The Dallas Cowboys are now on the clock. 10:00, 9:59, 9:58...
The clock's ticking, Cowboys Nation. I've always found that looking towards the future is never clear, but doing the same for the past is 20/20. For example, in 2003, if anyone had told a young quarterback out of Eastern Illinois University that he would become the face of the franchise for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably would've thought you were doing blow. But now, looking back, it's obviously what actually took place.
It's an interesting argument, looking at the past is, because a lot of people would argue that the past can depict the future. How many times did your parents tell you, when you were growing up, to "learn from your mistakes?" Did you? Not always. But, generally throughout life, we look back at a past experience to make decisions for the future.
You'd have to be insane to think that past decisions don't influence future ones for this team, or any for that matter. As much as the Cowboys may say that every year is a new year, you know they're constantly looking to learn.
I put out a poll on Twitter the other day that asked Cowboys Nation.
I essentially depicted, for each player, what their careers would look like. I asked folks who they would want the Cowboys to take at pick #4, knowing ahead of time how good these players will be. Don't we all wish we had this superpower?
7:34, 7:33, 7:32...
To do this, I took a player at a matching position to my four rookies, and said that the corresponding rookie would have a skill level better than the player listed. For Jalen Ramsey, I felt Richard Sherman would be a fun benchmark to compare skill levels. They're certainly different kinds of players, but the point is that they've reached a certain skill level. Hey Sherm, which pick do the Cowboys have in this draft?
Remember Patrick Willis? The all-pro middle linebacker who played for the 49ers and abruptly retired just on the backside of his prime years? Could you imagine if Myles Jack ended up with his skills, but faster and more instinctive?
Some people believe that Josh Doctson may be the best wide receiver in this draft. I may not go that far, but in the right system with a good quarterback, he's certainly capable of having an all-pro career; a career that resembles AJ Green's, without the nagging injury bug.
Lastly, I come to a future hall of famer. A player who seems to defy father time and post damn near 1,000 yards as a 32 year old running back for the Indianapolis Colts. Wouldn't it be something if Ezekiel Elliott had a better career than Frank Gore? He's certainly viewed by some to have the talent level to achieve it.
4:13, 4:12, 4:11...
The reason for all these comparisons is this: who would the Dallas Cowboys choose at pick #4, if given the choice between Sherman, Willis, Green, or Gore?
After the poll closed, an overwhelming majority settled on one player: Richard Sherman. Coming in at an astounding 63%, most Cowboys fans would want to take him (Jalen Ramsey) at #4. Coming in second was Frank Gore (Elliott) with 19%, third was Patrick Willis (Myles Jack) at 14%, and rounding out the bottom, in 4th place was AJ Green (Josh Doctson) with a mere 4%.
Keeping in mind that we would be getting one of these players during their prime, it begs the question, "Which one would help Tony get his ring?" First, Dez Bryant on one side, and AJ Green on the other. Scared doesn't even begin to cover the feelings that defensive coordinators would have when game planning for this offense.
Second, Frank Gore and this offensive line. Are you kidding me? Tony wouldn't ever have to throw the ball again. Gore in his prime was ten times better than DeMarco Murray was last season, and he was pretty good. Gore's ability to pass protect, catch, and run the ball, in combination with the talent on our offensive line, would offer this offense a dimension that they haven't truly had since Emmitt Smith.
I want you to close your eyes and picture this. Don't worry, if you're in public, just tell people you have a headache. Now, imagine being Eli Manning and looking across the line of scrimmage. Who do you see? Sean Lee and his eyes, knowing where you're about to throw the ball before you do. "Crap. Let me see where else I can go on this throw," ponders Eli.
He looks to the right trying to find an open hole in the coverage, except he can't because he sees Patrick Willis being nine yards wide as he drops into his right-hash, cover 3 position. By the time Eli makes his decision, DeMarcus Lawrence is standing over him and the referees are waving their hands above their head, indicating a sack. Patrick Willis would bring a tandem to this team that I'm not sure they've ever had.
