Cowboys Draft Target: DE Erasmus James

A pass rushing defensive end is priority No. 1 for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, and Wisconsin's Erasmus James is one of just a handful of draft prospects that could legitimately fill that need. <BR>

With a potential trade for Saints defensive end Darren Howard losing momentum, the Dallas Cowboys are now looking towards next month's draft for answers for their defensive line problems.

Entering early April, clearly, two of the more notable names on the draft boards of many teams are Maryland's Shawne Merriman and Georgia's David Pollack.

However, one prospect that may be surpassing both Merriman and Pollack, is Wisconsin's Erasmus James (6-4, 265).

James captured a number of awards during his senior season with the Badgers, including being named an All-American, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and National Defensive Lineman of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio.

Overall, he finished the year with 36 total tackles, including eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.

"James is an excellent athlete making a big move up draft boards," notes one NFL scout. "He's quick off the snap, plays low with leverage and immediately alters his angle of attack.

"I think I did great in the linebacker drills," James said after Wisconsin's Pro Day. "I showed my versatility, my quickness and also my hands."
"He's fluid moving up and down the line of scrimmage, redirects to the action and displays great range. He's rarely off his feet and collapses outside-in to defend the run."

James, like Shawne Merriman, is also a player that could play multiple positions in the NFL. Some scouts like him as a defensive end, while others view him as a outside linebacker.

And James is fine with that.

At both his Pro Day at Wisconsin, and the NFL Combine, James participated in both defensive line and linebacker drills. James could be a traditional defensive end in a 4-3, or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

"I think I did great in the linebacker drills," James said after Wisconsin's Pro Day. "I showed my versatility, my quickness and also my hands."

That versatility continues to intrigue several teams in the NFL, including both the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys.

"Every team's different," said Bills general manager Tom Donahoe, who was on hand to observe James' workout at Wisconsin. "It depends on what defense you play and what you're looking for. He's definitely one of the better prospects in the country that we've seen. He's a very good player."

For the Cowboys, James is a prospect that would likely have to be taken with the organization's No. 11 pick.

In addition, most experts agree that he could be long by the time Dallas goes on the clock with its second first round pick (No. 20).

"He's a disruptive force who opponents have to game-plan around," adds the NFL scout. "And he answered a lot of questions last year- going from a possible first day pick to a potential top-15 selection."

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