The clock is ticking and the 2019 NFL Draft is almost upon us. We are merely weeks away of the big event and things are just now starting to heat up. With private workouts, Pro Days, and pre-draft visitors getting announced/leaked from teams around the NFL, we're getting a pretty good idea of the players and positions particular teams are targeting. This includes the Dallas Cowboys.
This time of year is really exciting because everybody has their opinion as to which player their team should draft and where, including myself. We all have our favorite prospects or "pet cats", but unless you're one of the lucky few to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys scouting department, you are probably just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. I know I'm guilty.
Today, I'm going to throw a little bit of spaghetti against the wall in the hopes that one of my "pet cats" ends up with the Cowboys come draft day. I decided to choose just one player from each position who I believe would make nice additions to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys probably aren't in the market for another quarterback behind Dak Prescott, but if they are former North Dakota State QB Easton Stick is an intriguing mid to late round option. He has similar mobility as Prescott, which allows him to make plays both inside and outside the pocket. The Cowboys don't have that kind of mobile QB behind Prescott in Cooper Rush or Mike White, which means the offense would change a little if they had to play. It wouldn't with Stick.
There a lot of intriguing running backs in this year's draft class, but Bruce Anderson out of North Dakota State is one of my favorites for the Dallas Cowboys. I think he is a complete three-down back who can be a real weapon in the passing game. He also brings added value on special teams as a kick returner. He could be the lightening to Zeke's thunder.
If you have followed any of my previous work then you already know I'm a huge Mecole Hardman fan. He is my favorite WR in the entire 2019 draft class and I love what he would bring to the Dallas Cowboys. He is a deep threat, can play inside or outside WR, kick and punt returner, "gadget" player, gunner on special teams, and could be an emergency cornerback if needed. What's not to like?
This is a good year to need a tight end and although there are a lot of intriguing options on Day 1 and Day 2, I really like former LSU TE Foster Moreau as a Day 3 target. On paper he measures up and tests similar to Jason Witten, and he has the same kind of blue-collar mentality. Why not draft a player who could be Witten's clone to become his successor?
The Dallas Cowboys are pretty set along the offensive line, but if they're looking for a versatile interior player who can play guard or center than they should look no further than Elgton Jenkins out of Mississippi State. He played every position on their OL, but projects better as interior player in the NFL. He checks all of the boxes to be an early starter in the NFL as a rookie.
With Tyron Smith's continued health problems and with La'el Collins in the last year of his contract, the Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for another offensive tackle. If they are, Bobby Evans out of Oklahoma is the guy I like. He played on both the right and left side for the Sooners and could do the same in the NFL.
If not for some unfortunate injuries and being buried on the depth chart during his time at Alabama, we'd all be to hearing a lot more about Christian Miller. He was one of the Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors and someone I think could be a future starter on the right side opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. He has the size, length, and athletic ability they look for in their DEs and the skill set to match.
The Dallas Cowboys will definitely add a defensive tackle at some point in the draft, and I'm really hoping that player is Trysten Hill. He is a big bodied DT who has a quick first step that allows him to be disruptive in both the running and passing game. He is another pre-draft visitor and has also worked out for Rod Marinelli. I think he would be a great 3-tech with the Cowboys.
My scouting report on Trysten Hill
With Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, and Joe Thomas the Cowboys have solid group of linebackers, but they'll add a few more bodies to the mix with a draft pick or an undrafted player. If they draft a LB, Drue Tranquill out of Notre Dame is someone I really like. He's somehow still flying under the radar a little, but he is one of the more athletic and productive LBs in the draft class.
Let me introduce you to the Washington cornerback not named Byron Murphy…Jordan Miller. He has the size/length Kris Richard looks for in his CBs and excels at playing press man in bump and run coverage. He needs to get in the weight room and had some muscle to his frame before he's ready to contribute, but he wouldn't play right away with the Cowboys anyway. He is a late round developmental project with starting potential in Year 2.
If I had to choose one safety I'd love to see drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, it would be Darnell Savage Jr. out of Maryland. He is a converted cornerback who has found his home at safety. He is capable of playing around with the line of scrimmage as a box safety or being that single high free safety in the NFL. He would pair nicely with Xavier Woods and give the Cowboys two interchangeable safeties.
John Williams' scouting report on Darnell Savage Jr.
Who are your "pet cats" for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2019 NFL Draft?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Special Teams
Some have argued that the words "kicker" and "punter" don't belong in the same sentence as "NFL Draft." But just last year, six special teams players were drafted by NFL teams. Could the Dallas Cowboys consider such a player with one of their 2019 draft picks?
From 2009-2018, various teams have drafted 19 kickers and 18 punters. The highest pick was a second-rounder; Tampa Bay's selection of Roberto Aguayo in 2016. Outside of one pick in the third round and another in the fourth, the other 34 picks have all been in rounds 5-7.
