I know what you're thinking, the Cowboys get blown out on the road at Atlanta and I'm giving up on the season and moving on to the draft. That is NOT what I'm doing. We are more than halfway through the regular season and the draft is creeping right around the corner (five months to be exact).
I'm here today, to (hopefully) educate you on a few prospects and highlight some of the Dallas Cowboys biggest needs heading into April.
If the season ended tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys would be picking 17th overall, so highlight players who will realistically be around for the Cowboys to draft in that range and throughout the first few rounds.
Top Five Team Needs
- Wide Receiver
- Defensive End
Linebacker is one of the biggest positions that NEEDS to be addressed in April's Draft.
Outside of Sean Lee there isn't a single linebacker on the team that plays at a consistently high level. And unfortunately for the Cowboys (and Sean Lee), he has struggled to stay on the field his entire career.
Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson are really the only two other options the Cowboys have as full-time linebackers and neither of the two are consistent in their level of play.
Damien Wilson has shown flashes of being a very good player, but he has struggled in coverage and misses tackles in the open field far too often.
As far as Jaylon Smith goes, I don't think he should be on the field at all right now. As bad as that sounds, Smith is currently hurting this defense. To make matters worse it doesn't seem that Jaylon Smith is being limited athletically, but the mental aspect of the game has let the former second round pick down big time.
Interesting plan by Jaylon. https://t.co/z8eL80yYlh
Linebacker Options in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Rashaan Evans - Alabama - 6'3", 235lbs
Rashaan Evans is a thumper in the middle of one of the most talented defenses in the nation. Evans does an excellent job taking on and disengaging from blocks to get to ball carriers in all depths of the field.
Evans shows glimpses of a familiar face in Sean Lee. His instincts may be his best trait.
Rashaan Evans is a little undersized, but he uses his smaller size to his strength. The Cowboys desperately need a linebacker who can contribute, but more importantly take over if Sean Lee's injuries continue to keep him sidelined.
Rashaan Evans would be a great option for the Cowboys in the middle of the first round.
- Roquan Smith - Georgia - 6'1" 225lbs
Similar to Rashaan Evans, Roquan Smith is an undersized linebacker who flies all over the field. Smith's ability to diagnose plays and get to the football in a hurry is one of his biggest strengths.
The Cowboys linebackers corp currently lacks a player that can play sideline to sideline and that is the Georgia linebacker's best trait.
- Tremaine Edmunds - Virginia Tech - 6'5" 235lbs
Tremaine Edmunds would fit in wonderfully in the Dallas Cowboys defense. Edmunds is a consistent tackler, who knows where to be and when to be there. The Virginia Tech junior plays both the run and the pass well and looks very athletic on tape for being 6'5" 235 lbs.
Chaz Green was absolutely terrible in Sunday's matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, but the receivers weren't much better. While some of the blame should be given to the play-calling, the receivers didn't get any separation for Dak Prescott.
Dez Bryant is still a huge weapon in the red zone, but in between the 20s Dez has struggled the last few seasons. Dez Bryant wins with his size and physicality, but lacks the quickness to get separation against quicker cornerbacks.
Cole Beasley is great at gaining separation, but teams are scheming to bracket Beasley with a corner and a linebacker/safety.
The Cowboys need to target a wide receiver in this year's draft, and the first round may be the time to do it.
Wide Receiver Options in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Calvin Ridley - Alabama - 6'1" 190lbs
The wide receiver depth in this year's draft class isn't great, but Calvin Ridley is.
Ridley uses his speed, route running ability, and smarts to create separation, off the ball, in the middle of his routes, and at the top of his routes. Ridley is the type of player that can get open and make plays in all depths of the field.
I really like Calvin Ridley's ability to make plays after the catch, but more importantly his ability to separate to allow his quarterback to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
First big Calvin Ridley play: MSU plays zone behind blitz. Ridley hits gap between underneath and McLaurin deep. Ridley runs good route and you can see McLaurin (top right) doesn't have time to get there. https://t.co/2KQeDypNyb
- Anthony Miller - Memphis - 5'11" 190lbs
To me, Anthony Miller is a poor man's Odell Beckham Jr.
Anthony Miller has extremely sticky hands, runs impressive routes, and has the quickness and smarts to create separation. Anthony Miller has elite traits, he just doesn't get the respect he deserves due to playing at a smaller school in Memphis. Miller may not be a clear-cut first rounder, but he could be an option in the second round.
