Trent Murphy, DE – Stanford
Murphy is a classic overachiever, sort of in the same mold as Sean Lee. He’s not the fastest guy or the strongest guy or the “pure athlete” type. He just performs. Each year at Stanford, Murphy improved his tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. Not only did he finish his career as the all-time Pac-12 career leader in tackles for loss (52.5), but he also finished with the career Pac-12 lead in sacks (32.5) including a NCAA best 15 in 2013. Murphy can play as a down lineman in passing downs or a stand up linebacker in a base 4-3 defense. While some people have labeled him a tweener without an ideal position in the NFL, others see his versatility as a major advantage.
Murphy made strides towards proving his backers right at the combine, posting the second best three-cone drill time for his position. To put up a good time in the three-cone drill, a player must have good ankle flexibility and be able to bend around a corner, an important quality for pass rushers. His 6’5″ 250 lb. frame includes long arms (a necessary attribute if you cannot get to the quarterback) and legs (which he uses to augment his lack of speed to keep up with faster players). At the end of the day, Murphy’s toughness, physicality and high-motor would all be welcome characteristics to a Cowboys team in need of a few more playmakers.
Kareem Martin, DE – North Carolina
Martin had a breakout senior season with the Tar Heels posting 11.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. His initial quickness off the snap and straight-line speed make him adept at both rushing the passer and playing the run. He is more of an all-purpose type of end as opposed to a sack artist or two down end who plays the run only. He can also move along the line and play on the inside, using his superior speed and strength at the point of attack as an advantage over interior linemen.
He has ridiculously long arms and above average strength which suits him perfectly for a 4-3 defensive end position at the next level. At 6’6″ and 272 lbs, he possesses traits that point to elite athleticism. Martin ran a 4.72 in the forty yard dash at the combine and posted better scores in the three cone drill, broad jump and bench press than Jadeveon Clowney.
Telvin Smith, LB – Florida State
Smith is another high-motor, overachiever type that plays with a spark and energy that is contagious to a football team. He is a huge competitor and plays with a great amount of desire. Smith has the experience to play both weak-side and middle linebacker and while he is best in coverage and in space, he also is an effective blitzer. His senior season saw him stuff the stat sheet putting up 90 tackles, 9.5 for loss, two sacks and three interceptions in which two were returned for touchdowns.
Smith put up the third best time for an outside linebacker at the combine, running a 4.52 forty which is helpful because he is a bit undersized at 6’3″ and only 218 lbs. He could certainly use another ten to fifteen pounds on his frame but he is very crafty and knows how to avoid getting “caught in the wash” so to speak. You don’t end up leading the best defense in the nation in total tackles, which is precisely what Smith did, if you are constantly being attached to blocks. A player like Smith, with elite speed, athletic range and natural instincts would be a great compliment to Sean Lee and possibly the motivating presence needed to get Bruce Carter into gear.
These three options are all obviously predicated on what happens in round one. If Dallas does trade down and chooses a Kony Ealy or Dee Ford in late round one, then Murphy and Martin would not be an option and maybe Telvin Smith would move up. If Anthony Barr some how falls to the Cowboys, then Smith unecessary. One thing is for sure though, all three of these players would bring a tenacity and athleticism to the roster that is much needed. A former coach here in Dallas had a thing for fast guys who played with great energy. If it was good enough for Jimmy Johnson, it’s sure good enough for me.