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NFL Draft

1-on-1 With Liberty University NFL Draft DB Walt Aikens



Draft Draft Blog Side Lines - 1-on-1 With Liberty University NFL Draft DB Walt Aikens

Dallas Cowboys Nation was given the great opportunity to talk to 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Walt Aikens.

Aikens, a DB out of Liberty University (also the school I attend, Go Flames!), has watched his stock soar from a 7th round prospect/priority free agent to a solid 3rd/4th round prospect.

Recently, Mel Kiper was noted as saying that Aikens’ stock has grown more than anyone’s over this draft season. Aikens projects as an aggressive corner who relies on physicality and instincts.  Coming off a very strong Senior Bowl where he proved he could play well against strong competition, he’s become a very real option for the Cowboys in May.

So without further adieu, enjoy our interview with Walt Aikens:

DCN: What do you consider your biggest strengths as a player?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: My physicality, knowledge of the game, athleticism, and passion.[/pull_quote_center]

DCN: Which scheme are you most comfortable in? Do you feel more comfortable playing man or zone coverage?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: I’m comfortable in both man and zone. I prefer man over zone because as a bigger corner I like to bully wide outs at the line.[/pull_quote_center]

DCN: Being from a smaller university in Liberty, what are some of the challenges that you face headed into the next level?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: I don’t think there will be anything too challenging because at the end of the day, no matter where you’re from or what school you came from, once you step on the field you have to play football.[/pull_quote_center]

Athletics Department
DCN: What about your time at Liberty has prepared you for success at the next level?

[pull_quote_left]Walt: I’ve learned how to really study and break down my opponents. I’ve worked on the little things technique wise. Just trying to master my craft.[/pull_quote_left]

DCN: Early on at Illinois, you found yourself in some trouble, how have you grown as a person and is this behavior something of the past?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: I’ve matured and realized that I have to make better decisions. That incident could have easily been avoided if I would have listened to the core values that my parents have instilled in me since birth. It was my first and last time ever getting in that kind of trouble. I learned from my mistakes, moved on from my mistakes and have made the most of the opportunities given to me. It’s a blessing that everything worked out the way it did. That situation humbled me but also made me more hungry.[/pull_quote_center]

DCN: Liberty has produced NFL talent in Rashad Jennings and Mike Brown; do you talk to these guys? If so, what advice have they given you?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: I talk to Mike Brown and Chris Summers on a regular basis, they encourage me to stay focused, constantly reminding me that the NFL is a business and I have to stay on my toes.[/pull_quote_center]

DCN: Who was the toughest receiver you ever matched up against at the collegiate level?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: My teammate at Illinois, Arrelious (Rejus) Benn; a strong, physical receiver with precision routes and great hands.[/pull_quote_center]

DCN: Which NFL player do you best compare yourself to?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: I would say Richard Sherman. We are both long athletic corners who can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk![/pull_quote_center]

DCN: If you could tell fans anything about yourself what would it be?

[pull_quote_center]Walt: They should know that every time I step on the field I expect to dominate. I play with an attitude and will not back down from anyone or anything. Who ever lines up across from me will know that nothing comes easy and it's going to be a battle every play.  I would also like the fans to know that outside of football I am a very sociable “people person” and I enjoy meeting and interacting with you all![/pull_quote_center]


#CowboysNation, what do you think about Walt Aikens wearing The Star in 2014?


Follow Walt Aikens on Twitter @Allstar_AIK:

(Author’s Note: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Walt for his time and wish him the best of luck as May approaches. No matter what uniform you wear, we’ll be pulling for you!)

Former Sports Writer. Veteran. Serving veterans is my passion. Johns Hopkins Student. Enjoy Discussing Politics and sports!

  • LU

    After you get WALT hooked up with the Cowboys, how about showing some love for another LU player 2015 NICK SIGMON gonna need all the help he can get

    • Bo Martin

      Will do. I’ll try and get some information on him!

      • LU

        Thanks, that would be great. what year did you graduate from LU?

NFL Draft

Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?

Brian Martin



Can Powers of Persuasion Make Will Hernandez a Dallas Cowboy?

There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.

Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.

The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.

Will Hernandez on Twitter

@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!

To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.

In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.

Will Hernandez on Twitter

Huge blessing being surrounded by players like this 👊🏽👊🏽

All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.

The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.

The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.

It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.

Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?

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NFL Draft

Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley

Mauricio Rodriguez



Butch Dill / Getty Images

With NFL Free Agency buzz at full speed this week, Dez Bryant is one of the most intriguing names in the Dallas Cowboys world. We all know the story. We've been talking about it since last season. Bryant, who was once among the "Top WR of the league" conversation, doesn't look like an elite player anymore.

That doesn't mean he is a bad football player, but the problem is that he's getting paid big time.

