Roughly a week ago, I posted an article taking an in-depth look at DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys second-round pick. One of the reasons I wrote that piece was all the chatter around whether it was a good idea to swap second-round picks with Washington and give up a third-round pick to get Lawrence. The success of the Cowboys 2014 draft will largely hinge on the play of Lawrence.
Yesterday, respected Dallas scribe and draft guru Rick Gosselin came and out said the trade was a bad idea without any hesitation.
On the Cowboys drafting DeMarcus Lawrence: Gosselin: "I cant give up a premium pick in a third rounder to move up in the second round. I have a tough time moving up from the second to the first to get a guy. the first three rounds are premium rounds and should be walk in starters on an average team. The Cowboys traded two of those starters for one. They told us last week that Lawrence probably wont start as he gets his strength up. He will be a designated pass rusher. I have a real problem with that move. He is going to have to elite player and double digit sack guy for along time to make up the fact they gave up two starters for him."
Gosselin does offer the qualifier that if Lawrence does become an elite pass rusher for many seasons, then the move might be okay in his book. I don't think this is far from the truth. But what's intriguing to me is the next statement.
Gosselin: "Lawrence is undersized and doesnt have great speed. I think they should have taken [Jackson] Jeffcoat with one of those five picks in the seventh round. The Seahawks, who already have a great pass rush, took Jeffcoat. they saw a pass rusher and are going to make it work. The Cowboys shoud have taken Jeffcoat."
Before the draft, most draft experts had Jeffcoat pegged as a third- or fourth-round guy. Yet on draft weekend no team ever called his name. Even though he has an NFL pedigree through his father and had won awards and accolades at Texas. Gosselin's pushing for Jeffcoat is interesting because apparently all 32 teams didn't feel Jeffcoat was worth a pick. Even the pass-rush starved Cowboys didn't with multiple seventh-round picks. So how different are the two players?
If you just look at the measurables, not much. Here are their scouting combine numbers.
|Player||Ht||Wt||Arm Length||40 Yard Dash||20 Yard Shuttle||Bench||Vertical||Broad||3-Cone Drill|
In many categories Jeffcoat actually has the edge over Lawrence. Jeffcoat has been labeled as a tweener even though his size and weight are not all that far from Lawrence.
But Stephen Jones said they thought that Jeffcoat just didn't fit their scheme. Why? Well, the best I can tell there are a couple of things that the Cowboys see in Lawrence that they might not have in Jeffcoat. One is his ability to dip on the edge and get around the corner. Here's a scouting report on Jeffcoat from NFL.com.
Very underdeveloped lower body and tight-hipped. Has been slowed by injuries throughout his career and it has affected his physical development. Lacks the base strength to set the edge. Gets rooted out of the hole vs. the double team. Cannot drop his hips and turn the corner. Very inconsistent effort -- average competitiveness and desire.
BOTTOM LINE Developmental 3-4 rush-linebacker prospect with the pedigree and sack production to warrant interest. However, Jeffcoat will need to get stronger and improve vs. the run to ever become more than a backup.
The Cowboys have raved about Lawrence's body control and ability to dip and get the corner. Seems like Jeffcoat may not have this skill. The other thing, which was also prominently mentioned in the Jeffcoat review, was his weak lower body. Not only did I find this at NFL.com, but SB Nation Texas blog, Burnt Orange Nation, had a write up on Jeffcoat pre-draft, and they brought out the same problem.
If there's one major red flag with Jeffcoat, it's his overall lack of strength that at times caused him to get washed out against the run and put up only 18 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. There's little doubt that the two pectoral injuries in 2011 and 2012 that limited his offseason work hurt him in that regard. In the lower body, Jeffcoat is quite thin as well -- he doesn't have a great base of power from his legs that could hurt him at the point of attack at the next level. There's a lot of work in the weight room in Jeffcoat's future if he wants to maximize his ability in the NFL. The other problem is that despite working with his father and a defensive ends coach in Oscar Giles who has produced a great deal of NFL talent during the time he was at Texas, Jeffcoat doesn't have the array of pass-rushing moves that one would expect from a player with his background and production -- he'll have to work hard in the NFL to develop at least one and ideally two or more go-to moves he can use to beat opposing offensive tackles.
The Cowboys believe that Lawrence has enough strength in his base that if he learns leverage and can improve his overall strength some, he could be a three-down player. It appears that many people came to the conclusion that Jeffcoat isn't that kind of player. You can read about the Cowboys discussing Lawrence's hand-strength, here.
One last thing I saw in my travels around looking at these two players. NFL.com gave Jackson Jeffcoat a 5.15 grade, which equates to a "better-than-average chance of making an NFL roster." They gave DeMarcus Lawrence a 6.1 grade, equivalent to "should be an instant starter".
Maybe there is a big difference between the two players after all. (But I still wouldn't have minded if the Cowboys had grabbed Jeffcoat in the seventh round or as an UDFA)