Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Position: Defensive End
Size: 6'6, 304
Age: 28, 7/13/82
College: Grambling State
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 92 - 2006
Experience: 5 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status -2010: $1,759,000 - 2011: Restricted Free Agent (CBA Pending) and the Cowboys has given a second round tender that will pay him $1.934 million
2006 Draft Profile:Tied-27th rated DE in 2006 draft - Jason Hatcher - Grambling State - 6'6 - 284 - 4.94 - All Conference selection as a senior after totaling 65/18.5/10. Big, strong defender effective standing over tackle or lined up in a three-point stance. Flashes power, holds his ground against blocks and is tough to move off the point. Fast off the edge, fluid changing direction and plays with good pad level. Overall game lacks quickness and explosion. Ineffective using his hands to get off blocks. Lacks instincts and is slow locating the ball. Coming off an outstanding senior campaign, Hatcher offers solid size as well as growth potential. Needs to improve his overall game yet has the skills to be a pass rushing end for a conventional defense.
Pre-2010: The Cowboys snagged Hatcher near the bottom of the 2006 NFL Draft - a year that will be remembered as the year where the Cowboys were able to get almost nothing out of the draft, and then found several players after the draft as undrafted free agents including a player who received very similar pre-draft grades by some scouting service - Stephen Bowen. And here, we once again see the burden of being taken high in the NFL. We all know that the paychecks are far more significant, but Bowen and Hatcher were players with similar grades, yet one is taken in the 3rd Round and considered a disappointment and the other is undrafted and considered a very nice find. Hatcher always projected to a potential full-time DE and for years the Cowboys have waited for him to demonstrate the ability to stay on the field in the early downs against the run in situations where he would have to show the anchor that is needed in as a "5-technique" in the 3-4. While his pass rush ability has made him a regular in passing scenarios, the grading has not been kind to him when he has been on the field against the run. Without that breakthrough, he had not been able to shake out of the part-time role he has had.
2010: In August, Marcus Spears was hurt, and the Cowboys first idea was to make Hatcher the full-time Defensive End. Unfortunately, he was poor in the preseason tests and quickly sacrificed much of that opportunity to Bowen who while also not Spears against the run seems more effective than Hatcher and is quite a bit cheaper because of that original draft status. Once he was out of the mix for starting when Spears was lost for the season, he was able to focus on what he does best, which seems to be rushing the passer from the interior in the nickel package. The Cowboys like to line up 4 across in passing situations with Spencer and Ware on the edge and Ratliff, Bowen, and Hatcher making up the rotation for the inside 2 spots. Hatcher had a significant groin strain in the New York game on Monday Night, but upon his return had a great November when he routinely was getting pressure on the QB. He racked up 2 sacks on nearly identical plays where he was able to get isolated in space against Guards Stephen Peterman of Detroit (speaking of Cowboys draft issues) and Nick Cole of Philadelphia and use his superior quickness to dance around them and get to the QB.
2011 Analysis: One of the more frustrating elements of developing players is that you want to make sure that when and if they ever do break out, that it be for you since you invested so much time and energy trying to make it happen. Nothing is more maddening than seeing someone else reap the benefits of your hard work. Both Bowen and Hatcher are starting to get expensive if they are still just rotation players, but it seems reasonable to give it one more go-round to see where he fits. Again, like Bowen, the idea would be to find some "do it all" DE types in the draft, but having not found success there, they continue to patch things together with different players who do different things well. But, in NFL terms, these players are not kids anymore. In most circles, you are what you are after 5 NFL seasons. And at nearly $2m for 2011, the Cowboys are hoping that this is not the case with Hatcher.