The Dallas Cowboys got big production from Dez Bryant. He caught fire at the end of the season and finally had that elusive 1,000 yard season while pulling in 12 TDs. His 86.4 yards a game ranked 6th in the NFL last year. A performance that has all Cowboy fans salivating on what else he can do. Jason Witten also had a 1,000 yard season in a season started with uncertainty with an injured spleen. Witten was the only Tight End in the league to have a 1,000 yard season last year.
Miles Austin was banged up yet again and no one else could help pick up the slack. It seems that Kevin Olgetree and Dwayne Harris did not produce after the beginning of the season. Looming questions arise about what will the Cowboys do regarding their receivers. Will Miles Austin be back? Should Kevin Olgetree come back? What type of progress can the Cowboys expect from their second year receivers? Tim Benford, Cole Beasley, and Danny will all have another chance to prove that they can be productive in this system. Out of the three, Cole Beasley, from SMU, was the only one to see the field and caught 15 passes. Coale’s season ended how it began with an injury. He suffered a stress fracture at the beginning OTA’s and then had a season ending ACL injury in November. He has the biggest hurdle to overcome this off-season.
There are 39 Wide Receivers that will be participating in this years Combine. Some will get more attention than others. Some of these players are looking to answer questions about their size/speed/power at Lucas Oil Stadium. In that 2006 draft, Greg Jennings earned some extra money by running a 4.42 at his combine. Their were some questions about his speed coming out of Western Michigan. Those questions were answered and he became a pro-bowl Wide Out for Green Bay.
There are a couple of names that I will be paying more attention to during the draft. Justin Hunter who had 18 career TDs (Tennessee), Terrance Williams who had 27 TDs (Baylor), Marquess Wilson who had 23 TDs, mostly in his first two seasons (Washington State), Cobi Hamilton who had 18 TDs (Arkansas), Marcus Davis with 13 TDs (Virginia Tech), and Brandon Kaufman with a staggering 33 TDs (Eastern Washington). Hunter and Kaufman have had injury problems but are healthy and ready to showcase their talent. Marcus Davis fell victim to inconsistency at the Quarterback position but will now step out and compete by himself. Cobi Hamilton could have had a better year, but Arkansas was a total mess this year. Interesting to see what he comes in at and how he measures up.
Of course their are names out there that I want to see in the drills just to marvel at their athleticism and see more of. Cordarrelle Paterson had some issues with catching the ball away from his body. How has he improved upon this? The West Virginia Duo had Geno Smith throwing to them, so they need to prove that they can get it done without him. How well do they adjust to the ball in the drills and just how fast are they? Robert Woods has been compared to DeSean Jackson but will his combine numbers be compared as well?
And what about the athleticism of Marquise Goodwin, Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson? How will they showcase their skills at the Combine?
I want to see players like Kaufman, Quinton Patton, and Aaron Dobson perform with the pressure of coming from smaller schools. Do they rise to the occasion or shrink back in anyway?
In the Interview process, I will be looking to see how Marquess Wilson and DaRick Rogers handle the questions given to them. Wilson had two great years at WSU but had an unproductive season his Junior year before quitting (or being cut from) the team. What happened and how do GMs and Coaches react to his comments? DaRick Rogers was at Tennessee. Yes. There are three Volunteers at the Combine from the WR Position. He was kicked off the team for a failed drug test. What does he has to say for himself and will it be enough? Will the performances of these athletes out weigh their off the field issues? Only time will tell, teams will approach with caution.
As far as the potential sleepers in the field, there are three names of note. Jasper Collins is the latest NFL prospect out of Mount Union from the WR ranks. Can he be a bigger Pierre Garcon? Collins had 37 TDs in his career with an average of 15.2 yards a reception. Tyrone Goard out of Eastern Kentucky is a nice prospect. He is a huge target at 6’6 and might run a 4.5 at the combine. At EKU, Goard racked up1842 yards receiving and caught 24 TDs. Another player is Aaron Mellette out of Elon. I thought he would have had a bigger impact at Elon and produced bigger numbers. The one trend that you see from small school receivers is the ability to dominate the opposition. At times, Mellette did not do this. Interesting to see how he performs at the Combine and how is draft status shakes up.