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What Anonymous Scouts Had To Say About Five Cowboys Rookies

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A quick look at more opinions about players the Cowboys selected.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Every year for the last 15 years, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been polling personnel people before the draft. McGinn uses the results of those polls to rank draft prospects at their respective positions and spices up the rankings with comments from anonymous scouts.

The comments from these scouts can be effusive in their praise for a prospect but can also be damning indictments of various aspects of a prospects game/personality/traits. Taken by themselves, they likely provide a distorted picture of a prospect, but taken together, they begin to form a picture of what the scouting community may have thought about a given prospect.

With the draft firmly behind us, we revisit what McGinn and the scouts had to say about the players the Cowboys drafted. And we kick things off by looking at what McGinn wrote about Ezekiel Elliott in his introduction to the 2016 running backs.

Several personnel people said Elliott was the best back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson in 2007 largely because he has no weaknesses.

"Don't resist, just take him," one scout said. "He belongs in the top 10, maybe the top half dozen. He's got the whole package."

Elliott runs, catches and blocks equally well and at an elite level, but what really sets him apart is brainpower.

He scored 32 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. The average score of the first running backs taken in the last 10 drafts was 17.2.

Other than Steven Jackson, the first back off the board in 2004 who scored 28, almost none of the leading backs have even approached Elliott's score in the last 15 years.

"They rave about him," another NFC personnel chief said of the coaches at Ohio State. "Not many college backs are really good in protection. He really is (special)."

In addition to the quotes from three anonymous scouts, McGinn features in his ranking articles, he also offers up a few factoids for each prospects. Here's the collected wisdom for Zeke Elliott:

Ezekiel Elliott, Pos. rank: 1
Factoids
Third-year junior. Smartest RB in years (32 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test). Finished with 592 carries for 3,961 yards (OSU-record 6.7-yard average) and 43 touchdowns. Also caught 58 passes for 449. Played behind Carlos Hyde in 2013 before breaking out as a sophomore. Has undergone surgery twice on his left wrist.
Random Scout #1 Random Scout #2 Random Scout #3
"He is the only one with all the traits," said one scout. "He's got a chance to be the best player in the draft. He, (Joey) Bosa, (Laremy) Tunsil. He can catch it, he can pass protect, he's got NFL size and he can run. If he stays healthy he's going to be a (Adrian) Peterson-type back." "Football intelligence might be the best thing he has," another scout said. "He goes to the sidelines and tells the coaches the block protections. The coaches tell me he tells them what to do. To me, your intelligence is your blocking." "Zeke just has the NFL mentality," said one scout. "Love the kid as a football player."

We've been all over Elliott for weeks now, particularly the supposedly transformative effect the run game will have on the entire team, but we haven't focused much on Elliott's football intelligence, which may be what ultimately makes him such a good pick.

The scouting community is less unanimous in their praise of Jaylon Smith.

Jaylon Smith, Pos. rank: 2
Factoids
Third-year junior. After being smothered by Ohio State LT Taylor Decker in the Fiesta Bowl, he suffered nerve damage in addition to two torn knee ligaments.  Finished with 284 tackles (23 ½ for loss), 4 ½ sacks and 6 big plays. Wonderlic of 18.
Random Scout #1 Random Scout #2 Random Scout #3
"He was far and away the best," said one scout. "He wasn't just the best by default. He was the best in an excellent group of guys. It's just a risk-reward thing now." "He's what people are looking for," another scout said. "He's just great in space. But that injury isn't good. You don't have control of your foot. It just drops." "Not the brightest cookie in the room," a third scout said. "Probably have to line him up. I don't know if he's a natural player but once he sees it he can find it and go get it. Now he's got the knee and he's not a very bright kid. I wouldn't touch a kid like that. I have no idea where he goes. He's off my board. He's a run and hit 'will' linebacker."

The Cowboys targeted Collins as a three-technique, where he could be a very good fit in the Cowboys' scheme. But not every personnel guy saw him as a prototypical defensive tackle for his team, which is why Collins was ranked fairly low in McGinn's ranking.

Maliek Collins, Pos. rank: 9
Factoids
Third-year junior, two-year starter primarily at NT in a 3-4. Finished with 86 tackles (23 for loss) and 8 sacks. More effective rushing in 2014. State champion wrestler from Kansas City. Wonderlic of 24.
Random Scout #1 Random Scout #2 Random Scout #3
"He’s a 3-technique," said one scout. "He’s quick and can shed. Gets bounced around some. Does get covered up and plays a little high at times. Has some twitch." "He didn’t have as good a year as he could have had," another scout said. "He has yet to live up to his measurables and consistently harass the quarterback. Not an underachiever. He just seemed a little bit lost." "He’s a little guy," said a third scout. "He just plays small. Has to be a penetrator."

DE Charles Tapper didn't make the top 10 in McGinn's edge rusher ranking, but fellow fourth-rounder Dak Prescott showed up in the QB ranking at number six.

Dak Prescott, Pos. rank: 6
Factoids
Billed by the Bulldogs as the most decorated player in their history. Posted 23-10 record and had a passer rating of 99.6. Also rushed for 2,501 yards and 41 TDs. Arrested for a DUI in mid-March. Wonderlic of 25.
Random Scout #1 Random Scout #2 Random Scout #3
"This was not a good team but for two years they competed against the best teams," one scout said. "He was the entire team there. The guy's just a winner. He's got patience, focus, makes quick decisions, good arm strength, nice touch, stands tall in the pocket under pressure." "He motivated that team, held guys accountable," another scout said. "I just don't see the vision downfield. He's a very streaky thrower. There will be a place for him in the league. I'd take him over Tim Tebow hands down." "He's got no accuracy, got no vision," said a third scout. "I don't think he's an NFL quarterback."

The fifth and final player to show up in McGinn's ranking series is CB Anthony Brown, who gets the dubious distinction of being called a "Scout's nightmare":

Failed to distinguish himself as a 10-game starter at safety in 2013 and as a 24-game starter at CB the past two seasons. Then he made the most of a somewhat surprising combine invitation by blazing the 40 in 4.34. He's more of a straight-line athlete, but as the draft wears on teams draft speed at cornerback.

Bryan Broaddus, former scout and current football personality for the Cowboys, apparently had Brown graded as a third-round prospect, calling him "one of the most complete CB I scouted." Birddog gave him a 3rd/4th grade, described him as "more versatile, physical, stronger and faster who is not afraid to play man coverage." Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said they had fourth-round grades on both CB Anthony Brown and SS Kavon Frazier. But the fact that both dropped to the sixth shows that Brown indeed was not easy to scout.

The scout's comments above add another layer of information to what we already know about the Cowboys rookies. What you do with it is up to you, but it might help to further fill out the picture as we try to figure out what to expect from this year's rookie class.