Cowboys Nation: Based on what you've seen thus far, who looks more likely to slide and who could move up?
TD: Off today? [The interview was held on Sunday.] Watching Tavon Austin move -- he's dynamite. Looking at teams playing more with guys in the slot on 1st down I think he can be a 1st-round receiver and make an impact. Ryan Swope is a poor-man's version of Austin. He ran in the 4.3 range today. He's much more athletic than people thought.
Robert Woods has helped himself a lot. I watched him a little today. He was phenomenal catching the football. He's faster than people think and he's smooth. His freshman year he was being touted as a potential top-10 pick. Woods didn't forget how to play football, but he happened to play with another talented receiver whom Matt Barkley seemed to like more. USC also game planned away from Woods more but he could move up boards based on his work.
At running back, Arkansas' Knile Davis was another one. We talked about him as a potential sleeper. He was fast, he was fit. He had close to 30 reps in the bench press. Watching Knile Davis, I see a guy who could certainly help a team that took him in the 3rd or 4th round. He might even sneak into the 2nd, and I think he could out-produce a lot of guys who entered this process with higher ratings.
CN: How many backs do you think will go in the 1st and 2nd round. Dallas will probably be looking for a running back. I would be surprised now if they kept Felix Jones. How many runners could go in the 1st. Is it Eddie Lacy and then wait and see?
TD: I think he's the only one who could go in the 1st. I think he could fall later in the round. I've heard that Miami might be a destination, depending on what they do with Reggie Bush. I've heard the Packers as a possible team, and I think Lacy would make a great fit for Green Bay. But there are not a lot of teams with a huge need for running backs.
I could see Lacy going in the late 1st, somewhere in the range where Mark Ingram went a couple of years ago. Then Giovani Bernard might go in the 1st, but I can't find a spot for him.
I'm excited to run down the defensive tackles with you next week once they work out, but what I've already heard is that as many as eight defensive tackles could go in the 1st round. This happened a few years ago, in '04 I think it was, and it seemed that every two or three picks a defensive tackle is flying off the board. The result is that good players at other positions were pushed down the board.
So you think which positions could get pushed this year? Running back is one. Inside linebacker is another. Safety is another spot, especially if you're an in-the-box guy. If the grades are similar, who do you want, an interior defensive lineman, or a running back who's likely going to last one contract?
It used to be quarterback where you wanted to draft a guy every year or every other year to see if you hit the jackpot. I think it's smart to start drafting a running back every other year or so in the mid-rounds, so you can rotate a new one in and never find yourself short there.
CN: Let's go back to the top. If you're talking eight defensive tackles, who are they?
TD: Obviously Star Lotulelei at the top. [This was before Lotulelei was held out of drills with a suspicious heart test. Stay tuned on this story.] There's Sharrif Floyd from Florida. He's almost certainly a top 15, and a top 10 guy if he tests well. There's Jonathan Hankins from Ohio State, the big plugger. He looks more like a 4-3 tackle and can eat up space.
Sheldon Richardson from Missouri is more of one-gap type. I think he's got some 5-technique but he's a better fit as a 3-technique in a 4-3. Then you've got the big nose tackle from Georgia Johnathan Jenkins. You have Jesse Williams from Alabama, Sylvester Williams from North Carolina and maybe a Kawann Short sneaks in.
CN: I think in Cowboys land there's a short list for a lot of people. I think it's four guys, two 3-techniques, Floyd and Richardson, the safety Kenny Vaccaro and Chance Warmack. There's a pretty good chance all four of those guys are gone. If Dallas comes on the clock and they're out, where or to whom do you turn next? Where does Jonathan Cooper sit these days?
TD: He ran a very good 40 time, must over 5.0 seconds. He's a safe play, there's no doubt about that. And he's something else with Cooper. Several teams I've talked to feel that his best position may end up being center. His most natural position may be center as opposed to guard. He's being viewed as a guy who can play multiple positions. I think that adds value.
You know he can play with good pad level and can get under you and can move. He's not simply a straight-line player. Add that he could also play center and I think he will be in that 20 to 40 range. Pick 18 might be a bit high, but if you can get a future All Pro center who really cares where he was taken?
CN: I had this discussion with Eric Galko a while back about the inevitable comparison between Cooper and Warmack. Warmack it seems is in a class by himself among the interior O-linemen, but Cooper helped himself a lot because he had good power numbers in his workout.
That said, his tape does not match Warmack's in the power game. Is this a matter of Cooper lacking strength right now, and is this something he can improve in the future?
TD: Cooper is going to get stronger. When you look at Warmack and Cooper, they're different body types. When you look at offensive tackles say, when they have that V-cut shape with narrower hips and a narrower waist, they can add 20-25 lbs. but they're still going to have a narrower frame and they won't have the natural power base that a guy with an "inverted" frame will have.
You look at Chance Warmack and he's built for power. I'm not saying Cooper isn't, but Warmack has a wide frame, thicker hips, he's broader in his lower half. When he's able to get a hold of you, he has more power.
I think Cooper gets off the football a little better, just a split second quicker. That's taking nothing away from Warmack, who is good off the ball too, but Warmack just has a more consistent ability to create movement in the power game and that's something Cooper will never be able to generate on the same level. But Cooper can make up for it in other ways with his ability to get off the football, to play with good leverage. I think Cooper can probably angle people away from the football a little better because of his superior movement but in a phone booth, Warmack is as good as it gets.
Next: TD rates the best bets for the Cowboys at need positions in the 1st and 2nd rounds.