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NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: Two WRs Cowboys Could Target Early On

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Draft: Two WRs Cowboys Could Target Early On

This weekend, the Dallas Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks in what could potentially be an NFC Wild Card play-in game when things are all said and done. Each team is currently on the outside looking in to the NFC playoff picture, but both Dallas and Seattle have chances to sneak into the sixth seed.

So, this Sunday is a rather important test for the 2017 Cowboys who have really been in "playoff mode" since after Thanksgiving - when they fell to 5-6. With that being said, I actually want to take a quick look at the 2018 Cowboys, and give you guys a couple of names I'd love to see Dallas target in the 2018 NFL Draft.

If one thing became clear during Ezekiel Elliott's six game suspension, it is that this wide receiver corps is not good enough as a whole. Or, at the very least, they don't fit Dak Prescott's playing style enough to make them a worthy group.

The Cowboys have to take a hard-look at the wide receiver position this offseason, and while I don't believe they'll go with a wide out in round one, here are some potential targets if they did think about making the move.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Yes, Calvin Ridley is a first round talent. And yes, that talent is far from a secret around the league. But depending on how these final two games go for the Cowboys, it's possible they could be picking early enough to draft him in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Ridley is a 6'1" 190 pound receiver from arguably the top college football program in the nation. While I certainly don't think he will match the talent level of a different first round Alabama receiver (Julio Jones), I do think Ridley is the best pass catcher in the 2018 draft class.

He is an excellent route runner, and is also incredibly impressive with the ball in his hands. Cowboys' receivers have struggled mightily getting yards-after-catch this year and Ridley would provide an immediate upgrade in this category. Prescott also needs to find an efficient target in the passing game, and Ridley could be that target.

To be honest, the Cowboys would have to lose their remaining two games to even have a realistic shot at Ridley. And even at 8-8, it's doubtful to me that he would fall far enough for Dallas to snag him. Regardless, he is a guy to keep an eye on as this process moves along and we head towards the 2018 NFL Draft.

Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

The All American receiver from Memphis, Anthony Miller put the world on notice this season by racking up video game numbers. Miller caught 92 passes for 1,407 yards and a ridiculous 17 touchdowns in 2017 as the most dynamic weapon on one of the best offenses in the country.

Like Ridley, Miller is explosive with the ball in his hands. An excellent athlete on tape Miller created big plays out of wide receiver screens and underneath throws routinely. I also saw him win down the field often, mostly due to his speed.

Miller is a controlled receiver, and at 5'11" 190 pounds, he could be the hybrid offensive threat the Cowboys appear to be lacking both on the outside and in the slot.

Anthony Miller has been a riser all season. I think his Senior Bowl and Combine will be important to where he's projected to be taken. While he is a step below Ridley on my board, he would certainly be a heck of a consolation prize for the Dallas Cowboys if they were able to draft him in 2018.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. the_truth_hurts

    December 22, 2017 at 7:42 am

    We need new Coaches…Fire Garrett, he’s worthless…He will be a good OC for a team, but he fails miserably short being an average HC at best in the league…Keep the talent we have now and if we can steal a WR in Round 1-3 then certainly grab 1; however, we still have needs for the DL, DB…We must continue to beef up our Defense…We should also be looking for another OL…We should always be looking for an OL in every draft, to ensure our run game if we have any significant injuries during the season…We only need Dak and Cooper as QB(s), everyone else should go at that position…Keep Smith as Elliott’s back-up and start to play Gathers at TE more…I thought they should have naturally moved him to DE after they drafted him…It starts with our Coaches

    • Jorge Sure

      December 26, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Exactly that would be ideal but JJ said he was satisfied with the mediocre level of JG so I do not think there is a change, I think he missed the season since our CDs and CO did not have a change in the settings of the other teams and we continued to play mediocre, so while they are those useless we will still be lost and having seasons like this …

      • the_truth_hurts

        December 27, 2017 at 6:52 am

        JJ should honestly look into hiring Tony Romo as the OC and promoting him to HC after one season…Tony Romo’s knowledge of the game is incredible…This is also why Dak was so successful last year because he had Romo advising him…Or just hire Tony as the HC…Jerry Jones does a real good job of getting in his own way…

        • EverybodyTalks

          December 27, 2017 at 11:28 pm

          Tony has said, on more than one occasion, that if he would go into coaching, he would want to be open the defensive side. It makes sense, as a QB, you are constantly trying to figure out what the defense is going to do. You hear it in his broadcasting. He can see what is coming, what are the tendencies of the defense. I just don’t know, if he would give up the booth for coaching, especially with a young family.

