FRISCO, Texas – I was out of town when the Cowboys decided to make all four of their free agency moves to this point – which seems like it’s always the case.
Having overcome that obstacle, though, I sat down at work on Sunday with tape of all three new Cowboys signings – Nolan Carroll, Damontre Moore and Stephen Paea – and I got to work.
Here’s a comprehensive scouting report on all three new guys:
Name: Nolan Carroll
Draft: 5th round in 2010, selected 145th overall by Miami
Games Studied: 2016, with Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York Giants (twice)
Report: Carroll was drafted in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins. He spent four seasons there and then moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he has played the last three. In 2016, he started 16 games for the Eagles at right cornerback.
This is a highly competitive player. He has physical toughness when in press coverage, as well as good football intelligence. He understands how to come off his man and help. Pittsburgh tried to fake a screen to his side and then run the wheel route off it, but he was not fooled. Dallas tried to hit him four different times on double moves and he did not bite once. He was able to hold his position and ground.
Carroll shows playing speed for a veteran. He can accelerate across the field to carry his man — has no trouble turning and running. Against New York, he missed on a jam against Odell Beckham Jr. and was able to close the separation down the field. He also has the ability to burst when the ball is in front of him. This is a nice reactionary athlete — can flip his hips, turn and go. He plays with short area foot quickness, and he shows body control and balance.
In his matchup with the Cowboys, he matched up well against Dez Bryant size-wise. Bryant did make a heck of a play against him, reaching back for the ball in the red zone. He has good key and diagnose. When he sees it, he can drive to defend. He is not a poor zone player because of his awareness, but I like him more in press. He is an instinctive player.
Tackling is not one of his strengths, which makes him similar to Brandon Carr in this regard. He will do it if he has to, but it’s not one of his favorite things. With him playing on the right side, it would allow the Cowboys to keep Orlando Scandrick on the left side – so that makes for a nice fit. His speed and quickness are better than Carr.
Name: Damontre Moore
College: Texas A&M
Draft: 3rd round in 2013, selected 81st overall by New York Giants
Games Studied: 2016, with Seattle Seahawks, vs. Buffalo, New England, Philadelphia
Report: Moore was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants. He spent time in Miami, Oakland and Seattle, as well. He was either badly misevaluated during his college career or is a classic underachiever. There was talk initially of him being a first-round talent, but he fell in the draft. While with the Giants, there were flashes of edge rush speed — but also signs of immaturity.
The best I’ve seen him play in his brief career was the time he spent with the Seahawks. It might be the talent around him, but he showed up as a player. He looked like the type of player the Giants thought he could have been. With the Seahawks, he showed passion in his play while in a rotating system. His foot speed, acceleration and quickness were on par with the other defensive players in Seahawks’ front seven. He played with a burst and lateral quickness.
Overall, he shows ability as a one-gap penetrator. When he is on the move, he can make things happen. He was on his game against the Bills attacking the gap, which helped him get into the backfield several times while on the move. He had plays where he was able to come up with tackles for loss.
Where he will struggle is with his lack of power, and how that affects his body control and balance. When blockers get into him, it’s a struggle for him to hold his ground. There are snaps where you see him get bounced around or washed. He just doesn’t have the power to sit down on his man, though he does fight hard to use his hands to keep blockers off him.
Moore was better as a pass rusher against the Bills and Eagles, even though he had a half sack against the Patriots. He needs to win on that first step in order to capture the edge. He played both left and right end for the Seahawks and even kicked down inside at tackle for some nickel rushes. I think he’s better as a right end.
Watching the tape, you see a similar style of play to Benson Mayowa but not as strong. He can create positive plays when on the move. Local kid that flashed some positive things last season – you might have a George Selvie here.
Name: Stephen Paea
College: Oregon State
Draft: 2nd round in 2011, selected 53rd overall by Chicago
Games Studied: 2016, with Cleveland Browns, vs. Philadelphia, Washington, New York Giants
Report: After a four-year stint in Chicago, Paea has made stops in Washington and Cleveland, as well. He had a season for the Bears where he had six sacks. He was listed as a defensive end for the Browns last season, but his true position is as a nose tackle or one-technique.
He has high effort and a good motor. Non-stop when it comes to playing the game. Paea was a rotational player and a backup in Cleveland, playing anywhere from 15 to 25 snaps a game. His physical toughness is outstanding, and he fights to get to the ball – he just doesn’t always finish the play. He can get outside the tackle box. He will chase but just is a step short. He has better short-area quickness than long speed. His body control and balance are good, and he doesn’t get knocked around or moved off the spot much. That’s because he plays with a great deal of power and strength, and he can hold things down at the point of attack. He will help linebackers with his strength and ability to hold up blockers.
That said, there are snaps where he doesn’t find the ball well. The Eagles and Redskins ran some plays that left him searching. He has better pass instincts than run, though he doesn’t show many pass rush moves. The majority of his pressure is when he just uses power and brute strength. But he can be disruptive when he gets off the ball. His feet are really quick for a big man.
Paea played some of his best football for Rod Marinelli while in Chicago — thus the reason he is here in Dallas.