Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Offseason Digest - Malcom Brown, Melvin Gordon

Here we are into Super Bowl week and live from Phoenix, Arizona.
I think this might be a good place to give you an idea on what the first week has revealed about my offseason draft preparations and so forth.
The plan, as it currently stands, is a player profile between 5-6 times a week.  Those will be Monday-Friday with some Saturdays sprinkled in.  Some days I might do more than 1 player, but I also don't want to rush them.  It is important to watch 3 full games or 200 snaps or so to get a full feel for the guy.  Everyone has a bad day and most have a really great day.  We need to figure out what they are normally.
So, I am thinking a profile every day, with 3 "S.O.D.'s" (Sturm Offseason Digests) as well, where we break down the off-season, riff about Cowboys issues, and answer your questions.  Those will most likely be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Meanwhile, the other days, it will be just the profile of another player.
I have done 6 players already, Malcom Brown of Texas is #7 below, and he starts our march through Defensive Tackles.  We will try to get all the Top 100 players done before draft day, but if we start getting short on time, we will emphasize positions of Dallas Cowboys' needs.  That means that i will spend all sorts of time on the Defensive Front 7 prospects first and foremost, which explains all of my profiles so far being D-Line.  Then, we will get working on the secondary and running back.  I am also willing to take requests.
The Morning News is building a central location for all of the profiles which is evolving as we go as well.  But, perhaps bookmark this location for your needs throughout the spring.
(Each issue of S.O.D., we shall tackle another draft prospect.  No, I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football.  By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better.  It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.)
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas - 6'2, 320 - Age 21
Texas' Malcom Brown sits on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Baylor, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Austin, Texas.
Now, let's dig into some defensive tackles this week.  Leonard Williams last week is going to be the best DT if you call him that, but he is almost his own category where you would say he can play wherever you want.  This week, we will grab the top several DTs who can join Tyrone Crawford inside and cause all sorts of issues in the middle and up front for the opposing offenses the Cowboys want to slow down.
Brown is a real talent and a fun guy to watch.  He is that perfect combination of size and quickness for a big man that often gets the "dancing bear" label slapped on because he can really move in the trenches when he wishes to do so.  However, he also can stand his ground and wait for a run to come to him.  To study Brown, I watched the BYU, UCLA, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma games.  But, really, I have had my eyes on big #90 all season.
What I liked: Anytime we dig into a player at this position, I am looking for his overall versatility.  For instance, is he very good against the run at plugging or is he a penetrating player who is making plays behind the line of scrimmage?  Is he a pass rusher or is he a roadblock?  Well, if you are going to take a DT in Round 1, he better be able to do both, and I am confident that Brown is that type of guy.  He appears to be the 3-technique, although Texas sure had its share of 3-4 (Oklahoma State) where he was almost the 5-technique.  But, in his true spot, he is playing outside shoulder on a guard and he is more than a handful for anyone across from him.  He stands, sheds, and makes the tackle on a regular basis.  He 2-gaps the run, where he can wait, peek, and still swat the guard off to get to the ball carrier.  But, his real value is that he is quick off the snap and through a gap with great quickness and lots of plays in the backfield.  You absolutely have to love a player who is behind the line of scrimmage this much and although he can get better, the resume already is productive.  He overpowers players with his bullrush and his strong swat, as well, and split a guard and tackle on a stunt against Oklahoma State that was very rare for a man of that size.
What I did not like:  I wish I saw a bit more consistency from his tape in that there are weeks where he is not the unstoppable force, but to be fair, there were games where Texas' defense was being asked to take on a very high amount of leverage because the offense wasn't pulling its weight.  Would love a bit more of a burst at times and maybe the most disconcerting thing on his tape is how many plays he could have made if he could just finish the play.  You don't want to be too tough on him because he beat his man and got to the carrier, but then because of poor technique, the RB spins out of trouble for the moment.  He made 21.5 plays behind the line of scrimmage, but I bet he left 10 more out there.
Summary: I think he is a tremendous talent who seems to really love the game and play hard regardless of the score (his work against BYU was impressive in the 4th Quarter, down 34-7).  It would be interesting to see if he could play along side someone like Crawford for the Cowboys, or if the team thinks they are too redundant.  Is he a 1-technique, and if so, does that lose his appeal if he is always locked down on double teams?  I think he is the type of guy that you better plan on taking with your pick, because guys like him don't last too long.  Rare traits, rare ability and one of the very best inside defenders in this draft.

Today's Email/Tweet Of The Day:
Thanks, Roger.  Let's get started.
Recently, I did a chat for the DMN (Every Wednesday!) and here is what happened to cause the above email:
Question: Assuming we don’t resign Murray, how do you feel about Melvin Gordon as a possible replacement?
Bob Sturm: I really think Melvin Gordon is a perfect scheme fit here. If they could get him, I think the production would not drop off considerable. Todd Gurley may be better, but I think the zone running experience of Gordon is phenomenal. That said, I am not sure #27 will work for Dallas to get Gordon.
This caused all sorts of feedback about the Gordon idea.  First, I have been on record a number of times saying I want to keep DeMarco Murray at the right cost.  Here, I make the case for the franchise tag.  In other places, I see the wisdom in a 4 year/$24m deal with most of it guaranteed.  I like DeMarco Murray a lot and I don't see it as a major mistake to put $18m in guaranteed money in his pocket to keep him through 2018.  He is young and talented and the Cowboys became a power in 2014 and he had his fingerprints all over it.
That said, my Melvin Gordon beliefs are strong.  I think he is fantastic and I don't believe in holding him responsible for previous Wisconsin running backs not taking over the NFL.  Ron Dayne and Gordon went to the same college.  Big deal.  It doesn't matter.  If you have ever seen Gordon play, then you know he is no Ron Dayne.
He is electric and has breakaway speed.  There are many who think that a guy with that extra gear takes Murray's 30 yard runs and makes them touchdowns.  But, he also is a guy who loves bouncing runs outside and I admit those aren't as easy to get in the NFL.
Gordon is not half the receiver that Murray was out of college, but Oklahoma runs a wildly different offense from Wisconsin.  Wisconsin hasn't really had a QB since Russell Wilson left, and their passing is almost non-existent (if you watched the LSU game, you saw this clearly).  But, a major key is that Wisconsin's zone running scheme and Dallas's run offense both have Bill Callahan's designs and follow many of the exact same concept.  If you believe the whole point to taking a running back high is that they are cheap and can step right in, then Gordon is your guy.  He would not cost much for 4 years and he already runs your plays.  Would he be Murray in blitz pickup?  I doubt it.  Almost nobody is.  Including the RBs currently on the board.  Like I said, I like Todd Gurley more, but I am not sure he is physically ready to step in with his injury.  Gordon is and he is a perfect scheme fit and he is the real deal.  He will not get exposed in the NFL.  He is a special talent.
Fumbles?  Yes.  Ball security is going to be an issue he knows he has to deal with.  He is not a horrible fumbler, but as the season went on and his insane workload continued, the ball did come loose on occasion.  But, to me, when a guy has a 2,500 yard season with almost no QB and people keying on him all day long, you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I will break him down much more thoroughly in the days and weeks to come, but I doubt my feelings about this will change dramatically.  I want to keep Murray, even if it is with the franchise tag.  But, I keep hearing the Cowboys have a price for him and it isn't high enough to keep him.  They like him, but they are already prepared to let him walk is what I hear from my sources.  I may disagree, but that doesn't much matter.
If Murray is done here, I think Gordon would be perfect.  However, this is a great Running Back draft with about 6-8 top end runners to consider in Rounds 1-3 and I will study them all as we go.
Next Draft Profile: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

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