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NFL Draft

2018 Senior Bowl: North Squad Players Cowboys Fans Should Know

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft
Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post

The 2018 Senior Bowl is set to take place this Saturday, January 27. This is a great opportunity for NFL teams to get a first-hand look at some of these incoming prospects after receiving NFL coaching.

The North Squad will be coached by the Denver Broncos staff, and the South Squad will be coached by the Houston Texans staff. Both squads have some talented players, which is why I decided to break down each team and share with you some of the prospects who could be of interest to the Dallas Cowboys.

Today, I want to focus on the North Squad, coached by the Denver Broncos. Below are the participants who I will be watching extra closely.

#23 S Armani Watts, Texas A&M (5'11", 205)

Armani Watts

Texas A&M S Armani Watts

Armani Watts is a 2018 Senior Bowl participant I'm particularly looking forward to watching. He is a born-and-bred Texan, and had quite a career for himself at Texas A&M.

The Dallas Cowboys could be looking to upgrade their safety position, and Watts is a player who could be of interest to them.

He has the physicality to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, but also has the range and play-making ability to play deep.

#25 RB Akrum Wadley, Iowa (5'11", 191)

Akrum Wadley

Iowa RB Akrum Wadley

The Dallas Cowboys will likely look long and hard at this running back draft class to provide some more depth behind Ezekiel Elliott in 2018, which is why Akrum Wadley makes this list of participants to watch at the 2018 Senior Bowl.

Wadley isn't the biggest or fastest RB in the 2018 draft class, but he has an intriguing skill set to make an immediate impact for the NFL team who drafts him.

He's a patient runner with good vision and runs with more power than his size would suggest. He looks natural catching the ball out of the backfield, and he's elusive with the ball in the open field.

#59 DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State (6'4", 265)

Tyquan Lewis

Ohio State DE Tyquan Lewis

With the exception of DeMarcus Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys really don't have another proven defensive end on the roster. They have the bodies to play the position, but that likely won't keep them from drafting another DE at some point in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Tyquan Lewis was part of an impressive Ohio State defense the last few years, and has played on both the left and right side.

He has the size and power to stand up at the point of attack, and the athleticism and explosiveness to be an effective passer. But, he needs to work on his snap recognition, because sometimes he's the last one out of his stance when the ball is snapped.

#76 OG Will Hernandez, UTEP (6'3", 330)

Will Hernandez

UTEP LG Will Hernandez

Although the Dallas Cowboys arguably have one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL, they could stand to upgrade the left guard position.

Jonathan Cooper was serviceable in 2017, but he's not the long-term solution.

Will Hernandez is someone who I believe can be a plug-and-play starter for the Cowboys, and probably have a decade-long career in the NFL.

Despite what his size would indicate, I believe he can play in a power or zone blocking scheme. It'll be interesting to see how he stacks up against better competition at the Senior Bowl. Check out my fellow Staff Writer's [Kevin Brady] scouting report and Cowboys fit here.

#81 TE Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin (6'6", 248)

Troy Fumagalli

Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli

The Dallas Cowboys might not be as interested in the 2018 tight end draft class as I am, but I'm watching the position closely.

Outside of Jason Witten, I don't like what the Cowboys currently have on the roster at the TE position, and even he's beginning to become a liability.

Troy Fumagalli is probably the most mentally prepared TE in the entire draft class. He's not going to blow teams away with this athleticism, but he is a technician as both a blocker and receiver.

It's unlikely he really stands out at the Senior Bowl, he's just not that kind of player, but he should be able to prove he is arguably the most well-rounded TE in the draft this year.

#84 WR Michael Gallup, Colorado State (6'1", 200)

Michael Gallup

Colorado State WR Michael Gallup

The Cowboys could be looking at upgrading the wide receiver position at some point this offseason, which means they will probably focus in on some of these WRs in the 2018 draft class.

One such receiver that fits their typical profile is Michael Gallup.

My fellow Staff Writer Kevin Brady, recently did a write-up on Michael Gallup and his fit with the Cowboys, and I agree with his assessment.

Gallup is a big physical receiver, with strong hands and a large catching radius. He's a good route runner and is fearless on the field.

How he performs in the Senior Bowl could help solidify his draft status as one of the better WRs in this draft class.

#88 TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State (6'6", 252)

Mike Gesicki

Penn State TE Mike Gesicki

Again, I'm going to be watching this tight end draft class pretty closely because I think the Cowboys need to find their future starter. Mike Gesicki is definitely someone who could be of interest to the Cowboys.

Gesicki is more in line with the move/receiving type tight end that has become so popular in the NFL, but he has been used as an in-line blocker at Penn State.

He will probably show up in the passing game at some point in the Senior Bowl, but I want to see how he handles himself as an in-line blocker. He could really improve his draft stock with a good showing.

