I'm a big fan of the Madden franchise.
Every year I get the new one and start a new franchise mode so that I can lead the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl glory.
While I love me some Romo, I also love me some me (to quote the great philosopher Terrell Owens, that is). Typically the quarterback of the Cowboys on my digital team goes by the name RJ Ochoa and wears the number 4 on his jersey. It's my favorite number, after all.
It's partly for this reason that I was particularly excited when Dak Prescott decided to wear #4 as a Cowboys QB just like I do (you can see all the rookie jersey numbers right here, if you'd like).
People were curious why Dak chose to sport numero quatro at first. He wore 15 in college, which is currently occupied by Devin Street, so it was quite the head scratcher. I hypothesized that maybe it was because 4 is the difference of 5 and 1, or maybe it was because he was a 4th Round Draft Pick.
As it turns out Dak is wearing this number to honor his late Mom, who's birthday is September 4th. That's certainly a noble reason and great way to commemorate his Mother's memory, but before knowing that I had so much fun speculating why he'd chosen it. I love numbers, and I love connecting them to stories.
The number four seems to stick out a lot to me when it comes to the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, and here's exactly how.
The Dallas Cowboys Finished 4-12, 4th In The NFC East
After a spectacular 2014 season (hey a 4!) when the Cowboys finished 12-4 (another one!) the Cowboys pulled a complete 180 (which is divisible by four, FOR what it's worth!) and ended 2015 4-12. This abysmal performance earned them last place in the NFC East. Just so you know, last place in an NFL Division is synonymous with finishing 4th in it, too. Interesting.
4th Overall Pick: Ezekiel Elliott
I can see you scratching your chin as you begin to connect these dots. This is freaky, right?!
The Cowboys were just outside of the Top 3 when it came to the 2016 NFL Draft as their first selection was the 4th Overall Pick. By now you certainly know that that pick was used to select the stud Running Back from The Ohio State University - Ezekiel Elliott.
What else about this pick is particularly four-y? Well that guy the Cowboys took, Ezekiel... what's his nickname again? Zeke, you say? Z-E-K-E. 4 letters. Boom. Also four letters. Just like the acronym for his school, tOSU.
34th Overall Pick: Jaylon Smith
These are all facts. I'm just connecting dots. I promise!
If there is a home run (which is good for four bases, by the way...) lurking in this Draft Class it is in Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith, who is now a professional linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. Jaylon was selected 30 picks after Zeke was at #4 Overall, making him the 34th pick in the draft. There are so many fours!
We already covered how Dak Prescott is going to be wearing #4, but Jaylon is just adding a Grant to that. Smith will be rocking #54 in the blue and silver, the mirror number of his brother Rod Smith who wears #45.
4th Round 4s
Dak Prescott kicked this discussion about fours off quite nicely, didn't he? The 4th Round Pick who is now wearing #4 pretty much served as the entire inspiration for this whole shebang.
What about his Cowboy teammate who was taken ahead of him in the 4th Round? Charles Tapper? The Defensive End from Oklahoma? Much has been made about a Dallas Cowboys Draftee with a basketball background, his name is Rico Gathers and he's going to try become a boss TE, but Tapper has some hooping experience as well.
While in high school at Baltimore City College Tapper was a pretty solid forward. Oh, and he wore number 24. No big deal.
Charles Tapper is a proud alum of the Four Club, and he proved that with his 4th Round Selection just like the #4 inspiration, Dak Prescott.
At the end of the day these are all merely coincidences, but they're a lot of fun to highlight and speculate on. Considering how badly we want a Super Bowl in the Tony Romo (both first and last names have four letters FYI...) era, any edge helps.
Edge is also four letters. I just can't help myself!
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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