By Matthew Postins
The Dallas Cowboys’ scouting staff will likely be spread across the country this weekend.
The Raycom All-Star Game in Alabama is one of three collegiate all-star games on tap. Like last week’s Casino Del Sol All-Star Game, many of these prospects are trying to get seen and improve their draft stock. Most of them are considered late-round fliers or undrafted free agents.
What will the Cowboys be looking for? Well, now that Monte Kiffin is installed as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys will be scrutinizing the defensive players. The offensive line is also of major concern.
The Raycom game will be at the Crampton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The game will be at 2 p.m. CST Saturday on the CBS Sports Network.
Note that some of the guys we profiled last week are playing in this game as well. That’s just as important. Scouts want to see if guys can improve from week to week, because that’s exactly what you have to do in the NFL. But for our purposes, we’ll look at players we didn’t profile last week.
Who might the Cowboys be taking a look at? Here’s a list of players that, at least to this untrained set of eyes, looks intriguing.
RB Washuan Ealey, Jacksonville State: Ealey matriculated at Georgia, where he led the Bulldogs in rushing in both of his seasons. At Jacksonville State he rushed for 1,087 yards in 2011 and 727 yards in 2012. He’s a productive back, though a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds. He has a checkered past. He’s been arrested twice, including last year on drug possession charges. He was suspended several times at Georgia. He’s a Top 30 back in this draft and he has to prove the messy stuff is behind him. He has the tools to be a backup to DeMarco Murray.
DB Jonathan Meeks, Clemson: Considered a Top 20 strong safety prospect, he has the size (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) to be a safety in the Cover 2. He had seven career interceptions at Clemson, so he has some coverage skills. The Cowboys probably don’t need a starter, but they need to address the depth.
LB Kenny Tate, Maryland: If you read my articles on Kiffin you know he has an affinity for what some NFL teams consider undersized linebackers. Tate, at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, fits the mold of a Cover 2 linebacker. He’s considered a strong side linebacker prospect, an area Dallas must address. He has to show two things. First, that he’s quicker than his 40 time at NFLDraftScout.com suggests (listed at 4.74). Second, he has to prove the injuries that he dealt with at Maryland are behind him. If can prove both, he may be worth a late flier.
OL Mike Golic Jr.: The son of former Philadelphia defensive tackle and “Mike and Mike” co-host Mike Golic, the younger Golic is out to prove he’s worth a NFL contract. At 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, he projects as a guard, and the Cowboys have a need for young competition at the position. Right now he’s a marginal prospect who needs to prove he can match up with the 300-pound defensive tackles he’ll encounter in the NFL.
OT Terren Jones: The Alabama State product is massive, coming in at 6-foot-7, 320 pounds. He played tackle in college, but some scouts project him as a guard. He seems a little too big to be inside, but this week is a chance to prove to scouts he can be a swing tackle or a swing tackle-guard in an NFL training camp. The kid has talent – he earned notice on two FCS All-America teams.
DT Montori Hughes: This Tennessee State product is a beast – 6-foot-4, 330 pounds. You try blocking him. He was dismissed from Tennessee in 2011 but he’s still quite talented. He’s ranked No. 13 among defensive tackles and his size makes him an intriguing run-stopper in the Cover 2. He might make a good backup and long-range prospect for a Cowboys team that really needs to upgrade the defensive line.
QB Robert Marve: There was a time when he was a can’t miss quarterback. Six years later he’s fighting for a chance to reach the NFL. He has to prove he can read defenses and make NFL throws, because admittedly I didn’t see much of that during the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Cowboys need a developmental prospect for down the road.
LS Carson Tinker: Don’t laugh. He’s the best long snapper on the board. L.P. Ladouceur is a free agent. The Cowboys make a point of investing in this position. I doubt Tinker gets drafted. But he certainly could be a post-draft free agent signee with any team that wants a reliable long snapper with multiple national title rings.
WR Tyron Laughinghouse, Saint Augustine: Here’s an intriguing guy to keep an eye on. He’s a special teams ace who was the CIAA Special Teams Player of the Year, leading that conference in punt return and kick return yardage and scoring four times. Yes, the Cowboys have Dwayne Harris, but you can never have enough return guys these days. He has plenty to gain with a great performance.
DL Quinton Dial, Alabama: The Cowboys need to be looking at any defensive lineman at this point, especially with a SEC pedigree. Dial was a rotation tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2012. He’s the guy who made the hit on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray that everyone thought he should have been suspended for. The question for anyone that drafts him is where do you put him? One of the inside tackle positions makes sense for the 304-pounder, and at 6-foot-6 he could bat down some passes.
DE Willie Jefferson, Stephen F. Austin: Full disclosure. I’m an SFA alum so I’ve seen Jefferson play several times. He is incredibly athletic. He put himself on the map in 2011 with a 15-sack season as a junior, and followed that up with an 8-sack season in 2012. The problem is this. While he’s 6-foot-6, he’s also 234 pounds. Does he have a big enough frame to put on another 30 pounds to play defensive end in the Cover 2? That might be asking too much. Does he have the ability to play an outside linebacker spot in the Cover 2? Also unclear. He’ll spend the week proving to scouts whether he can do either. He may play both positions in the game. I can tell you this – he has enough raw ability for any NFL team to take a chance on with a post-draft contract.