If there is one thing most people agree on for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 draft is that they need to pick up some defensive linemen. Jason Hatcher is a free agent coming off an excellent year, Anthony Spencer is also a free agent and DeMarcus Ware's contract has become a burden when compared to his 2013 production. Basically, the Cowboys have question marks at starter and depth along the defensive line line. They'll need some help.
That brings us to the Senior Bowl where prospective NFL draftees are being put through their paces in practices that mean more than the actual game. Below are some links to different practice reports with a special call-out for the defensive line. The overall consensus is that Dee Ford and Aaron Donald are the dominant guys. Now Ford is a bit on the light side, so playing him consistently as a 4-3 defensive end may not be in the cards. Aaron Donald, on the other hand, is someone that could fit nicely into the Cowboys scheme. Cowboys mock draft winner so far, Ra'Shede Hageman, is also getting noticed. Click on the links for full practice reports
Auburn defensive end Dee Ford had another good day. It's between he and Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald thus far for best performance in Mobile. When Ford keeps tight around the edge, he's been a dangerous player.
[Will] Sutton also said he's already spoken with representatives for the Saints, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Ravens, Raiders, Texans and Packers among other teams so it certainly sounds like there's still plenty of interest in his services.
Defensive tackles Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh) and Ra’Shede Hageman (Minnesota) followed up impressive Monday performances with similarly impressive Tuesday showings. Both tackles have great first steps, particularly Hageman, and both turn quickness to power efficiently, particularly Donald. Two other defensive linemen who flashed on Tuesday were Penn State tackle DaQuan Jones (pictured, left), who is good with inside power moves, and Virginia Tech end James Gayle, who demonstrated his athleticism on one play by holding contain on a wide pitch to a running back and then later in practice on a play where he scraped down the line of scrimmage from the weak side to force a running back out of bounds before he could gain positive yardage.
-Along with Ford, Chris Smith of Arkansas had another fantastic day, being the quickest off the snap of the defensive linemen. He’s an explosive athlete who’s able to play low and with quick hands to consistently disengage and keep pass blockers off balance. He wasn’t as speedy as Ford, but he made his impact felt very similarly to opposing blockers.
The best defensive lineman of the day was Stanford’s Trent Murphy. He had success consistently off the edge, playing with plus speed/bend around the edge, better than expected on film. He also was very active in exchanging his hands, disengaging at a high level against Seantrel Henderson and Jack Mewhort consistently. Some project him as a stand up, 3-4 outside linebacker, but Murphy may be best as a versatile defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
Aaron Donald, (Pittsburgh): -Donald was the big winner today as he made big play after big play. He's the smallest defensive tackle here and some of the guards that he's facing out weigh him by almost 40 lbs. None of that mattered to Donald as he pushed them around with relative easy. He's so quick off the snap and does such a great job of staying low, that he blows up OL before they can anchor down.
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