2011 NFL Mock Draft: Dallas Cowboys and an In-Depth Analysis of Picks 9-16


This is the second of four parts featuring my 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Picks 9-16 represent teams that didn’t have terrible seasons, but they weren’t good enough to make the playoffs.

Teams picking in this grouping include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys.

After the break you can see who I think each team will take as well as an in-depth analysis of each player.

For more first round analysis of every pick, you can find that here: 1-8, 9-16, 17-24, 25-32

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jake Locker, QB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 20 (3)

School: Washington

Vitals: 6-3, 230 lbs.

40 time: 4.53

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Accuracy: Showed significant improvement in 2009, though still a work in progress in this area. Has to do a better job of setting his feet before making the throw. Too often forces receivers on short and intermediate routes to slow or reach wide to collect his throws. Flashes surprising touch down the seam and in hitting the back on swing passes, though he needs to gain consistency here. Proved most accurate in critical situations, drilling a variety of pro-style throws (comebacks, crossing routes and deep-outs) when Washington faced some of its best competition or in situations with the game on the line.

Arm Strength: Possesses ideal arm strength. Drives the ball on short and intermediate routes. In fact, may need to learn to more consistently throw with touch for shorter routes, as he too often zips passes through his targets’ hands. Can stretch the defense deep and throw 60-plus yards with a tight trajectory. Experienced playing in poor weather and has the arm strength to slice through strong winds. Reportedly has been clocked at 95 mph by baseball scouts.

Setup/Release: Well versed taking the snap from under center and out of the shotgun. Good foot speed, balance and agility for the quarterback position, but is still developing the nuances of setting his feet before releasing the pass. Has an efficient, over-the-top delivery and delivers the ball with velocity.

Reading Defenses: May have regressed as a senior in this area after improving significantly from his sophomore season (under Tyrone Willingham) to his junior season (first under Sarkisian). Has a tendency to stare down his primary option. Can be too aggressive and will throw the deep ball into double-coverage.

On the Move: A true dual-threat quarterback. Estimated by scouts to have 4.5 speed, but plays faster due to his vision, and his long strides in the open field are deceptive. Has some wiggle to make defenders miss and seems to enjoy the physical aspect of the game. Had to be reined back by Sarkisian (and previously, Willingham) for his willingness to drop his shoulder and take on the defender for additional yardage. Dangerous thrower on the move, demonstrating good velocity and improving accuracy when rolling to his right or left. Has a tendency to forget his mechanics when throwing on the move, however, leading to some of his passes drifting high or wide of his intended target.

Intangibles: In addition to his durability and consistency concerns, scouts also have to worry if Locker will remain in football. He’s a dual sport athlete who has twice been drafted by MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Signed a six-year deal with the Angels in 2009, though part of the agreement is that Locker will pursue a career in football over baseball. Technically considered a walk-on at UW as the Angels are paying for his scholarship costs. Highly respected by the coaching staff, teammates and fans. Gutty, determined. Named a team captain in 2009 and 2010. Honored with the Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award, the UW’s oldest and most prestigious team honor, following the 2009 season.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB

Projected Round: 1

Overall Rank (Position): 14 (1)

School: Alabama

Vitals: 5-10, 215 lbs.

40 time: 4.48

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Inside running: Possesses the deal frame for running between the tackles. Quickly presses the line of scrimmage and has the burst to get to and through the hole. Keeps his shoulders squared to the line and runs hard with a low center of gravity. His feet churn through contact and allow him to play bigger on short-yardage runs. Good awareness of the first-down marker. Has the leg drive and forward lean to finish runs falling forward. Instinctive runner with a good feel for when to bounce off blocks and set up cutback lanes. Can plant and drive to capitalize on a crease. Good vision and acceleration to get into the secondary. Does not possess elite stopwatch speed, but has enough to break free for long gains. Excellent ball security — two fumbles in his career.

Outside running: Possesses good but not great speed to get to the edge. Best attributes as an outside runner are his vision to identify opening holes and the burst and power he shows coming out of decisive cuts. Doesn’t waste time running laterally unless he sees he has the corner. Can make defenders miss in tight quarters with good lateral agility, but isn’t a dancer.

