Up and Comers: Byron Cowart
Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times
With the New England Patriots 8th pick (fifth round, 159 overall), the Patriots selected Byron Cowart, Defensive Lineman, Maryland.
College Analysis: Upon entering college, Cowart was regarded as the No. 1 overall recruit. In college, there was really nothing to write home about for Cowart. He simply didn’t live up to his number one status. He started his career at Auburn (alongside fourth round Patriots draft pick Jarrett Stidham).
His statistics were simply unimpressive, garnering up an impressive zero sacks over two or so seasons in the SEC as an Auburn Tiger. After transferring to Maryland, Cowart did seem to improve, with a solid three sacks in one year at Maryland as well as two interceptions. This gave coaches, like Bill Belichick, a reason to believe that he could be something special in the future.
Weight: 298 pounds
40-yard dash: 5.16 seconds
Bench: 26 reps
Vertical: 30.0 inches
Biggest Strengths on Scouting Report:
“Flashes fight to battle back after losing early phase of rep.”
“Good secondary rush effort.”
“Flashes hand quickness for inside rush.”
“Works under opponent’s pads and gets rid of blocks when needed.”
Clearly, he is a fighter. He works hard, he just doesn’t always have the stats and results to prove it. He is aggressive and he makes sure to follow through with his tackles even if he doesn’t get it the first time. He is showing signs of improvement in working with his hands. The quickness is essential for catching those fast inside running backs before they gain more yardage
Biggest Weaknesses on Scouting Report:
“Needs more funk in initial pop into engagement.”
“Lacks get-off burst as edge rusher.”
“Slow change of direction and open-field movements.”
He can’t be stagnant or slow in his pop, he needs to be able to engage with his opponent and get on top of him in order to beat him. He is a big guy and may not be as athletic as other defensive linemen in his position. So, he needs to work on his ability to change his speed when he is faced with a running back breaking through and going into the open field.
“Multiple personal foul penalties.”
Does this mean he’s undisciplined? Maybe, but that is not tolerated in New England. Belichick doesn’t deal with undisciplined people, he’ll cut them or trade them, it’s as simple as that.
Where he could fit:
He definitely needs some time to improve before he is ready for the NFL. He didn’t prove himself in college, and was deemed lackluster. If he is seen as performing lackluster in practice, there is absolutely no way he stays on the team. He has to prove himself.
He can also have time to improve by watching and learning from other Patriots players listed before him in the depth chart, like Lawrence Guy. He is currently listed as fourth on the depth chart, so unless he really improves himself in practice there could be a chance that he is cut.
A likely spot for him is the practice squad as Belichick traded up for him in the draft. There is a lot of potential, and because of his lack of production in college, he has something to prove now that he is on an NFL team.