With the 2018 NFL Draft coming into focus more and more each day, and the new league year set to enter April and proceed towards April 26th-28th's event from AT&T Stadium, the realization that this 2018 Draft class is shallow compared to recent years has brought things full circle.
Typically, the prospects linked to a team by either their fans or reporters at the beginning of the offseason are washed away in the month actually leading up to the draft. In the Cowboys' case, their recent presence at some of the top schools in the nation for pro days links them to a number of exciting prospects that have been on Cowboys Nation's radar for a while now.
Inside The Star at Frisco, preparations for the draft will be constantly moving forward, though we can take the luxury here to look back at the importance the week so far has had on the Cowboys.
Alabama Crimson Tide Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: WR Calvin Ridley, LB Rashaan Evans, DT Da'Ron Payne, CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, S Ronnie Harrison
In the aftermath of the Cowboys using their 28th overall pick on Taco Charlton a year ago, it was revealed that this "controversial" pick was mostly fought for by Head Coach Jason Garrett.
On Wednesday, Garrett and the Cowboys' staff departed from the annual NFL coaches meetings to attend Alabama's pro day - Garrett's first formal stop of the season.
Jason Garrett & a Cowboys contingent of coaches & scouts will be in Alabama on Wednesday for the school's 2nd Pro Day. It will Be Garrett's first campus trip leading up to April draft.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to Crimson Tide prospects that the Cowboys could be interested in. My most recent roundup of national mock drafts pegged both Linebacker Rashaan Evans and Defensive Tackle Da'Ron Payne to the Cowboys. Wide Receiver Calvin Ridley also remains in play for pick #19, even with the team adding Allen Hurns.
Though no formal interest has been announced between the Dallas Cowboys and DT Da'Ron Payne, they do have a 30 visit set with Rashaan Evans, and met with Ridley at the Scouting Combine.
Both defenders have the floor to make an immediate impact on this team's front seven, adding an overall toughness to the unit.
Payne fits the Cowboys' "box" for 1T DTs, with the ability to dip his shoulders and get up the field against the pass. Evans would be an ideal compliment to Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee, an instinctive linebacker with the upside to become one of the biggest steals in this draft.
Florida Gators Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: DT Taven Bryan, CB Duke Dawson, WR Antonio Callaway, TE DeAndre Goolsby
Staying in the SEC, Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli was spotted at the pro day of the Florida Gators.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli with #Gators DT Taven Bryan. https://t.co/u2vti68aWm
To nobody's surprise, Marinelli was taking special interest in Defensive Tackle Taven Bryan. A true Marinelli prospect all the way, Bryan is a budding prospect that's risen up draft boards given his incredibly high ceiling.
Profiled as a potential pick for the Cowboys here, Bryan is raw in his overall game as a 3T DT, but was disruptive enough against top college competition to warrant an early pick. Bryan would fill a need for the Cowboys, as the team did not address their defensive front at all in free agency.
Come draft night, it will be fascinating to see just how much pull Rod Marinelli will find in the Cowboys' war room. It is widely believed that 2018 will be his last season in Dallas, and a wealth of potential replacements - along with new coaches on offense - will all be fighting for "their guys".
Taven Bryan is going to be one of Rod Marinelli's guys.
Maryland Terrapins Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: WR D.J. Moore, CB JC Jackson
The D.J. Moore train is full steam ahead! Even before the dynamic Maryland receiver blew up the Scouting Combine, the fit between Moore and the Cowboys has made a lot of sense.
As mentioned with Calvin Ridley, who should come off the board before Moore, the Cowboys should absolutely still be in the market for a WR with their first pick. Using this pick on Moore would fully upgrade Dak Prescott's stable of pass catchers, with the addition of a speedy rookie that can separate down the field and make defenders miss easily in the open field.
Eagles, Bills, Chiefs, Cowboys, 49ers, Texans, Seahawks, Vikings, Falcons, Jets, Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders, Giants, Bucs, and Colts are all here for Maryland pro day. WR DJ Moore is the featured prospect.
In watching D.J. Moore at his pro day, the Cowboys are doing their due diligence on a prospect that will also visit The Star for a pre-draft visit. Moore met with the Cowboys at the Combine as well.
Texas Longhorns Pro Day
Top Draft Eligible Prospects: S DeShon Elliott, DT Poona Ford, LB Malik Jefferson, CB Holton Hill, OT Connor Williams
Last but certainly not least on the Cowboys' recent flurry of activity is of course their stop at Texas' local pro day.
