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2017 NFL Combine: 2 EDGE Players Could Outperform Availability for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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2017 Combine: 2 EDGE Prospects Could Out-Perform Availibility for Dallas Cowboys

Wednesday marks six days to the 2017 NFL Draft Combine, and preparations for the draft are about to hit full speed. Fans everywhere will begin to have a much better understanding of the names worthy of first round consideration – targeting a few specifically to land with their favorite teams.

For those in Cowboys Nation that have been studying this draft since the end of the 2016 season, a few names have already been circulating, mainly because of their position. It is a well-known story line that the Dallas Cowboys need to improve their pass rush heading into 2017 – doing so in the first round of the Draft would only make sense.

Specifically, you’ve likely seen Auburn EDGE Carl Lawson and UCLA EDGE Takk McKinley mocked to America’s Team so far. In my first Pre-Combine mock draft over at Slant Sports, I had a hard time getting both talented defensive ends out of the top 20. The 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with talented pass rushers, but it is equally stacked with teams in need of their services (read: all of them) in prime position to grab some of the elite talents there.

So, will the days of seeing Carl Lawson and Takk McKinley mocked to the Cowboys be short-lived after the upcoming 2017 NFL Combine? The answer depends on a lot of factors.

2017 NFL Draft Combine: EDGE Carl Lawson – Auburn

http://slantsports.com/nfl/2017-nfl-draft-reviewing-auburn-de-carl-lawson/

While it is not the part of the NFL Combine that makes it onto television for draft nuts to admire on NFL Network, the medical evaluations are the most important part of this pre-draft process. Every year, talented players will slide down team’s draft boards because of injury concerns discovered at the NFL Draft Combine – while others will get great news and rise.

This is going to be the case for Auburn’s Carl Lawson, who was a stud on the field in the SEC as a freshmen in 2013 and Senior in 2016. Missing 2014 and most of 2015 with a shoulder injury though, Lawson is going to need to have to clear the Combine with no medical red flags.

Dominating the on-field drills shouldn’t be much of a problem for Carl Lawson, who’s tape also speaks for itself when it comes to being the type of disruptive RDE that every team covets.

NFLDraft Carl Lawson Positive 2 – Streamable

For the Cowboys, regardless of what happens with Lawson at the Combine, there are a few scenarios to be weary of when it comes to hoping he’s around at the bottom of the first round. In a recent example, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson entered the 2016 NFL Draft with a shoulder concern – still landing in the top 20 at 19 overall to the Buffalo Bills.

An even steeper slide for Carl Lawson would not only mean that more and more teams are legitimately concerned about the injury potential, but that the Cowboys may not be able to afford adding another player like this to their defensive line. Availability is the greatest asset any NFL player can have, and even when the entirety of the Cowboys defensive line is on hand for Rod Marinelli their game day production is lacking.

Lingering concerns with linemen like DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford has made the need for the Cowboys to not only hit on a pro-ready pass rusher a dire one, but should potentially narrow this search to include prospects guaranteed to see the field and get to work.

You’re going to be hearing plenty of talk about Carl Lawson in this 2017 NFL Draft over the coming weeks, with less and less of them potentially involving him landing with the silver and blue.

2017 NFL Draft Combine: EDGE Takk McKinley – UCLA

2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley – Slant Sports

The NFL Draft is a unique thing. 32 teams sit through seven rounds in order to pick college athletes, kids relative to most, who are to come in and have an impact on their franchise. Sometimes, that impact is expected immediately. Other times, players are given the proper time to grow.

Just one pick separated Takk McKinley from coming off of my board after Carl Lawson in this first mock draft. The rawer prospect of the two, no one area of the NFL Draft Combine will be more important than the other for McKiney.

Instead, this incredibly explosive UCLA prospect will have a chance to not only clear all medicals but turn even more heads with his on-field workouts and measurements. Already known as a high-ceiling EDGE talent to many draft analysts, McKinley’s Combine data will allow him to be compared to current defensive ends in the NFL.

Inside The Star Staff Writer Kevin Brady (a fellow Slant Sports draft scout as well) even mentioned in the above scouting report on Takk McKinley that the potential for him to fly up draft boards has been there all along:

Right now, Takk is projected to go in the late first round, most likely to the Dallas Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers. But I have a feeling that as this draft process moves along, Takk’s stock will rise greatly as he tests well, and he will be considered as a top 20 pick in the draft.

I’ll personally be interested to see McKinley in short-range speed drills on the field from Indianapolis, and will also be keeping an eye on the final numbers for his height, weight, and arm length.

NFLDraft Takk 7 – Streamable

If all of these variables come in better than expected for Takk McKinley, it is a long shot that the Dallas Cowboys can sit home with the 28th overall pick and land this athletic stud. Even just on the assumption that McKinley will be fine through medical evaluations and interview well with teams, it is not unrealistic at all to expect any team drafting in the top 15 to fall in love with his upside and pull the trigger.

