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NFL Draft

1st Offseason Cowboys Mock Drafts Keep Focus on Defense

Sean Martin

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Post Super Bowl Cowboys Mock Drafts Keep Focus on Defense 1

Draft season is my favorite time of the year for a countless amount of reasons. Well before the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, draft scouts everywhere have been grinding college football film to rank the prospects available in this 2018 NFL Draft class. Each year, this pool of talent has the chance to define the future of the league and its franchises - from perennial losers to proud organizations looking to sustain success.

The Dallas Cowboys are currently somewhere in the middle of these two points, a 9-7 team with a real chance to take significant strides towards contending in the NFC East with a great draft.

As our staff here at Inside The Star continues to profile the draft prospects that we feel would constitute a "great draft", I also want to begin looking at weekly mock drafts to measure where other members of the media are on the Cowboys' needs.

Fully into offseason mode now, here are a few possibilities for the Cowboys with the 19th overall pick.

NFLDRAFT2018 HURST – STREAMABLE

Bleacher Report: Maurice Hurst, DT - Michigan

The Dallas Cowboys drafting another defensive lineman out of Michigan is a hypothetical pick that won't be going away anytime soon. Staff Writer Kevin Brady already scouted how Hurst would fit the Dallas Cowboys for us here.

In Matt Miller's own words from this mock draft, here is how he describes Maurice Hurst:

"Hurst is fantastic at generating pressure from the middle of the defensive line with his quickness and leverage."

Analysis:

I have yet to come around on Maurice Hurst as the dominant DT prospect that most see him as right now. Currently in the second round on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, there is no denying that Hurst's talents would fill a pretty obvious need in Dallas.

The Cowboys appear set on having Maliek Collins move forward playing the 1T position, which leaves restricted free agent David Irving as the primary 3T.

When he is on the field, Irving is one of the most disruptive forces in the entire league from the interior. Playing in a rotation with a physical beast like Hurst would only help the entire Cowboys defensive line though, as the Michigan product flashes rather consistently as a tough-to-move run defender with the power and burst to get after quarterbacks.

I believe the Cowboys can likely get better value out of the 19th overall pick, but Maurice Hurst would be a nice addition.

Post Super Bowl Cowboys Mock Drafts Keep Focus on Defense

Yahoo! Sports: Courtland Sutton, WR - Southern Methodist

Wide receiver is another position that will likely be featured prominently in every mock draft for the Cowboys. Add in the local appeal for Sutton joining the Cowboys by way of SMU, and this fit appears to make a lot of sense.

Analysis:

Every time I watch a new WR in this 2018 draft class, I come away with two realizations:

  1. They are a better football player than Courtland Sutton.
  2. The depth of this WR class should steer the Cowboys away from drafting one in the first round.

Shockingly, the Cowboys like to draft players that will see the field a ton as rookies in the first round. With Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams already under contract for 2018, it would be difficult for this team to justify a WR with the 19th overall pick - despite their need at the position.

With better options available deeper in this draft, Courtland Sutton is exactly the target the Cowboys don't need to make their offense more "Dak-friendly". Relying on his size and athleticism to win in the air, Sutton does little to fill the Cowboys' need for a pass catcher that can separate from coverage while beating defenses over the top.

If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, Sutton is a player I'm letting any other team be happy about drafting come April.

CBS Sports: Rashaan Evans, LB - Alabama

The Eagles' Super Bowl championship was salt in the wounds of Cowboys Nation - especially considering the nature of how Philadelphia overcome key injuries to prevail as champions.

The Cowboys' failure to do exactly what the Eagles did this season is the reason they missed the playoffs, and one of their most noticeable absences was LB Sean Lee. Not getting any younger (or healthier), the Cowboys are looking ahead to Jaylon Smith leading the way at linebacker for a long time.

Addressing the depth of this front seven is something the Cowboys must do though, especially with LB Anthony Hitchens set to hit free agency.

CBS Sports'  Chris Trapasso writes about Rashaan Evans:

"Evans may not have the speed to be an All-Pro type in the NFL, yet his play-recognition skills are sharp, and he's everywhere on runs between the tackles."