          • dallas1966

            December 30, 2017 at 6:03 pm

            Romo is the past, let it go, now breath.

          • EverybodyTalks

            December 30, 2017 at 9:54 pm

            I was replying to “the truth hurts”…..try to follow along if you can,. If not, ask for directions.

        • dallas1966

          December 30, 2017 at 6:02 pm

          It was Mark Sanchez not Romo, that elevated Dak’s game in 2016.

          • the_truth_hurts

            December 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm

            The dumbest thing said on the internet today…It was Romo who advised Dak last year you moron…Sanchez couldn’t help himself and lacks the knowledge of the game…Dak even came out and said that Romo helped him last year with reads…Stay off the internet with your stupidity…

  2. dallas1966

    December 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    This coaching staff will probably pass on drafting a wide receiver in the 1st round. Jerry has already stated that he believes that Dez, still has juice. In other words, nothing to see here, move along, more of the same. Mediocrity rules in Cowboys nation.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Since Kris Richard has taken over the back-end of the Dallas Cowboys defense, they have clearly shown a bias towards a "type" of cornerback. Richard, looking to build this Dallas unit in a similar form to his Seattle teams, has prioritized long corners both in height and arm length.

As his responsibilities within the organization increase, it's only fair to expect Kris Richard to have more say in who the Cowboys' defense acquires in terms of talent. This means we should anticipate more defensive backs who fit his type, such as Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Player

So why does Lonnie Johnson fit the mold of what Kris Richard tends to look for? Well, for starters, he is 6'3" and 206 lbs with 32 1/4" arms. He's a long corner with excellent size and the trait profile which indicates he could be the perfect candidate to play cornerback in Dallas.

But while he might look great on paper, the tape is always the most important factor for evaluating and projecting talent. And, for Johnson, the tape isn't all-that great. Despite his length, Johnson struggled mightily in press-man coverage at Kentucky. Too often he is late or ineffective with his hands, leaving him susceptible to being blown by by the opposing receiver. He often loses balance due to poor footwork, and is rather average with his hips and quick change of direction.

Where Johnson was his best in college was in zone coverage, playing his deep third of Kentucky's cover-three look. Rarely did he allow receivers behind him in zone coverage, and displayed good instincts when deciding whether to jump routes or play more conservatively when playing in that deep third. He was not nearly as comfortable underneath, and Kentucky didn't ask him to play in that role too often. Because of how big he is, Johnson is able to contest at the catch point regularly, yet he only deflected 9 passes in 2 years.

What gives me the most hope for Lonnie Johnson as a prospect (besides his length) is his Senior Bowl performance. Johnson impressed daily at the Senior Bowl, looking more comfortable in man coverage and playing much better in his press technique.

Was this Johnson becoming more comfortable over time and a sign of things to come at the next level, or was it an anomaly that we shouldn't read too much into? The answer to that question is up to the individual teams, but his combine performance will play a huge role in how those teams answer.

The Fit

As I've discussed already, Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits what Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks. He is long, tall, and relatively athletic, making him a clay piece for a coach like Richard to develop.

The question is, however, how much development can really occur? The highs for Johnson are rather high when he maximizes his natural abilities on the field. But too often he is sloppy in technique, or looks lost in man coverage. Whether or not Richard can "fix" Johnson completely may never be seen, but teams (especially this one) could fall in love with him as a prospect for what he can become if it all comes together.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma Like, Comment, and Subscribe for More! Follow my Instagram: @szhighlights Songs: - "Don't Know Me" by Trae Tha Truth - "Better Days" by Trae Tha Truth I do not own any of these highlights or music clips.

Before we get into the player, we should really try to get to know Rodney Anderson the person. He attended Katy High School in Katy, Texas, one of the powerhouse HS football programs in the state. He was a four-star recruit who received offers from Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind and decided to go to Oklahoma instead. He had an up-and-down career on the football field at Oklahoma because of injuries, but did graduate with a degree in Arts and Sciences in May 2018 and is pursuing his Master's in Human Relations.

