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7 Cowboys draft targets who flew under the radar at the Senior Bowl

Some diamonds stayed in the rough this week at the Senior Bowl.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Senior Bowl/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl wrapped up on Saturday with the game after a week of practices, during which several players set themselves apart from everyone else. But while the Senior Bowl is most notable for giving seniors entering the draft a chance to boost their draft stock, it also features some very talented players that, for whatever reason, fly under the radar.

This allows teams to find guys in the later rounds that blossom into stars, or at least frequent contributors, because NFL front offices put too much stock into Senior Bowl performances. These seven players, who could potentially be targets for the Cowboys, fit into that category.

Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa

Even if the Cowboys don’t take an offensive tackle with their tenth overall pick, as many mocks have predicted, it’s likely they’ll look to find one at some point in this draft. Alaric Jackson is a potential candidate to be taken on Day 2 of the draft, as he offers elite strength for the position but lacks the length and agility to become a top-tier tackle prospect.

Jackson, of course, comes from a rich history of elite offensive linemen at Iowa including Brandon Scherff, Tristan Wirfs, Riley Reiff, and Bryan Bulaga. It’s a testament to the talent of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, a former offensive line guru, and notable that current Cowboys offensive line coach Joe Philbin served as Ferentz’s offensive line coach for his first four seasons in Iowa. Needless to say Philbin should be able to get some good inside information on Jackson if Dallas is interested.

That’s good because Jackson didn’t really do much to turn any heads at the Senior Bowl. While he looked dominant at times going up against power rushers in practice, Jackson continued to show stiff hips that became a problem against speedier guys off the edge. There’s a growing belief that Jackson might need to switch to guard to be productive right away, but Dallas could afford to take Jackson and let him develop a bit more under Philbin before needing to replace either Tyron Smith or La’el Collins.

Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington

Levi Onwuzurike was well on his way to becoming a clear winner from the Senior Bowl practices, as the lean, mean, penetrating machine was making moves with high frequency in the first two days. But then he suffered an undisclosed injury that sidelined him for the remainder of practices, as well as the Senior Bowl game on Saturday.

While Onwuzurike will be mentioned as a player who did improve his stock somewhat, it’s more than fair to wonder how much more it could have soared if he were able to be a full participant all the way through. Onwuzurike needed the work, as the defensive tackle opted out of the 2020 season and hasn’t played competitive football in over a year now. So while his few practices this week were good, it was an incredibly small sample size, and the inability to finish will prompt more questions.

The tape shows a very quick and agile 3-technique defensive tackle that would seem to be an ideal fit in Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s scheme, but the questions surrounding his readiness to play will likely drop him out of the conversation as a Top 50 selection for now. That could work to the Cowboys’ benefit, though.

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

Marvin Wilson is another defensive tackle who didn’t have quite the performance he had hoped for this week. At 6’ 3” and around 320 pounds, Wilson was a dominant run-stopper for the Seminoles with pass rushing upside in 2019, but he chose to return for his senior year due to a pretty stacked defensive tackle class in that year’s draft.

It didn’t work out for Wilson, who took a step back as a run-stopper while displaying some motor concerns that many assigned to his bulky frame. Overall it was a big regression from his junior year, and has subsequently cast doubt on his order in this draft class. Wilson didn’t do much to change that narrative this past week, either. He struggled against some offensive linemen before sitting out with an injury the last two days of practice, and it culminated in him missing the game as well.

Given that Wilson’s senior year was also peppered with injuries throughout, this week was pretty much worst case scenario for him. While Wilson could always reverse his fortunes at his pro day, it seems that right now the best case scenario for him is a third-round selection, though he could easily fall to the third day. And with Dallas still needing to add big bodies in the middle of their defensive line, Wilson could become a top target.

Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE, Oregon State

The Cowboys have a pretty stellar edge rushing duo right now in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, while Dorance Armstrong and Bradlee Anae have some upside. Aldon Smith could potentially return too, but if he doesn’t then the team should target an edge rusher.

