When Jason Garrett began preparing for the draft last year, he only visited one pro day. Garrett personally attended the USC pro day and got a closer look at offensive tackle Tyron Smith. The Cowboys eventually selected him with the 9th overall pick. Once we saw Garrett attending the USC pro day, it became pretty clear the team was interested in Smith.
Bill Belichick, Pat Shurmur and Jason Garrett recently attended the second Alabama pro day that featured some of the best talent in the draft. Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Garrett have a history together. When Saban was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins, he gave Garrett his first opportunity to coach in the NFL as the Dolphins quarterbacks coach. The two have remained close since their Miami days and have maintained a close professional bond
Saban spoke very highly of the Cowboys head coach in a radio interview last July.
Nick Saban: We interviewed about 10 quarterback coaches and finally we went to the Senior Bowl and everybody says, 'You need to talk to this guy Jason Garrett. He’s one of the brightest guys.' So I said OK, I mean, the guy’s never coached before and I’ve been trying to coach for thirty years to get a job like this ... now I’m going to hire a guy that hasn’t even coached. There was no doubt when we interviewed him as a staff that he was a hundred times better than the other 10 guys that had been coaching for a long time and had a significant amount of experience and that he had all the right stuff to be a great teacher and impact the players in a positive way and help them perform better. He certainly did that in his two years at Miami.
Knowing that the two have a close relationship, it would only make sense to assume that they exchange detailed football information with each other. Garrett doesn't have any other pro days he will be attending penciled in at the moment. Does this mean that the future Cowboys 14th overall pick is a member of the Rolling Tide?
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One aspect that I would like to point out about Nick Saban coached players is that they tend to be high draft picks. The man knows how to recruit some of the best players in the nation, but he does a fantastic job of preparing his players for the next level, the NFL. His coaching career didn't pan out on the professional level, but he is a fantastic college coach. I would feel comfortable knowing that the Cowboys would be getting a player who was taught by one of the best in the business.
Alabama has five potential first-round draft picks this year. After looking like one of the best running back prospects since Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson will not be in play for the Cowboys anymore. Of course that is just my opinion, but his pro day cemented his stock as a potential top five draft pick.
That leaves four prospects that the Cowboys may be interested in. Each prospect would offer the team a good football player. We know that Garrett runs the show now, but I am curious to see who defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is interested in. I would love to be a fly on the wall during the conversations they held after the Alabama pro day.
Kirkpatrick is a name that has become familiar here on Blogging The Boys. Many are split on him, some love him and some hate him. South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore is beginning to jump him on some big boards, but I still consider Kirkpatrick to be the second best cornerback in the draft. The Cowboys are taking a close look at him considering they have been to his pro day and have him scheduled for a Valley Ranch visit.
The second Alabama pro day wasn't as important for him because he has been healthy. He worked out well in the combine and decided to keep the numbers he posted then.
- 6-2, 186
- 4.51 40 yard dash
- 35 inch vertical
"A lot of people don't think that I can move," Kirkpatrick said. "I just had to go out there and prove to them that I can get out there, get out in the open field and make a play."
One area that I have stressed the importance of is his size. He is a long and lengthy cornerback that has the size to match up against the NFL's larger and physically dominating wide receivers. At 186 pounds, he does need to add some weight to his frame, but he is only 22 years old. One year in a NFL strength and conditioning program will benefit him tremendously. Nick Saban also commented on Kirkpatrick's size being beneficial for the NFL.
"I don't think there's any question about it, just to have his size, his speed, his reach, his length," Saban said. "Consistency and technique is what Dre needs to continue to work on, but it has nothing to do with physical skills. I think people are going to recognize that and say this is the kind of guy we're going to work and develop."
Projection: If Kirkpatrick falls to the Cowboys at 14, he may be too good of a talent to pass up. If they want to try a position change like the Saints did with Malcom Jenkins, that is the type of versatility that would sell the war room. How many of you would take Malcom Jenkins with the 14th pick and have a good free safety? I know I am raising my hand in the air right now.
Barron had double hernia surgery back in January and I really didn't believe he would be ready to go for the original Alabama pro day, which was scheduled for March 7. Alabama held a second pro day and fortunately he was ready to go this time. This is great news for Barron because at first it appeared he was going to be out a lot longer.
He ran in the 4.53 to 4.57 range in the 40 yard dash, but according to Barron he can run even faster if he was 100 percent healthy.
