The 2016 NFL Draft is finally upon us. We have officially started draft week and are now just days away of finally figuring out who the Dallas Cowboys and the rest NFL decide to make members of their football teams.
If you are anything like me, you truly enjoy reading different mock drafts and seeing who could possibly become members of your favorite team. You may not always agree with the selection, but that's one of the reasons that mock drafts are so entertaining.
Well, since we are just a few days away I decided to take a shot in the dark and play general manager. I'm sure I will get crucified for a lot of my selections, but overall I think I would be happy if this was the way the Cowboys draft actually turned out.
There are so many different unknowns and variables that make predicting a teams draft nearly impossible, but below is how I decided to use the Cowboys nine draft picks in 2016.
Round 1- Pick 4
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
My analysis: I can't tell you how much I struggled back-and-forth between selecting Jalen Ramsey or Ezekiel Elliott, but I ultimately decided to go with Elliott because I believe he is the biggest difference maker between the two players.
There really are no weaknesses to Elliott's game and he would immediately become the #1 RB on the Cowboys depth chart. He is a three down back and can do everything that will be asked of him at the NFL level.
I have previously written an article making a case for drafting Ezekiel Elliott that you can read to see in more detail why I believe Elliott is the right choice.
Round 2- Pick 34
My analysis: If my selection of Ezekiel Elliott in the first round didn't make curse words spew out of your mouth, I'm sure my choice of drafting Michael Thomas with the Cowboys second round draft pick will.
After watching the abysmal play from the Cowboys wide receivers in 2015, I am convinced that the organization will try and address the position at some point in the 2016 draft. Unfortunately, the wide receivers in this draft class are littered with players that are best suited to play out of the slot and that is why I selected Thomas in the second round.
I think Thomas is undervalued in this draft class and can develop into a true #1 WR in the future. He has the size and speed to win against cornerbacks in the NFL and will help to stop teams double covering Dez Bryant.
Round 3- Pick 67
My analysis: It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of help at the defensive end position.
Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence could miss the first month of the season due to the four-game suspension handed down by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Lawrence is however appealing the suspension and if he wins he wouldn't miss any games.
Charles Tapper is a LDE, which would move Lawrence back to the right side, but Tapper is exactly the type of DE Rod Marinelli loves to have on his team. Tapper has the athleticism and nonstop motor that will make him a welcomed addition to the defense, but he does need help on his technique and pad level. That however is easily correctable with coaching.
Round 4- Picks 101 & 135
My analysis: The Dallas Cowboys already have one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL, but the depth behind the starters is something that will probably need to be addressed.
They tried to do this by signing Joe Looney in the off-season to play backup C/G, but Jason Garrett believes in competition and that is why Joe Thuney was my selection with the first of the Cowboys fourth-round draft picks.
Thuney has played center, guard, and tackle at NC State and provides the kind of versatility that would be a huge benefit to the game day roster as a backup offensive lineman. He is probably better suited to play center/guard in the NFL, but I wouldn't rule out seeing how he does at the offensive tackle position.
My analysis: With the first of the Cowboys 4 compensatory picks I decided to address the CB position with Maurice Canaday out of Virginia.
Canady has the size (6'1", 193) and speed (4.49) that NFL teams have come to covet in their cornerbacks and is a good value pick in the fourth round.
Canady needs to work on his footwork and technique, but that is something that can be coached up in the NFL. He's also not quite as physical as you would expect for someone his size, but after creating 10 turnovers in college he would be a welcome addition as a playmaker. That is something the Cowboys secondary could definitely use.
Round 6- Picks 189, 212, 216, & 217
My analysis: Anthony Zettel was somewhat overshadowed by his teammates (Austin Johnson & Carl Nassib) at Penn State, but is exactly the type of defensive lineman that Rod Marinelli loves to have in his rotation.
Zettel has the position flexibility to play anywhere along the defensive line and has a nonstop high motor that will make him a key contributor in the NFL.
He continually made plays in the backfield while at Penn State and will continue to do so in the NFL because he explodes at the snap of the ball and has the first step quickness to become a destructive force.
I can see him rotating at either defensive end positions, the 3-tech, and at the 1-tech in 2016.
My analysis: It might be a stretch that Nick Vigil is still available this deep into the six round, but this would be tremendous value if he is still available.
I have seen him projected to be drafted anywhere from the late third round to the early seventh. I have him as a late fifth-round early sixth in my personal ratings.
Vigil possesses exceptional read/react skills and trust his instincts showing very little hesitation in his game. He has the speed to be a sideline to sideline linebacker in the NFL and could possibly be the Cowboys future at the middle linebacker position.
My analysis: In a six round I decided to add a versatile defensive back. Hall played both CB and FS at Northern Iowa, but in my opinion he projects better as a safety in the NFL.
Hall has the arm length of a left tackle (34 3/8") and uses that length to his advantage to fight off blocks and knock down passes.
However, he possesses a thin frame and will need to add muscle to be able to stand up to the vigorous physicality required to play in the NFL. He also needs work on his footwork and technique, but most defensive backs entering NFL need work in this area.
I could see him as a centerfield type safety with the Cowboys and would be a good pairing to go alongside Byron Jones.
My analysis: Vernon Adams to me is an intriguing prospect and if not for his size he would probably be a day 2 draft pick.
We all know that the Cowboys are looking for a QB to develop behind Tony Romo, but honestly I don't see that player in this draft. I think the majority of the quarterbacks in this draft class are backup QBs at best and I'm against using a premium draft pick on a backup.
Adams can make all the throws in the NFL and knows how to move around the pocket to buy time to complete a pass down the field. He reminds me a little bit of Russell Wilson, but doesn't quite have the speed to be as big of a threat when scrambling as Wilson is.
Don't overlook Adams, I think he will have a successful career in the NFL.
Well, there you have it. Please feel free to use the comment section below to express your thoughts and opinions. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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