Training camp is filled with managing expectations. There are guys who we expected a lot from who we have barely seen yet. There are guys we didn't expect anything from who emerge. You would like to think it always will balance out at zero, but the good teams find gems in the trash and still nail their top picks often enough. The bad teams chase their tails.
We hope the Cowboys are the former, not a bad team again.
Regardless, this camp has had a few gems, but they have been largely disguised in the footnotes around another Dak Prescott praise piece. That is fine. This is a quarterbacks league, and if you found one in the compensatory picks after Round 4, that is a pretty neat trick.
But what about the others? I try to take careful notes every time a player flashes. And the one that keeps getting notes among the anonymous types? No. 69. Nice.
"While West Virginia possesses a good number of quality prospects, a small-school player from Shepherd might have made the biggest impression on scouts.
"Shepherd defensive end Shaneil Jenkins -- 6-foot-2 7/8, 281 pounds -- ran the 40-yard dash in 4.78 and 4.86 seconds. He had a 20-yard short shuttle time of 4.5 seconds. He did the three-cone drill in 7.25 seconds. He performed 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Jenkins is described as looking the part; he's got a great physique. He was very impressive in his pro-day workout, showing quickness.
"Only four teams showed up at Shepherd's pro day on March 31, so Jenkins took it upon himself to perform a workout in front of a larger audience of NFL scouts at West Virginia's pro day, and it might have earned him a low-round draft slot. He should at least be a priority free-agent pickup for a team following the NFL draft."
Huge production from a Division II school. Something like 28 sacks in three seasons. Ignored, and then signed as a rookie free agent.
We have heard this story before. It happens.
But then the team that signed him, (Denver), cut him just a week into camp. Whoa. Why? How the heck does a player who has something get cut one week into camp when rosters are at 90? That is usually reserved for guys who just don't want to play football anymore or are proven to have no business in an NFL camp -- let alone on a roster.
So, the Cowboys bring in "Bronco" (That is his new nickname. Aren't pro athletes clever?) and those of us who are cynical for a living have a bar down on the ground, because what can you possibly find on Aug. 3 when there are 2,880 players already in camps across the league?
Now, imagine my surprise when this guy has basically done everything we hoped Nebraska's Maliek Collins was going to do in this camp as the third-round pick? Collins hasn't made an impression yet as he returns from injury. Meanwhile, Jenkins looks the part of a Day 2 pick. Instead, he goes undrafted and has been cut once already.
I have no idea why Denver didn't need him. In fact, when they cut him, he was replaced by another defensive end, so the premise that they are fine there can't be right. Is he not a scheme fit? Is he not a defensive end?
Now we are getting warmer.
It appears he is a perfect 3-technique prospect. Obviously, you always want to find the "under tackle" in this scheme. The Cowboys already paid Tyrone Crawford a ton of money and drafted Collins, too, so there isn't much of a vacancy here. They are trying him elsewhere, but the plays I am about to show you are pretty much all 3-tech stuff. He played more snaps on defense against Miami than any other Cowboy, so the coaches are looking hard at him.
Putting these clips together, I have arrived at the following conclusion: I am not cutting him.
Tackle-end stunt -- look at the closing speed of this big fella as Jared Goff gets sacked for the first time in his NFL career.
These next two clips are simply showing you his quickness traits. He doesn't make plays, but look at the first nose across the line.
He is jumping the snap!
This time, David Irving is first across, but Jenkins cleans up. He is really good against the run as a backside pursuit man.
But the big flash is going to be in pass rush. Get your 3-tech isolated with a guard and watch him eat. Look at this pressure. Great stuff from an undrafted guy who was cut this month.
This is my favorite play because he is being double-teamed. He doesn't make a play here, but look at this dude flash into the backfield as both the guard and tackle face each other and wonder how he just bulled through them.
Now, on to Miami. Like Dak, can he do it again?
How about another stunt -- this time a tackle/tackle -- and he goes in for the strip sack. This is so impressive.
Another angle. Look at that rip move to get under the guard. Then, he is able to control his body and get back to make the play. Nice footwork, big man.
Here, he stays home and eats up the running back for a tackle for loss. Strong at the point of attack.
And one more, as he gets down the line and gets in on another tackle. Big and active body.
Look, I am not saying they have found Warren Sapp, but I love this kid. I think they wish he popped more at defensive end -- and maybe he can give them something there -- but his real value looks to be inside. I say you can't have too many of those.
There are numbers to consider here because Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins are making the squad. Cedric Thornton is the other tackle with Jack Crawford -- who actually is your starting defensive end during all the suspensions -- while Terrell McClain is behind him, too. They may only want to keep four and earlier in camp, people were talking Rodney Coe, too.
But Jenkins is impressing the heck out of me and if they need to make cuts now, this kid from Shepherd University is on my 53-man roster.