Lastly, the voice of the people. Richard Sherman, Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, and Barry Church. What a secondary. A secondary that could very well be the best in the game. Yeah, I said it, Earl Thomas. With this group of defensive backs, the Cowboys would not only be incredibly stingy against the pass, but they would give Romo and our offense several more chances to punch it in for a score, due to the play-making turnover abilities they could bring to the table.
1:42, 1:41, 1:40...
All four of these players would be a boost to this team. I'm sure Jason Garrett would take each one of them given the choice. But, in the spirit of this article, you can only have one. While I think Cowboys Nation has a point with their choice of Richard Sherman locking down the right side of our secondary, I can't get the image of Sean Lee and Patrick Willis out of my mind. Talk about an elite tandem.
With a slight upgrade at 1-technique (Nick Hayden's spot and the player who lines up on the outside shoulder of the center) and some free agent depth at right defensive end, we would likely instantly have a top 5 run defense. Being able to stop the run is crucial to any football team. Ask any expert, or even a fair-weather fan, and they'll likely say the same thing.
What about pass defense, Ian? What about it? Sean Lee averages over a pick every 5 games. Adding Willis' 8 career interceptions and 2 touchdowns to that, you're bringing a ferocious linebacking corps to your cover 2 and cover 3.
So who do we take? The potential hall of fame linebacker to form the best pair of linebackers in the game, or the loudmouthed cornerback, providing an incredible mentor to Byron Jones and a shutdown presence to the left side of the field?
0:03, 0:02, 0:01...
With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select: Jalen Ramsey
This team is looking to win now, but they can't do it with a crap secondary. If we're able to either bring back Rolando McClain, sign a competent MIKE, or get surprising production from Damien Wilson or Anthony Hitchens, Ramsey would provide what may just be the missing link to a complete secondary.
Josh Doctson would provide a solid presence on the outside, but Tony Romo has found ways to make this offense very competitive with the group of wide outs we currently have.
And lastly, Darren McFadden showed last year that he can carry the load for a team and stay on the field for all three downs, for 16 games. He may not be as flashy and young as Zeke, but I just don't see the need there.
So that's it. You're walking away from this draft with arguably the best corner in the game in Richard Sherman. I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or disputes on this, or if you think we should go elsewhere with the pick.
So I guess now the question is, who are we taking at pick #34?
Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End
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.
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.
Is Defensive End a 2nd Round Need for Cowboys?
It seemed as if defensive end wouldn't be a concern for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. DeMarcus Lawrence did an amazing job last season keeping up his level of play and making a statement on why he's one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Randy Gregory had a tremendous comeback season with six sacks in only 14 games. It felt like the Cowboys didn't have to worry about the position this offseason. Unfortunately, Randy Gregory received an indefinite suspension by the NFL for violating the league's Policy and and Program for Substance Abuse. The 26 year old defensive end had just been reinstated prior to the season after sitting out most of his career.
Now the Cowboys are in search of a defensive end to play opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence (who by the way, has yet to reach an agreement with the team for a long term deal), who's reached elite status after the last couple of seasons.
Often, the positions that come to mind when discussing the team's current needs are defensive tackle, safety and before the front office signed Randall Cobb, wide receiver. However, I'm convinced defensive end is right up there and I wouldn't be surprised if the Cowboys draft one in the second round with the 58th overall pick.
Of course, the focus right now seems to be in trading for Miami Dolphins' DE Robert Quinn. I honestly believe that'd be a great move by the Cowboys' front office. Quinn will be 29 years old when the season begins and he still has a ton of gas left in the tank. In the past two seasons he's racked up 15 sacks and four forced fumbles. He'll be a good pass rusher for whoever he plays with once the season begins.
If a trade for Quinn doesn't take place and the team fails to upgrade the position via free agency, defensive end should be considered a top priority in the 2019 NFL Draft. There's bound to be quality prospects when the Cowboys get in the clock for the first time in April.
Right now the defense counts with Dorance Armstrong, Taco Charlton, Tyrone Crawford (who is currently under investigation by the NFL after getting in trouble at a bar) to take care of the position. Add to the mix recently signed free agents Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder, two players who could end up playing in the interior as well. The team definitely needs some additional help. When push comes to shove, the team is deep along the defensive line. What the Cowboys are missing are guys who can be unquestioned starters instead of rotational players.
