Phil Savage, the Director of the Senior Bowl, is known to manipulate the rosters just a bit to help out the teams that will be coaching them. It's no real surprise that the Cowboys have a top-tier quarterback and penetrating defensive tackles listed on their roster either. The Senior Bowl has been around forever and between the years of 1962-1965, Tom Landry coached both teams twice. It has long been an instrument used to get a look at some of the talent entering the draft from top to bottom.
The country has fallen in love with quarterback Carson Wentz, maybe Jason Garrett will too but there are other players on this squad that I encourage you to watch. The Cowboys are no strangers to drafting prospects from the Senior Bowl having drafted DeMarcus Ware, Zack Martin, Anthony Spencer, and Marcus Spears. Those are just guys the Cowboys took in round one since 2005. The list goes on and on, so it's safe to say that the Cowboys are likely to draft players that they see in the Senior Bowl. What an opportunity for them, right? Well, let's take a look at some other prospects that could intrigue these Cowboys come late April.
31 Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
Murray is a versatile corner likely to be taken at the end of the third or into the fourth round. Dane Brugler of CBS describes him as a very well-rounded athlete with good size and is comfortable in both press and zone coverages. Murray has only one interception in his collegiate career, but he had 18 passes defended over his 26 starts too. He was a physical presence for the Gophers in both run defense and as a blitzer. Murray has been lauded by his coaches for his character and never-quit attitude. He's not flashy, he's just consistent. His scouting reports remind me of Orlando Scandrick, without the grouchy demeanor.
16 Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech
Now, a lot of folks have made up their mind after Driskel flamed out for the Florida Gators. That's not the full story here though as he resurrected his collegiate career in Louisiana. He has all the physical tools and good pocket presence. Dane Brugler described Driskel as a sure-fire leader at the position on the Draft Show. Driskel is going to draw a lot of intrigue as this process moves along because of his Tom Brady-Esque demeanor. He's got a good arm and knows how to fit the ball through very tight windows. He's quick-footed when needed and is well-built for the position. One of his best attributes is his ability to protect the football and have supreme accuracy in his deep passing. Driskel is currently listed as a 7th round prospect or priority free agent, but his description could be something the Cowboys may take a late chance on.
97 Noah Spence, OLB/DE, Eastern Kentucky
Spence is not a new name to anyone and will be playing for the South team. He's a versatile pass rusher that can line up anywhere on the line and have success. He's an explosive pass rusher with a dynamite first step, something that Rod Marinelli will certainly be looking for. Spence is currently an end of the first to the beginning of the second round prospect due to his ban from the Big 10 and transfer due to a drug addiction to ecstasy. He's since been in rehabilitation and was able to continue his collegiate career at Eastern Kentucky. One of his best traits is his versatility and that's what gets him drafted early. He can win the edge, around the corner and has a dip that rivals Ware's. He's the real deal as a pass rusher and is comfortable doing anything he's asked too. If he can keep his nose clean then the sky is the limit for Spence in the NFL.
3 Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Another South team prospect, Shepard is currently slated as a second-round wideout. Brugler describes Shepard as a 'nightmare to cover' due to his straight-line speed and ability to beat defenders over the top. He has great vision and is able to make quick decisions and his change of direction is impeccable. His frame leaves more to be desired at 5'11, 193 pounds, but he makes up for it with his chip on the shoulder mentality. He was certainly the go-to guy for the Sooners and he made play after play in his time in Norman. He's a very shifty guy with punt return abilities too, Shepard is an all-around good athlete and can make all the catches necessary for the next level.
95 Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
Nassib fits the mold of a second-round prospect that the Cowboys could use to further the building of their pass rush. The Cowboys have taken DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory in consecutive second rounds and Nassib could be another instrumental part of their rotation for years to come. Nassib will be coached by Marinelli, so he will get to see first-hand how high his motor is. Nassib has been described as a gym-rat who is chiseled for the position. He's long and tall at 6'6, 270 pounds and has a very impressive wingspan to grab the ball carrier and bring him down. Nassib has a very fast first step that coordinators are really going to like and he's a versatile athlete when it comes to scheme fit. Nassib set new records in his time at Penn State but still has quite the bit of developing to do. Either way, he's a try-hard player that gives relentless effort.
99 Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
This is my pet cat here, a guy along with Sheldon Day that I'll be perked up to see coached by Marinelli. In the past, the Cowboys have paid very little attention to their defensive tackles position and it should be more prioritized. Johnson has gaudy sack numbers in his time at Penn State but he's probably more of a run-stuffer than a sack artist. His ability to create havoc in the backfield leads to a lot of nothing for opposing offenses. He's not terribly quick, but his vision certainly is and he's been known to stack and shed blockers with ease. Johnson has become a favorite of the Draft Show therefore, he has a lot of us looking into the young prospect. He's graded out in the second round and much like Grady Jarrett of 2015, Johnson is an all-around relentless competitor. It'll truly be a delight to watch what Marinelli can get out of him.
17 Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama
Drake is one of the all-around best athletes in the SEC, it's a shame that he's battled numerous injuries in his career. He's currently slated as a third-round prospect for the South team. Drake is explosive and has excellent speed. He's the workhorse type of back with great patience for the position. Drake can beat you in multiple ways including the passing game. As a runner, he loves to bounce things to the outside and show off his elite speed to basically burn the competition. He's also got great size at 6'0, 210 pounds which put him ahead of a lot of backs in pass protection. He's going to make some creative offensive mind very happy because there are just so many ways he can be used and knows how to exploit defenses.
37 Joshua Perry, OLB, Ohio State
Perry is an interesting player because he will not receive nearly the looks that some of his counterparts. However, all you see from Perry is constant effort and good play. While at Ohio State, he was easily a leader on the team and a coach's dream on and off the field. Perry also led the Buckeyes with 124 total tackles, that's 32 more than second place. He's got a non-stop approach Sean Lee but has more durability and he doesn't get caught up in blocks very often. He's got very strong limbs to withstand some beating but make the play. It won't surprise me one bit if he leads the North in tackles at the Senior Bowl. He's currently the 7th best outside linebacker and could draw serious consideration in the second round. Great motor, great intelligence, great prospect.
These are just a slew of names that will be popping up during the week of practice. The offseason is about to be in full-swing which leaves many of us rummaging through the possibilities. What are some prospects that you'll be looking at this week?