Decent amount of draft-caliber dudes at Texas' pro day today. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, the guys that stick out to me are LB Malik Jefferson and S DeShon Elliott.
Most Texas Longhorns prospects will be eligible to participate in the Cowboys' "Dallas Day" - an opportunity to workout local players without burning valuable 30 visits.
This will be the case for Linebacker Malik Jefferson and Safety DeShon Elliott. In which rounds the Cowboys could target both players remains to be ironed out, but they have shown special interest in Elliott, meeting with the athletic safety already.
I would also add Longhorns' prospect Connor Williams to any list of potential Cowboys targets, as Williams was once considered a top OT (and overall) prospect in 2017. Returning to school off of an injury, Williams did struggle at times this season, and has been projected by some as an interior player now.
In the market for a starting left guard still, along with as much depth as possible up front, the Cowboys could see plenty of value in taking their chance on Connor Williams.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Just in Texas alone today, three more pro days will take place at SMU, Houston, and Rice. With the full circuit of pro days concluding on April 6th, it is important to step back and check in with the Cowboys' decision makers this week.
Presented with the opportunity to put the Cowboys back in contention quickly, with ten total picks in their home draft, the brain trust of the Dallas Cowboys has been out in full force to - excitingly - look at prospects that even casual fans should have a handle on.
With plenty of work left to be done around the league before the Cleveland Browns go on the clock, do not be surprised when the latest rookie to earn his star as this team's first round pick is one mentioned above.
Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill
NAME: Trysten Hill
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
SCHOOL: Central Florida
JERSEY: No. 9
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
|Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles|
Uploaded by Micah Wade on 2019-02-22.
The first thing that jumps off the tape when studying Trysten Hill is his first step quickness at the snap of the ball and his burst to get upfield. He is scheme diverse, but projects better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Can play the one-technique or the three-technique in a 4-3 defense, but is at his best as a one-gapper.
Hill plays with a nonstop motor and high energy down after down. Doesn't take any plays off. Shows the ability to fight off blocks. Always working his hands and feet to free himself. Is equally disruptive harassing the quarterback as a gap penetrator and in the running game playing sideline to sideline.
Shows good agility and flexibility to bend and finish tackles behind line of scrimmage and in the open field. Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to improve his overall play strength. Uses a twitchy arm over and spin counter move to penetrate the gap as both a pass rusher and run defender.
There are questions about Trysten Hill's maturity, work ethic, and coach ability. He found himself in the doghouse last year at Central Florida and only started one game. Was he demoted because of the new coaching staff or are the character concerns about him factual? This is something teams will have to dive deeper into.
Needs to do a better job of playing under control. Will run himself out of gaps at times, which causes him to lose his gap responsibility. Can get washed out of the play by down blocks. Needs to develop a better feel and response to keep that from happening.
Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to add functional strength in order to become more consistent. Drops his head at times on his initial punch. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. Relies too much on arm over and spin move.
Trysten Hill is a versatile defensive tackle capable playing the one-technique or the three-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. Due to his first step quickness and high motor, he is likely better suited to play the three-technique. He has starting potential, but would likely be a rotational piece on the DL as a rookie behind Maliek Collins. His ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and sidelined the sideline would be a welcomed addition along the Cowboys defensive front. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick, and that's exactly where the Dallas Cowboys would likely have to target him to acquire his services.
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."
Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.
There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.
Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.
Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.
Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.
Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.
Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.
Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.
Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)
There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.
I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.
Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…
Stanley Morgan Jr.
|Arm length||31 3/8"||32 3/8"|
|Hand size||10"||9 7/8"|
|20 yard shuffle||4.14||4.13|
|3 cone drill||7.03||6.78|
As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.
The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?
It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.
As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.
This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.
Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Realistic Free Agents Cowboys Should Sign Before the Draft
NFL Draft1 week ago
Hypothetical La’el Collins Trade Could Recoup Cowboys a 2019 1st-Round Pick
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Cowboys Show Interest in Browns DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Player News1 week ago
Chiefs Release Eric Berry, Should Cowboys Be Interested?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
REPORT: Cowboys Keeping OL Joe Looney, WR Tavon Austin, WR Allen Hurns in 2019
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Post-Combine Edition
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign DL Christian Covington
NFL Draft1 day ago
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.