Analysis:

There are a lot of things I hate about this pick at 19th overall for the Cowboys. Alabama's defense is known for producing top-end talent in the NFL, but Rashaan Evans is much closer to a depth player at the next level than he is superstar.

So long as Sean Lee projects to be the Cowboys' starting WILL LB in 2018, finding a spot for a rookie linebacker to play alongside Lee and Smith is difficult. While Evans (who does project best as a WILL) could use a solid starter playing ahead of him to start his NFL career, he is simply not worth a top 20 pick in this draft.

Evans is a sure tackler that diagnoses plays hastily, but lacks some of the athletic traits needed to finish as many plays as you'd like a first round pick to make. Out of the three mocked draft picks featured here, Rashaan Evans at #19 would easily be the most disappointing outcome for the Cowboys.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will do their best to not enter the 2018 NFL Draft with any glaring holes in the roster. Viewed nationally as a talented team in need of depth in some important areas, mock drafts gifting the Cowboys a new DT, DE, LB, or WR in the first round will be a staple of this draft season.

Early on in the process, this draft class is best described as one without a definitive five or ten best players - instead featuring a deep pool or ready-made starters that will help a lot of teams next season.

This is music to the Dallas Cowboys' ears, not only for the first round but later on in the draft as well.

DT Maurice Hurst, WR Courtland Sutton, and LB Rashaan Evans can all help this team as rookies. The value the Cowboys get out of each prospect may vary wildly, but this initial look at national Cowboys' mock drafts remains a helpful resource in the tedious process that is year-to-year roster building in the NFL.

Tell us what you think about "1st Offseason Cowboys Mock Drafts Keep Focus on Defense" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment
  • Travis Diggs

    Keep building that defense. I wouldn’t be upset if they went offensive line with the first round pick

NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

By now you know that the Dallas Cowboys have not prioritized the defensive tackle position at the Draft in some time, a point made prominent with the amount of talent available at DT in this 2018 class.

Despite not being as high on him as most, Florida's Taven Bryan would fit what the Cowboys are doing defensively under Rod Marinelli very well. Bryan is a disruptive player at the 3T position, where the Cowboys currently have a decision to make on RFA David Irving.

Even if Irving and Maliek Collins are back in the fold for 2018, Taven Bryan would be a great addition to this front seven - thanks to his raw athleticism and motor.

Let's take a closer look at how Bryan fits the Cowboys' defense.

Bryan2 - Streamable

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"Bryan excels at not giving his man much of a blocking surface area – playing with good pad level and impressive bend for a DT."

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Florida's Taven Bryan at Slant Sports. Far from a finished product, Bryan shoots gaps and beats guards off of the line with ease. This is a player with rare traits at the 3T position, bending well while playing with enough strength throughout his entire frame.

"Using a smooth upper body paired with quick footwork and burst, Bryan is frequently shooting gaps to finish in the backfield."

When I watched Taven Bryan, I was reminded of current Cowboys DT Maliek Collins in 2016. As a rookie, Collins played the penetrating 3T spot with similar burst and power.

With the Cowboys now preferring Collins at the 1T position, Bryan could fill in on day one as an interior force with the upside to become one of the league's best match up weapons up front.

Bryan1 - Streamable

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Unless a blocker across from Bryan works quickly into his frame, this is a player that is going to generate push and flow to the football with elite speed and balance.

"Taven Bryan allows his frame to be controlled too often, effectively getting washed out of any play where his blocker can squat against the speed rush and shoot their hands inside on Bryan."

Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence proved that he is the "alpha" of this defensive line in 2017. Building this unit around Lawrence will yield positive results for the Cowboys, especially if they can find a long-term 3T to play alongside him.

One with as high of a ceiling as Taven Bryan becomes an intriguing option, especially considering the Cowboys' ability to play him in a rotation early in his career.

"Unleashing Taven Bryan as a gap-shooting 3T DT is the best way to see this prospect reach his ceiling..."

The Cowboys' 19th overall pick may be a bit rich for Taven Bryan, but this is a prospect to look for in the second round, where Dallas holds the 50th overall pick. A second round DT on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, Bryan should outplay his draft status regardless of the pick if put in the right situation to use traits that would greatly help the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?

