For the last few weeks, I have written articles about possible first round selections for the Dallas Cowboys. But the main reason I have done so is to help fans of the team be prepared in case defensive tackle Aaron Donald doesn’t fall to #16. If you have followed this site for the last few months, you would have seen the multitude of Aaron Donald posts. It is almost a consensus with Cowboys Nation that Aaron Donald should be the pick in the first round. But what if he doesn’t make it to #16? Then what? My goal to my readers is to prepare them for anything that could occur come draft day and this leads us to our prospect of the week; Auburn defensive end, Dee Ford.
I’m going to steal a saying from one of my scouting buddies Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com; disruption is production. Let me explain what that means. Often, we look at sack totals to define how good or a bad a pass rusher’s season was. Look no further than Jadeveon Clowney in 2013 to prove that. While sacks are nice, they aren’t the all encompassing stat that show how disruptive a player was in a given game.
And this brings me to Auburn pass rusher Dee Ford. Undersized as a defensive end at only 6’2, 245 pounds, Ford isn’t a perfect fit in Rod Marnelli’s defense. But he can do one thing that should catch the Cowboys eye; rush the passer. And that’s what we are going to look at today. How pressure and disruption can ruin plays and drives, without recording a sack. You may know Ford best by his comments at the NFL Combine when he called out Jadeveon Clowney, saying that he was a better player than Clowney. That comment raised some eyebrows. But Ford put on a show at his pro day to rival Clowney’s unbelievable Combine. Check it out:
Ford is an explosive athlete and you could argue that he is the most athletic pass-rusher in the 2014 draft class. But why haven’t we heard about him more as the Cowboys selection in the first round? By the time this article is posted, DeMarcus Ware could be released and that would leave a huge hole at edge rusher. Ford dominated in the BCS National Championship Game. He dominated the practices and the games of the Senior Bowl. And now, he seems to have backed up his words with a spectacular pro day. What else does he need to show teams? Let’s go to the film to see what makes him special.
In Rod Marnelli’s defense, the defensive ends are asked to get up-field quickly. And in order to be on the Dallas Cowboys’ draft board, you must do the same in college. Let’s check if Ford did this in school (start video at 1:32 if it doesn’t start there for you);
Yes. He can. His first step explosion reminds me of a young DeMarcus Ware coming out of Troy. His first step disrupts the play and then he finishes it with the sack. So there is an example of him getting pressure and recording a sack. But what about the rest of snaps he plays?
Remember before when I spoke about disruption equaling production? The play below couldn’t be a better example of that. On 3rd down and 10 against Alabama, Ford doesn’t record a sack. But check out what happens and then you tell me if his play doesn’t disrupt the play (Start video at 4:50 if the video doesn’t start there itself):
Ford beats the tackle and flushes the quarterback to escape the pocket, eventually throwing the ball out of bounds. He didn’t record a sack, but he made a game-changing play that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. If you watch Ford for any amount of time, this type of play is very common with him. Disruption equals production.
As of right now, Dee Ford is projected to be a mid to late first round pick. But I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cowboys strongly consider him at pick sixteen. Ford is an explosive edge rusher whose best football is ahead of him. If the Cowboys get into a situation where Aaron Donald doesn’t fall to them and they aren’t in love with anyone else on the board, Dee Ford will absolutely be in the conversation. And most importantly, Dee Ford is a the right kind of guy that Jason Garrett always speaks of. He loves football and plays with high energy on every snap. This is a player that will be highly coveted on draft day. Remember the name Dee Ford when draft night comes.