Cowboy's Ryan Defense: Immediate Contributors Await Beyond Round 2

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1)  KHEESTON RANDALL (DT / Nose) – University of Texas

CBS Sports:         Overall Rank – 108           Position Rank – 11

Scout.com:           Overall Rank – 100+         Position Rank – 14

Draft Position:      Round 3 or 4

Numbers:             6’5, 295   ,  5.00 40-yard  ,  28 bench reps  ,  34” vertical jump

Dec 3, 2011; Waco, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Kheeston Randall (91) rushes the passer during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor won 48-24. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

After following the Longhorns closely for many years, I’m keenly aware of player production and the pulse of the team.  On a 2011 Longhorns defense filled with youth and question marks, Kheeston Randall was never for one second mentioned in that group.  Conversely, he was the one player unanimously known to be a solid cornerstone and rock in the middle against any and all comers.

In 2011, he helped lead the young Horns defense to 6th in the nation against the run, and 11th in total defense.  A three year starter in Austin, Kheeston saw considerable action in his first year and beyond.  In addition to on-field production, Randall was a model student and dedicated much time to the community.  He was widely known as a great role model off the field, and a leader and beast in both practice and games.

 

  • Career Stats:

47 games, including 35 starts … posted 98 tackles (49 solo), four sacks, 21 TFL, 25 pressures, six PBU, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks.  2011 First-team All-Big 12 selection.

  • Pros:

Exceptional ability to own substantial real estate in the middle of the line.  Plays very strong with excellent body lean for a 6’5, 295 player.  Very tough to move for one and sometimes even two blockers.  Strength allows ends and linebackers to twist and stunt through free lanes to the quarterback.  Gets below offensive lineman on every short-yardage play.  Good agility, change of direction, fires off the line like a rocket which is shown in his 34 inch vertical leap.  Long arms and strong tackler.

  • Cons:

Records low number of sacks (4 career) and pressures, yet asked to eat blocks in his college defensive system and could raise these numbers significantly in a scheme asking him to penetrate gaps.

Sees ball well yet sometimes gets stuck on blocks and has trouble shedding.  Strong hands to rip off, yet needs to use them more consistently.

  • Analysis:

From watching Randall play several times and reading his draft evaluation, nothing tells me he could not immediately step into the Dallas defense and man the middle with great effectiveness.  At the very least he could spell Ratliff with consistent play and allow him to move around the line.  An instant way to jumpstart massive pressure would be to have DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff rushing off the same side together.  I’d feel sorry for any blockers opposing them on that end.

Randall’s only real knocks by scouts are lack of pass pressure, yet scouts admit he was mainly asked to hold blocks.  The Dallas defense would allow him to launch off the ball with his great burst and penetrate gaps like Ratliff does.  There’s no doubt he would be a dangerous pass rusher with his strength, speed, leverage, and long arms.  Randall would be an excellent 3rd Round steal who would pay instant dividends in Rob Ryan’s attacking scheme.

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