With the five picks in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the chances of the Dallas Cowboys getting a good player were extremely high. The Cowboys got that player in Ben Gardner, a defensive end coming from one of the best defensive lines in college football. Stanford has produced some good NFL talents in the past few years, and Gardner is just another product from the university. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a defensive line guru, so it will be interesting to see what he can do with Gardner.
At 6-foot-4, 275-pounds, Gardner has the body to play the left side defensive end position. While his 4.87 40-yard dash leaves much to be desired, the Cowboys will likely use Gardner as a rotational player on their defensive line. Gardner is not explosive off the edge, but he is a productive player who could turn into a real good player with some coaching. Pete Smith of WithTheFirstPick.com compared Gardner to Derek Wolfe of the Denver Broncos.
One thing that I love about Gardner is his jumping ability. Gardner has a 40-inch vertical jump which will help him swat down passes at the line of scrimmage. Gardner will need to put on weight, but his combination of leg drive and jumping ability will help him find a niche on Dallas’ defensive line.
The Cowboys will likely use a rotational defensive line next year, and that will give Gardner the ability to shine when he is called upon. The only guaranteed starter on Dallas’ defensive line is Henry Melton. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me Gardner started opposite of Demarcus Lawrence in training camp, especially if George Selvie doesn’t stay consistent and if Anthony Spencer starts the year on the PUP list. Gardner’s floor is a rotational defensive lineman, but his ceiling is a player who could develop into a double-digit sack type of guy.