Yesterday I shared with you the players on the North Squad at the 2018 Senior Bowl who the Dallas Cowboys could show interest in come draft time, so today I want to focus on the South Squad.
The South Squad will be coached by the Houston Texans staff and they have any of the talented prospects to work with. Honestly, I think the South Squad is a more talented of the two rosters, but I could be wrong.
Below I put together a list of prospects I will particularly be paying close attention to throughout the game. I think each one of these players could end up being a good addition to the Dallas Cowboys roster, but feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section located at the end of the article.
Running Back and Wide Receivers
#7 WR D.J. Chark, LSU (6'4", 198)
I'm personally really looking forward to seeing D.J. Chark at the 2018 Senior Bowl. He has already become one of my "pet cats" in this draft class, which is why I previously wrote about him and the skill set he would bring to the Dallas Cowboys.
I think he has the potential to be one of the better receivers in the 2018 draft class and has a chance to prove just that with a good showing at the Senior Bowl. He has all the intangibles to succeed in the NFL: strong hands, speed, solid route runner, and a strong work ethic.
#20 RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (5'11", 220)
Rashaad Penny is still somehow flying somewhat under the radar in regards to being in the conversation as one of the top running backs in the 2018 draft class. But, I think that will change after he plays in the 2018 Senior Bowl. He should be one of the better players to play in this game.
There really aren't very many holes to Penny's game. He runs with both power and agility, and is a good receiver out of the backfield. The only knock him right now is his pass protection, but that is usually the case for RBs coming out of college. Maybe he can show improvement in that area in the game.
#28 WR James Washington, Oklahoma State (6'0", 200)
James Washington proved time and time again he is a big play threat during his time at Oklahoma State. It's his most intriguing quality right now, but he might not be able to make an immediate impact his rookie season due to his lack of route running experience.
I'll be watching for him to hopefully run a more diverse route tree in the game and show little more effort blocking the run game, something he he seemed uninterested in doing in college. If he can show improvement in these two areas, he could improve his draft stock and become a legitimate first-round pick.
#53 LB Micah Kiser, Virginia (6'2", 240)
The Dallas Cowboys are in need of depth at the linebacker position, which is why I will be watching Micah Kiser pretty closely in the Senior Bowl. He was a tackling machine during his career at Virginia, but he is more in the mold of the "Old School" LB.
Right now, Kiser is probably just a two down LB in the NFL. He is a liability in coverage and will need time to develop in that area in order to become a three down player. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but he could really help himself if he can prove he is better in coverage than his college tape suggests.
#93 DE Marcus Davenport, University of Texas at San Antonio (6'7", 255)
Although Marcus Davenport is considered a small school prospect, he has already regarded as one of the best defensive ends in the 2018 draft class. In fact, he might just have the most upside of any DE entering the draft, but he is still really raw.
My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin recently did a breakdown of Marcus Davenport and his fit with the Cowboys here at Inside The Star, and I think he nailed it. I really want to see how he performs against better competition at the Senior Bowl. He could already be a target for the Cowboys at 19, but if he performs well, he could be long gone by then.
#71 OT Alex Cappa, Humboldt State (6'7", 305)
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely stand to upgrade their swing tackle position. I think we have all seen enough of Byron Bell and Chaz Green to agree that it was a problem in 2017. That is why I will be watching the tackles in this draft class particularly closely.
Alex Cappa is a small school prospect who is generating some buzz around the scouting community. He definitely has the size teams look for in their tackles, but he is going to have to prove himself against better competition to be considered a starter instead of a developmental player. The 2018 Senior Bowl is a great opportunity for him to do just that.
#72 OT Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T (6'7", 309)
Like Alex Cappa, Brandon Parker is another OT small school prospect who can make a name for himself with a good showing at the Senior Bowl. He has NFL size and skill set, but needs to prove himself against better competition.
I actually like what I've seen of Parker on tape, but I think he needs time to develop before he can be depended on. I haven't heard much talk about him so for during the draft process, but that could change after the completion of this week.
#77 OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia (6'2", 302)
Isaiah Wynn has been one of my favorite offensive lineman I've studied so far. He has played center, guard, and left tackle during his career at Georgia, and hasn't looked out of place at any one of those positions. He is one of the most versatile and technique sound lineman in this draft class.
I'm really interesting seeing where he will play in the Senior Bowl. He doesn't really have the length to play LT in the NFL, so I expect him to be kicked inside to OG and maybe play a little center as well. He could be someone the Cowboys look at become their next starting LG.
#80 TE Ian Thomas, Indiana (6'5", 248)
I personally believe the Dallas Cowboys need to find their future starting tight end this year and fortunately there will be a few options to watch at the 2018 Senior Bowl. Ian Thomas is one of those prospects.
