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5 Questions the Cowboys Must Answer in the NFL Draft

Shane Carter

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2018 NFL Draft: Understanding Cowboys Presence at Top Prospects' Recent Pro Days 1

Draft day is almost here and it's business as usual for the Dallas Cowboys. Every year, NFL scouts, coaches, analysts and writers break down hours of film on different prospects and potential draft picks.

By now, the team's scouts and coaches have watched film, gone to the pro days, interviewed players, etc. The team has done its homework so that by the time it's their turn to pick, Cowboys fans everywhere are hoping that Jerry & Co. will make the right moves.

A lot has occurred this off-season, and now the team will need to answer for the moves they made.

Players like Anthony Hitchens and Dez Bryant are no longer with the team, and new Cowboys like Allen Hurns and Kony Ealy are eager to get started. However, before anyone hits the field, the Cowboys need to answer these five questions during the draft.

Only when these are answered, will the Cowboys be ready to get started.

Who will replace Dez Bryant?

Signing Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns look like solid moves that will help quarterback Dak Prescott, but neither look like viable heirs. Realistically, Thompson looks to be more of a Brice Butler replacement and Allen Hurns is an improvement at the WR2 position over Terrance Williams.

As far as finding the new play making, number one receiver? That looks likely to be answered in one of the first three rounds.

Whoever this new player is will have a lot of pressure on them to not only click with Dak Prescott, but to become the new star receiver wearing the star. The last one was Dez Bryant, so they'll have some big shoes to fill.

In what round do they complete the offensive line?

The Cowboys are as close to having a complete offensive line as you can have, except for the left guard spot. Last year's starter, Johnathan Cooper, is gone and there's a vacancy at his position. The team has a few options on the roster currently in Chaz Green, Marcus Martin, Joe Looney, and possibly La'el Collins.

Collins looked very good at right tackle in the second half of the season, and switching him back to guard doesn't seem likely. What does seem likely is using a draft pick on the position.

If the team wants an instant starter, they'll have to address the left guard in one of the first two rounds. This year's interior line group is very top-heavy, and any one of them look like they could fill in nicely with the Cowboys.

What's the team's biggest defensive priority?

The Cowboys have needs at linebacker, safety and nose tackle. Which one gets drafted first is sometimes based upon best available as well as which area needs the most help.

The Cowboys have a starting set of linebackers in Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson, but the depth behind them is not very good. Depth is much more important than realized when you throw in the injury history of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

The Cowboys have plenty of talent and depth along the defensive line, but the biggest mistake made was playing Maliek Collins at the nose tackle position when he thrived at the 3-technique. A pure nose tackle is a big need, which could solidify the starting front four.

Finally, we reach the back-end of the defense.

Amazingly, cornerback is not a need this year, as it has been. With Byron Jones moving back to corner opposite Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis playing in the slot, the starting corners are set.

As far as the safety position, Xavier Woods looks like the most talented, and he has the ability to play multiple secondary positions. Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier will compete for the other starting spot, but I wouldn't put it past the team to improve on the position sometime early in the draft.

Is Rico Gathers the future?

We all saw Rico Gathers ball out in the 2017 preseason, and then Cowboys fan's imaginations went wild. However, a concussion and subsequent neck injury caused Gathers to miss all of his second year.

With Jason Witten not getting any younger, James Hanna retiring, Geoff Swaim being more of a blocker than a receiver, and Blake Jarwin being all potential at this point, the tight end position is a question mark. We all want Rico to be "the guy," but how much longer can the team wait?

I wouldn't put it past the Cowboys to at least consider drafting a tight end. This year's tight end group is very deep, and all options should be considered. Undoubtedly, Rico Gathers is talented and could become a serious receiving target for the team, but by the time the draft is over, we may have our answers.

Is Earl Thomas still on the table?

Ever since Earl Thomas went into the Cowboys tunnel following their game against the Seahawks, Cowboys twitter has been buzzing. As we've gotten closer to the draft, these rumors have not died down in the slightest.

The Seahawks initially tried to get a first rounder for Earl Thomas, but that wasn't happening.