The Dallas Cowboys have only contributed on pick to this total. In 2009 they selected David Buehler in the fifth round, two years after using a sixth-round pick on Nick Folk.
Ten years later, could Dallas finally use another draft pick on special teams?
There are a few of factors that make this possible. For one, the Cowboys are already fairly loaded with talent across the roster. A late-round pick spent at any number of positions would have a hard time surviving final cuts.
Second, in terms of the quality of player versus the round, there's no better value than on special teams. You can possibly get the best kicker in the country in the fifth or sixth round; no other position offers that.
Lastly, and most importantly, the Cowboys have a pretty clear opportunity to upgrade at kicker. They also could use the draft to save some cap space by making a change at punter.
As I've written about before, Brett Maher was a Jekyll & Hyde kicker in 2018. He was brilliant from long range but a major liability closer in, and his 80.6% total field-goal accuracy was near the bottom of the league.
While Maher's distance is a true asset, does it outweigh the risk of him missing a game-winning FG from 35 yards? And what about extra-point kicks, for that matter?
Dallas should certainly bring Brett back in 2019 to compete for the job. Remember, he was still Dan Bailey's backup until close the start of the regular season. Perhaps a full offseason as the primary kicker would help him stabilize his game.
But given the uncertainty, the Cowboys could easily justify spending a late-round pick at kicker. They could potentially land LSU's Cole Tracy or Utah's Matt Gay, two of the top prospects in this draft class.
The worst-case scenario is that Maher beats one of these guys and you cut them. But there was a high probability that you'd have cut whoever you drafted at another position anyway. Essentially, you'd have spent a late draft pick as an insurance policy against Maher's development.
That's not bad business. In fact, maybe you'd be able to trade that kicker at final cuts to a team who suffers a preseason injury or is otherwise dissatisfied at the position. There's a chance you could even recoup your draft pick.
Another consideration is at punter. Chris Jones has been a very solid one for a while now, but he turns 30 in July and counts $2.3 million against the salary cap. Could the draft give Dallas a chance to get someone younger and cheaper?
Let's say Dallas drafted one of the nation's top punters like Jack Fox out of Rice or Stanford's Jack Bailey. They'd have that player on a four-year rookie deal costing roughly 20% of what Jones' does.
Dallas could trade or release Chris Jones for $800k in 2019 cap relief, or $1.8 million if he's cut after June 1st. That would push $1 million of dead money onto the 2020 cap.
Those aren't big numbers, so the real gain here is if you think one of the top rookie punters could match or even exceed Jones' play. Then you've got that player on the cheap for the next four seasons.
I would not predict that the Cowboys will spend a draft pick at either kicker or punter, but the point of all this is that you can't entirely dismiss it. 2019 presents the right mix of circumstances for Dallas to consider it more than they have in the past, especially considering how long Dan Bailey was a fixture on the roster.
Brett Maher doesn't enjoy that same status. Dallas could easily look at some of the top kickers available and think that an upgrade is possible.
Will that lead to the Cowboys spending a draft pick on special teams for the first time in a decade?
Draft Likelihood: 10%
Projected Round: *6th-7th
* The Cowboys don't currently have a 6th-round pick, but could acquire one in a potential trade.
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Other Draft Needs Articles
Potential CB Prospects Dallas Cowboys Could Target in Each Round
It has somewhat flown a little bit under the radar, but Dallas Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard has been touring around the country working out several cornerbacks in this year's draft class. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering into the last year of their contracts, it wouldn't be all that surprising if the Cowboys draft a CB at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the cornerbacks the Dallas Cowboys could target in each round in which they hold a draft pick. In order to keep it as realistic as possible I tried to narrow it down to the potential CB prospects that fit Richard's parameters. We all know he likes those tall, lengthy defensive backs and that's what I tried to focus on.
Let's take a look…
Justin Layne, Michigan State
Justin Layne was a four-star wide receiver recruit coming at a high school, but ended up becoming a three-year starter on the other side of the ball at cornerback during his time at Michigan State. He has tremendous ball skills due to his background at receiver and has the size and length (6'1", 192) Kris Richard covets in his defensive backs. He needs to continue to improve is overall technique, but he has Day 1 starting potential.
Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
Joejuan Williams was a two-year starter during his time at Vanderbilt and primarily played press and off-man coverage. At just a smidge under 6'4", Williams typically towers over the wide receivers he faces, which has allowed him to find success at this point because of his mere size and length. He has the skill set and athleticism to become an eventual starter in the NFL, but really needs to develop his mechanics and the mental side of his game a little more.
Jamel Dean, Auburn
After overcoming three major knee injuries earlier in his career, Jamel Dean eventually became a two-year starter to finish his career at Auburn. He has elite size (6'1", 202), length (31 3/4" arms), and speed (4.3 40-yard dash), but his durability is a red flag moving forward. He also needs to play with a little better mean streak, especially in press man coverage. The talent is there though and he has a chance to develop into a really good starting CB if he can stay healthy.