Thomas is one of the more well-rounded TEs in the 2018 draft class. He is efficient in both the running and passing game. He is not one of the speedier TEs entering the draft this year, but he is a clean route runner and knows how to find the open hole in the passing game. I think he has the makings of a starting caliber TE in the NFL.
#81 TE Adam Breneman, UMass (6'5", 255)
Adam Breneman is more of the "classic" in-line tight end prospect. He does have strong hands and great eye-hand coordination, but he's not going to get much separation in the passing game. He also should make an easy transition into the NFL after playing in a more pro-style offense at UMass.
There are concerns about Breneman though. He had to walk away (retire) from Penn State earlier in his collegiate career due to chronic pain in his left knee, so medicals will be huge for him going forward. But, he has the skill set required to succeed in the NFL.
#86 TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State (6'5", 255)
Dallas Goedert is regarded as the top TE by most scouts, and for good reason. Even though he is a small school prospect, he shows immense talent/potential.
Goedert is absolutely dominant against lower competition in both the passing game and as an in-line blocker. If he continues to do that against better competition in the Senior Bowl, he will likely be the first tight end drafted. He could be exactly what the Dallas Cowboys need it they decide to take a TE early in the draft.
What South Squad prospects are you interested in watching at the 2018 Senior Bowl?
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.
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.
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.
3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys
By now it's no secret the Dallas Cowboys don't have a first-round draft pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. The Amari Cooper trade took care of that, meaning sitting through the entire Day 1 could be a little tiresome for us fans. But, Day 2 of the draft could get really interesting for the Cowboys, especially as it pertains to the players/positions they could target.
Today, I wanted to take a look at a few of the Day 2 tight end prospects the Dallas Cowboys could be interested in. This would be the second tier of TEs behind the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Irv Smith, all of which should be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock at 58th overall in the second round.
I really believe that if the Dallas Cowboys plan on drafting a starting caliber tight end in this year's draft class they are going to have to do it with either their second or third round selection. The TEs available beyond that point probably aren't much of an upgrade over Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz, which is praise in itself about the upside of the young TEs they currently have on the roster.
With all of that in mind, I put together a list of three tight ends I would personally target on Day 2 if I were the Cowboys. I tried to identify what they typically look for in a starting TE (size, speed, athleticism), while also taking into account the ones that are are versatile enough to contribute on all three downs in both the running and passing game.
Isaac Nauta, Georgia
Isaac Nauta is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs. He is a top-notch blocker both in line and when split out wide, but due to the Bulldogs run heavy offense he never really developed into the pass catcher many envisioned him becoming. He possesses good speed and terrific hands to be a threat in the passing game though, even if he doesn't show a lot of separation ability on film.
Nauta looks and plays like a prototypical Dallas Cowboys tight end. He has the desired size (6'4", 246), athleticism, and skill set to step in and be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie. His blocking ability alone will get him on the field early, but he also shows enough pass catching ability to be a threat in the passing game as well. Overall, Nauta is a pro-ready three down TE who is a high floor prospect with very little downside.
Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Jace Sternberger is a former three-star recruit and the definition of a one-year wonder. He was basically a complete unknown before the 2018 season and had just one catch for 5 yards during his two years at Kansas before deciding to transfer to JUCO. He didn't fare much better at Northern Oklahoma A&M, but Jimbo Fisher thought enough of him to bring him aboard a Texas A&M, essentially turning him into an All-American and first team All-SEC.
Sternberger is almost the exact opposite of Isaac Nauta, but still has the desired traits the Dallas Cowboys look for in their tight ends. Unlike Nauta, Sternberger is much more accomplished as a passing threat. He runs and moves like a big wide receiver and possesses good separation ability. Due to his size (6'4", 250) and athletic ability he is difficult to bring down after the catch as well. He's not as accomplished as a blocker as Nauta, but he shows good technique and will improve in time with added strength. He has the ability to be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie.
Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
Dawson Knox is a former walk-on quarterback at Ole Miss, but spent the last two years playing tight end for the Rebels. He is one of the more difficult tight ends to evaluate in this draft class due to the unorthodox offense he played in and his usage in the system, but may actually be more pro-ready than many of us believe. He does have the size (6'4", 250), speed, and natural hands to be a complete three-down TE in the NFL and reminds me a little bit of George Kittle when he was entering the league.
Knox is still pretty raw as a player, but moldable and he has the upside to be one of the best tight ends in this entire draft class. He could probably compete to be the Dallas Cowboys TE1 as a rookie, but it might be better for him to be in a timeshare of sorts while he develops his God-given talent. Nevertheless, I have a hard time seeing him making it out of Day 2 of the draft, especially after he puts on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. His talent might be too much for the Cowboys to pass up.
Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?
The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.
Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.
Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.
If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.
Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.
It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.
The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.
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