Sean Martin

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Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With Tight End Jason Witten set to enter his 16th season for the Dallas Cowboys, it has become an annual offseason tradition to discuss the team's need for young talent at TE. In a down year for the entire Cowboys offense, Witten caught the fewest passes (63) he has since 2003 - his rookie year.

Since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted seven tight ends, most of which suffering the same fate in Dallas. Playing behind the future first-ballot Hall of Fame TE in Witten, the only players that have sustained any success behind him remain current tight ends James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

A sixth and seventh round pick respectively, Hanna and Swaim don't exactly excite anyone expecting the Cowboys to upgrade their passing game in 2018 and beyond for Quarterback Dak Prescott.

For all of the buzz about the Cowboys using their current 19th overall pick on a WR (a decision I would be against), where is the ideal spot in this draft to target a TE?

This year's draft class at TE is a top-heavy one, with some big time pass catchers available at the top of it. If the Cowboys are serious about adding a legitimate middle-of-the-field threat on offense, they could consider the likes of Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, or Ian Thomas with the 50th overall pick in the second round.

Of course, Cowboys Nation continues to hold out hope for Rico Gathers to revolutionize the TE position in Dallas as their last pick in the 2016 draft, but the Baylor basketball convert has done little to prove he's motivated to rise up the depth chart anytime soon.

Doug Nussmeier is the Cowboys' third TE coach in as many seasons, joining the staff for 2018 with no previous experience in this coaching role specifically. Nussmeier does bring extensive experience alongside Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, as well as nine years as an OC himself with Fresno State, Washington, Alabama, Michigan, and Florida.

It is safe to say that Nussmeier understands the importance of the TE position for a QB, especially a young one like Prescott - who has inconsistently used Jason Witten as the "security blanket" he became known as under Tony Romo.

If recent draft history holds up, the Cowboys will wait until the later rounds to possibly address tight end. The impact a top player from this class could immediately have in Dallas needs to be considered though, making TE an intriguing draft need as early as the second or third rounds.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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NFL Draft

The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For

Kevin Brady

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The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 NFL Draft needing help in multiple areas. Of course, they could use new blood on the interior of their defensive line, in their linebacker corps, and in their receiver room. Their most important need to fill in the first round, however, seems to be left guard.

If the Cowboys could find an immediate starter at left guard, a dominant player who can function as an effective run blocker and allow Dak Prescott to trust his left side once again, their offense would be back in business. We typically think of the Cowboys offense, and their line in particular, as a strength. But down the stretch in 2017 that simply wasn't the case.

As I've discussed before, there should be realistic options available with the 19th overall selection, particularly Georgia guard Isiah Wynn. There is one player in this NFL Draft class they should consider moving up for if the price is right, though.

That player is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

Make no mistake, Quenton Nelson is the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He is a massive, yet athletic interior offensive lineman who cemented himself as the best guard in college football during his senior season with the Fighting Irish.

Nelson plays with an edge that you love from offensive linemen, especially from those you will be asking to run block often. He doesn't just open holes, he embarrasses defensive tackles. He doesn't just smartly use body positioning and footwork, he finishes his blocks and snatches souls. Plus, he shows the athleticism and agility to get to the second level to seal off linebackers.

Quenton Nelson works well in pass protection as well. Often labeled a weakness in his game coming out of high school, Nelson has shown vast improvements in his footwork, awareness, and balance in his pass set while at Notre Dame. He would be a day one starter in Dallas, and would take the Cowboys' offensive line back to their 2014-2016 form.

But how realistic is it that the Cowboys would move up for Nelson?

Well, not very realistic at all. In fact, I'd say it's more likely the Cowboys move back to take Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn than it is they give away future assets in such a Day Two-rich draft. If, for some reason, Quenton Nelson falls to around the 12th overall pick however, there could be an opening for the Cowboys to come up and snag him.

I don't condone trading up often whatsoever, but Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson leads a very short list of players I'd move up for if I were the Cowboys. Trading up for a guard seems like flawed logic, but considering the importance and impact he would have for this team, Quenton Nelson is well worth it.


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