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Senior Bowl practices and how they could affect the Cowboys draft

The evaluations at the Senior Bowl are happening at the all-important practices.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have needs for the NFL 2021 draft, just like all teams. How you address those needs is the key. When to fill a specific need and when to wait can often depend on depth at the position as much as the talent on the board. The Senior Bowl practices are one of the better tools for evaluating college talent, and in 2021 with no combine, these practices take on an out-sized importance.

So what’s going on down in Mobile? We check in on some of the notes coming out of the practice.

Recently, some mock drafts have the Cowboys taking an offensive tackle at pick #10. With injuries along the offensive line in 2020, the idea is that shoring up the line could be in the Cowboys best interest with their high pick. On the other hand, as we are discovering in Mobile, offensive line talent looks to be a position of depth in this draft. From the mothership:

If the talent at the Senior Bowl is any indication, the 2021 class is loaded with talent along the frontline. Teams in need of offensive linemen should be able to find blue-chip players throughout based on the talent and depth at offensive tackle and offensive guard/center. At the Senior Bowl, the impressive performances of Cincinnati’s James Hudson, East Carolina’s D’Ante Smith, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, and Wisconsin-Watewater’s Quinn Meinerz only confirm the outstanding collection of talent of available in the 2021 draft.

Hudson played offensive tackle, as did Smith. Meinrerz is an interior player and could only make sense if Zack Martin has to move to tackle for any length of time. The heath of Tyron Smith and La’el Collins will go a long way in determining what the Cowboys do along the offensive line.

The good practices from offensive linemen is backed up by SB Nation’s evaluation of the proceedings in Mobile.

It marked a strong showing for numerous small-school offensive linemen, as well. North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz looked powerful at the point of attack and showed nice agility in space. Quinn Meinerz from Wisconsin-Whitewater shone again, taking reps as both a guard and a center while displaying a nasty edge and polished form. D’Ante Smith out of East Carolina was another major beneficiary of today’s practice, as he dominated on a snap-by-snap basis with power, a high motor, and good pads. The same applies to David Moore out of Grambling State, who was incredibly strong upon contact. Cincinnati’s James Hudson showcased top-notch physical tools in his practice at tackle, too.

If the Cowboys want to make additions to their offensive line, they may be able to wait until Day 2 and grab a quality player.

Cornerback is also a position of need for the Cowboys and the mocks have had Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain as possibilities at pick #10. But what about some other prospect they could get later? It’s not as plentiful as offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, but there are some guys standing out.

From the Mothership:

Central Arkansas CB Robert Rochell

Rochell, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound cover corner with an ultra-aggressive game, has displayed the athleticism and movement skills to match up with speedy pass catchers on the perimeter. Although he has been a little rusty from a long layoff (only played in one game in 2020), he has flashed the tools that coaches love in an outside corner. From his excellent acceleration and burst to his explosive change of direction ability, Rochell moves like a gazelle on the edges. If he can refine his technique and footwork, he could become a legitimate playmaker on the island with his outstanding ball skills (10 career INTs) and tackling ability.

From SB Nation:

On the defensive side of the ball, UCF’s Aaron Robinson stood out to me. He looked like a shutdown cornerback and was able to stay physical through his opponents’ stems and knock them off their route. Tre Brown from Oklahoma was consistently able to shut down the opposition in man coverage, which was a welcomed sign for a player whose game tape had just decent physicality.

Another position of need for the Cowboys is one that is in short supply in the 2021 draft. That is defensive tackle.

It is not a secret that the 2021 class lacks depth at the defensive tackle position. The Senior Bowl only confirmed that opinion with only a few guys standing out as interior defenders during the first few days of practice. Washington DT Levi Onwuzurike certainly showed dominant potential on Day 1 as a disruptive force on the inside but he’s been the only defensive tackle to flash five-star potential. Florida State DT Marvin Wilson is an intriguing power player with the size, strength, and pop to shock defenders at the line of scrimmage but he lacks the elite explosiveness and twitch to be a high-end sack artist from inside.

USC DT Marlon Tuipulotu is a heavy-handed interior defender with the strength and power to hold his own against the run but he hasn’t displayed high-end pass-rush ability. He is more of a pocket pusher at the line of scrimmage and his inability to win with quickness or finesse limits his impact as a pass rusher at the next level.

The Cowboys may have to go the free agent route in 2021 to add an impact defensive tackle that could come in and contribute right way.

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