Connect with us

NFL Draft

Could Byron Jones Be Working Out With Barry Church’s Replacement?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Could Byron Jones Be Working Out With Barry Church's Replacement?

A freakishly athletic UCONN safety who put the whole world on notice at the NFL Combine.

Yes, that sentence relates perfectly to current Cowboys safety Byron Jones, who continued to improve in year two and looks to be a staple in the back-end of the Cowboys defense for years to come.

It also relates to another safety, however, who could find himself playing along side Jones for the second time in his football career. That player, is UCONN's Obi Melifonwu.

After losing Barry Church and JJ Wilcox in free agency, the Cowboys will certainly need to draft a safety this April, and Melifonwu could be the perfect fit. Byron Jones took to Instagram this morning, and possibly showed his support for the Cowboys drafting his former college teammate.

Uconn's finest

7,567 Likes, 73 Comments - Byron Jones (@byron31jump) on Instagram: "Uconn's finest"

Obi Melifonwu (second from the right) is pictured here after a workout with Byron Jones and a few other UCONN alums. Of course, they are probably just friends, but how cool would it be to see these two team up in Dallas?

Staff writer Sean Martin took to Slant Sports to write a scouting report on Obi Melifonwu, and came away giving him a third round grade. I have a second round grade on Melifonwu myself, but either way we both believe he could make a good match in Dallas.

Obi Melifonwu gets a 3rd round grade on my 2017 NFL Draft Board, with the upside to come into the right scheme and be a physical strong safety to hopefully compliment an already athletic secondary.

2017 S Obi Melifonwu Vs Cinncinati - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Obi Melifonwu is by far the tallest safety in this year's NFL Draft. He shows good range in pass coverage, and is a surprisingly good player in man coverage despite his height. He possesses many of the desirable traits which NFL teams will look for come draft day, and could compliment Byron Jones very nicely in Dallas.

And on top of all that, it appears that he and Byron already have a rapport to work with. Maybe this Instagram picture is a bit of foreshadowing, and Obi Melifonwu will be joining Jones in Dallas this April.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Travis Diggs

    March 11, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    i already alluded in a publication Sean posted last week that If we lost both WIlcox and Church( which we did ) that we should consider Obi for our 1st pick because i’m not sure if he will be available in the 2nd His stock rose the same way Byron’s did two years ago because of his combine performance He’s the perfect replacement for Barry church and him and Byron already have a great relationship They would make a great safety duo for years to come

    • Russ_Te

      March 11, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      I still have to get the CB if the right value is there in round 1. SS is a big void right now, but Church was a solid and not spectacular player. Replaceable.

      Now Then:

      Jaylon Smith
      40 yard dash time: 4.44 seconds
      Weight: 229 lbs
      Height: 6′ 3″

      Suppose the guy makes a full recovery, and you let him roam at SS…

      I’d like to see it attempted.

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      March 12, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Travis, I agree that Obi is not going to last under 60th overall. I am not totally comfortable taking him at 28 just yet, but I am coming around on the idea of it.

  2. Travis Diggs

    March 11, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Without knowing the full extent of Jaylon Smith’s recovery It would be crazy to let him roam at safety He has to master HIS LB position first before he can do anything else. Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier are NOT starters yet We need to look at who’s gonna be Byron’s counterpart for the future

    • Russ_Te

      March 11, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Not crazy to try it in camp IMO. If it’s a go it doesn’t matter if he learns LB first, becomes irrelevant.

      If he’s not recovered Smith isn’t looking at a big year at LB either, but if he is, he could be a monster at SS with his speed & size. And you don’t go backwards at LB from last year either, since he was out.

      It’s outside the box, but these things do happen. Todd Christensen, was drafted by Tom Landry as a FB. Got cut and the Raiders moved him to TE, where he exploded. Randy White was drafted as a MLB, failed at it and went on to a HOF career at DT.

      Be sure to catch my other post where La’el Collins moves to RT… ;^)

  3. deal with it

    March 25, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Jabrill Peppers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Since Kris Richard has taken over the back-end of the Dallas Cowboys defense, they have clearly shown a bias towards a "type" of cornerback. Richard, looking to build this Dallas unit in a similar form to his Seattle teams, has prioritized long corners both in height and arm length.

As his responsibilities within the organization increase, it's only fair to expect Kris Richard to have more say in who the Cowboys' defense acquires in terms of talent. This means we should anticipate more defensive backs who fit his type, such as Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Player

So why does Lonnie Johnson fit the mold of what Kris Richard tends to look for? Well, for starters, he is 6'3" and 206 lbs with 32 1/4" arms. He's a long corner with excellent size and the trait profile which indicates he could be the perfect candidate to play cornerback in Dallas.

