The 2018 East – West Shrine game will take place this Saturday January 20th at 3 p.m. You can find the game on NFL Network. As you watch the game, here are five prospects on the defensive side of the ball that could end up on the Cowboys radar come April.
Poona Ford (Texas DT)
2017-18 Stats: 31 tackles, 8 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 PD, 1 fumble
Some may find it troubling that Poona Ford is only 5’11 as a defensive tackle, but he is going to be one of the bigger names in this competition. With a stocky frame, Ford excels in being able to hold his ground. His explosiveness allows him to win the initial battle more often than not. Sometimes Ford gets caught leaning his body into the offensive lineman, taking himself out of plays. He moves well across the line, and can be counted on to plug his hole in the run game. While he works on getting to the quarterback, but will sit at points and just hit hands with his opponents instead of making moves. Even if he is not in on the play, Ford has a motor that keeps going.
Chad Thomas (Miami EDGE)
2017-18 Stats: 41 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks
Thomas has the prototypical build that the Cowboys look for in a defensive end. 6’6 and 265 pounds, Thomas proved himself to be versatile across the defensive line. Either being on the edge, or sliding into the inside and running stunts/simply bull rushing, Thomas saw looks similar to Dallas. Has speed that can help and hurt him in situations. It works in beating tackles to the edge, but can catch him trying to be more athletic than technical. Thomas has to play a little lower in his pad level, and bend could be improved. When using his hands, his strength coupled with his athleticism produces positive results. Thomas often does not take plays off, but can take himself out a play by running up the field.
Ja’Von-Rolland Jones (Arkansas State DE/OLB)
2017-18 Stats: 56 tackles, 19 TFL, 13 sacks, 1 PD, 3 FF
A prototype that flew under the radar for the Arkansas State Red Wolves, Ja’Von-Rolland Jones could be a stud. Strong when engaging an offensive lineman, but also sometimes gets in the hole off using his pure athletic ability. Jones has a high motor and closes really well on plays. Was used as an edge in a 4-3, but could possibly be an OLB in a 3-4 defense. He could learn how to use his hands more effectively, that would improve his game tremendously.
Brandon Facyson (Virginia CB)
2017-18 Stats: 19 tackles, 2 TFL, 5 PD, 0 INT
The first thing noticeable about Brandon Facyson, is his size and length. 6’1 and 200 pounds, Facyson has an arm length of 32 ⅜ inches. Physical at the line of scrimmage, he does a great job at being able to stick and close on receivers underneath/inside. Facyson runs well with receivers outside the numbers, but could improve in turning around and making plays on the ball. Seeing as he did not have any interceptions, it could raise questions, but is he usually on the hip of a receiver ready to force incompletions. Furthermore, he wraps up well in the open field and does not throw his body into people when attempting to tackle.
Damon Webb (Ohio State S)
2017-18 Stats: 61 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 PD, 5 INT, 2 FR
It’s becoming a trend with productive Ohio State players from the secondary over recent years. Add Damon Webb to that list. He covers the field really well on the backend, and takes the necessary angles when attacking the run. Instinctive also, wherever the ball is, Webb is. Has the ability to chase down players, and finishes with his tackling. Being only 5’11 and 195 pounds, he has a small issue in bringing people down immediately that are bigger than him.
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