Any North Squad participants at the 2018 Senior Bowl you will be watching?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska RB Devine Ozigbo

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska RB Divine Ozigbo

NAME: Devine Ozigbo

POSITION: Running Back

SCHOOL: Nebraska

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 22

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'0"

WT: 220

D.O.B.: 10/2/1996

Rushing Rushing Rushing Rushing Receiving Receiving Receiving Receiving Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Nebraska Big Ten FR RB 8 38 209 5.5 1 5 62 12.4 0 43 271 6.3 1
*2016 Nebraska Big Ten SO RB 9 97 412 4.2 5 5 100 20.0 0 102 512 5.0 5
2017 Nebraska Big Ten JR RB 10 129 493 3.8 3 16 123 7.7 0 145 616 4.2 3
2018 Nebraska Big Ten SR RB 12 155 1082 7.0 12 23 203 8.8 0 178 1285 7.2 12
Career Nebraska 419 2196 5.2 21 49 488 10.0 0 468 2684 5.7 21

Highlights:

Devine Ozigbo 2018 ULTIMATE Highlights!!

By the end of the season, Ozigbo had rushed for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. He became Nebraska's first 1,000-yard rusher since Ameer Abdullah in 2014. He also ended with an average of 6.98 yards per carry, which put him at fourth in the Big Ten among players with at least 100 carries.

Pros:

Devine Ozigbo looks the part of a prototypical NFL running back. He has a well muscled/thick frame, with a strong lower half. He is a physical runner capable of playing in a power/gap or zone blocking scheme, but probably projects best as a zone runner. Has the skill set to be a three-down player, with starting potential. Low tread on the tires, only 419 career carries at Nebraska.

Ozigbo runs with good patients on film, "slow to, fast through", which gives his lineman time to secure their blocks. Runs with good power and leg drive, but also has nimble feet with the elite ankle flexion that allows him to make quick lateral cuts to evade defenders. Finisher in short yardage situations. Shows good vision. Waits for defenders to commit to their run fits before hitting the cutback lane. Has surprising burst and elusiveness for a RB his size.

Can be a threat in the passing game both out of the backfield and split out wide. Has shown the ability to run basic route stems when split out wide. Is a solid hands catcher and has shown he can catch passes thrown outside his frame. Quickly goes from receiver to runner and is surprisingly elusive in the open field. His size helps him in pass protection. He has a strong punch and long arms to keep defenders at bay, but also understands how to absorb contact.

Cons:

One-year wonder? The lack of production at Nebraska might be the biggest concern about Devine Ozigbo as a running back prospect. He had to finally transform his body in 2018 to get on the field, but found success once that happened. Can he maintain that kind of discipline in the NFL? There are also concerns about his long speed.

As a runner, Ozigbo may be only a zone runner in the NFL. Might be scheme dependent. There are times on film where he struggles with his vision, especially when there are multiple offensive lineman pulling. Will also struggle with his reads at time. Better when his reads are clearly defined pre-snap. Takes time to hit top speed and it looks lackadaisical at times. Might take time to adjust to the speed of the game at the next level.

In the passing game he has struggled with passes thrown at a high velocity. Has double caught, bubbled, and dropped a number of high velocity passes. This could be an issue, because he doesn't have the softest hands to begin with. Needs to clean up his technique in pass protection. Will telegraph cut blocks, allowing defenders to easily avoid and pressure the quarterback. Could stand to become a better route runner to be more of a factor when split out wide as a receiver.

Cowboys Fit:

Devine Ozigbo is reportedly one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors, suggesting the former Cornhuskers running back is already on their radar. He would immediately become the RB2 behind Ezekiel Elliott as a rookie and give the Cowboys a formidable one-two punch to wear down opposing defenses. He possesses an intriguing skill set, but isn't the change of pace/got back many have wanted to complement Zeke in the running game.

Ozigbo is a physical runner with a surprisingly nimble feet and flexibility for a RB his size. At Nebraska, he was at his best one running inside zone plays, which just so happens to be a staple in the Cowboys zone blocking scheme. He is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and a solid pass protector. Overall, he has a three-down back and someone who could help lighten the load on Zeke's shoulders. He could be a steal for the Cowboys on Day 3, which is where he's projected to be drafted.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Mock Draft: 2 Different Simulators, 2 Different Outcomes

Brian Martin

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7-Round Cowboys Mock Drafts Using Draft Network and Fanspeak

The Dallas Cowboys have done an outstanding job of filling holes with some cost-effective free agents so far in free agency, which should allow them two approach the 2019 NFL Draft without any glaring "needs". This should free them up to take the best player available if they so choose, but they still have to keep the future in mind as well. After all, there are several players on a one-year deal or entering the last year of their contracts.

