I like to think that during the deliberations in the Dallas Cowboys War Room throughout the 2016 NFL Draft that when a tough decision was on the table someone said, "Go with your gut."
The human belly is capable of making some great decisions when under pressure. I mean, how often do you look back at a decision in retrospect and say to yourself, "I should have gone with my gut."?
My gut is nice and full from this year's Draft and it has fully digested everything that went on regarding the nine newest members of America's Team. That's what's so cool about guts - they're diverse. Will McClay, Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett... their guts were used to decide who to take. My gut is telling me what I think about them, and it's thinking about food at the same time.
Food is one of the greatest pleasures in this world so I figured - why not marry the two? We walked into the 2016 NFL Draft Cafe with empty stomachs and were ready to feast, so I brought perspective to the Draft in a fashion that your gut will really enjoy. That's right, I built a meal out of these Draftees so that you can truly have a "gut reaction."
We're about to have some fun.
Glass Of Water: Dak Prescott, QB, 4th Round, 135th Overall
Alright so we've just sat down at the Draft Table - and we're starving. The very first thing that we see here is a tall glass of water in the form of a quarterback named Dak Prescott (he's 6'2" to be precise).
What makes Dak the glass of water in this meal? Well think about this for a second. We're starving, right? Water isn't exactly what we're craving. We're going to be ordering a drink soon anyway (soda, tea, cocktail, whatever) so the water is really just on standby. We're only going to drink this whenever we're out of our primary drink (like when QB1 is down for instance).
Let's hope that we have great health, uh I mean service, this season and that this water/backup QB isn't ever truly necessary. It's great to have it to lean on in the even that we get really thirsty, though!
Bread For The Table: Charles Tapper, DE, 4th Round, 101st Overall
You've got your glass of water, but I know that you're looking for some actual substance to start scarfing. Here's that beautiful basket of bread that you've been dreaming about the whole drive over to the restaurant.
What makes Charles Tapper the bread in this meal? The Dallas Cowboys faithful are absolutely starving for some help at the defensive end position thanks to the suspensions of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence. Tapper is the first sign of actual food that is very sorely needed in the extreme absence of some.
Now I'm not trying to overlook Charles as a prospect here. Yes, the presence of any kind of food looks incredible considering how hungry we are, but Tapper is the real deal. According to Dane Brugler's Draft Guide (which you can, and absolutely should, get right here) he has the fastest recorded 40-yard dash time of all the top DEs in the Draft. Slap some butter on that and let's roll (ba-dum-psh!).
Appetizer: Maliek Collins, DT, 3rd Round, 67th Overall
This is the first component of the meal that we're consciously ordering, and by we I mean Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli.
NFL.com's pro comparison for Maliek is Henry Melton, which explains why Rod ordered this dish. It's a situation where we've already gotten something to snack on in the bread, but Rod's been to this restaurant before and swears that this appetizer is the bomb.
Collins gives the Cowboys even more depth at the Defensive Tackle position, and is primarily seen as a three-tech player. We're all going to enjoy the appetizer sure, but Rod is the one who's getting a majority of it and even saving some to eat along with his main dish.
Compliments Of The Chef: Rico Gathers, TE, 6th Round, 217th Overall
We're at the point in the meal where we've started to get a little full, and we kind of forgot what we ordered. Whoops!
In the midst of our food stupor, out comes the waiter carrying a dish that we've never seen before. He drops it off at the table and lets us know that it's "compliments of the chef" chock full of ingredients that we've never really tasted.
A dash of basketball, a pinch of insane physical traits, and a whole lot of haven't-played-competitive-football-in-forever and we've got ourselves a Rico Gathers! This is the dish that we weren't expecting at all, but we will take it and try it out. What's the worst that could happen?
Palate Cleanser: Darius Jackson, RB, 6th Round, 216th Overall
It's almost time for the big show so we need to ready our taste buds, that's where Darius Jackson comes in.
Darius, a product of Eastern Michigan, is coming from a team called the Eagles that sported green and white as their colors... so he's basically improving his life by 100% in that regard.
He's an interesting little treat, similar to a strawberry sorbet, and a quick one at that. According to the Brugler Draft Guide only one running back clocked a faster 40-yard dash than Darius. Suddenly this boring palate cleanser is a little tasty, no?
Ultimately though, Darius is likely a practice squad guy so it makes perfect sense that his role in the meal is to ready us for the main dish.
Main Course: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, 1st Round, 4th Overall
The filet mignon!
This is what we came for: why we made the reservation ahead of time, why we sat in traffic to get to the restaurant, and why we're paying such a big price.
Ezekiel Elliott is the real deal. Forget the fact that he's entering a situation with the Best Offensive Line in the NFL, Top Tier Quarterback, and stud Wide Receiver... even without all of those components this would be one delicious meal.
Coupled with those outstanding side dishes Zeke makes for the perfect main course. We have high expectations, of course, but we know that it's going to deliver. This meal has great reviews and passes all the tests. Grab your fork and let's dig in.
Dessert: Jaylon Smith, OLB, 2nd Round, 34th Overall
Let's be honest with ourselves here... we don't always need dessert. BUT WE WANT IT. WE HAVE TO HAVE IT.
Jaylon Smith is that piece of, hell the whole, chocolate cake that we saw on the back of the menu right when we sat down. We knew that it was impractical to leave room for such a big piece, but the time has come where the waiter asks and we are ordering it. Oh well.
The Jaylon Smith pick is a bit indulgent. There's no denying that. Typically players drafted in the 2nd Round are expected to come in and contribute right away. Jaylon obviously won't fit that bill, so we'll just have to hope that this cake doesn't show up on the scale in the immediate future.
After Dinner Mint: Kavon Frazier, SS, 6th Round, 212th Overall
Our collective gut is approaching a point of ultimate filling by this point. It's nearly impossible to fit any more food in there - this meal has been exquisite.
We do want something for a little later, though. When the waiter comes by with those after dinner mints... we're grateful. That's how we should feel about Kavon Frazier.
This is a player who could very well be a starter in 2017. We're talking about a great run stopper and ability to contribute on special teams. Oh and he can pack quite the punch, just like that spark of mint here.
Toothpick For The Road: Anthony Brown, CB, 6th Round, 189th Overall
We have dined quite nicely, haven't we? The food was excellent from start to finish, and it's about time to head home.
Before we do we need to grab a toothpick, oral hygiene is very important after all! Anthony Brown is the perfect type of toothpick because we want lots of picks from him.
A cornerback isn't totally necessary right now given that the Cowboys haven't let any of theirs go recently, but it never hurts to have more. We want depth, depth, depth... and Anthony Brown helps us clean everything out to keep making room for more.
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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