But while he might look great on paper, the tape is always the most important factor for evaluating and projecting talent. And, for Johnson, the tape isn't all-that great. Despite his length, Johnson struggled mightily in press-man coverage at Kentucky. Too often he is late or ineffective with his hands, leaving him susceptible to being blown by by the opposing receiver. He often loses balance due to poor footwork, and is rather average with his hips and quick change of direction.

Where Johnson was his best in college was in zone coverage, playing his deep third of Kentucky's cover-three look. Rarely did he allow receivers behind him in zone coverage, and displayed good instincts when deciding whether to jump routes or play more conservatively when playing in that deep third. He was not nearly as comfortable underneath, and Kentucky didn't ask him to play in that role too often. Because of how big he is, Johnson is able to contest at the catch point regularly, yet he only deflected 9 passes in 2 years.

What gives me the most hope for Lonnie Johnson as a prospect (besides his length) is his Senior Bowl performance. Johnson impressed daily at the Senior Bowl, looking more comfortable in man coverage and playing much better in his press technique.

Was this Johnson becoming more comfortable over time and a sign of things to come at the next level, or was it an anomaly that we shouldn't read too much into? The answer to that question is up to the individual teams, but his combine performance will play a huge role in how those teams answer.

The Fit

As I've discussed already, Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits what Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks. He is long, tall, and relatively athletic, making him a clay piece for a coach like Richard to develop.

The question is, however, how much development can really occur? The highs for Johnson are rather high when he maximizes his natural abilities on the field. But too often he is sloppy in technique, or looks lost in man coverage. Whether or not Richard can "fix" Johnson completely may never be seen, but teams (especially this one) could fall in love with him as a prospect for what he can become if it all comes together.



Continue Reading

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma Like, Comment, and Subscribe for More! Follow my Instagram: @szhighlights Songs: - "Don't Know Me" by Trae Tha Truth - "Better Days" by Trae Tha Truth I do not own any of these highlights or music clips.

Before we get into the player, we should really try to get to know Rodney Anderson the person. He attended Katy High School in Katy, Texas, one of the powerhouse HS football programs in the state. He was a four-star recruit who received offers from Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind and decided to go to Oklahoma instead. He had an up-and-down career on the football field at Oklahoma because of injuries, but did graduate with a degree in Arts and Sciences in May 2018 and is pursuing his Master's in Human Relations.

Pros:

Rodney Anderson has the ideal size and athleticism to become a featured back in the NFL. He shows good patience and vision on film to allow his offensive lineman to secure their blocks before sticking his foot in the ground and exploding through the hole. He runs behind his pads and shows good strength, loose hips, and balance to run through arm tackles. More than capable of picking up those "dirty yards" and is surprisingly slippery as a runner in the open field.

Anderson is capable of playing in a power scheme or a zone heavy scheme like the Dallas Cowboys deploy. He has been featured in a number of rushing concepts including gap/power, read action, and power sweeps. His talent also carries over to the passing game. He possesses soft hands and looks natural catching the ball both out of the backfield and down the field as a receiver. Solid in pass protection, but this is an area of his game where he can improve.

Cons:

The biggest negative about Rodney Anderson is his injury history at Oklahoma. He is basically a one-year wonder because of three separate season-ending injuries, but bad things happen in three so maybe that's behind him. Durability will be a question mark entering the NFL though.

His vision is sometimes questionable, especially on inside and outside zone reads. Has a tendency to to try to bounce runs to the outside too often or cut back too quickly. Shows good explosiveness, but only average burst through the hole. Seems to have adequate long speed on tape, but is 40 yard dash time will be heavily scrutinized if he's able to run at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the passing game he needs to improve his route running and pass protection if he wants to be a three-down back in the NFL. The talent is there, just not the production and consistency. Will also have to prove he can be productive against stacked boxes at the next level since he rarely saw any in college due to Oklahoma's spread offense.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back capable of being a featured back in the NFL, while also spelling Ezekiel Elliott from time to time, then Rodney Anderson is there guy. His combination of power, balance, explosiveness, and scheme diversity could come in handy as their RB2. Not only would he provide a good insurance policy if the unthinkable were to happen to Zeke, but he could take over if they decide not to give No. 21 a contract extension.

There is a lot to like about Rodney Anderson's game and his ability to contribute in the running and passing game, but he is not by any means a clean prospect. Despite his immense talent, his injury history and lack of consistency in college is bothersome. But, as a mid-round pick the reward far outweighs the risks. Paired with Elliott, the Cowboys could have a formidable one-two punch in their backfield and could pound opposing defenses into submission.



Continue Reading

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

Published

on

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.

The Player

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.

The Fit

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.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending