clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

5 Senior Bowl standouts who could shake things up for the Cowboys draft plans

What did we learn from Saturday’s Senior Bowl game?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is a nice opportunity to check out some college prospects entering the upcoming draft. It’s a good way to get an apple-to-apple comparison as prospects face off against similar caliber players that isn’t always visible watching their college tape. Sometimes how a player is used in one system doesn’t show the true value of a player’s skills but at the Senior Bowl all that can change.

The Cowboys have learned that first hand as Senior Bowl standouts like Dak Prescott and Osa Odighizuwa made quite the impression and added fuel to the fire that ultimately led to their draft selection.

With that in mind, what players from Saturday’s game splashed around enough to possibly turn some heads within the organization? Here are five prospects whose play this past week could sway the pendulum and possibly affect the Cowboys' draft plans.

LB CHAD MUMA, WYOMING

With Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal hitting free agency and Micah Parsons pulling duty on the edge, the Cowboys need to find some linebacker help in this draft. There are a couple of potential stars in Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean who might make it to pick 24, but if the Cowboys go another direction in the first round, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good choices the following day. In fact, I asked this very question last week on the Draft Show, and Bryan Broaddus mentioned Wyoming’s Chad Muma, who just so happened to tackle everything in sight on Saturday.

Muma led all players with nine tackles at the Senior Bowl and continues to show up on tape making plays. We could nitpick his lack of athleticism, but the film doesn’t lie. This guy has a nose for the football.

DT PERRION WINFREY, OKLAHOMA

Defensive tackles always seem to be in play for the Cowboys as they continue their never-ending search to provide strength along the interior defensive line. Over the last three drafts, the Cowboys have selected Trystin Hill (2019), Neville Gallimore (2020), and Osa Odighizuwa (2021) on Day 2 of the draft. Currently, they have a crowded house at the 3-tech DT position, so would they dare select another one?

Maybe. The Cowboys aren’t going to pass up on good talent and when you get to the second day of the draft, collecting as much top-level talent as you can is crucial. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey isn’t just the Senior Bowl MVP, he’s also a defensive tackle with long arms and great versatility which is right up Dan Quinn’s alley.

EDGE BOYE MAFE, MINNESOTA

The Cowboys have a lot of question marks at defensive end this upcoming season. They could lose Randy Gregory to free agency, they could lose DeMarcus Lawrence as a cap casualty, and Micah Parsons will spend some time at linebacker. Even depth guy Dorance Armstrong is a free agent this offeason.

The good news is this draft is loaded with some good edge rushers. Whether it’s round one, round two, round three, etc. this class has plenty to offer. While Minnesota’s Boye Mafe could be more of a development project than a day one starter, his athleticism and steadily improved play could make him a wild card for a team looking to steal a talented player at a low-cost draft price. Mafe had two sacks and another tackle for a loss as he had a two-series stretch where he was absolutely dominating his opponent and it was enough to earn him Player of the Game honors.

RB DAMEON PIERCE, FLORIDA

The running back position is an interesting thing for the Cowboys entering the new season. While they are still stacked with great talent in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, it’s unclear just how long those guys will be sticking around. Elliott’s contract provides a huge out next offseason and Pollard has just one year left on his rookie deal making him a free agent in 2023. Those circumstances point to the Cowboys' need for addressing running back depth sooner versus later.

Certainly, the Cowboys won’t be using any early draft capital to find a running back, but they won’t have to. There are plenty of backs who have something to offer in later rounds. Florida’s Dameon Pierce is one of those players. Pierce was the standout RB of the Senior Bowl activities. Underutilized at Florida, Pierce has the vision and shiftiness to bounce through open running lanes. Factor in that he can block well in pass protection and play special teams and you could get a nice late-round flier who could give some fresh legs at the running back position.

QB MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

With Dak Prescott’s skills fading fast, it’s time for the Cowboys to find a new quarterback. Haha, just kidding! Why would you even think that? Okay, then what is a first-round quarterback doing on this list?

The reason Malik Willis is mentioned is that his stock continues to climb as his mobility makes him a dynamic player in this draft. And the interest he draws could change how things play out in the draft. First off, several quarterback-needy teams are positioned ahead of the Cowboys, including their divisional foe Washington Commanders. Any additional QB taken early is one less talent from another position who will be available to the Cowboys.

But even more than that is the possibility of a trading war the Cowboys could get caught up in. Teams like Tampa Bay and Green Bay pick a few spots after Dallas and with Tom Brady retiring and Aaron Rodgers’ future murky, those teams could be looking for a new quarterback. Maybe another team who didn’t want to spend a top 10 pick on a quarterback makes a move to get back into the first round to go after Willis. It’s a common practice when targeting quarterbacks as it gives them that fifth-year option and the Cowboys might be able to acquire some extra draft capital by shearing a team that is in desperate need of a quarterback.