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Oklahoma State football roundtable: Post-combine questions about the Cowboys

by Berry Tramel and Jenni Carlson and John Helsley Published: February 26, 2014
Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert makes a catch as runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Oklahoma State defensive back Justin Gilbert makes a catch as runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The Oklahoma State contingent at the NFL scouting combine was smaller than usual, but it wasn’t short of impact.

Justin Gilbert probably made himself a lot of money. Josh Stewart is more quick than fast, according to one analyst.

So does that end the questions for the potential draftees out of OSU? Not even close. Our staff answered some post-combine questions about the Cowboys:

1. Fact or fiction: Justin Gilbert will be a top 15 pick in the NFL Draft

Jenni Carlson (Columnist): Fact. Looks like Gilbert is staking his claim on being the best defensive back in the draft, and there are plenty of teams picking in the top 15 who needs help at cornerback. Prime among them is Detroit, but even if the Lions don’t take Gilbert with the 10th overall pick, there are still plenty of other options in the upper half of the first round. Gilbert is a freak athletically who looks ready physically and mentally to be a starter right away. That’ll sway one of those teams in the top 15.

John Helsley (OSU writer): Fact. Corners are coveted in the NFL, never more so than now, as the league somewhat copies the colleges in throwing more, spreading out and speeding up the pace. Gilbert, who has a good chance to be the first corner selected, only enhanced his status with a strong showing at the combine.

Gina Mizell (OSU writer): Fact. Fact. Fact. Gilbert’s blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.37 seconds, along with the athleticism he displayed during the on-field workouts, all but solidified his position as the top cornerback available. Just combine those measurables with the playmaking ability teams will see on film, along with the fact that he’s also a huge asset in the return game. The scary thing is he’s also got lots of room to grow, as evidenced by his improved technique that led to a total revamp from his junior to senior seasons. It seems like Detroit at No. 10 is the most likely place Gilbert will land.

Berry Tramel (Columnist): Fact. Gilbert has it all. Speed, size, a nose for the ball. After a mediocre junior season, Gilbert returned to OSU and had a stellar senior season. Plus the kick return ability is always a way to help, too. NFL teams are looking for cornerbacks. It’s a premium position in pro football. So I see Gilbert going somewhere between eight and 15.

2. Fact of fiction: Josh Stewart’s 40 time will keep him from getting drafted

Carlson: Fiction. But only if he runs better during OSU’s pro day. Stewart has a great chance to make people forget about his 40 time at the combine by running a much better one next month in Stillwater. He’s better known for his shiftiness and elusiveness, so if he’s able to improve that 40 time a bit, you have to think those other attributes will shine. Right now, no one’s thinking of those skills because of that poor time at the combine.

Helsley: Fiction: It won’t be Stewart’s 40 time alone that keeps him from being picked, if that is indeed the case. There were already questions about his size and durability, with concussions in his past. The 40 time was a disappointment, but it’s not like Stewart ever projected to be a down-the-field receiver anyway. He’s a slot guy who relies on quickness and his elusiveness. And he’s still go that. The 40-yard-dash is the most overrated measurable in the history of the combine.

Mizell: Can I cheat and say faction? Because I don’t think Stewart will be drafted, but I don’t think the 40 time at the combine is why. He’s small and his production as a receiver greatly decreased during his junior season, though some of that stemmed from reasons out of his control (injuries, the return of Tracy Moore, etc.).  And the fact that Stewart’s strengths — his shiftiness, instincts and ability to make defenders miss in the open field — can’t really come through in controlled workout settings like the combine or a pro day doesn’t help him at all. Slot receiver has become a more important offensive weapon in the NFL in recent seasons, but still, arguably the best of all time at that position was not drafted (Wes Welker). Stewart’s going to have to hope someone likes his tape, and his first shot in the NFL is likely going to come on special teams.

Tramel: Fiction. Stewart won’t get drafted, but it’s not just because of his lack of breakout speed. Stewart is small, too. Small and not fast means you don’t get drafted. Doesn’t mean you can’t play in the league – Wes Welker proves that – but it means you won’t get drafted. Too many guys out there who are either fast or bigger, and a bunch of them were highly productive, too.

3. Who from OSU should have gotten a combine invite who didn’t?

Carlson: Calvin Barnett. I was shocked that the defensive tackle was left off the invite list. Shocked, I say. He seems to me to be a mid-round guy, at worst, so the fact that he didn’t get invited to the combine didn’t make sense to me. I still think he’ll be a third- or fourth-round pick because he’s got good size, good feet, good hands.

Helsley: With the premium on defensive linemen in the NFL, I would have thought Barnett would have gotten an invite. He was very productive in his two seasons at OSU. He has a nasty streak. Seems like he could be of use. A lack of overall size may be the question with him.

Mizell: Easy — Barnett. He isn’t a first-rounder, but that dude is absolutely going to get drafted, likely in the middle rounds. He was the best interior defensive lineman in the Big 12 conference the last two seasons, using a combination of size, strength and athleticism to occupy offensive lineman, plug holes in the middle and make the occasional play in the backfield. Here’s Caleb Lavey — a legitimate contender for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 — with the quote that says it all: “People don’t realize, if I didn’t have Calvin up there, I would get no tackles. I would have a bad season.”

Tramel: I don’t understand why Barnett didn’t get a combine invitation. Defensive tackles are hard to find. The NFL has its reasons, but I was stunned by Barnett’s fall. He was a very productive player for OSU, and he’s got the size and agility to play in the NFL.

4. Who has the most to prove at OSU Pro Day (March 13)?

Carlson: Stewart is the guy who needs to do the most after that subpar 40 time, but other than him, I’d say Parker Graham. He’s got prototypical size for an NFL offensive lineman – 6-foot-7, 315 pounds — but apparently, he didn’t jumped off the screen at pro scouts. Still, with a good performance, someone might take a chance on him either in the late rounds or in the free-agent market.

Helsley: Barnett is the easy choice, since he didn’t get to show his stuff at the combine. But sensing that he’ll be popular here, I’ll go with Shaun Lewis. He may not get drafted – it’s a deep and talented class – but he could optimize his options as a free agent, because he’s a playmaker and a great citizen and a guy who could help on special teams while he developed.

Mizell: It’s easy to say Stewart after that poor 40 time, or Barnett because of the combine snub. But what about someone like Lewis or Graham? It’s unlikely that either will get drafted, but impressing scouts from teams that could be possible free agent landing spots could be the difference between getting a legitimate NFL shot or not. Just ask Lane Taylor, who went undrafted last year but latched on with the Green Bay Packers and played in 10 games as a rookie in 2013.

Tramel: Besides Barnett? How about Charlie Moore? There’s a darkhorse. Very fast, good hands, solid playmaker. Good receivers can get two things in the OSU offense: 1) lots of opportunities; and 2) Lost. Sometimes, the Cowboys have had so many weapons, it’s hard to remember them all. Maybe Moore fell through the cracks. The right people haven’t seen him at the right time. But everyone will see him Pro Day.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist and Reporter
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Jenni Carlson
Reporter and Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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