Day one of the Senior Bowl practices is in the books, and there is a ton of news concerning the Dallas Cowboys from there and elsewhere. All indications are that there is some very interesting talent on hand, and it is not just quarterbacks that may be catching the eyes of the Dallas coaching staff as they coach the North squad.
Things get started with measuring the players. For those of you that are into seeing how tall players are or how big their hand size is, here is all the info.
The Dallas coaching staff was certainly interested.
Part of Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, including Garrett and Marinelli, sitting on side at weigh-in at Senior Bowl: pic.twitter.com/jo5VWtOHhI— Brandon George (@DMN_George) January 26, 2016
Just because you want to know, here are the pertinent details on QB Carson Wentz:
Wentz measured 6-foot-5 1/4, 233 pounds, within close range of his college listing of 6-6, 235. He also measured with the second-largest hands among quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl at 10 inches
All eyes were expected to be on Wentz (and they pretty much were), but there are plenty of other names to watch. One that might fit well for the Cowboys if he makes it to the sixth round, coming from a small school:
Another lower-division player to keep in mind throughout the week is Southern Utah safety Miles Killebrew. He made my initial top 100 players, but slid off after someone much higher was accidentally left off. Killebrew doesn't get a lot of publicity because of where he played, but he could become a household name this week.
Killebrew is a 6'3, 230-pound wrecking ball of a safety. Few players in this year's draft possess Killebrew's on-field aggression. As a senior he had 132 tackles and excelled on kick coverage duties.
It is always worth noting what Bryan Broaddus has to say. He has a good feel for what the staff is interested in.
There could be a nice battle in this game between who the Cowboys might like better as a potential player for them at one-technique. They are coaching Austin Johnson from Penn State, but on the other side of the field is Jarran Reed from Alabama. Johnson has more bulk (323 pounds compared to 311), but both are outstanding against the run and are factors rushing the passer.
Yeah, who are we kidding? The Carson Wentz watch is the center ring attraction for this week.
There is no question the Cowboys will have their eyes on the quarterbacks throughout the off-season, looking to upgrade after going 1-11 without Tony Romo as the starter last season. North Dakota State product Carson Wentz is going to generate plenty of buzz as the top quarterback at the Senior Bowl, and he'll have a firsthand opportunity to impress the Cowboys' coaching staff on the North roster. Some feel Wentz could shoot up the draft boards, but that remains to be seen. Other quarterbacks on the North roster include USC's Cody Kessler, Stanford's Kevin Hogan and Louisiana Tech's Jeff Driskel, who started his college career at Florida.
Some numbers on how the Cowboys have drafted/signed players from the Senior Bowl in recent seasons. Everything from All Pros to scrubs on this list.
Since 2011, the Cowboys have drafted seven players that played in the Senior Bowl: DeMarco Murray (2011), Dwayne Harris (2011), J.J Wilcox (2013), B.W. Webb (2013),Terrance Williams (2013), Zack Martin (2014) and Ahmad Dixon (2014). They signed La'el Collins (2015) as an undrafted free agent, and he became a starter. There are 13 other players that have spent time with the Cowboys in training camp, on a practice squad or on the active roster that played in the Senior Bowl from 2011-15. This is another sign that coaching the North team this week should be a big advantage in the evaluation game.
The week of practices and the game allow everyone to see how the players respond to NFL-type practices. The Cowboys staff get to see how the players they coach respond to their system, which is a plus.
"We understand that we just got here, we're putting a lot of stuff in and throwing a lot of stuff at them, but you've got to see how they respond," Garrett said. "When you go from being in a college situation to a pro situation, oftentimes game plans each week are extensive and they change, and learning is a big part of it and they're being able to take that learning from the classroom or from a walkthrough onto the field and see if they can play with the same speed and explosiveness that you need them to play with. And that's a big part of the evaluation."
Most of the reaction on Wentz was positive, but there is room for improvement as well.