Pros:

Rodney Anderson has the ideal size and athleticism to become a featured back in the NFL. He shows good patience and vision on film to allow his offensive lineman to secure their blocks before sticking his foot in the ground and exploding through the hole. He runs behind his pads and shows good strength, loose hips, and balance to run through arm tackles. More than capable of picking up those "dirty yards" and is surprisingly slippery as a runner in the open field.

Anderson is capable of playing in a power scheme or a zone heavy scheme like the Dallas Cowboys deploy. He has been featured in a number of rushing concepts including gap/power, read action, and power sweeps. His talent also carries over to the passing game. He possesses soft hands and looks natural catching the ball both out of the backfield and down the field as a receiver. Solid in pass protection, but this is an area of his game where he can improve.

Cons:

The biggest negative about Rodney Anderson is his injury history at Oklahoma. He is basically a one-year wonder because of three separate season-ending injuries, but bad things happen in three so maybe that's behind him. Durability will be a question mark entering the NFL though.

His vision is sometimes questionable, especially on inside and outside zone reads. Has a tendency to to try to bounce runs to the outside too often or cut back too quickly. Shows good explosiveness, but only average burst through the hole. Seems to have adequate long speed on tape, but is 40 yard dash time will be heavily scrutinized if he's able to run at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the passing game he needs to improve his route running and pass protection if he wants to be a three-down back in the NFL. The talent is there, just not the production and consistency. Will also have to prove he can be productive against stacked boxes at the next level since he rarely saw any in college due to Oklahoma's spread offense.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back capable of being a featured back in the NFL, while also spelling Ezekiel Elliott from time to time, then Rodney Anderson is there guy. His combination of power, balance, explosiveness, and scheme diversity could come in handy as their RB2. Not only would he provide a good insurance policy if the unthinkable were to happen to Zeke, but he could take over if they decide not to give No. 21 a contract extension.

There is a lot to like about Rodney Anderson's game and his ability to contribute in the running and passing game, but he is not by any means a clean prospect. Despite his immense talent, his injury history and lack of consistency in college is bothersome. But, as a mid-round pick the reward far outweighs the risks. Paired with Elliott, the Cowboys could have a formidable one-two punch in their backfield and could pound opposing defenses into submission.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Our search for a new pass catcher for the Cowboys in this years' draft class continues, this time with a wide receiver.

South Carolina's Deebo Samuel put himself on the map with a strong Sophomore season, but fell off a bit due to a severe leg injury early in 2017. After a strong 2018 campaign, and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Samuel has played himself back into early Day Two draft discussions.

The Player

I don't know that anyone "won" Senior Bowl week more than Deebo Samuel did this January. Samuel, who had to deal with some poor quarterback play throughout his college career, didn't get much of a break in that department either at the Senior Bowl. But, he did show out every day at practice, and seemed to go viral on Twitter at least once a day.

During his actual collegiate season, Samuel finished with 882 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 catches, solid production especially coming off an injury and playing in a limited offense. Initially in the NFL, Samuel is going to make his money in the slot. He's a shifty yet explosive receiver type than can quickly beat defenders with his speed. He's not the speedster than someone like Marquise Brown is, but he is explosive enough in his own right, especially in terms of short-area quickness.

Samuel isn't someone who will go up and grab the ball consistently, or even make up for inaccurate throws as often as some others might be able to. But he does have reliable hands, and his ability to get open quickly and create separation should give someone like Dak Prescott easy windows to find him in for completions.

What makes Deebo Samuel so fun for me to watch, though, is his ability after the catch. Despite his lack of size, Samuel is tough as nails, and rarely defers out of bounds or avoids contact. He's built well enough to withstand that contact as well, and when he gets free, he's hard to catch and bring down.

The Fit

Drafting Deebo Samuel 58th overall would be a heck of a haul for the Dallas Cowboys. In need of another playmaker in the passing game, the Cowboys could make immediate use of Samuel's talents in 2019, specifically as a slot receiver.

As has been mentioned ad nauseam, it seems unlikely that Cole Beasley will be returning to the team this season, which makes the need for a slot wide-out that much greater. Samuel has big play ability from the slot already, and has traits which project him to potentially work outside as well. If he tests well enough at the combine, reps on the outside could very well be in his future.

Samuel should be on every Cowboys fans' shortlist of draft targets in the second round this year.



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