Breaking tackles: Surprisingly powerful runner with a low center of gravity. He keeps his legs churning through contact. Won’t wow with his ability to run over defenders, but is tough to bring down. Defenders have a hard time lining up a clean shot on him despite his broad frame and he shows good shiftiness when cornered. Capable of absorbing or delivering a big hit and maintaining his balance. Defenders have to wrap him up.

Blocking: Cognizant pass blocker. Is willing to take on the hard-charging defender and shows good effort and physicality to gain a stalemate. When trying to cut defenders he often gets too low, allowing defenders to easily leap over him.

Receiving: Reliable receiver out of the backfield with soft hands and good flexibility to extend and pluck the ball. Secures the ball quickly. Good vision for the screen game and he has the patience to set up blocks, rather than run past them.

Intangibles: Son of former New York Giants wide receiver Mark Ingram, who is serving time for fraud and money laundering. The first running back to win the Heisman and the national championship in the same season since Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh, 1976). Won the Derrick Thomas Community Award following 2010 spring practice.

14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR

Projected Round: 1

Overall Rank (Position): 10 (2)

School: Alabama

Vitals: 6-4, 220 lbs.

40 time: 4.49

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Release: Good initial burst off the line of scrimmage. Long-strider with good build-up speed to eat up the cushion against corners playing off-man coverage. Excellent size and strength to defeat press coverage. Good use of hands to ward off defenders and has enough lateral agility and burst off the line to gain an immediate advantage.

Hands: Inconsistent. Drops too many passes due to a lack of concentration – usually when he’s trying to make a defender miss before wrapping the ball up securely. Isn’t a consistent “hands” catcher and allows too many passes into his pads, resulting in drops. Flashes the ability to extend and make the highlight-reel reception. Willing to run routes across the middle and take a big hit to make the catch.

Route running: Made his biggest gains in this area as a junior. Improved consistency with his route-running. Doesn’t possess elite speed or the explosion out of his cuts, but has learned to sink his hips and plant firmly to generate improved separation on short and intermediate routes. Is able to get away with less than ideal route-running due to his size and physicality. Much stronger than most collegiate receivers and won’t be pushed around by NFL defensive backs. Deceptive deep speed to challenge over the top.

After the catch: Among his better areas. Runs with a long stride but also possesses good agility to elude defenders in open quarters and the acceleration to run away from defenders. Rare strength to break free of tackles and gain yardage after the catch. Good vision to set up his blocks downfield due to experience as kick and punt returner.

Blocking: Among the better downfield blockers of the 2011 receiver class. Good size, strength and competitiveness. Keeps his head on a swivel and looks to help his teammates.

Intangibles: Proved his toughness by playing through various injuries over his career, including a broken hand in 2010. Highly decorated prep athlete rated the No. 1 overall prospect in the country by some scouting organizations. Involved with several local community service projects including the Santa America Foundation and local Optimist International club.

13. Detroit Lions: Brandon Harris, CB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 26 (3)

School: Miami (Fla.)

Vitals: 5-11, 195 lbs.

40 time: 4.45

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Read & React: Quick to recognize run and does a nice job of coming up in support. Reads the body language of the receiver and is typically in good position to a make a play on the ball due to his instincts and standout athleticism. Rarely out of position, especially when playing man to man. Does a nice job of focusing on his receiver rather than peeking into the backfield, though this leads to fewer interceptions than he’d have if he “cheated” more.

Man Coverage: Better in man to man coverage than zone due to his pure athleticism. Quick feet, loose hips, good balance and outstanding speed to remain in the hip pocket of his opponent. Doesn’t back down from the challenge of playing bigger receivers. Keys on the receiver and gets his head around late. Quick hands to knock passes away, but doesn’t have the time to locate the football, leading to more PBUs than INTs.

Zone Coverage: Improved his overall recognition as a junior, but remains a better man to man corner than zone defender. Good feel for where receivers are around him, but can get flat-footed and savvy QBs can “push” him laterally, opening up holes for receivers to expose. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but isn’t a punisher.

Closing/Recovery: Possesses outstanding game speed, including a late burst to recover if beaten initially. Can plant and drive downhill on the ball. Good recognition to know when he’s beat and to make the tackle and when he has a chance to break up the pass or go for the interception. Times his collisions well so he doesn’t draw the flag. Times his leaps well to compete for jump passes and shows good hand-eye coordination to slap away the ball as the receiver is attempting to secure it. Doesn’t turn enough PBU’s into interceptions, however, only securing four despite 26 passes defensed over his career.

