One of the things you expect with seventh round draft picks is that you are going to run into some unfamiliar names. With the Dallas Cowboys taking five players in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft, it was almost inevitable that there would be a name or two (at least ) that all but the most die hard draftnik would not know a whole lot about.
Ken Bishop is one such player. The defensive tackle played his college ball in the Mid American Conference at Northern Illinois University, and I admit I don't know much about the Huskies, either. Fortunately, Norman Miller of the SBN MAC blog Hustle Belt, was available to lend us some knowledge. Here are his answers to the five questions I gave him.
1. Northern Illinois is a new arrival to the college football big time, but seems to be establishing itself as one of the upstart new powers. Since a lot of our readers may not be very familiar with the Huskies, tell us a little about the recent history of the program.
The Northern Illinois football program's success can be attributed to directly to the hiring of head coach Joe Novak in 1996. Under Coach Novak the Huskies posted a winning record in 7 consecutive years from 2000 - 2006. The 2003 campaign saw the Huskies win at then #15 Maryland and at #21 Alabama while climbing up to #12 in the polls themselves. That team was lead by future Atlanta Falcon's RB Michael Turner.
The 2010 season saw the Huskies get back into the top 25 lead by current Indianapolis Colt's QB Chandler Harnish. This is when "Maction" and the high scoring offenses really took off. NIU started spreading the offense out and running it in a hurry up style. It worked. Since 2010 NIU has averaged 38+ points a game. The key was having a dual threat QB to keep defenses guessing. Chandler Harnish ran for 1,379 yards in 2011.
Jordan Lynch replaced Chandler Harnish in 2012 and brought NIU to the national stage with the MAC's first ever BCS bowl. The 12-1 Huskies faced #13 Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl. Though they lost, the Huskies managed to hang with the ACC power house for most of the contest. NIU reached #16 in the polls that year and Jordan broke Michigan's Denard Robinson's single season rushing record for a QB of 1,702 yards. Lynch ran for 1,815 yards.
In 2013 he broke his own record by managing 1,920 yards on the ground. Lynch also set the single game mark for a QB by rushing for 321 yards vs Western Michigan. The 2013 squad started 12-0 and reached as high as #16 in the polls before falling to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship game.
2. What is Ken Bishop's background at NIU? Specifically, I saw a reference that he only debuted as a junior. Was he a transfer, or is there more to his story?
Ken was a transfer. He came to NIU from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. He admittedly went the Juco route to improve his grades.
3. Dallas drafted Ken Bishop to bolster a defensive line that was shredded by injuries. Defensive tackles in Rod Marinelli's scheme play either the 1 tech (on the shoulder of the center towards the right guard) to try and tie up two blockers and hopefully push back into the backfield, or the 3 tech (outside shoulder of the left guard) to try and penetrate and get to the quarterback. How do you see Ken fitting for the Cowboys?
You're definitely getting a 1 technique in Bishop. He's a powerful guy with a low center of gravity. Doesn't get pushed backwards and has a decent ability to shed blocks to make the tackle. Also has a good motor in pursuit. What he doesn't do very well is penetrate. Lacks the burst off the snap to get into the backfield. Only 3.5 sacks in 2 seasons.
4. Jason Garrett looks for players that are hard working, "gym rat" kind of players, and I have seen at least one favorable comment about the time he put into preparation. Is that the reputation he has?
Bishop realizes he needs to work hard to succeed. He said himself that his success early at the community college level was due primarily to his size and strength. When he got to NIU and faced tougher opposition he started to work hard on his game. You can count on him putting in what ever effort is needed to succeed in the NFL.
5. As a seventh round selection, he does face some long odds. Are you betting on him to make the 53 man roster this year?
Ken Bishop looks like a depth guy right now. He's been durable and reliable. Something that's nice to have at DT. I think his ability to take on double teams could be of value to the Cowboys as they weren't very good against the run last year. Plus, you do have the the D-line wonder coach in Rod Marinelli. If Ken can learn a few new moves that might help his cause. I see him just surviving the final cuts and sticking with the team.
I especially like the "durable" thing, given the recent history with defensive linemen. Personally, I think if he is a natural 1 tech, and is good at what he does, he may have a better chance to make the team than Norman thinks. Given the low regard many have for the work Nick Hayden did at the 1 last year, he certainly has an opportunity.