What do Cowboys fans have to be excited about at the 2017 NFL Combine?

While this is a question that we’ll address in greater detail as the Combine gets closer, a final look at my Pre-Combine mock draft shows that Missouri’s Charles Harris – another intriguing EDGE prospect – lands in Dallas.

Charles Harris, Missouri – Slant Sports

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If you are set on the Cowboys using their first round pick this year on a pass rusher, there is going to still be talent available for them to do so at 28. Cowboys Nation should get excited about how players like Harris actually test out, along with Derek Rivers, Hasson Reddick, and other somewhat unpolished EDGE prospects with all of the traits to produce in the NFL – starting on the field at the 2017 Scouting Combine.

Tell us what you think about “2017 NFL Combine: 2 EDGE Players Could Outperform Availability 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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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.

NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller A Needed Weapon For Cowboys
AP Photo / Jessica Hill

Slotted to pick 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in position to add a first-round talent to a team that fell just short of the playoffs at 9-7 in 2017. Faltering entirely on offense without RB Ezekiel Elliott too many times this season, it’s hard to argue this asset is not best spent on new talent at WR.

The Cowboys haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2010, trading up for Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. Frequent injuries and the inability to develop with QB Dak Prescott have diminished Bryant’s status as a star receiver in Dallas, and it may be time to overhaul the position entirely.

After scouting Memphis WR Anthony Miller, he may be just what the Dallas Cowboys need. Let’s take a closer look at his fit in the Cowboys’ offense in the first draft-season edition of Sean’s Scout.

WR Anthony Miller 2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

With 96 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season at Memphis, Senior WR Anthony Miller is one of the top players at his position in the 2018 NFL Draft. These inflated numbers in the Tigers’ pass-happy offense do little to highlight Miller as a next level prospect…

This film clip and quote from my full scouting report on Miller shows the pure play-making ability Miller has. Miller wouldn’t fill the Cowboys need for an over-the-top burner at WR, but he has no problem tracking the ball with ease and adjusting in the air to make big plays down the field.

…Miller is as tough of a cover as you’ll find thanks to his explosive and concise release off the line.

Anthony Miller is certainly a “Dak-friendly” pass catcher, as he possesses the catch radius to snag passes away from his frame using his exceptionally strong hands. Even when he is covered, Miller is open vertically.

With that said, Miller has more than enough ability to separate with good initial quickness and elite balance through his routes.

WR Anthony Miller 4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…he wastes no time accelerating through the secondary, and running with a powerful stride that makes it difficult to bring him down.

There may be better technical route runners in this draft class, but few set up defenders as consistently well as Miller — who has the production to match these NFL traits.

A willing run blocker too, Miller could walk into Dallas and immediately earn snaps as an X, Z, or Y receiver. Miller’s best fit to start his career is likely as a Z receiver, drawing less attention in coverage while being allowed to run a full route tree.

…Miller gets on cornerbacks in a hurry, setting them up with his fluidity and size to track the football through contact.

A potential replacement for Terrance Williams with the Cowboys, Miller is somewhat of a similar player in the way he wins with mostly size.

The Memphis product would still be an upgrade over Williams though, as it is much easier to get the ball in Miller’s hands. Add in the red-zone ability that Anthony Miller has to box out defenders, and the run-after-catch burst as an inside target, and Miller is a weapon the Cowboys could desperately use.

WR Anthony Miller 1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…I found myself constantly impressed with the speed at which Miller gets up the field when taking the ball underneath.

Miller will have nothing but opportunities to raise his draft stock over the coming months. He will be at this month’s Senior Bowl, receiving NFL-level coaching to refine his game. The Scouting Combine will also be critical for Miller’s testing numbers to confirm the athlete seen on tape dominating at Memphis will take the next step.

Earning a second round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, there is a chance the Cowboys have to use their first round pick if they truly want Anthony Miller in Silver and Blue. A very complete player that fills a need, Miller as the Cowboys first pick could make plenty of sense in April.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon 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

Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL?

Brian Martin

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Due to growing concerns about Tyron Smith‘s availability and future health, due to reoccurring back injuries, there seems to be a growing consensus among Dallas Cowboys fans that there’s a need to draft an offensive lineman with the first-round pick. But, is it actually a need, or would it be more of a luxury?

There is legitimate concern about Tyron Smith and his future health.

Back injuries have a way of flaring up at the most inopportune times. It’s also not an injury that’s going away anytime soon, if ever. This is the unknown the Cowboys are faced with heading into the off-season, and it could end up having a major impact on the direction they go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

There seems to be a growing consensus around Cowboys Nation that the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider selecting the best available offensive tackle with the 19th overall pick.

There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Tyron Smith’s health concerns, and
  2. the need to upgrade the swing tackle position after watching Byron Bell and Chaz Green play in 2017.