For this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft exercise I decided to use the mock draft simulators for Draft Network and Fanspeak. I was curious to see the difference, if any, between the two. I have to say, even though I used two different draft simulators, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Let's take a look…

Draft Network

Fanspeak

Rd 2 (58) DE, Christian Miller DE, Christian Miller
Rd 3 (90) DT, Trysten Hill S, Amani, Hooker
Rd 4 (128) OT, Bobby Evans TE, Kahale Warring
Rd 4 (136) S, Marquise Blair RB, Rodney Anderson
Rd 5 (165) WR, Jalen Hurd DT, Michael Dogbe
Rd 7 (241) RB, James Williams WR, Cody Thompson

Even though I used two different draft simulators, you can clearly see the positions I was targeting for the Dallas Cowboys. I think each one of these players I selected can challenge for a starting job in 2019, but at the worst can be solid depth this year and then become starters in 2020.

Let's dive into this a little deeper so I can tell you why a selected each one of these players…

2nd-round (58th overall)

Christian Miller is the only player I drafted in both mock drafts for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of my "pet cats" this year and someone who I believe fits the criteria the Cowboys look for in their defensive ends. I believe he could challenge to be a starter as a rookie, but at worst would be a really good rotational piece with starting potential down the road.

3rd-round (90th overall)

Trysten Hill is a penetrating DT who could challenge Maliek Collins to become the starting three-technique as a rookie, but at the very least be a really good rotational piece with starting potential.

Amani Hooker is someone who I believe could start next to Xavier Woods as a rookie, even after the Dallas Cowboys added George Iloka to the mix.

4th-round (128th overall)

Bobby Evans has the ability to play the left or right tackle position in the NFL and could immediately challenge La'el Collins at RT. At worst, he would be Collins' replacement in 2020.

Sitting behind Jason Witten and learning for a season would be ideal for Kahale Warring, because he does have the potential to become the Dallas Cowboys TE1 in 2020 despite his lack of college production.

4th-round (136th overall)

Marquise Blair is an underrated safety in the 2019 draft class and someone who would also pair nicely with Xavier Woods. He played mostly strong safety at Utah, but as the ability to be a factor in coverage as well.

Rodney Anderson would immediately step in and become Ezekiel Elliott's backup as a rookie. He is an upgrade over Rod Smith and has starting potential if he can stay healthy.

5th-round (165th overall)

Despite signing Randall Cobb, the Dallas Cowboys could use a slot receiver for the future. I personally really like Jalen Hurd as a "big slot". He gives the Cowboys some size at the WR position and a big target for Dak Prescott to throw to in the slot.

Michael Dogbe is another potential three-technique with starting potential for the Cowboys. He'd likely be a rotational player as a rookie, but could take over for Maliek Collins in 2020.

7th-round (254th overall)

James Williams would bring an intriguing skill set to the Dallas Cowboys as Zeke's backup running back. He is arguably the best receiving RB in the entire draft out of the backfield and when split out wide like a WR.

Cody Thompson reminds me of LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp and would play a similar role with the Cowboys. He needs to fine-tune his route running, but I think he can become their future slot receiver.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Blake Jarwin, Giants

Tight end has become a very intriguing position in Dallas. For the first time in 15 years, the Cowboys went through a season without Jason Witten lining up with the offense in 2018. Instead, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz took over and didn't contribute much to a struggling offense. They both had a few flashes here and there, but TE production wasn't really special for the Cowboys last season. Now, Witten is back from retirement and he'll work with the younger guys to upgrade the offense.

However, tight end still feels like a team need at this point. Jason Witten will be 37 years old when the season begins. His speed was a problem during the last years of his career and that problem will likely show on the field now that he's back. The Cowboys made a good decision bringing him back, but he's clearly not a long-term answer.

Jason Witten, FOX Sports, and the Future at Tight End for the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys)

It seems like Witten will get the starts, but don't expect Blake Jarwin to have no say on who's the most important TE on the team. Jarwin didn't have the best stats in 2018 but, how could he? There were only three games last season in which he was targeted more than three times. In those games, he had 229 yards, including a three touchdown performance versus the New York Giants (when he was targeted eight times).

With Kellen Moore taking over as the offensive coordinator, tight ends might be more involved on the Cowboys offense than in previous years. If that's the case, the Cowboys will have Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz on the roster. All three of these guys will be able to contribute. Schultz is the one who's still unproven, but he did a decent job as a rookie both as a blocker and as a receiver on the rare occasions a ball was thrown his way.

We talk about drafting a tight end for the future when the Cowboys might see their future in Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. These two along with Jason Witten are virtual locks to make the roster. The Cowboys would need to carry four tight ends for it to make sense to draft one in the first place.

Fortunately, the Cowboys have done something at pretty much every position of need this offseason, giving them flexibility to take a "best player available" in April. I truly won't be surprised if the front office doesn't prioritize the need for a young TE. If they do, let's hope they get a very good one.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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