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?
Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys
By now you know that the Dallas Cowboys have not prioritized the defensive tackle position at the Draft in some time, a point made prominent with the amount of talent available at DT in this 2018 class.
Despite not being as high on him as most, Florida's Taven Bryan would fit what the Cowboys are doing defensively under Rod Marinelli very well. Bryan is a disruptive player at the 3T position, where the Cowboys currently have a decision to make on RFA David Irving.
Even if Irving and Maliek Collins are back in the fold for 2018, Taven Bryan would be a great addition to this front seven - thanks to his raw athleticism and motor.
Let's take a closer look at how Bryan fits the Cowboys' defense.
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"Bryan excels at not giving his man much of a blocking surface area – playing with good pad level and impressive bend for a DT."
This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Florida's Taven Bryan at Slant Sports. Far from a finished product, Bryan shoots gaps and beats guards off of the line with ease. This is a player with rare traits at the 3T position, bending well while playing with enough strength throughout his entire frame.
"Using a smooth upper body paired with quick footwork and burst, Bryan is frequently shooting gaps to finish in the backfield."
When I watched Taven Bryan, I was reminded of current Cowboys DT Maliek Collins in 2016. As a rookie, Collins played the penetrating 3T spot with similar burst and power.
With the Cowboys now preferring Collins at the 1T position, Bryan could fill in on day one as an interior force with the upside to become one of the league's best match up weapons up front.
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Unless a blocker across from Bryan works quickly into his frame, this is a player that is going to generate push and flow to the football with elite speed and balance.
"Taven Bryan allows his frame to be controlled too often, effectively getting washed out of any play where his blocker can squat against the speed rush and shoot their hands inside on Bryan."
Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence proved that he is the "alpha" of this defensive line in 2017. Building this unit around Lawrence will yield positive results for the Cowboys, especially if they can find a long-term 3T to play alongside him.
One with as high of a ceiling as Taven Bryan becomes an intriguing option, especially considering the Cowboys' ability to play him in a rotation early in his career.
"Unleashing Taven Bryan as a gap-shooting 3T DT is the best way to see this prospect reach his ceiling..."
The Cowboys' 19th overall pick may be a bit rich for Taven Bryan, but this is a prospect to look for in the second round, where Dallas holds the 50th overall pick. A second round DT on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, Bryan should outplay his draft status regardless of the pick if put in the right situation to use traits that would greatly help the Dallas Cowboys.
2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?
With Tight End Jason Witten set to enter his 16th season for the Dallas Cowboys, it has become an annual offseason tradition to discuss the team's need for young talent at TE. In a down year for the entire Cowboys offense, Witten caught the fewest passes (63) he has since 2003 - his rookie year.
Since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted seven tight ends, most of which suffering the same fate in Dallas. Playing behind the future first-ballot Hall of Fame TE in Witten, the only players that have sustained any success behind him remain current tight ends James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.
A sixth and seventh round pick respectively, Hanna and Swaim don't exactly excite anyone expecting the Cowboys to upgrade their passing game in 2018 and beyond for Quarterback Dak Prescott.
For all of the buzz about the Cowboys using their current 19th overall pick on a WR (a decision I would be against), where is the ideal spot in this draft to target a TE?
This year's draft class at TE is a top-heavy one, with some big time pass catchers available at the top of it. If the Cowboys are serious about adding a legitimate middle-of-the-field threat on offense, they could consider the likes of Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, or Ian Thomas with the 50th overall pick in the second round.
Of course, Cowboys Nation continues to hold out hope for Rico Gathers to revolutionize the TE position in Dallas as their last pick in the 2016 draft, but the Baylor basketball convert has done little to prove he's motivated to rise up the depth chart anytime soon.
Doug Nussmeier is the Cowboys' third TE coach in as many seasons, joining the staff for 2018 with no previous experience in this coaching role specifically. Nussmeier does bring extensive experience alongside Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, as well as nine years as an OC himself with Fresno State, Washington, Alabama, Michigan, and Florida.
It is safe to say that Nussmeier understands the importance of the TE position for a QB, especially a young one like Prescott - who has inconsistently used Jason Witten as the "security blanket" he became known as under Tony Romo.
If recent draft history holds up, the Cowboys will wait until the later rounds to possibly address tight end. The impact a top player from this class could immediately have in Dallas needs to be considered though, making TE an intriguing draft need as early as the second or third rounds.
The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For
The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 NFL Draft needing help in multiple areas. Of course, they could use new blood on the interior of their defensive line, in their linebacker corps, and in their receiver room. Their most important need to fill in the first round, however, seems to be left guard.
If the Cowboys could find an immediate starter at left guard, a dominant player who can function as an effective run blocker and allow Dak Prescott to trust his left side once again, their offense would be back in business. We typically think of the Cowboys offense, and their line in particular, as a strength. But down the stretch in 2017 that simply wasn't the case.
As I've discussed before, there should be realistic options available with the 19th overall selection, particularly Georgia guard Isiah Wynn. There is one player in this NFL Draft class they should consider moving up for if the price is right, though.
That player is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
Make no mistake, Quenton Nelson is the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He is a massive, yet athletic interior offensive lineman who cemented himself as the best guard in college football during his senior season with the Fighting Irish.
Nelson plays with an edge that you love from offensive linemen, especially from those you will be asking to run block often. He doesn't just open holes, he embarrasses defensive tackles. He doesn't just smartly use body positioning and footwork, he finishes his blocks and snatches souls. Plus, he shows the athleticism and agility to get to the second level to seal off linebackers.
Quenton Nelson works well in pass protection as well. Often labeled a weakness in his game coming out of high school, Nelson has shown vast improvements in his footwork, awareness, and balance in his pass set while at Notre Dame. He would be a day one starter in Dallas, and would take the Cowboys' offensive line back to their 2014-2016 form.
But how realistic is it that the Cowboys would move up for Nelson?
Well, not very realistic at all. In fact, I'd say it's more likely the Cowboys move back to take Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn than it is they give away future assets in such a Day Two-rich draft. If, for some reason, Quenton Nelson falls to around the 12th overall pick however, there could be an opening for the Cowboys to come up and snag him.
I don't condone trading up often whatsoever, but Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson leads a very short list of players I'd move up for if I were the Cowboys. Trading up for a guard seems like flawed logic, but considering the importance and impact he would have for this team, Quenton Nelson is well worth it.
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