Run Support: Recognizes run quickly and isn’t afraid to come up in support. Good agility and flashes physicality to break free from receiver blocks. Maintains his containment responsibility and will force the back inside. Isn’t a physical tackler, too often resorting to duck and swipe techniques, but gets the man on the ground.

Tackling: A reliable open-field tackler, but isn’t always pretty doing it. Has a tendency to lead with his shoulder and/or lunge at the defender, resulting in some precarious tackles. Flashes the ability to deliver a pop, but relies too much on arm tackles. Has to do a better job of wrapping up the ballcarrier, though important to note that he did not miss a tackle on the games reviewed. Occasionally asked to blitz off the edge. Times the blitz well, shows good closing speed and the wherewithal to strip the football. Did take a terrible angle on a big play by Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd in the Sun Bowl.

Intangibles: Passionate and accountable. Quoted as saying that he and his classmates (2008 signing class) should dedicate their 2010 season to head coach Randy Shannon and that they were largely to blame for Miami’s inconsistency. (Despite Harris’ words, Shannon was ultimately fired.) Ran track for Miami as a freshman in the 60 meter (indoor), 400 meter (outdoor) and 4×400 meter (both). Good bloodlines. Coached in high school by his father, Tim Harris, USA Today’s National Coach of the Year (2007). His brother, Tim, Jr. was a four-time All-American in track for Miami. Only needs to serve a two-month internship to earn his bachelor’s degree in Business.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Sherrod, OT

Projected Round: 1

Overall Rank (Position): 12 (1)

School: Mississippi State

Vitals: 6-5, 305 lbs.

40 time: 5.22

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Pass blocking: Good initial quickness. Eases out of his stance and has the lateral agility and balance to mirror the defender. Good hand strength and has long arms that he uses to latch onto and control his opponent. Generally plays with good knee-bend and leverage, but can lose his anchor when he tires. Can become fundamentally lazy and lean into the defender; gets knocked off-balance and gives up the inside lane. Should improve in this area with greater focus on his technique, but has an upside-down triangle build due to broad shoulders and relatively narrow hips, making him top-heavy and susceptible to being overpowered. Among his better attributes is his recognition. Recognizes the blitz coming and gets a good initial pop on his primary target (defensive end) before passing him off to the guard and working his way outside to catch the rushing linebacker or stunting defensive tackle.

Run blocking: Comes off the ball too high and lacks the pad level and power to consistently knock defenders off the line. Good quickness and hand strength to turn and seal off defenders from the play. Good recognition to release from double-team and get out to the second level. Scouts would like to see him finish blocks with more authority before releasing.

Pulling/trapping: Good initial quickness to release to the second level, but has only average agility to re-direct in the open field. Locates his target, but has to do a better job of anticipating where the defender is going. Isn’t fluid enough to change direction and hit the moving target. Too often extends his arms, “catching” the linebacker, which could result in penalty flags when playing against NFL-caliber athletes. Good trap blocker due to his initial quickness, big frame and recognition.

Initial Quickness: Good, though not elite, initial quickness off the snap. Has the agility and long arms to handle most right defensive ends (and thus remain at left tackle), but due to the fact that he is a bit top-heavy and lacks elite balance, is susceptible to quick jab-steps outside and spin or counter moves back to the inside. Is quick enough in the running game to turn and seal off the defender, creating a wall from which the running back can bounce off from.

Downfield: Gives good effort to block downfield. Above-average straight-line speed, though his average balance keeps him from being as effective at the second level as his speed and size would indicate. Gets in the way of defenders and has the wingspan to alter their path, but struggles re-directing his charge.

Intangibles: Was one of 16 players to win the storied National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame (NFF) Award, which includes a post-graduate $18,000 scholarship. Earned his degree in business with a 3.54 GPA. Is the third Bulldog to win the award and the first since 1989. Team leader voted a captain in 2010. A four-year member of the M-Club, MSU’s student-athlete community service organization, he has spent considerable time with the youth of Mississippi. He has served breakfast at Sudduth Elementary School, participated in Sudduth’s Kids Fair and read to local students to promote literacy. He has also organized a Thanksgiving food drive.

