While there is always going to be mystery when it comes to the NFL Draft, over the years the Dallas Cowboys have done their fans a bit of a favor and tipped their hands so to speak. Not only have they (not once, but twice) given us a look at their draft boards after that year’s draft was completed, but in their actions they’ve also alerted us to some key tells about their actions. In our must-read post from earlier in the off-season “6 Draft Tendencies and Tells" we listed the following:
This is by no means an end-all be-all list. Morris Claiborne wasn’t invited to the Ranch, and Dallas spend two picks to acquire him. Maybe the lack of development their helped guide their hand recently, as eight of their picks over the last two years were in for official visits. In that vein, we’ll be bringing you in-depth looks at the draft candidates that Dallas schedules for visits, so that you can be better informed about the small sample size many of the next group of Cowboys will likely come from.
Name: Eli Harold Position: Defensive End School: University of Virginia Height: 6’3” Weight: 247 LBs Intangibles/Honors: Second Team All-ACC (Consensus) - 2014 Touchdown Club of Richmond’s Defensive Linemen of the Year - 2014 College Football News All-Sophomore Second Team – 2013 Didn’t miss a single game in his college career African-American Studies Major Played QB, RB, WR, and Defensive End in High School. pSparq Score: 132.9 Z-Score: 1.0 NFL Percentile: 84.0 pSparq is an approximation of the “Sparq Score” metric invented by NIKE (with the help of former USC and current Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll), designed as a way to standardize athletic testing of High School athletes and interpret their athleticism with a sport specific formula. For more on pSparq,(and the man behind the math Zach Whitman) check out 3sigmaathlete.com
Measurables vs others at his position:
Force Player?: No Note: For more information on Force Players, how they’re classified, and the correlation to success for edge rushers, listen to the founder of the method, Justis Mosqueda, on Josh Norris’ Process the Process Podcast
Games Studied: Pitt, Louisville, Miami Pass Rush: Eli Harold rushed almost exclusively from the Right DE position at Virginia in their 4-3 defense. He is a special rusher in terms of athleticism, speed, and change of direction, and deployed those weapons to be a dangerous player on the Cavaliers defense. Harold is at his best when he has space to work with and can use his speed and change of direction to keep OT’s off balance. He did use multiple rush moves (speed, spin, double hand swipe), as well as setting the OT up to the outside, planting his foot and ducking back inside to create pressure, but only finished the job for a sack once, usually because the ball came out quick. His hand usage is inconsistent from game to game (good vs L’Ville, bad vs Pitt & Miami), which makes me wonder if he gets lazy with his hands when you run at him more often. Run Game: This is the area that draws the most concern for me regarding Harold. He played his junior season at UVA at around 235 lbs, and had a hard time holding up against the run. Whether getting blocked by OT’s or TE’s he got washed out of the play regularly. He has added weight in preparation for the NFL, without losing any athleticism, but the questions regarding functional strength in the run game remain.
Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: In 2014, Harold looked a lot like a WR or high-cut RB who was rushing the passer, and although he put on some weight in the draft process, I think for the Cowboys he would have to be mostly a situational rusher for the first year or two while Mike Woicik’s strength and conditioning staff attempts to develop the functional strength he’ll need to become a 3-down type of DE. For a guy projected to be picked in the late first or early second round, would that 4th DE/designated pass rusher role justify the high pick it would require to take him? He moves like the kind of guy who will be able to bend the edge, create pressure and get to the quarterback, which is always valuable, and if he gets better at the point of attack and more consistent with his hand use, he’s got the potential to play at a high level as a defensive end. Past his first year he projects to be a right defensive end for the Cowboys, allowing Demarcus Lawrence to play the left side, and creating a good tandem of bookend edge rushers to anchor the defensive front for the foreseeable future.
Our Cowboys Crunchtime Podcast series is here, featuring Fish, KD Drummond, Bob Sturm and more ... ... How do Dallas' national visits coordinate with who they eventually drafts? KD examines. ... Keep it right here at CowboysHQ for hard-hitting commentary and outstanding analysis. ... Hungry for some understanding of how the Cowboys front office really operates? "Jerry and his Cornerstones'' gives you answers. ... Want more Cowboys Draft Profiles? Click here!