Teams around the league and NFL hopefuls have all gathered in Indianapolis to take part in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. The on-field events are set to start Friday (March 2), which provides a great opportunity for these prospects to show off their athleticism. But, it’s what takes place behind closed doors that could really help or hurt an individual’s draft stock.
Yes, I’m talking about the interviews these NFL hopefuls have to partake in. They are all poked and prodded to test their mental and physical capabilities. Each interview only takes about 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes could end up being the most important thing they go through in the entire draft process.
Below I’ve identified four potential Dallas Cowboys prospects who really need to ace their interviews. I think each one of these NFL hopefuls have a chance to upgrade the Cowboys roster, but they can also hurt themselves and be taken off the Cowboys draft board completely if things don’t go well in the interview.
DE Arden Key, LSU
Arden Key was regarded as arguably the best pass rusher in collegiate football heading into the 2017 season, but injuries and off-field concerns have kept him from living up to his immense talent. He has the potential to become the best pass rusher in the 2018 draft class, but he’s going to have to convince NFL teams he has his head on straight and any past issues are behind him.
In the interview process at the Scouting Combine, the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to poke and prod Key to find out if he would be worth the risk. He has undeniable talent, but so did Randy Gregory and the Cowboys have already been burned once. But, if Key can ace his interview and pass his drug test, he could be the DE the Cowboys are looking for to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
CB Holton Hill, Texas
Based on talent alone, Holton Hill is probably a top-five cornerback in the 2018 draft class. He likely would have been a surefire first-round draft pick and quite possibly the first CB drafted. Unfortunately, Hill has been his own worst enemy due to off-field problems and rumored failed a drug test during his time at the University of Texas. These issues ended up cutting his 2017 season short because of a suspension.
As things stand right now, these are huge red flags and have been a huge factor in why his draft stock has completely plummeted. I don’t know if an NFL team, especially the Dallas Cowboys, who would be willing to take a chance on him before Day 3 of the draft. But, if he can do well in the interviews at the combine, he could really help his draft stock. The pairing of Chidobe Awuzie and Holton Hill on the outside and Jourdan Lewis in the slot, could give the Cowboys the best CB group in the NFL.
LB Jack Cichy, Wisconsin
Unlike Arden Key and Holton Hill, Jack Cichy doesn’t have any off the field issues. In fact, he is exactly the right kind of guy (RKG) the Dallas Cowboys try to fill their roster with. But, that doesn’t mean the interview process is any less important for him. He still has plenty of questions he needs to answer.
Jack Cichy’s red flags have to do with his injury history during his time at Wisconsin. He tore his pectoral muscle his junior season and then missed just about all of 2017 after tearing his ACL. If not for those injuries, he would probably be a second round draft pick, but will likely be a Day 3 pick instead. He has starting potential and the Dallas Cowboys definitely need more depth at the LB position, which is why it is so important he does well in the interview.
LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama
Like Jack Cichy, Shaun Dion Hamilton’s interview with NFL teams will revolve around his injury history and whether or not he has sustained more injuries than have been reported. As a junior, he tore his ACL in his right knee, but was able to rehab and regain his starting job in 2017 until he fractured his kneecap in the same knee.
These are his biggest concerns as a Cowboys draft prospect. He has the talent to earn a starting role, but his injury history is definitely a red flag, especially since he is a little undersized. Hamilton will have to ease any of those concerns in the interview process. He will no doubt be poked and prodded about his injuries, but if everything checks out, he could greatly improve his draft stock.