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 prospect's game, personality, or 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 now in the rear view mirror, we revisit what McGinn and various anonymous scouts had to say about the players the Cowboys drafted. But before we go there, and to provide some context to these quotes, here's a look at what McGinn wrote about CB Anthony Brown, who got the dubious distinction of being called a "Scout's nightmare" in last year's pre-draft series:
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, had Brown graded as a third-round prospect, calling him "one of the most complete CBs 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 the Cowboys had a fourth-round grade on Brown, and we all know that Brown's rookie season suggests he is one of the biggest steals of the 2016 NFL draft. But the fact that he dropped to the sixth round shows that Brown indeed was not easy to scout.
With that out of the way, let's kick things off by looking what McGinn wrote about Taco Charlton in his ranking of the 2017 defensive linemen. In addition to the quotes from the anonymous scouts McGinn features in his ranking articles, he also offers up a few factoids for each prospects. Charlton ranked fourth overall for all defensive linemen. Here's the collected wisdom for Charlton:
|Taco Charlton, Pos. rank: 4|
|Played through an ankle injury in 2016, his first as a starter. Playing DE, finished with 94 tackles (27 ½ for loss) and 18 ½ sacks. Wonderlic of 22.|
|Random Scout #1||Random Scout #2||Random Scout #3|
|"His 40 time was not good but there are games this guy can do whatever he wants as a rusher. I entertained the thought of him being the best rusher in the draft. There’s times this guy one-arm bull-rushes guys and just humiliates them. He’s tall, but he can bend and get low."||"He appeared on the scene for just one year," said one scout. "I don’t know where he’s been. I don’t think he could stand up. More of a down guy. He did have a good year but we’re a little nervous about him."||"Reminded me of (Cameron) Heyward, the kid from Ohio State that Pittsburgh took in the first (2011), but he’s better," a third scout. "More movement skills. No, no, no, no, noooo, you would be doing him and your defense a disservice at outside backer. There’s no way he can play up."|
In addition to his physical properties, Charlton has this going for him, according to one AFC personnel man:
"One thing about Michigan guys. Michigan people have always been tough. There’s very few people that have come out of Michigan that aren’t tough. It’s just the mentality of the program since (Bo) Schembechler."
The Cowboys have been talking a lot about the versatility of the four defensive backs they drafted. That versatility is evident in McGinn's rankings as well, as he has Chidobe Awuzie ranked as a safety.
|Chidobe Awuzie, Pos. rank: 8|
|Started 42 games over four years, all at CB, but some teams view him as a FS. Bright (Wonderlic of 34) and athletic (broad jump of 11-0). Finished with 273 tackles (26 for loss), 3 picks and 34 PBUs.|
|Random Scout #1||Random Scout #2|
|"He and Budda Baker fall in the same mix," one scout said. "Little bit of a tweener. He’s played outside corner, safety, nickel corner. More of a zone corner. He would have been great in Lovie Smith’s system."||"He may end up moving to safety because he’s so strong," another scout said. "People got down on him because he had some problems against (WR) James Washington but he had a right turf toe against Oklahoma State (in the Alamo Bowl). Physical guy, team leader, has his degree. He’s put together."|
Versatility is a plus, especially in the Cowboys' system, and the quote about being a good fit in Lovie Smith's system must be music to the ears of Cowboys fans. But not every personnel guy saw him as a prototypical corner, which may be why Awuzie was ranked fairly low in McGinn's ranking.
Fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer: "I think I'm the best returner in the draft. I think Dallas knew that."
|WR Ryan Switzer, Pos. rank: 5
|Four-year starting returner and prolific slot receiver who set school records for receptions (244) and yards (2,907). Averaged 10.9 in 99 punts (seven TDs); only two KO returns.|
|Random Scout #1||Random Scout #2||Random Scout #3|
|"Dynamic player," said one scout. "I don’t like small guys but he is a special player. Outstanding quickness, tough, catches the ball. Kind of plays with a chip on his shoulder because he’s a little guy. That’s kind of what makes him a good player."||One coach said he had "Napoleon’s disease, the little man complex."||Said another coach: "He had really good stats earlier, wasn’t great this year. l wouldn’t want the kid because he’s so cocky. Just obnoxious. Hard to be around. Even his own teammates didn’t like him. Who needs all those headaches with a guy like that? It’s not like (he’s)."|
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.