As all eyes lay on a possible trade for Robert Quinn, keep an eye out for a defensive end's name being called by the commissioner when the Cowboys make the 58th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys Trade Back in this 7-Round Mock Draft
Last week we took a gander at one potential scenario that could come to pass during the 2019 NFL Draft for the Dallas Cowboys. It involved trades, and we explored the idea that trading back is probably the best course of action for the Dallas Cowboys unless there is a player that they love that is sitting there at 58.
With so much depth in this draft at positions where the Dallas Cowboys could use some reinforcements, it makes sense for them to look to add to their cache of draft picks. Sitting with six picks and no first rounder gives them little leeway unless someone wants to trade up into pick 58.
Using Fanspeak.com's On The Clock Premium simulator, I selected Matt Miller's big board, from Bleacher Report, while allowing the computer to use multiple big boards to better simulate the variations that can take place from team to team.
Today, we're going to look at another mock draft scenario that involves two trade downs from the Dallas Cowboys.
58 - TRADE
The New York Jets call Jerry Jones in the Dallas Cowboys war room and offer picks 68 and 93 for the Cowboys pick in the second round.
Sure it’s a 10 pick trade back, but the value they’re offering is too good to pass up. Per the Trade Value Chart, Dallas earns a net of 76 points, which would be the equivalent of pick 109. This draft is deep at defensive line, safety, and wide receiver so with options on the board that I really like, I’m moving back and picking up an extra third rounder in the process.
New York Jets get pick 58.
Dallas Cowboys get picks 68 and 93 (two third round picks).
68 - TRADE
Sensing that Jerry is in the wheeling and dealing mood, the Washington Redskins come calling and offer picks 76 and 96 for the Cowboys pick -- acquired from the New York Jets -- at 68. Again the Cowboys pick up a net value of 76 points here and there are still several players on the board well liked by the team.
Washington Redskins get pick 68.
Dallas Cowboys get picks 76 and 96 (two third round picks).
Through the two trade backs that the Cowboys accepted, the Cowboys now have four 3rd round picks to work with.
76 - Gerald Willis III, DL, Miami
Via Trade with the Washington Redskins
This year's edition of the NFL Draft features a really deep class of defensive lineman. The Dallas Cowboys, though they've shored up their defensive interior with the signings of Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder (who can play on the edge or inside), the Cowboys will still look for long-term answers at the 3-tech position on the defensive line.
Maliek Collins likely pencils in as the starter heading into 2019 at the 3-tech spot, but is only under contract through the 2019 season and has struggled with consistency while battling offseason injuries that have limited his preparation.
Gerald Willis III is a player that profiles as a 3-tech with his athleticism and strength. He had four sacks and 18 tackles for loss for the Miami Hurricanes. He's a raw player that only played one full season at division one, but under the wings of defensive line guru Rod Marinelli, could be the solution to the Cowboys interior pass rush.
Read Kevin Brady's scouting report on Gerald Willis III.
90 - Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland
The Dallas Cowboys have yet to truly address the safety position in free agency despite having visits with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. Darnell Savage is a very interesting player that reminds me a lot of Xavier Woods.
Like Woods, Savage is a versatile player who is physical and aggressive in run support and plays coverage very well. If there's something he lacks, it's size standing only 5-10 and weighing in at 198.
He plays the ball well in the air and is an aggressive down hill tackler. He would match well with Woods in that you could keep the offense off-balance with your safety looks. Savage has the speed, athleticism, toughness, and range to be a plug and play safety in the box or as the deep safety for the Dallas Cowboys.
Read my full scouting report on Darnell Savage Jr.
93 - Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Via Trade with the New York Jets
Though the Dallas Cowboys have brought back Wide Receivers Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin along with signing Randall Cobb, none of those three players has a contract behind 2019. The Cowboys would be wise to continue to look at the NFL Draft to add talent to their wide receiver pool. Andy Isabella has elite production, speed, and athleticism to be an excellent slot receiver in the NFL.