A more likely asking price is a second or potentially a third-round pick. Dallas being willing to trade one of those for Thomas is still a possibility.

Earl Thomas, wherever he ends up playing, wants a new contract, and it doesn't look like he'll get one. Richard Sherman is gone, and Earl Thomas could end up the same way. Not only does he want a new contract, he wants to go to a team of his choosing.

With the release of Dez Bryant, a contract extension for Earl Thomas is a bit more realistic. But whether or not the Cowboys are interested in trading for him, or if Seattle wants to part with him will be answered on Draft night.



Lifelong Cowboys fan, who doesn’t mind telling the harsh truth. I’ve got a Bachelors Degree in Electronic Media and Communications from Texas Tech University. I welcome all opinions but I will shut down any troll.

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2 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    With all due respect, Rico Gathers is as much “all potential” as Blake Jarwin. Do not sleep on him. That being said, they will likely take a TE but know that one of these guys won’t make the 53. Will be harder for the drafted player to stick unless he’s a quick study. Though it’s a deep class, not many that have all the tools.

  • Will

    Q1 = DJ Moore after trading back
    Q2 = 2nd round (Price)
    Q3 = FS or LB depending on POV
    Q4 = No
    Q5 = Only if the Seachickens take a 2 or 3 alone

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Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?

Kevin Brady

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In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith

When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.

After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.

Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.

Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.

Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.How Will LB Jaylon Smith Best be Utilized in 2018?

During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.

Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.

Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.

If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.

Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.



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Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott Weighs in on Cowboys "Dak-Friendly" Offense Approach

When thinking about how the Cowboys' 2017 season came to an end the day before Christmas after a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, we often forget the team needed some extra help in order to get to the playoffs. The NFC was a tough conference to play in last year... but it will only be tougher in 2018.

The NFC is way stronger than the AFC right now, at least in terms of depth.

The Cowboys will be sharing a division with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that only got stronger this offseason and will try to make a run for the NFC East title once again.

As good and promising as the Cowboys' roster is, it's only fair to admit that trying to get to the postseason this year might implicate running for a wildcard spot. Many teams will be fighting for a playoff berth late in the year but fortunately for Dallas, they will be able to control their destiny against a handful of this teams.

The Cowboys will play against the entire NFC South this season. Except for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, every team in the South division was fighting for a chance at January football heading into week 17.

The Saints, Falcons and Panthers all finished the season with double-digit wins last year, and there's little reason to believe they won't come back as strong as they were in 2017.

If the Cowboys are not able to beat the Eagles in the NFC East race, we'll be hearing about a lot of different playoff scenarios that will be needed in order to play in the postseason. Certainly, having the head-to-head advantage against the NFC South teams would go a long way, even if the team will play the Saints, Falcons and Panthers before December comes around.

If the Cowboys do manage to get back to their 2016-selves, no team in the league should be an "impossible" challenge for a powerful running-game based offense and a defense that can rush the passer consistently.

Of course, the NFC South is not the only challenging division in the conference. The NFC West will feature another three football teams that will be winning tons of games. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks are all very likely to have winning records and be in the hunt once December comes around.

In a season that promises to be a "comeback" year for America's Team, the NFC promises to be a threatening conference from every direction. If the Cowboys will be able to overcome or not remains unknown and will stay that way until the season actually starts.

Tell me what you think about "Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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- David Irving, #95

En la NFL, la falta de noticias en Junio generalmente significa buenas noticias. Los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys saben esto mejor que nadie y en caso de que lo hayan olvidado, David Irving se aseguró de recordarle a Cowboys Nation el porque de esta frase.

La semana pasada, se anunció que David Irving recibirá una suspensión de cuatro partidos por haber violado la política de abuso de substancias de la liga. Es la segunda suspensión que Irving recibe en años consecutivos y lógicamente, esto es preocupante para el equipo de los Dallas Cowboys.

Las últimas dos temporadas hemos visto a Irving convertirse en una pieza de suma importancia para la defensiva. El año pasado, Irving consiguió siete sacks (capturas) en sólo ocho juegos y se convirtió en un caza cabezas muy efectivo.