11. Houston Texans: Von Miller, OLB

Projected Round: 1

Overall Rank (Position): 9 (1)

School: Texas A&M

Vitals: 6-2, 243 lbs.

40 time: 4.56

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Read & React: Overall instincts for the position, particularly containment and run responsibility and reaction, are questionable since he is primarily used in a “sic ’em” role. Still getting a feel for coverage but reacts quickly when the ball is thrown to the flat. Good feel for pass rush. He sniffs out indecision in the passer and senses weakness in an offensive tackle. Knows when to go for the ball or big hit on to create turnovers.

Run defense: Improving against the run, but must be more consistent to become an elite all-around player. Plays with more strength than expected; is adequate grounding his hold on the move when engaged but does lose his balance. Willing to lower his shoulder against pulling guards to fill inside gaps. Teams take advantage of his continual edge rushing to get a running lane outside. Overruns plays with aggressive angles and a lack of focus on the ball. Crashes down on plays if he senses an inside run, but lacks the explosive punch to knock back fullback or tackle blocks. Inconsistent chaser on the back side, could increase his tackle production with more effort.

Pass defense: Could excel in this part of the game because of his fluidity and quickness, but is still raw in coverage. Mirrors running backs and tight ends off the line into the flat and downfield. Athletic enough to drop deep, keeps one eye on the running back and the other on the quarterback. Is not aware of receivers behind him. Needs to get his hands up to clog passing lanes more consistently when unable to reach the passer. Must improve his hands for the interception.

Tackling: Strong upper body and closing speed make him an explosive tackler who is tough to elude in the backfield. Loads up on ballcarriers — sometimes even leaving his feet — to force fumbles. Chase effort is mixed; will stop four or five steps from a play if he thinks his teammate will take care of the play instead of adding himself to the pile. Makes a number of shoe-string tackles when facing elusive runners, gives full effort to bring the man down. Doesn’t disengage often enough to make tackles against the run but will crash down to close a gap.

Pass Rush/Blitz: Greatest area of strength of this stand-up defensive end. Extremely quick around the corner. Gets skinny to penetrate when shooting the inside gap. Elite closing speed to the quarterback, explodes to drive them into the ground or uses his length to wrap up even the most mobile passers. Dips shoulder to get under the pads of taller tackles, shortening the pocket. Feels cut blocks and uses his hands and quickness to beat them. Good arm-over, spin and outside-in change-up moves to get his man off-balance after turning the corner on previous plays. Average strength and hand usage to free himself after initial contact. Might push man off-balance once getting him moving up the field, but too often stopped after his first move when facing opponents with good lateral movement. Capable of leveraging tackles back into the pocket, but lacks great length or bulk to take on massive NFL tackles.

Intangibles: Maturing as a leader and person throughout his career at A&M. Has no major character or off-field issues. Given one of three team Weightlifter of the Year awards in April 2010. Sprained right ankle hampered him early in 2010, limiting the explosion around which his game is keyed.

10. Washington Redskins: Cameron Newton, QB

Projected Round: Top 15

Overall Rank (Position): 13 (2)

School: Auburn

Vitals: 6-6, 250 lbs.

40 time: 4.52

Analysis, from CBS Sports’ Rob Rang:

Accuracy: Generally demonstrates good accuracy, though he is inconsistent in the all important intermediate areas. Good ball placement on underneath routes and when hitting the back on the swing pass when he sets his feet. Among his best attributes is his deep ball accuracy. Possesses very good touch and trajectory on the long ball, showing the ability to drop it in the bucket from 50 yards out. Shows the ability to step into his throws and fire the slant, post and deep out passes, though his accuracy drops when he’s forced to move his feet. Doesn’t always reset, making quick tosses that are primarily “arm” throws.

Arm Strength: Possesses plenty of arm strength to make every NFL throws. Can zip the slant and deep out through tight windows. Good strength to complete passes even with defenders draped over him. Can flick the ball 50 yards downfield without significant windup, and closer to 70 when he does.

