps. The abilities of Melton and Easley next to one another would make the interior of the Cowboys defensive line, a force to be reckoned with in both the run and pass games.

Pro Comparison: Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers, (2010 6th round pick)

Note: This game plays like a highlight tape.

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