"That's not usually what I run," he said, "but for me to only be 80-90 percent, I'll take that."
If he were 100 percent healthy, then he would have performed in all of the drills, but he is still having some trouble changing directions and moving laterally. This is really one tough kid and he admitted that he played most of the season with the hernia injury. Barron is tough as nails and it is good to know that a safety is willing to play through the pain, but in the NFL he needs to tell the coaching staff about injuries.
Recently on BTB I have seen some comparisons to Roy Williams, but I just don't think that is fair to Barron. This is a hard hitting safety and he is violent, but he can cover. You don't come away with 12 career interceptions if you can't cover somewhat well. If you don't want to take my word for it, take our resident scout Birddog26's recent analysis on Barron then.
I was at the Pro Day today
Barron can cover better than any safety I have seen in a long time. He has one of the smoothest transitions you will see. He can cover as good as many CB in college and the NFL and is a guy who can cover most receivers in man coverage. He is a SS cut in the mold of Darren Woodson which is why I project him at SS due to his skills to cover TE and RB’s.
I clocked him at an average 40 time of 4.53 with a low of 4.51 and he in not fully back in shape. He did 10’2" on broad jump and a 6.60 3 cone and 4.03 short shuttle. Once he is at 100% he should improve on all of these times but these are pretty darn good as is.
Projection: The highest I have ranked Barron on my big board was 19, and since the injury I have held him steady at 29. In my new big board, which will be out soon, I will be ranking Barron somewhere between 14-19. He would be a great pick for the Cowboys to continue upgrading and building their secondary. With the quality of safeties coming into the league declining every year, this may be the time to grab a great prospect.
At one point during the college season, Upshaw looked like a good fit for the Cowboys at 14. His stock has taken a dramatic hit since his season has ended. He didn't workout in the combine due to knee tendinitis, and only performed in the 225-bench-press drill. He did put up 22 reps, but that isn't exactly a great number for prospect with the type of strength he is supposed to have.
Sometimes there are prospects who just don't test well in the workout drills, and I am beginning to believe Upshaw is a good football player who won't test well. He performs on the field, there is nothing wrong with that, but just don't expect to be blown away with his underwear tests.
With Upshaw weighing in at 279 pounds, he is beginning to look more appealing to 4-3 teams. He ran in the 4.73-4.76 range in the 40 yard dash. Saban spoke highly of Upshaw after the pro day and reassured teams that he can play in any system.
"He weighed 280 pounds today and ran 4.7-something, so I think he probably could," said Saban, a former Miami Dolphins coach. "He played both here. A lot of people say, 'You play a 3-4.' We only play a 3-4 20 percent of the time. The rest of the time we're in some kind of 4-3 defense and he always played defensive end and did a great job. ... I actually do think he could play in either system."
Projection: As the draft gets closer, I just don't see Upshaw being the Cowboys pick at 14. I think he will be a good football player in the NFL, but there will be more dynamic players available when we go on the clock.
Perhaps the biggest dark horse out of the group for the Cowboys is Hightower. I haven't seen too many mocks with the Cowboys taking him, but there was one media icon stepped up to the plate for Hightower. Bill Jones mocked him to the Cowboys back in February, and I must admit I do like the idea.
He didn't workout in the second Alabama pro day this week, but he did impress during the combine and first Alabama pro day. His combine numbers displayed his combination of size, strength and athleticism that make him worthy of a top 25 selection.
- 6-2, 265
- 4.68 40 yard dash
- 32 inch vertical jump
At the first Alabama pro day, Hightower shined there too.
- 9-foot-9 foot broad jump
- 4.68 short shuttle
- 7.55 three cone drill
Hightower is another versatile player that the Cowboys should be interested in. After he lit up the first Alabama pro day earlier in the month, Saban spoke about just how versatile he can be.
"Inside linebacker, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher," recited Saban. "He does all those things very well, he is very smart and he has leadership qualities."
This is the exact type of player that Rob Ryan would fall in love with. Hightower has experience playing in huge games and he can line up all over the field. He really is the complete package as a football player, and honestly I don't know why he isn't talked about more as one of the best players in the draft.
Projection: Hightower continues to grow on me throughout the draft process. The more tape I look at, the more I consider him for the Cowboys at 14. He is a smart player that would bring a much needed mean streak to the defense. This is a long shot, but if Rob Ryan speaks up for him, maybe he will be our guy at 14.