But, the question remains: is drafting yet another offensive lineman in the first-round a luxury or need for the Dallas Cowboys?

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument. So, let’s break it down a little and examine each.

Luxury

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys have already invested an enormous amount of resources to build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

They’ve spent three first-round draft picks to acquire Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, two of which have already received long-term extensions with Martin waiting in the wings.

That’s a lot of money devoted to one position, which ultimately means the Cowboys have to go cheaper in other areas in order to fit under the salary cap. This is the money that would be used in free agency to acquire some of those higher-priced free agents fans are always hankering for.

It also can be used to re-sign some of the Cowboys players at other positions, such as DeMarcus Lawrence.

But, it’s not only the money that makes drafting a first-round OL a luxury.

Four out of five of the Cowboys OL are already pretty much set in stone. The left guard position is really the only unoccupied position right now, but that could be filled rather easily. This, of course, is assuming Tyron Smith stays healthy, but regardless, he is the starting left tackle when the 2018 season begins.

Need

Byron Bell

Dallas Cowboys OL Byron Bell

There’s no reason to believe Tyron Smith will be able to play an entire 16-game season going forward. The last two seasons he has had to sit out several games due to injuries, and unfortunately his back issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Dallas doesn’t have an adequate backup, which was proven on more than one occasion in 2017. Hence the need.

With the exception of the quarterback, the left tackle position is arguably the most important on offense. They protect the QB’s blindside and are largely responsible for keeping him healthy and upright.

There’s a reason they are drafted so highly and paid so handsomely: they are that important to a team’s success.

There was also a reason the Dallas Cowboys offense started to sputter once Tyron Smith started missing time. Opposing defenses no longer respected the Cowboys LT, and started putting their best pass rusher on that side to get after Dak Prescott.

Prescott ended up having happy feet and it had a ripple effect throughout the entire offense, and not in a good way.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Quite honestly, I think it would be a luxury to draft any kind of offensive lineman with the Cowboys’ first-round selection, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that’s the direction they went. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument.

But, if they stick to the draft board and an OL is their highest rated player there, I say go for it.

The only thing we can do is have faith that the Dallas Cowboys know more about Tyron Smith’s health and his availability to play then we do as fans. If they decide to draft an offensive lineman early, I think we should all take that as an indication that they are worried about Smith, at least a little bit.

Luxury or Need: Do the Cowboys draft a first-round OL?

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NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition
James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys football team has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. Sure, that’s pretty sad to say as a die-hard Cowboys fan, but it should make for a very interesting offseason. This front office needs to find a way to add talent in the draft, and probably in free agency as well, all while finding ways to keep Anthony Hitchens, DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, and extending Zack Martin.

Maybe they’re not able to achieve everything, but as long as they don’t lose all of these guys, they should be fine. We may even see a surprising release or trade. It sure would be interesting to see this team release Dez Bryant, for example.

Last year, Dallas lost Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Ronald Leary… among others. But what do these four guys have in common? They all resulted in compensatory picks for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Including the expected Compensatory Picks that the Cowboys will receive for their Free Agents that signed with other teams in 2017, the Cowboys should have the following picks in the 2018 Draft:

The Cowboys got two additional fourths and two fifths. After trading up to get Xavier Woods in 2017, Dallas had no original fifth rounders for this year’s draft.

This is a front office that avoids making “big splashes” in free agency and in the draft lately, but I wonder if they’ll at least explore trading possibilities this time.

With three fourth-round picks and two fifths, they should have more than enough ammunition.

Will McClay Discusses 2016 Cowboys Draft Class, Looks Ahead to 2017

Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, Will McClay

This team has done a nice job in the last few drafts, and with Will McClay staying for at least one more year, they might as well try to get everything they can out of their draft picks. After all, Dak Prescott himself was a fourth-round compensatory pick.

Even still, I would like to see this team do something out of the ordinary.

Whether it’s trading up to get a well-fitting player who might otherwise go before their pick, or if it’s to get another team’s player, it would be interesting to see this front office pull the trigger on an interesting trade.

Sometimes it’s surprising what NFL teams can get with late round picks.

The Buffalo Bills traded away Marcell Dareus for only a sixth-round pick less than a year ago. I mean, how would you have felt if Dallas had gotten Dareus for just a sixth rounder? I would’ve been completely fine with it, to be honest.

The Cowboys have enough ammunition to consider pulling a trade-off in free agency or the NFL Draft.

We may not like the coaching, but in the past few years, this front office has done a good job when it comes to team-building.

We were all frightened when we saw the defensive players that were leaving in the secondary, and a season later, the young defensive backs are one of the reasons why we’re very optimistic about this team’s future.

So if they decide to keep their picks to themselves, I’d say it’ll be worth it, too.

After a sad season, at least we have an intriguing offseason ahead of us to keep us entertained.

Tell me what you think about “The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition” 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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