After a 13-3 season and early exit in the 2016 Divisional Round, the Dallas Cowboys must make the right moves this offseason to get where they want to be. Adding a pass rusher is at the top of the list of much-needed moves to be made, and with the class of edge players in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys should not have trouble doing so.
Considering the depth of the class, it has been suggested the Cowboys go in a different direction in the first round, and then look for a defensive end in round two. Wide receivers such as Washington's John Ross, and cornerbacks such as Florida's Jalen "Teez" Tabor have been mocked to the Cowboys at the end of round one, with an edge rusher coming 60th overall.
While this makes sense on paper, I don't believe it can work in practice. In order to get the pass rusher they desperately need, they must select him 28th overall. With players like Carl Lawson, Charles Harris, and Derek Rivers potentially being available, Dallas cannot afford to miss in round one.
2nd Round Rushers Are Not The Same
Since 2005, only four edge rushers selected in the 2nd round have finished with 8 sacks or more in a season three times. Typically, the drop off between edge players taken in round one and round two is steep, both in production and talent.
Since the 2005 draft, only 4 2nd round EDGE prospects have recorded 8 or more sacks in a season 3 times. EDGE close to QB in 1st/2nd split.
While this year's class is deep, the immediate impact players will most likely be taken well before the Cowboys pick in the second round. Of course, this doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't look to add a second EDGE option on Day Two or Three, but that shouldn't be their first option.
Bringing in someone like Al-Quadin Muhammad or Deatrich Wise Jr. in round three would be smart, but relying on a late-Day Two edge rusher to bring the change we need to see in Dallas simply would not make sense.
The First Round Options Are Just Too Good
I would not be so adamant of drafting a defensive end round one if it weren't for the pure talent in this class. With the talent up top in Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, and Tim Williams, guys that would normally be top 20 picks will fall to the Cowboys at 28th overall.
Auburn's Carl Lawson could be a double digit sack guy as early as year one, but will almost certainly do so in year two. Missouri's Charles Harris has the most explosive spin move in this entire class, setting up for inside counter moves nicely. UCLA's Takkarist McKinley may be the single most athletic EDGE in this class, and had an extremely productive season in 2016.
With the need to add an edge rusher being so huge, I just see no reason for the Cowboys to pass up on a defensive end in round one. Especially considering the talent in this class of first round edge rushers.
If the Cowboys were to pass up on a defensive end in the first round and wait until Day Two to address it, thinking they will get equal production, history would not be on their side.
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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