The Dallas Cowboys, who have struggled with cap space for many years now, may want to avoid paying $16.5M to a player who isn't justifying his paychecks on the field. Big name and all, it certainly doesn't feel that way.

His lack of production on the field the last three years is concerning, even though he's played with quarterbacks not named "Tony Romo." There are other receivers around the league who have played with bad quarterbacks and have still been able to produce.

Even still, it wouldn't be easy to replace Bryant on the offense just like that. Right now, top free agents are already off the market, so if Dallas wants to replace him, it'd have to be via trade or via the NFL Draft.

Jane Slater on Twitter

ICYMI: A few things to consider as we wait on news about Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys

Right now, it seems that Dez is going to remain a Dallas Cowboy and after seeing the contracts other receivers in the league are about to get, who knows if a pay cut will even enter the equation.

Even if Dez keeps wearing the Star every week next season, wide receiver is still one of the team's top needs. Despite the fact that Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are some very well-known names, the truth is this offense needs a guy who can create separation and be harmful as a deep threat.

This is a draft class with a lot of depth at wide receiver, and the Cowboys could find contributors at the second or later rounds. Even still, if they're on the clock at 19 and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is available, the front office should pull the trigger.

Yes, even if Dez is still on the team.

Despite last year's struggles, we shouldn't lose faith on the Cowboys' offense when it has a lot of talent. We believed in this group to take us to the Super Bowl. What they are missing could just be a new, dynamic wide receiver.

Dallas Cowboys Reportedly Set to Meet with Alabama WR Calvin Ridley 1

Alabama Crimson Tide WR Calvin Ridley (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Calvin Ridley is by far the best WR in the Draft this year and will be an impact player anywhere he goes. Despite a poor showing in the Combine, Ridley proves to be worthy of a first round pick on tape. Ideal route-running, great ability to separate and more than enough speed for the NFL.

This would certainly take a lot of pressure off Cole Beasley's shoulders, who was constantly double-teamed last year. Sure, he's still good, but if he continues to run into double-coverage, Dak Prescott and company will probably continue to struggle another year.

It's tough to imagine Calvin Ridley being available at 19, especially with the Baltimore Ravens holding the 16th overall pick. However, some people believe there's a 50/50 chance he's available once Dallas is on the clock. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't pass on this prospect.

Ridley could very well end up being the most productive receiver for the Cowboys in 2018 becoming an essential "best friend" for Dak Prescott.

We've seen how other front offices have made friendly offenses for their young QBs and if Calvin Ridley is what it takes, why even think about it?

Tell me what you think about "Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: What Cowboys Look For In LBs

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Draft Target: BYU LB Fred Warner

As we continue to move through the Cowboys' positions of need and construct their overall draft board, we now take a look at what Dallas tends to look for in linebackers.

The Cowboys have some real questions to answer within their linebacker corps this offseason. Sean Lee is an obvious stud, but his injury history makes him a bit unreliable. Jaylon Smith began to come along later in the season, but how much better will he be in 2018? And then, of course, there is the impending free agency of Anthony Hitchens the team must deal with.

The Cowboys will certainly be looking at this somewhat-deep linebacker class in the upcoming draft, and after reviewing what their "type" has been in the past, a few prospects stood above the rest.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

And here it is for LB. Better set of training data so should be more predictive of future picks. LVE is a freak athletically.

For starters, Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds must have been built in a lab. At 6'4" 253 pounds he is much bigger and stronger than the typical Cowboys linebacker, but his athletic testing all exceed the normal thresholds as well. He is significantly faster and more athletic than the typical Dallas draft pick, and would be an excellent candidate with the 19th overall pick. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate him being their for the taking.

Iowa's Josey Jewell is an interesting prospect to evaluate. A rather reliable player on film, Jewell also passes each of the athletic thresholds set by Dallas in previous years. Well, besides his 40 time, which is nearly a full second slower than their average selection. Still, considering his tape, short shuttle, 3 cone, and broad jump, I expect him to be a potential target for the Cowboys on day two.

The 2 linebackers which fit the Cowboys' plan best, however, are BYU's Fred Warner and Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch.

As seen on the spreadsheet, Vander Esch is a certified freak by Cowboys' standards. He greatly exceeds each of Dallas' athletic markers, and does it all at 6'4" and over 250 pounds. Like I said, he's an athletic freak in the eyes of the Cowboys.

Warner is just below the average weight in previous years (by only 2 pounds), but he is much more athletic than players we've seen the Cowboys draft since 2011. He is converting from more of an EDGE-type role in college to being a full time off-ball linebacker, and so far he has looked comfortable doing so at the Senior Bowl and Combine.

Considering the struggles the Cowboys have had on defense as of late, finding these younger and faster players should be a priority. And, as indicated by the testing of their previous draft classes, the Cowboys should be able to upgrade on that athleticism during the 2018 NFL Draft.

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