Before we start today's skip through the news, lets take a moment to reflect upon the last 365 days of Zack Martin's life...
A year ago, Martin was stonewalling Aaron Donald at the Senior Bowl. Now, he's going heads-up against the NFL's best D-linemen in the Pro Bowl.The kid has grown:
"Honestly, I have no idea how he could improve that much," center Travis Frederick said. "My level of improvement was a lot, and it just had to do with learning the game, but he’s already at such a high level … that if he continues to improve at the level he did this year, there really is no ceiling for him."
"I don’t know if I’d be here right now if I didn’t get drafted in Dallas," Martin said from the Pro Bowl in Phoenix, where he is one of eight Cowboys selected for the game. "It’s just right place, right time. (Martin’s offensive line teammates) hold you to a higher standard and bring out the best in you. I really couldn’t ask for a better spot."
Number 82 calls bullsh on the theory that Murray was nothing more than the beneficiary of a stout O-line:
"I think it would be silly to not give him the credit for what he did. It’s not easy to do that and I think Coach [Jason] Garrett said it a few weeks back that he created a mindset for our team and that’s not easy to do. He deserves a lot of that credit, DeMarco does, and so that’s why you want a guy like that back because he stands for everything you want in your football team."
Moore points out that the Cowboys coaching staff has an opportunity to do some unofficial recruiting at the Pro Bowl, and offers three Pro Bowl free agents for our delectation: DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Antonio Cromartie and RB Mark Ingram. Here's his blurb on Ingram:
He took Marshawn Lynch’s place in this game. If the Cowboys are unable to resign DeMarco Murray, Ingram is the name to keep in mind. He will command much less than Murray on market but is cut out of the same, physical cloth. Ingram missed three games with a broken hand but still carried the ball 226 times for 964 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s 25.
The Goog doesn't ease into the offseason pool. No, sirree; he jumps headlong into the deep end. Here, he proffers what I expect will be one of many offseason must-reads: a "production ratio" assessment of the collegiate DEs. The good news? In a year when the Cowboys need some "juice" on the defensive front seven, there appear to be several viable candidates from whom to choose. For example:
The Sturminator's draft series continues with yet another SEC defensive end. Fowler's game is up-and-down, which is reflected in Sturm's final appraisal:
He is what I might call "Sportscenter Great", meaning his Top 10 moments of the year are off the charts. But, to properly know a player, you can’t just look at his best. You have to look at his ability to show you 60 solid plays in a game, not 2 exceptional and 5 where you don’t know what he is trying to accomplish....I do, however, expect that he will take over the combine with his physical traits and be a big name this spring. And, to be fair, by age 23 with the proper coaching? He might be something very special.
And of course, the bulk of Thursday's news comes from Mobile, AL where one of the three newsworthy Bowls (Pro, Senior, Super) is happening.
The Broad One shares observations from Mobile. Here's his view on this year's Ben Gardner:
As this draft process starts out, keep an eye on Stanford’s defensive end, Henry Anderson....At 6-6, 287, he might be more of an end in a 3-4 defense than an edge rusher in a 4-3. But what I liked about the player was his ability to come off the ball and use his hands to control the blocker. There were several snaps in the one-on-one pass rush drills where he was able to fire those hands inside, grab the blocker and disengage to get up the field. Anderson also plays with some surprising power to the point where he is driving the blocker back into the quarterback.
And from the North team's practice, an altogether different take on the same Standford DE:
- Utah edge Nate Orchard had a huge day. He looked extremely quick as a wide 9 end showed the burst and hands en route to many wins in individual and team routes. He had an impressive interception on a screen play, where he read the play, disengaged quickly and scooped the ball up.
- Iowa tackle Carl Davis continued to have a good well as well. He’s strong as an ox when he has leverage, and he’s been low all week. He takes on doubles well and can get upfield into the backfield on some run plays.
- The worst player this week was Stanford’s Henry Anderson. He was on the ground most of his reps, failing to get low or get inside of the blocker. He’s strong, but has zero technical skill right now and doesn’t have quickness to win with.
As the above suggests, Orchard got a lot of love from scouting types in Mobile. Here, he's listed as a buzz-worthy fellow:
Orchard generated a ton of buzz during his senior season, finishing with 18.5 sacks, including five games with two sacks or more. Orchard came to Utah as a wide receiver but quickly moved to the defensive side of the ball, and he has steadily grown into his 255-pound frame over the last few years. Orchard is going to face questions about whether he is physical enough against the run, but he more than held his own against powerful tackles such as Rob Havenstein of Wisconsin and T.J. Clemmings of Pitt in run-blocking drills, and he also flashed the pass-rushing ability that helped him produce so many sacks during the 2014 season.
But there's even more...
The Utah Ute has been blowing people up all week. Here's a compendium of his latest feats:
Using a variety of pass rush moves -- including a varied burst off the ball, over-arm swim and very effective bull-rush, Orchard consistently beat the North's tackles in one-on-one drills and was even more noticeable in scrimmages, tracking down Washington State wideout Vince Mayle for a big loss on an end-around, recording an interception of Baylor's Bryce Petty on a screen pass and consistently applying pressure as a rusher.
Due to size limitations, he could be a second-round type. Acknowledging this, Rang writes that he could "ultimately out-play his draft pick." If he does this wearing the star? I have no problem with that...
Norfolk State prospect Lynden Trail caught the eye of plenty of NFL scouts during his time on the practice field, and he played multiple positions. He lined up at defensive end with his hand in the ground and stood up as an outside linebacker, trying to cover the flat against running backs and tight ends. He really flashed on Thursday, though, showing off what he could do at tight end.
Galko's observations from the South's final padded practice. Here's are his thoughts on two corners:
- Florida Atlantic CB D’Joun Smith had another strong practice on Thursday, cementing his status as one of the better defensive backs here at the Senior Bowl. Staying square with the receiver’s release in press or off-man coverage, Smith knows how to take away inside leverage, reroute receivers and find the football. He shows a clear understanding of when to create contact and when to look for the football.
- Though not as patient at the line of scrimmage as Smith, TCU’s Kevin White showed the best foot quicks and mirror ability among the South corners. He’s very balanced through the hip turn, able to flip and recover downfield, and highly competitive at the catch point.
Goessling offers a brief supply-and-demand analysis of the running back market:
Just six teams spent more than $10 million on their entire running back group in 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Information, with only 13 exceeding the average of $6.87 million for the position. Compare that to the NFL average for the quarterbacks ($11.807 million) and wide receivers ($12.401 million), and the financial impact of the league's well-documented shift toward the passing game becomes obvious....So as the running backs in the Class of 2015 prepare for the draft, they'll have some work to do if they want to convince teams they're worth a substantial investment.
And then there's this annual dose of awesome from the folks at Bad Lip Reading. Cameos by Dez Bryant, Jason Garrett, Terrance Williams, George Selvie (who killed a snowman), Jason Witten, Tony Romo, Jerome Henderson, and Gary Brown...