Setup/Release: An area of legitimate concern. Takes virtually all of his snaps out of the shotgun and while he clearly has the athleticism to handle dropping back from center, will be making the difficult transition of doing so while making multiple reads of the defense — something he wasn’t often asked to do at Auburn. Possesses an efficient, over the top release with good follow-through. Generally steps into his throws, though he will too often fail to do so when on the move. Stops his feet and will shotput throws, leading to passes fluttering and coming up short.

Reading Defenses: Another area of concern. Was only asked to make 1-2 reads at Auburn before having free reign to tuck the ball and run with it. Rarely was challenged with complicated blitz packages as collegiate defenses typically were more worried about protecting against the run. Essentially will be asked to make twice as many reads in half as much time in the NFL.

On the Move: Clearly his greatest trait. Buys time in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. Can elude defenders in tight quarters due to good elusiveness for the position. Rare acceleration. Possesses a second gear to sneak through cracks in the defense and break away. Possesses rare strength and size. Can bowl over defenders to gain yardage. Every bit as dangerous as a runner as he is a receiver. Capable of completing throws with defenders draped on him.

Intangibles: Scouts question whether he has the football intelligence necessary to handle the myriad of formations and adjustments to be successful in a pro offense. Though his football IQ has been questioned, scouts rave about his poise on and off the field, as well as his leadership ability. Quickly emerged as Auburn’s unquestioned leader. Despite his leadership, teams will have to do their homework on Newton’s off-field behavior. Was arrested while at Florida for possession of a stolen laptop computer. He and his father were infamously investigated for their role in a pay-for-play scheme at Mississippi State that endangered Newton’s eligibility and Heisman candidacy. The NCAA and SEC chose not to suspend Newton due to a lack of evidence that he had knowledge of his father courting payment in exchange for his son accepting a scholarship offer.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara, CB

Projected Round: 1

Overall Rank (Position): 7 (2)

School: Nebraska

Vitals: 6-0, 205 lbs.

40 time: 4.49

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Read & React: Strong instincts with very quick reactions. Reads the quarterback’s eyes and anticipates routes, closing quickly to jump underneath routes. Gets into the flat in a hurry to attack screen plays and outside runs. Inconsistent biting on double moves and pump fakes, will get overly aggressive during the course of a game and give up the deep ball.

Man Coverage: Perfect NFL press-cover corner with his combination of size, strength and speed. Is patient in man coverage, reading the receiver’s move and reacting quickly. Quick feet and smooth hips to turn and run, maintains contact with most any receiver down the sideline. Closes well when playing off the line, attacks midsection and wraps to tackle. Capable of playing very physically, especially in the five-yard area. Has the lateral movement to shadow jerk routes. Maintains cushion in his backpedal.

Zone Coverage: Owns the prototypical man-press build but has the closing speed and physicality to excel in zone coverage. Excellent anticipation of underneath throws, cuts under receivers to make a play on the ball with exceptional hand-eye coordination. Comes off deep routes to support shorter patterns to his side. Secure tackler who rarely gives up yards after the catch. Has dropped interceptions not thrown in his breadbasket. Fair foot speed in his backpedal, but needs to stay over his feet instead of leaning backward.

Closing/Recovery: Excellent closing speed for his size. Changes from pedal to forward motion quickly, plants hard and has a burst to the ball. Inconsistent recovery speed if frozen by double move, can get back into the play (and make a play on the ball) but quicker receivers seem to maintain separation.

Run Support: Has the size and aggressive nature to excel in run support. Willing cut tackler, gets into the thigh of the running back. Good strength to rip off receiver blocks, could be more consistent using his hands to disengage. Sticks his nose into piles and can stand up running backs coming with a head of steam.

Tackling: Excellent strength for the position, effective wrapping up receivers after the catch or cutting down backs in run support. Breaks down in space to avoid missed tackles. Will attack the shoulder pads of running backs to bring them down or force them out of bounds. Very effective cut tackler whether attacking the thighs of running backs or violently taking out the legs of receivers in the open field. Even when he does not bring down the ballcarrier, he gets enough to slow him down giving help time to arrive. Helps teammates finish off tackles in space. Could be more consistent getting off receiver blocks.

Intangibles: Spiritual man, involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Has matured greatly since arriving on campus, applying himself on the practice field and the film room more diligently since 2009.

For more first round analysis of every pick, you can find that here: 1-8, 9-16, 17-24, 25-32