Over the next three months, we’ll be looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at wide receiver, tight end, and perhaps right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once the “official visits” start to leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
#33 - Taco Charlton, Defensive End Michigan - 6-6, 272
Games Watched: Florida St., Ohio St., Wisconsin, Penn St.
Pros: Excellent length and size with a frame that looks like he could easily add weight without sacrificing quickness. Impressive wingspan, looks lean despite carrying about 270-275 lbs. Prototypical physical profile for an NFL defensive end. Powerful in the run game, has strong hands/punch that jolts offensive linemen back, sets the edge well. Generally a fluid athlete given his size, impressive closing speed and agility. Pursues run plays down the line, shows good hustle. Shows the athleticism to employ spin moves, as well as the strength to bull rush, also shows a bit of a rip move. Looks to set a physical tone when he gets to the quarterback/ball-carriers, arrives with “bad intentions”. Has experience playing on both the right and left side, as well as standing up. Projects as a player who could pass-rush from the interior at times. Strong performances against two left tackles who will be drafted this year in Ryan Ramczyk (possibly the top LT in the 2017 class) and Roderick Johnson, also dominated against Ohio St.
Cons: Only one year of experience as a full-time starter, not especially productive until his senior year. Doesn’t have ideal explosiveness or suddenness off the edge in terms of rushing the passer. Pass-rush moves aren’t refined, although this could be viewed as a positive in that he has room to grow under the tutelage of a coach like Rod Marinelli. Loses balance in his pass-rush at times where he loses momentum, isn’t able to recover for a second-rush and/or isn’t able to finish a play once he has beaten a lineman. Doesn’t have ideal bend around the edge and doesn’t do a good job of making himself “small” as far as limiting contact surface, which allows OT’s to drive him past the pocket.
Conclusion: If available, you’d have to imagine that there won’t be many better options than Charlton at 28th overall. I have my doubts as to whether or not he’ll be there though because productive, athletic defensive ends with his size, length and frame usually don’t last too long come April. He doesn’t have the ideal bend, explosiveness, or pure speed off the edge that I’m sure the Cowboys would love to add to a defensive end group that has plenty of size and not quite enough speed, but Charlton looks like a ready-made three down player who can impact both the run game, as well as rush the passer. Assuming he has the requisite work ethic and desire for the game, the sky could be the limit for a player with his tools under a coach the caliber of Rod Marinelli.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect. I started this odd fascination of mine in 2011 when I sent my breakdown and links to videos of Tyron Smith at USC to the excellent Cowboys blogger Bob Sturm (April 28, 2011 - Even More Tyron Smith Tape). Since then I’ve continued watching prospects closely, but I’ve never taken the initiative to actually formally write my thoughts until I became a writer for BTB. I hope that I can provide an interesting, and accurate perspective on prospects from a Cowboys-centric point of view.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more an in-depth look at this year’s prospects.