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Dallas Cowboys Scouting Notebook: Looking For A Quarterback Hunter In The 2015 Draft

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In an effort to find a quarterback hunter I watched some film on three defensive end options in the first- and second-round range. Which one fits and where do they project best? The Cowboys have an opportunity to pair a couple of young rushmen for the future.

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The Dallas Cowboys need to find another quarterback hunter. The team combined for 28 sacks during the regular season which was fifth worst in the league. They were 26 behind NFL leader Buffalo Bills who amassed 54 in 2014. The Cowboys moved up in the 2014 NFL Draft to grab DeMarcus Lawrence. The team will be looking for another young hunter to play opposite him. Here is a review of Nate Orchard, Preston Smith and  Owamagbe Odighizuwa.

Nate Orchard

Defensive End, Utah

Height Weight Arm Length Offical 40 Vertical Broad Jump
6' 3" 250 33.75 4.8 31.5" 9' 7"

Stats

Year G Solo Ast Total Loss Sk FR FF
2013 12 22 28 50 9 3.5 0 3
2014 13 54 30 84 21 18.5 0 3
Career 76 58 134 30 22 0 6

Orchard had one season of great production which can point to a few things. Did he make some adjustments or did he benefit from the scheme such as a lot of blitzers which would open up one on one opportunities? The ultimate goal for a pass rusher is getting to the quarterback and Orchard made a habit of that in 2014.

Positives

Orchard uses quickness to his advantage. He quickly comes out of his stance and puts pressure on the offensive tackle. He is able to get inside of the guy assigned to block him getting into the face of the quarterback. This is the best way to attack a passer. Orchard also displays a relentless motor and even though he may get beat you won't see him give up on a play. Shows the discipline to stay home so that he maintains backside contain if the back tries to cut back.

Negatives

The biggest knock on Orchard will be his frame. While you like his length at the position, Orchard is on the lean side. To become an every down end he will need to add upper body strength. Bull rush will be an issue for Orchard as he relies on finesse pass rush moves rather than power.

Orchard is ideal selection in the second round. While he played at both end positions, Orchard may project best at the right defensive end position.

Preston Smith

Defensive End, Mississippi State

Height Weight Arm Length Offical 40 Vertical Broad Jump
6' 5" 271 34 4.74 34" 10' 1"

Stats

Year G Solo Ast Total Loss Sk Int FR FF
*2011 9 4 3 7 0 0 0 0 1
*2012 18 17 35 5.5 4.5 0 0 1
2013 12 29 15 44 6.5 2.5 0 0 1
2014 13 22 26 48 15 9 2 0 2
Career 73 61 134 27 16 2 0 5

Most of the hype on the Bulldogs defense went to Bernardrick McKinney and with good reason. Preston Smith did step up for the team who surprised many in the SEC for most of the season. He had a career year with his tackles for loss and his sack total which led the team.

Positives

Smith comes off the edge with heavy hands and uses them well to fight off blockers. He uses his power well especially to disengage or shed blockers. He can slide inside to the one technique tackle to attack the A gap in the nickel. He does have quickness to beat interior linemen.

Negatives

While Smith uses his quickness inside he isn't the quick twitch type of pass rusher. You won't see him beat an offensive tackle around the edge. Doesn't have the motor of a player like Orchard. He won't be a player you see chasing down a runner in backside pursuit. At times can be seen jogging when the play isn't run on his side.

Smith is a second round selection at best. He plays very similar to current Cowboy Jeremy Mincey and I could see him play on the left side despite playing a majority of the time on the right in the games I viewed.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Defensive End, UCLA

Height Weight Arm Length Offical 40 Vertical Broad Jump
6' 3" 267 33.75 4.62 39" 10' 7"

Stats

Year G Solo Ast Total Loss Sk FR FF
2010 10 5 5 10 4 3 0 0
2011 14 14 7 21 3 0 0 0
2012 25 19 44 6 3.5 0 0
2014 13 41 20 61 11.5 6 0 0
Career 85 51 136 24.5 12.5 0 0

There have been plenty of mocks that have the Cowboys taking Owa Odighizuwa with the 27th pick in the first round. Based on what you see with his tape its not that hard to believe. He has the ability to do what Cowboys want at defensive end but he doesn't have the stats that scream quarterback hunter. There is a reason they don't use boxscore scouting when determining a player's value and for good reason.

Positives

Diggy wins getting off the bus. He looks the part of a NFL defensive end but he isn't an elite pass rusher. Not to say he can't get the job done. His hands are violent and Odighizuwa can be relentless in his pursuit. He doesn't give up on plays and you will find him chasing down a ball carrier in backside pursuit. His 4.62 40 at the NFL Combine shows that he does have straight line speed. He can crash down on the interior line and be very disruptive which will allow linebackers to make plays behind him. Great against the run.

Negatives

The Cowboys medical staff will need to due their homework on Diggy. He had two hip procedures which cost him his 2013 season. If that doesn't red flag him then 27 could be the spot to snag him. He has very limited lateral movement due to the hips issues. Rod Marinelli will need to work with Diggy on his pass rush moves as it is limited. A quick change of direction back will give him fits as he can't change direction very quickly.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa is right in that late first and early second range which is right where Dallas has their first selection. He has the versatility to play both end positions and rush inside. Dependent upon who is available what the Cowboys do in free agency Diggy could very well be playing opposite of Demarcus Lawrence in 2015.