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Scouting combine: defensive linemen

Defensive linemen in college who are "tweeners" hold special interest for teams running the 3-4. The Cowboys are one and just happen to have a need at OLB so let's take a look. ESPN Insider (sub. required) has the scoop on some of the players that might peak our interest.

DE Manny Lawson, also impressed with his exceptional showing. Lawson finished with the best 40-yard dash time (4.43) of all the defensive linemen and also ranked near the top of the group in the vertical jump (39½), broad jump (10-4), three-cone drill (6.90), short shuttle (4.18) and long shuttle (11.08). An undersized DE/OLB tweener, Lawson projects as a situational pass-rusher early in his NFL career, until he can add bulk as a 4-3 DE or adjust to playing OLB in a 3-4 scheme.
One of the great stories of this draft process has been that of Cal-Poly's Chris Gocong. A versatile defensive lineman who played end and tackle in college, Gocong led the Division I-AA ranks with 19 sacks as a senior in 2005. Gocong obviously will be forced to make a huge transition in the NFL. He does not have the size (6-2, 264 pounds) to play inside, but he did show the speed in the 40-yard dash (4.7) and overall athleticism in the vertical jump (38½), broad jump (10-2), three-cone drill (7.03), short shuttle (4.08) and long shuttle (11.35) to be a DE/OLB-type. If nothing else, Gocong should prove to be an effective situational edge rusher in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, which is why I think he's moving up to the early-Day 2 range of this year's draft class.

We also got some 3-4 NT scouting done.

Oklahoma DT Dusty Dvoracek impressed on the field with a high motor and great quickness in drills. Also, despite off-the-field baggage -- three alcohol-related incidents while at Oklahoma, including one that resulted in a yearlong suspension in 2004 -- Dvoracek reportedly has handled himself well by showing a lot of maturity during some tough interview sessions.
Michigan NT Gabe Watson also has impressed with his quickness and agility for such a big defensive lineman. However, the interview sessions have not been so kind to Watson, who has had many questions to answer regarding his inconsistent motor and production throughout his collegiate career. One defensive line coach from an AFC team reportedly called out Watson for taking plays off during the season and only playing hard when "money was on the line" at the Senior Bowl.

Others who had a good combine:

Florida State DT Brodrick Bunkley
Florida State DE Kamerion Wimbley (sub. required) brings us the news that Georgia Tech LB Gerris Wilkerson has been interviewing with the Cowboys.

Wilkerson, who checked in at 6-3, 233 pounds this weekend, could be an outside or inside linebacker at the next level. In fact, that's one of the biggest questions facing NFL scouts before the draft is determining which position he is better suited for - where should he play?

Some teams like him better as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3, while others like him on the inside in a 3-4 scheme.

I watched almost every game Wilkerson played in his collegiate career, since I'm a Georgia Tech alum. Let me tell you that the kid can play. He is quick, has good instincts and makes plays on the ball. He would fit nicely at WILB for the Cowboys.

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