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NFL Draft

Cowboys 2018 Draft Needs: Center & Guard

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick, Zack Martin

The 2018 Dallas Cowboys will be bringing back most of their starters from last year. Jonathan Cooper, who started most of the season at left guard, will not be among them. Naturally then, the guard position is a hot topic as we head into this week's NFL Draft.

With Cooper leaving in free agency and no great young prospect behind him, taking a guard as high as the first round has been discussed for the Cowboys' draft plans. This would not be a surprise give the high priority that Dallas places on their offensive line, and the reality that there is a starting spot which needs filling.

The Cowboys didn't leave themselves totally dependent on the draft, though. They added some veteran free agents who may be able to take the job as at least a one-year measure.

Before we get into those possibilities, let's briefly give thanks for the stability at the other interior line spots. All-Pros Travis Frederick and Zack Martin will be back and we all sleep better for knowing it.

We also assume that Martin will be getting a shiny, new, long-term contract before the start of training camp. The former first-rounders are meant to be fixtures for years to come.

Will nother high draft pick be joining them, or will Dallas rely on their veteran options to find a new starter at left guard?

Joe Looney

Dallas Cowboys G/C Joe Looney

The Cowboys signed three guys who could factor into this discussion. One is a returning player, Joe Looney, who has been the backup center and a reserve guard for two seasons. Looney knows the system and has started at different points in his career, which may give him a leg up on the competition.

Dallas also added free agent Marcus Martin, who has started even more games than Looney despite playing fewer season. Both players have position flex at center and guard, so if one earns the starting guard job then the other become your primary interior line backup.

The signing of offensive tackle Cameron Fleming could also have some impact. Potentially the best player of the three, Fleming might earn a starting spot at right tackle and allow La'el Collins to be moved back to guard. While Dallas would likely hope to find another option, this could be their backup plan if nothing else works out.

There will be a few other bodies in camp, most notably Chaz Green. The former third-round pick has not been cut despite his 2017 woes and has played at both tackle and guard at times. At this point, though, it's hard to see him as anything more than a backup.

Given these options, and the tectonic shift that just happened at wide receiver, it's easy to see why Dallas might not spend a high pick at guard. They may be prioritizing receivers, tight ends, safeties, and linebackers higher given other roster needs.

Still, this is a run-first team. What's more, the quarterback is needing to bounce back from a poor second season. A strong offensive line is vital to those goals, and perhaps the key to success this year.

I don't think Dallas would spend their first-rounder at guard, but anything after that is on the table. They may be hoping a guy like Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez will fall to them in the second round.

In that case, depending on the player, I could even see the Cowboys trading up from #50 to snag a guy who could be a Week One starter.

~ ~ ~

Other 2018 Draft Needs articles:



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.

POSITION: Wide Receiver

SCHOOL: Nebraska

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 8

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'0"

WT: 202

D.O.B.: 9/7/1996

Receiving Receiving Receiving Receiving Rushing Rushing Rushing Rushing Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Nebraska Big Ten FR WR 11 25 304 12.2 3 0 0 0 25 304 12.2 3
*2016 Nebraska Big Ten SO WR 13 33 453 13.7 2 1 0 0.0 0 34 453 13.3 2
2017 Nebraska Big Ten JR WR 11 61 986 16.2 10 1 2 2.0 0 62 988 15.9 10
2018 Nebraska Big Ten SR WR 12 70 1004 14.3 7 1 4 4.0 0 71 1008 14.2 7
Career Nebraska 189 2747 14.5 22 3 6 2.0 0 192 2753 14.3 22

Highlights:

Stanley Morgan Jr Nebraska WR ULTIMATE 2018 Season Highlights!!

"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."

Pros:

Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.

There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.

Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.

Cons:

Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.

Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.

Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.

Cowboys Fit:

Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.

Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Deebo Samuel vs. Stanley Morgan Jr.

There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.

I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.

Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…

Deebo Samuel

Stanley Morgan Jr.

Height 5'11" 6'0"
Weight 214 202
Arm length 31 3/8" 32 3/8"
Hand size 10" 9 7/8"
40-yard dash 4.48 4.53
20 yard shuffle 4.14 4.13
3 cone drill 7.03 6.78
Vertical jump 39" 38.5"
Broad jump 122" 125"
Bench 17 14

As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.

The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.

As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?

It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.

As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.

This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.

Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

NAME: Johnathan Abram

POSITION: Safety

SCHOOL: Mississippi State

CONFERENCE: SEC

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 38

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 5' 11 3/8"

WT: 205

D.O.B.: 10/25/1996

Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2015 Georgia SEC FR S 8 11 14 25 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2017 Mississippi State SEC JR DB 12 43 28 71 5.0 2.0 0 0 0 5 0 2
*2018 Mississippi State SEC SR S 13 53 46 99 9.0 3.0 2 9 4.5 0 5 1 1
Career Overall 107 88 195 15.5 5.0 2 9 4.5 0 10 1 3
Georgia 11 14 25 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mississippi State 96 74 170 14.0 5.0 2 9 4.5 0 10 1 3

Highlights:

Johnathan Abram: Hardest Hitting Safety in College Football

Johnathan Abram, playing for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, is considered the hardest hitting safety in college football. He's top NFL prospect, who is projected to be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round(s) of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Pros:

Johnathan Abram's biggest strength as a safety prospect is his ability to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, which is why he's projected to be a strong safety in the NFL. Possesses the prototypical size for the position. He also has the ability and skill set to play a hybrid safety/linebacker role as well.

Abram is at his best when he's playing downhill and sideline to sideline against the run. His size, strength, and physicality allow him to stack and shed blocks like a linebacker. Aggressive tackler who is always looking to deliver a big hit. Also shows good technique to get his head across the ball carrier's chest while wrapping up to make the tackle.

Shows adequate range and speed in coverage. Is able to flip his hips and redirect to change direction quickly, but there is some stiffness there as well. Has the size and athletic ability to match up with tight ends. Shows an understanding of route recognition. His physicality in the run game carries over into the passing game.

Cons:

The biggest concern about Johnathan Abram's game is his ability, or lack thereof, in coverage. Whether it's an man or zone coverage, he struggles with his responsibilities and can be eaten alive by receivers who know what they're doing. This doesn't bode well for his transition to the NFL, which has become a heavy passing league.

His aggressive nature will get him into trouble in the passing game. Can be clunky in his transitions against good route runners. Will panic and grab when he's caught out of position, which has generated, or should have, flags being thrown. Lack of desired range will keep him from becoming a deep safety, making him a strong safety only.

Questionable ball skills. Only has two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in his career. Struggles locating the ball and doesn't show instincts or anticipation to jump routes. Can be too aggressive against the run, causing him to over pursue and create cutback lanes.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a hard-hitting strong safety who excels around the line of scrimmage, then Johnathan Abram is their guy. He is a heatseeking missile when playing downhill or sideline to sideline, and would play that Kam Chancellor type role on the backend of Kris Richard's defense. He has outstanding size and speed for the position, and is a more fluid athlete then he's given credit for. More of a "traditional" throwback safety.

Abram unfortunately struggles in coverage, despite showing good range and long speed. He may be nothing more than a box safety or nickel/dime linebacker in the NFL. This could hurt his chances of landing with the Cowboys, especially if they are looking for an interchangeable safety to pair with Xavier Woods. But, if there are looking for that "enforcer" type of player, they'd probably have to take him at 58 in the second-round because it's unlikely he will still be there when they're on the clock in the third-round.



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