I thought there was some good from Carson Wentz today and some bad as well. There is no question about the arm talent and the strength, but there were some throws where his accuracy was off and it was like he was trying to do too much. There were also some balls that were on target, but his receivers didn't do a good enough job of helping him. I can see the coaches going through the tape with him this evening to settle him down for Wednesday.
He's certainly saying all the right things as far as we're concerned.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," Wentz said from the Senior Bowl on Monday. "I think we've seen teams fall in love with players at any point during the draft process and this is just the first step in that process. Obviously, a great opportunity for me to show not just my physical abilities, but my mental side of things that the Cowboys staff can see at a whole other level."
It is from enemy territory, but Tony Pauline is a well respected drafnik, and he has a nice write-up on a player who might be worth watching for Dallas.
Braxton Miller/WR/Ohio State: The Buckeyes acquitted themselves well as Braxton Miller also stood out on Monday. He showed off his vertical speed and on several occasions had defensive backs chasing him down the field. Most impressive though was the way Miller proved he could handle the details of the position. He ran sharp, crisp routes and on one play threw a double move on the opponent to come open. During another snap Miller used his hands like an NFL receiver to separate at the line of scrimmage.
The Senior Bowl is also a good place to interview coaches for vacancies. With the departure of Jerome Henderson, there is at least one position for Dallas to fill. Al Golden has ties to the Garrett family, having worked with Jason Garrett's brother in the past.
Currently, secondary coach is the only full-time position that needs to be filled. Golden, who played tight end at Penn State and for a season with the Patriots, also played some linebacker earlier in his playing career. As a coach, Golden has been a defensive-minded coach with stops at Boston College, Virginia and Temple before becoming the head coach of the Hurricanes from 2011-15. He was fired near the end of this past regular season, finishing with a 32-25 record at Miami.
Also of note in coaching developments: Tight ends coach Mike Pope was absent, reportedly dealing with a personal issue. Garrett indicated the team expects him to return next season, but his situation precludes that, Steve Loney might have an inside track to replace him since he is filling in during the Senior Bowl. Loney was an assistant line coach with Dallas last season.
While the Senior Bowl is the big event, there is other news of interest to cover.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will undergo a CT scan on his left collarbone on Wednesday. The scan is a precursor to a planned surgery to insert a plate to stabilize and strengthen an area that has been broken three times since 2010.
"I wouldn't say it's 100 percent," executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday from the Senior Bowl of Romo having surgery, "but it's leaning hard that way."
I hope Stephen Jones' optimism is realistic and not just chasing unicorns.
"You can't put your head in the sand," Jones said. "He's certainly had some injuries and we have to be aware of that. If we do decide to pick a quarterback fairly high, Tony's a great example of how it can serve a young quarterback well to watch for two to three, or four years. Whatever that number is going to be because obviously we think Tony is our best chance to go win a Super Bowl. We think he will be that guy for the next 3-4 years."
Bryant is still in a boot as he recovers from the surgery, but the Cowboys are confident it won't be a long-term issue for the Pro Bowl receiver.
"Felt like the surgery went well," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday night. "He's still getting back, it's a slow process. We're glad we got it done almost immediately after the season, so it's giving him plenty of time to come back. All reports are that everything has been positive up to this point."
Couldn't pass this bit of snark up.
Bryant watched officials uphold Larry Fitzgerald's catch in the Cardinals' divisional playoff victory over the Packers last week. He had flashbacks, like everyone else did, to the Cowboys' divisional round game against the Packers.
"I saw it," Bryant said. "The NFL is still trying to figure out what a catch is. Whenever they figure that out, hopefully they'll let me know."
And that is a good thing.
"Definitely made some progress in the direction of where I want to be as a player," Collins said. "Now, knowing that, take that from this year and be able to apply it to next year."
Collins made a few highlight plays, which is rare for a guard. It started in the preseason when he bowled over a San Diego Chargers linebacker. In the regular season he knocked over Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and then safety Earl Thomas on a Darren McFadden run.
And finally: I love Troy Aikman, but really?