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Could The Cowboys Find Pass-Rushing Gold In Later Rounds Of The Draft?

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The Cowboys are likely to have four sixth-round picks in this April's NFL Draft. Might they use one on the Division II standout from Grand Valley State?

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The NFL Draft isn't just about what happens in the first round. High draft picks can be the cornerstones of a franchise, but the most successful teams are able to find talent throughout the draft. If you look around the league there are plenty of examples of high-level players who were picked in the later rounds. The Seattle Seahawk's Richard Sherman (5th round 2011), Marques Colston of the New Orleans Saints (7th round 2006), and of course, five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for the New England Patriots Tom Brady (6th round 2000), were all passed over several times before their names were called. Could the Dallas Cowboys find similar success with a pass rushing gem in the late rounds of 2016?

One intriguing name that might be available with one of the Cowboys expected four sixth-round picks is NCAA Division II defensive end Matt Judon of Grand Valley State. If the school sounds familiar, that's because it is also the alma mater of current Dallas defensive back Brandon Carr. But we're not going to hold that against Judon. Certainly the fact that he played at a small school in a lower division is a bit of a worry, but remember that he is one of just two players from DII to be invited to the combine. And Judon definitely has the size to play defensive end on Sundays standing 6' 3" tall and weighing 255 lbs. His athleticism will be measured this week in Indianapolis, but I've included some video of Judon's on the field work below.

When a player is playing against inferior talent you want to see him dominate, and Judon appears to do so at times. The statistics show this as well. In his senior season of 2015, he recorded 20 sacks in just 15 games. Judon also had 81 tackles and two fumble recoveries. For his efforts he was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference defensive lineman of the year, and Judon also received the Gene Upshaw Award as the the top Division II lineman. Judon is definitely raw, but it would be interesting to see what Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli could mold from that clay.

Make no mistake, if the right pass rusher presents himself to Dallas early in the draft they shouldn't think twice about picking him. Pass rushers are an asset that you simply can't have too many of. But when a team is picking in the latter stages of the draft, they should be looking as much at the players future potential as they are his past production. When drafting early, look for players with a high floor. When drafting late, look for a high ceiling. Matt Judon has has the type of potential that makes him a risk worth taking with a sixth-round pick.