Demostrando ser uno de los jugadores más talentosos de su posición en la NFL, es difícil imaginar el futuro del #95 en la liga. Tras recibir un tender de segunda ronda hace unos meses (explico que es eso aquí), el futuro de Irving es muy incierto. Por eso, esta semana en Cowboys en Español, exploraremos tres escenarios posibles para el defensivo de 24 años.

#1 David Irving se va de Dallas prematuramente

Hace unos días, me dediqué a defender mi posición de que los Cowboys estarían cometiendo un error al cortar a David Irving. A pesar de que realmente despedirse de un defensivo como Irving parece muy poco probable, es un escenario que debemos discutir.

Irving ha sido un dolor de cabeza para el equipo en más de una ocasión. Dos suspensiones en años consecutivos no es una buena imagen para un jugador que busca un contrato jugoso al terminar el año.

Si Jason Garrett y la administración quieren "dar un mensaje" cortando a David Irving, ¿qué tanto serviría? Esta idea de enviar un mensaje, a la hora de pensarlo fríamente, parece una idea romántica de parte de nosotros los fans. Al final de cuentas, estamos hablando de un locker room lleno de jugadores adultos y profesionales, no de un grupo de niños.

Además, bien sabemos todos que Irving no es el único Cowboy que ha tenido problemas. ¿Será el hecho de que ha ocurrido dos años seguidos razón suficiente para dejarlo ir? Personalmente, no lo creo. Los Cowboys dejarían ir a un jugador muy bueno en una posición de necesidad.

Datone Jones, Jihad Ward y Maliek Collins podrán ser suficiente. Pero David Irving es especial en el campo. Mejor tenerlo por 12 juegos a tenerlo cero.

#2 Irving se queda para el 2018, pero no más allá

David Irving recibió un contrato de un año que le pagaba (antes de ser suspendido) 2.91 millones de dólares. Si hubiera demostrado que no era problemático y que podía mantenerse al 100% toda la temporada, probablemente hubiera recibido un gran contrato de los Cowboys o de otro equipo en la NFL.

Sin embargo, el dicho lo dice todo. "En la NFL, la disponibilidad es la mejor habilidad." Irving no se ha terminado de ganar la confianza necesaria para una gran extensión.

En este punto, Dallas puede esperar a que su tackle defensivo regrese de su suspensión, juegue doce juegos con ellos y les consiga un sack por juego por menos de tres millones de dólares. Después de eso, el equipo pude darse el lujo de dejarlo ir sin una extensión y verlo convertirse en un agente libre.

Does DT David Irving Have a Future With Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving (Albert Pena / CSM)

#3 Irving se queda por más de un año

En este caso, hay dos "sub-escenarios." Suponiendo que, efectivamente, Irving regresa y juega como sabemos que puede hacerlo, no será tan fácil dejarlo ir. Si llega a sorprender y demuestra que realmente es quien creemos que es y consigue diez capturas en sólo doce juegos, ¿realmente no le dará el equipo una oportunidad?

La primera opción sería asignarle la etiqueta franquicia y obligarlo a jugar un año más para un equipo que busca desesperadamente un Super Bowl.

Si se sienten cómodos dándole el salario de una etiqueta franquicia para evitar perderlo, ¿podríamos culparlos después de que les dio por ejemplo, diez capturas? Yo, personalmente, no podría hacerlo.

La otra opción, y una que podría ser la más realista, es más simple. La inmadurez y los problemas de Irving le costarán la confianza y el interés de otros equipos y es posible que en un punto, Dallas sea el único equipo que le pueda brindar seguridad de trabajo.

De esta manera, Dallas podría ofrecerle una extensión de dos, tres o más años a un precio mucho más barato que el de cualquier DT que consiga dos dígitos de sacks.

✭✭✭✭✭

David Irving sin duda tiene un futuro incierto delante de él. Realmente sería una sorpresa verlo fuera de Dallas en el 2018, pero más allá, quien sabe lo que pueda pasar. Por ahora, esperemos que una vez que vuelva de la suspensión, esté en forma para ir detrás de los quarterbacks oponentes.

Con un poco de suerte, quizá nos olvidaremos de esto en Noviembre.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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