In addition to 30 usually high profile national draft-eligible players the Cowboys bring in for pre-draft visits every year, they also bring in a large number of draft-eligible local prospects during "Dallas Day," a specific event for draft-eligible players with local roots.
These "Dallas Days" have delivered their share of Cowboys players in the past, with the likes of Patrick Crayton, Brandon Williams, Jacques Reeves, Stephen Hodge, Bryan McCann, Dez Bryant, Phillip Tanner and more recently Lance Dunbar, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams all visiting Valley Ranch during Dallas Day.
A player is considered a local prospect if he went to high school or college in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area, he was born there or his parents live there. That DFW area is defined as an imaginary square stretching from Sanctuary in the West to Princeton in the East, and from Prosper in the North to Glenn Heights in the South.
Importantly, SMU and TCU are the two local colleges in the area from which the Cowboys are allowed to invite as many prospects as they want.
With TCU finishing the season as the No. 3 team on the AP Poll (and an unfortunate No. 6 in the College Football rankings), this provision for "local college player" gains an extra significance for the Cowboys this year, as they can invite every single draft-eligible TCU player for a workout at Valley Ranch - without cutting into their national quota of 30 prospects they're allowed to bring in.
And as luck would have it, many of the top TCU prospects come from the defensive side of the ball, where TCU ranked 16th nationally with 20.3 points allowed per game. The table below shows the 13 Horned Frogs eligible for the draft, sorted by their rank on the CBSSports big board:
|CBS Rank, Jan. 12||Name||Pos||Height||Weight||Proj. Round|
|627||Matt Joeckel||QB||6-4||237||- -|
|701||Marcus Mallet||ILB||6-1||227||- -|
|903||David Porter||WR||6-0||197||- -|
|- -||Jonathan Anderson||LB||6-3||227||- -|
|- -||Geoff Hooker||S||5-10||186||- -|
|- -||Cliff Murphy||TE||6-4||288||- -|
|- -||B.J. Catalon||RB||5-9||190||- -|
Here's Jamie Plunkett, our social media maven here on BTB and the managing editor for TCU's SB Nation site Frogs O' War, with a profile on each of the four top-ranked TCU defenders who could all be of interest to the Cowboys (including my favorite, Chris Hackett, and Jamie's favorite, Paul Dawson).
Linebacker Paul Dawson
Dawson is slightly undersized at 6'2"/230 but makes up for it in speed and strength. TCU's leading tackler in 2014 with 136 tackles, Dawson was the only player in the country to notch 100+ tackles, 5+ sacks and 4+ interceptions. In Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 defense, Dawson was typically one of only two linebackers on the field, and his responsibilities varied from plugging holes at the line to covering tight ends, to ranging out into the flat. However, there's no doubt that he's at his best against the run. His speed and quickness will be his best asset at the next level. That, and he hits hard.
If you want an NFL player to compare him to, think of another former Frog, Arizona linebacker Daryl Washington. Similar build, similar speed, similar ferocity. The good news is, Dawson doesn't come with the same baggage. If you want an idea of how good Dawson is, watch this play against Oklahoma.
He's blitzing on the play, but his quick recognition allows him to step into a throwing lane and pick off the pass, returning it for a TD.
Defensive Tackle Chucky Hunter
Chucky Hunter has the innate ability to get into the backfield and disrupt plays. Most effective against the run, Hunter is also deadly in passing plays. While he isn't one for getting to the quarterback all that often (just five sacks in the past two season), he's great at collapsing the pocket and forcing the quarterback to move around, allowing his ends to come in and finish the job. Hunter is best suited for a 4-3, so he has help inside. Compare him to Cincinatti's Geno Atkins, or maybe Glenn Dorsey (more based on measurables).
Cornerback Kevin White
Coming into the 2014 season all eyes were on Kevin White, who was expected to step in and replace current San Diego Charger cornerback Jason Verrett. Folks were unsure of what to expect, but White impressed throughout the season, putting up solid numbers. It helped that opposing quarterbacks had a redshirt freshman tempting them on the other side of the field (Ranthony Texada), but when he was targeted, White was solid. He held West Virginia's Kevin White (a projected 1st rounder) to three receptions and 38 receiving yards this season. He had 13 passes defended on the season, including two interceptions, as he generally lined up against the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver, and in the Big 12, that's no small task.
Free Safety Chris Hackett
Hackett was a fan favorite heading into the 2014 season, and he, alongside safety counterpart Sam Carter, were arguably one of the best safety duos in the country (let's not forget though, that TCU has three safeties on the field in their base D). Hackett led the team in interceptions this season with seven, including one on Ole Miss' first drive of the Peach Bowl, which set the tone for the rest of the day.
Hackett is very good in coverage, and has great play recognition. His quick feet and good top end speed allow him to get to the ball quickly, whether it is thrown or being run. Hackett was tied with White for the team lead in passes defended with 13, but he was also a major asset in stopping the run, and was fourth overall on the team with 75 tackles on the season. Hackett stands at 6'2" and weighs about 195, but he could easily add a few pounds to his frame without losing a step. Durability also shouldn't be an issue at the next level, as Hackett appeared in all 38 games since 2012, starting 34 of them.
If you want to look at these or any other TCU players, go visit Frogs O' War, where they have all of this season's games available to watch on the site.