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Cowboys defensive draft prospects: 5 risers and 5 fallers after the NFL combine

What did the combine do to the draft stock of some of the potential Cowboys’ defensive draft targets?

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Combine over, it’s time to take a look at some of the highs and lows as it pertains to potential Cowboys draft prospects. There were many winners and losers during the event, but today we’re going to focus specifically on players who could fall within the range of when the Cowboys pick.

Earlier today, we discussed offensive players, but here are five risers and five fallers on the defensive side of the ball.


DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

340-pound defensive tackles usually aren’t high on the draft board because they don’t offer the pass-rushing athleticism that other guys in the trenches do. This is why Davis has been projected as a late first-rounder in many mocks. That might have changed because on Saturday he dazzled. He ran a 4.78 40-time which was ranked second for DTs, jumped 32 inches (also second), and had the longest broad jump of any other defensive tackle at 10’3”. That is simply insane. Make no mistake about it, this big guy can move!

What this means for the Cowboys: Davis should be in the conversation at 24.

LB Quay Walker & Channing Tindell, Georgia

To keep this article from being an extension of Dawgs Sports, we’ll keep this one short; however, it has to be mentioned. Nakobe Dean may have not participated in drills, but that doesn’t mean the Bulldog linebacker group wasn’t well represented. Both Walker and Tindell produced fast 40 times and looked like machines during the on-field drills.

What this means for the Cowboys: Either of these guys would be a nice get on Day 2, so just adding a couple more linebacker candidates to the list.

LB Damone Clark, LSU

If there is a true winner of this combine it’s really every Day 2 linebacker prospect as many of them did a great job to make their case at the draft. The Tigers’ Damone Clark tested out very well in the 40-yard dash, 20- and 10-yard splits, and both of the jumps. Additionally, he looked so smooth in the drills as his quickness and balance validated everything we’ve seen on tape.

What this means for the Cowboys: Before, it was just Alabama’s Christian Harris or bust in terms of a second-round LB, but Clark has now joined the party.

LB Troy Andersen, Montana State

Players like Nikobe Dean and Devin Lloyd are the cream of the linebacker crop of this draft class, but the combine showed us that there are going to be some intriguing options beyond those two. Anderson is one of those options. Inexperience is his bugaboo, but a stellar Senior Bowl quieted that a bit. Now, he validated all his athleticism hype with great explosiveness from his jumping numbers and ran a 4.42 40, the faster of any linebacker in the combine. Other than spelling his last name with an “e” instead of an “o” there’s not a lot to complain about with him.

What this means for the Cowboys: They don’t need to burn a first-round pick on a linebacker with talent like this available in Round 2.

CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA

With a raw skill set, this converted wide receiver has flashed some impressive play at the cornerback position. Standing at 6’4” he’s got the size and length that the Cowboys seem to prefer at the position. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for with athleticism and after running a 4.26 40-yard dash, he’s going to draw a lot of attention. And following his Senior Bowl performance, he’s already had a meeting with the Cowboys.

What this means for the Cowboys: If the Cowboys were willing to reach for a guy like Nahshon Wright, then you’d think they’d love Woolen. The guy can flat out fly.


DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

Leal has been a weird one to rank as the athleticism he shows on tape is quite impressive to where it would allow you to overlook some of the power and anchoring he lacks for a defensive tackle. Unfortunately, Leal struggled to show off that athleticism bringing doubt about where along the line he could be a difference-maker.

What this means for the Cowboys: He has to be something special to warrant consideration at 24 and that ship might’ve sailed.

EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

To be fair, Karlaftis did okay at the combine. His leg explosiveness was confirmed with elite jumping scores. And he’s definitely a player who has plenty of tape to make a solid case. But the reason he’s listed here is that because of his size (in particular, short arms), he really needed to show out his athleticism. His 20-yard split was just average, he only had 21 reps on the bench, and he didn’t even run the 40-yard dash. If you were holding your breath for a big day for Karlaftis, you were likely disappointed.

What this means for the Cowboys: If you’re a fan of the Greek Freak and you want Dallas to take him, his chances of making it to 24 got better.

LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Thought to be a potential top 10 prospect, the Utah linebacker was middle of the pack in many of the tests at the combine. That’s fine and all, but on a day many linebackers were showing out, you’d expect more from a player of his caliber. Also, his 4.66 40-time was slower than many and he just didn’t pop in the on-field drills. To be fair, his fellow first-round LB Nakobe Dean didn’t participate at the combine so he dodges any high expectations for now.

What this means for the Cowboys: This might cause Lloyd to slide in the first round and increase the chances that one of the “elite two” are available at 24.

LB JoJo Domann, Nebraska

The Nebraska linebacker has a lot of great tape as he’s a proven playmaker who has a nose for the ball. But on Saturday, he had a buster of a time with the drills, falling down in one of the agility drills, and ran a 4.61 40-yard dash which was disappointing for a guy whose calling card is his effectiveness in coverage.

What this means for the Cowboys: There could still be a role for Domann on Quinn’s defense, but it could likely come from LB/S hybrid role at a cheaper draft price.

CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

There was a time when the Tigers star corner was atop the cornerback rankings in this draft class, but it appears that time has come and gone. While Stingley didn’t participate in the combine as he recovers from a foot injury, his stock continues to slide because several other corners performed well on Sunday. Sauce Gardner checked off the 40-time box with a 4.41 time and both Trent McDuffie and Roger McCreary were McCeptional.

What this means for the Cowboys: Stingley has a legit chance to slide to the back of the first round as he continues to be a mystery.

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