Read Brian Martin's scouting report on Andy Isabella.
96 - Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma
Via Trade with the Washington Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line looks set for 2019 with the expected return of Travis Frederick, a full offseason of strength and conditioning for Connor Williams, the return of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins, and excellent depth with Joe Looney, Cam Fleming, and Xavier Su’a-Filo.
The problem is that the Cowboys will probably let Collins walk in free agency next offseason and will look to replace him through the draft. Collins will likely demand a big pay-day as a right tackle who will have started three seasons at the position for one of the league’s best running games.
Enter Bobby Evans from the University of Oklahoma who was a member of one of the best offensive lines in college football. The Sooners offensive line provided Quarterback Kyler Murray with tons of time to drop back to pass and gave huge running lanes to running backs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks.
Evans has good athleticism, strength, and arm length that could allow him to play either side of the offensive line. He would start out as a backup and potential swing tackle, but with development could be your replacement for La'el Collins at right tackle.
128 - Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
If you read this space on a regular basis, you know that I'm all about Rodney Anderson in the fourth round for the Dallas Cowboys. If he's available, the Cowboys have to think long and hard about selecting him.
Yes, he's had some injury issues during his career at OU, but he's a potential bell-cow running back if something were to happen to Ezekiel Elliott.
He's a smooth runner who is able to change direction quickly and has the physicality to run inside. He runs with patience and can make defenders miss while possessing enough speed to break away from the defense.
If the Dallas Cowboys are serious about extending Ezekiel Elliott, and it appears they are, they need to find a guy who can ease some of the burden that Elliott's carried through his first three seasons in the NFL. Elliott's a great back, but even the great ones need to be spelled from time-to-time.
Read Brian Martin's scouting report on Rodney Anderson.
136 - Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
The Cowboys tight end situation doesn't look nearly as serious today as it did a month ago. Prior to the return of Jason Witten, the Cowboys were looking like a team that would seriously attack the tight end position in the draft. With Witten's return, the Cowboys could look to go into the season as is hoping that Blake Jarwin and/or Dalton Schultz take a step forward in their development, making any snaps from Jason Witten icing on the cake.
But, that's hedging your bets a little. As much of a believer as I am in Blake Jarwin, hope is not a plan. If for some reason he's not the player you thought he'd be, then you need to grab one of the tight ends from this deep group of players.
Jace Sternberger is the guy that I like the best after the third round trio of Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson, and Irv Smith. Sternberger offers a ton of athleticism and is a downfield threat that the Cowboys haven't had in years from the tight end position.
165 - Khalen Saunders, DL, Western Illinois
As I mentioned earlier, though the Dallas Cowboys have addressed the defensive interior, but need to have to take into account that they won't have several of those guys after the 2019 season.
Khalen Saunders could be a nice fit in the 1-tech defensive tackle rotation despite being short relative to the position. His size, strength, and athleticism remind me of Poona Ford from last year's draft who dropped down draft boards because of his height. Ford had a very productive rookie season for the Seattle Seahawks in 2018.
Don't make the same mistake on Saunders.
241 - Jordan Brailford, EDGE, Oklahoma State
When you're looking at the seventh round of the draft, you're trying to find those diamonds in the rough. Jordan Brailford from Oklahoma State may just be that guy this season.
Brailford is a player that profiles as a weakside defensive end in a 4-3 or a 3-4 outside linebacker. For Oklahoma State, he had 10 sacks in 2018, though he tailed off toward the end of the season.
All 10 of his sacks came in his first eight games of the season, but he recorded three sack games against Boise State and Kansas. In addition to his 10 sacks, he recorded 17 tackles for loss and 55 total tackles.
He's a plus athlete that could contribute on special teams and provide depth on the edge. Both of those things are worth taking a chance on in the seventh round.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
We are now only a little more than a month away from the 2019 NFL Draft and you know the Dallas Cowboys will find some players to add to their roster for this season. They've become one of the better teams in the league at drafting. Not only do they hit on their first rounders (Taco Charlton, TBD), they've found starters and valuable depth pieces throughout the draft.
This is just another scenario that could take place come draft weekend.
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