This will wrap up my look at the Cowboys' draft choices through the eyes of people who covered their college careers. Today's subject is cornerback Terrance Mitchell from Oregon. Rusty Ryan of SBN's Addicted to Quack was kind enough to answer my questions about him.
1. Dallas, in general, had a defense that was prone to major gashing. What would you say is the strongest trait that Terrance Mitchell would bring to the Cowboys to help them?
Mitchell plays very fast and has great coverage skills. Quarterbacks in the PAC-12 rarely threw at him last year. He's great at getting his hands on the ball and is a threat to make an interception on jump balls.
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2. Do you see him playing more press, zone, or would he fit better as a slot corner?
Oregon uses a lot of zone blitzes, using a cover 3 fire zone behind the blitzes. Often Mitchell would be in a deep outside third but because of a receivers given route was on an island most of the time deep, essentially being in man coverage. He could be seen lining up directly over receivers often and while not getting a good jam at the line Mitchell would never give much separation, if any. I don't see Mitchell being a great fit as a slot corner and is a better value outside. His range, speed, and skills make him dangerous in zone but he is best in man coverage.
3. I saw in one evaluation that he shies away from making the hit, particularly when he comes up in run support. Is that an accurate assessment?
While Mitchell is tall he isn't necessarily the biggest. He was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit once at Oregon so I wouldn't say he shies away from contact. Oregon's defense would blitz corners fairly frequently from the boundary so Mitchell has experience making plays in the backfield. However, his strength is definitely not in making one-on-one tackles in run support. If an opposing running back was chipped and slowed then Mitchell could finish the job, but Oregon never really asked him to make isolated tackles on running backs.
4. As the last pick for Dallas, and just two before the end of the draft, he has a big challenge ahead of him to make the team. How do you expect him to meet that challenge?
I was honestly surprised with him going to so late. I was under no illusion for him to go in the first three rounds but for him to fall as far as he did I think is very beneficial for the Cowboys. Mitchell identifies as an underdog and he will view the challenge as something to overcome. He was only a 3-star recruit out of high school before pushing for a starting job his true freshman season after enrolling early. The Oregon defense asks a lot of its defensive backs and for someone to pick it up so fast was impressive. Mitchell has surpassed expectations before and even though the NFL is an entirely different beast than college football, Mitchell has a history of surprising.
5. Under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys place a high premium on football character and work ethic. They don't look for choirboys, but they do want hard working players who want to play the game and are willing to put in a lot of work to find success. How well would you say he fits that mold?
I don't think I've heard even negative rumor about Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell was recruited by Chip Kelly who put a big emphasis on people who had character and work ethic. Players who practice hard and mastered the defense played in games, those who didn't, didn't play. Oregon is the type of school that can't miss when recruiting individuals if it wants to win national titles and recent reports from the athletic department state that work ethic, character, and coachability are not just preferred but requirements for potential recruits in order to eliminate any problems or "misses."
Looks like we have another interesting late-rounder to watch. Now practices are actually underway, so we will get to find out who is the real deal and who is just a pretender.