Isaiah Johnson, Houston
Isaiah Johnson is another player with elite size (6'2", 208), length (33" arms), and speed (4.4 40-yard dash) at the cornerback position and is someone Kris Richard has met with and worked out on a number of occasions. Johnson was a former three-star wide receiver recruit coming out high school before making the switch to CB his final year in Houston. He played mostly bail technique for the Cougars and is still really raw as a CB prospect, but he has immense upside. He will likely need a year or two to further develop his craft before he can be relied upon.
Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky
There are actually three Kentucky defensive backs the Dallas Cowboys could target, but Lonnie Johnson Jr. is the top-ranked prospect so far. He has the size, length the Cowboys are looking for, but he really needs to refine just about every aspect of his game before he's ready to compete at the next level. He has tremendous instincts which has gotten him to this point, but he's going to have to develop both technically and mentally if he wants to find any kind of success in the NFL. All of the tools are there though.
Jordan Brown, South Dakota State
Jordan Brown was a three-year starter at South Dakota State, playing primarily press and off-man coverage. He has the size, length to play as a boundary corner in the NFL, but only has average top end speed. He is a competitor with a scrappy mentality that unfortunately runs a little hot and cold at times. He plays with good balance when making his transitions, which allows him to stick with receivers. Overall, he is a solid developmental mid-round pick with starting upside.
Michael Jackson, Miami
Michael Jackson was a two-year starter at Miami on the right side, playing mostly press man. He is a good-sized athlete with the kind of length and athleticism Kris Richard is looking for in his cornerbacks, but he has shown a tendency to struggle against savvy route runners. He's not the most fluid of athletes and will struggle in his transitions, so he might fit best in a defensive scheme that plays a lot of zone or cover 2.
Kris Boyd, Texas
Kris Boyd was a three-your starter during his time in Texas and played on both the right and left side, often times shadowing the opposing team's best wide receiver. He plays with the desired competitive nature and checks all the boxes as far as size, speed, and athleticism are concerned for a starting caliber cornerback. But, he plays undisciplined and doesn't trust his eyes, often times causing him to arrive late with his reads. If he can become more disciplined he could be a steal this late in the draft.
Chris Westry, Kentucky
Chris Westry was a three-year starter at Kentucky, but gradually started to see his playing time decrease with the emergence of Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Derrick Baity Jr.. At 6'4", 199 pounds and legitimate 4.35 speed, Westry has extremely rare size and speed for the cornerback position. Unfortunately, he is a better athlete than he is a football player right now and might be nothing more than a developmental project.
Derrick Baity Jr., Kentucky
Derrick Baity Jr. worked his way into the starting lineup at Kentucky as a freshman and ended up becoming a four-year starter. He has excellent size for the position (6'2", 197) and is light footed with good ball skills, but he doesn't play with the kind of physicality you'd think from my player his size. He is an untrustworthy tackler and undisciplined with his fundamentals. His size and ball skills should get him drafted, but he might be nothing more than a developmental project.
Cowboys Draft: Will A Quarterback Be Considered?
Dak Prescott is the current and future starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Let's make that clear.
Prescott has done more than enough over the first three years of his career to earn this "franchise quarterback" title, and the contract he will eventually receive from the Cowboys' front office.
But that doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't consider drafting a quarterback this year. Or next year. Or the year after that.
Quarterback is the game's most important, and highest paid, position. It's the position where a player can most greatly effect a game individually, both positively and negatively.
And it's the position you must make sure is accounted for heading into any new season. Yes, the Cowboys clearly trust now fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott, but adding talent to your QB room is never a bad thing. In fact, it's typically a great thing.
Behind Prescott are Cooper Rush and Mike White. Rush beat out now-offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the backup job during the 2017 preseason, and then held off rookie Mike White in 2018 to maintain the job.
When the Cowboys drafted White, however, they had dreams of a new backup quarterback in mind. White didn't perform as well, or progress as quickly, as some had hoped leaving Cooper Rush as the unquestioned QB2, however.
Is Cooper Rush good enough, though?
This is a question which really is yet to be answered. And if the Cowboys have it their way, it will never be truly answered. He was excellent during the 2017 preseason, no doubt about it. But he was, well, bad last year. Rush and the offense struggled mightily during the preseason, and while lack of offensive line depth didn't help him, Rush's play didn't spark much optimism or excitement either.
The Cowboys would be wise to consider drafting a quarterback later in the 2019 NFL Draft, but they shouldn't spend too much time worrying about it either way. The backup quarterback, especially behind Dak Prescott, will bring his value in terms of game-planning and aiding Prescott, rather than with his actual arm talent.
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