Hamilcar Rashed Jr. has been a rising sleeper pick at the position, similar to how Anae was discussed in last year’s draft cycle. While Anae’s poor testing numbers caused him to fall to the Cowboys in the fifth round, Rashed may see his draft stock tumble after the Senior Bowl.

Rashed was an elite pass rusher in 2019, finishing third in the country in sacks, but like many in the Pac-12 this past season, his numbers were impacted by a short and poorly planned season. But the film also showed a highly athletic and incredibly raw presence on the edge, basically the opposite of Anae. At the Senior Bowl, Rashed struggled against more technically-refined blockers, and it became clear that he’ll need to refine his technique to succeed at the next level.

For Dallas, who already has two edge rushers that should be taking up the vast majority of defensive snaps this year, that’s a perfect scenario for someone like Rashed, who possesses athleticism comparable to that of Gregory but without any of the skills that make him such a demon off the edge. Under Quinn, a defensive line guru, Rashed would get the kind of guidance he needs.

Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia

In the interest of transparency, Charles Snowden is my draft crush/pet cat in this draft, and has been well before the struggles of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith this year. Quinn’s arrival in Dallas only elevated my yearning for Snowden, who would be a prototypical fit in that scheme.

The Senior Bowl was supposed to be the first step towards a big draft stock boom for Snowden, who missed the final half of his senior season with a broken ankle. For a moment, it looked like he might get that chance after impressing everyone with his measurement: 6’ tall, 232 pounds, and an absurd 82” wingspan.

But then Snowden injured his foot and had to miss the majority of the week’s practices. Despite being on the sidelines with a boot on his foot, Snowden was noted quite a few times for how vocal he was with his teammates during practices, a good sign towards his intangibles:

During his college days, Snowden generated buzz around his energetic style of play and his insane length that helped him be very productive in coverage. In his junior year, Snowden had 72 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 4 passes defensed. In just 8 games this past season, he had 44 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, and 3 passes defensed.

The injury that ended his season and the one that just ended his Senior Bowl will scare some teams off, but Snowden has the athleticism and length to be a perfect fit in Quinn’s Cover 3-heavy scheme. To that end, his failure to boost his stock this week figures to be a good thing for the Cowboys.

Bryan Mills, CB, North Carolina Central

There were quite a few defensive backs who earned some extra money this week at the Senior Bowl, which made it hard for others to stand out. Bryan Mills was one of those guys. He measured just over six feet tall with 32” arms, offering the kind of length you want in the scheme Quinn is bring to Dallas. But Mills also weighs around 180 pounds, way too slender to match up against NFL receivers.

Some of that is due to playing at a small FCS school with lower quality facilities, and Mills was a junior college player before arriving at North Carolina Central. Still, he flashed good traits in college, both as a press man corner and as a ballhawk when the pass is up in the air. Likely a later-round pick, Mills fit the profile of an outside corner in this scheme.

But at the Senior Bowl, Mills’ performance oscillated between really good and really bad, with not much in between. There were some reps where Mills mirrored receivers well and forced incompletions, but others where he just got bullied by bigger and faster bodies. As such, his stock isn’t likely to shoot up too much, although many more scouts now know Mills’ name.

Divine Deablo, S, Virginia Tech

Speaking of big defensive backs with good ball skills, Divine Deablo has entered the chat. Standing at 6’ 3” and 226 pounds with a 79” wingspan, Deablo looks more like a linebacker than a safety. He played all over the field with the Hokies, but showed consistent ball production in three years as a starter that peaked with four interceptions his senior season.

Deablo’s biggest knock was a lack of top-end athleticism, which limited him to more of a box safety type who could also function deep in quarters coverage. While Deablo showed on more than one occasion this week that he understands how to leverage his size to his advantage, there were just as many times where more smooth receivers easily beat him with better athleticism and agility.

As a result, Deablo remains an intriguing prospect due to his size and length, but teams will need to have a clear idea of how to use him in order to hide his deficiencies. Whether or not Dallas sees a spot for him is unclear, but his frame definitely puts him in the conversation at this point.