What makes #Memphis WR Anthony Miller so special?...plays like this. He is a human highlight reel. He will be a top WR #devy pick, mark it. https://t.co/ZdfbppLbob
Oh man, where do I even begin? If the Cowboys could be promised that none of their starting five offensive lineman would ever get injured, then we wouldn't be talking about this at all.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Tyron Smith has been dealing with back problems for two years now, and was held out of the Atlanta game due to a strained groin. In his absence, Chaz Green and Byron Bell gave up 6.5 sacks (6 of which came from Adrian Clayborn). The swing-tackle position in Dallas is by far one of the weakest on the team.
Tackle Options in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Connor Williams - Texas - 6'6" 315lbs
If not for a knee injury that has kept Connor Williams out for a majority of the 2017 season, he would be looked as the best offensive lineman in this class.
Williams has the size, strength, and athletic ability to manhandle rushers off the edge. Williams is an excellent run blocker that still needs a little bit of refining as a pass blocker. If the Cowboys front office is extremely worried about Tyron Smith's health, drafting Connor Williams in the first round wouldn't surprise me one bit.
- Orlando Brown - Oklahoma - 6'8" 345lbs
As you see from his height and weight, Orlando Brown is a massive human being. While that does help him in some instances, it also hurts him when dealing with some of the smaller/quicker pass rushers.
For his size, Brown does do a nice job of keeping his technique clean when run blocking and not reaching or extending too early.
Where Brown needs work is in his pass blocking sets.
Brown is often a tick too slow to reach his landmarks which allows some rushers to beat him to the edge. If Brown can clean that aspect of his game up he would be an intriguing option for Dallas on day two.
The Cowboys spent two top-100 draft picks on corners last year. Chidobe Awuzie has spent a majority of his time on the sideline nursing a hamstring injury that he can't seem to shake. Jourdan Lewis, on the other hand, has been fantastic.
Outside of those two guys - Anthony Brown has had an up and down year. For the most part, it's safe to say that Anthony Brown's sophomore season has been a disappointment.
Orlando Scandrick is a veteran in the locker room and has played nicely for the Cowboys in 2017, though I'd be surprised to see him back in 2018. Drafting at least one corner in the top-100 is something I think the Cowboys NEED to do for the makeup of their roster in 2018.
Cornerback Options in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Tarvarus McFadden - Florida State - 6'2" 198lbs
Last draft season, McFadden was slated to be a top-five pick in 2017. I think McFadden's inconsistent play has pushed him down draft boards just a bit.
In 2016 McFadden finished the season with eight interceptions, making him one of the most intriguing prospects heading into his junior year.
In 2017, McFadden hasn't picked off a single pass yet, but he can still play at a really high level.
- Quenton Meeks - Stanford - 6'2" 200lbs
Quenton Meeks is another corner I think Dallas would really like to land in April's draft. Meeks is a long corner that has good speed and is an extremely smart player.
The Stanford junior plays a lot of off-coverage allowing him to watch and read the quarterback's eyes and body movements. Quenton Meeks isn't a guy you may be familiar with in November, but you'll start hearing his name a lot more the closer we get to April.
PickSix by Stanford True Freshman Quenton Meeks #RoseBowlGame #NerdNation #TheFarm https://t.co/ePkCUvOgUl
This may leave some scratching their heads as well. For years Cowboys Nation has been screaming for a dominant pass rush and they finally have one. DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL in sacks, but is also a free agent at the end of the year. David Irving is playing lights out as the defensive line's Swiss Army Knife, but is also a restricted-free-agent at the end of the season.
While I do think both players will be back, at least for 2018, the depth behind them is concerning.
Taco Charlton has had a dreadful year and is barely getting to see the field. Benson Mayowa has yet to register a sack and is getting a lot of reps at weak-side defensive end. Tyrone Crawford has probably had his best season yet, but has dealt with his fair share of injuries and isn't an ideal option at WDE (weak-side defensive end).
With the concerns of talent and depth at defensive end, I think WDE is a very important position the Cowboys must target in the draft.
Defensive End Options in the 2018 NFL Draft
- Harold Landry - Boston College - 6'3" 250lbs
Harold Landry is your prototypical WDE. At 250lbs, Landry has the speed, bend in his lower half, and explosiveness to win the edge on a high percentage of reps. Landry also has very polished hands that allow him to control blocker's arms and hands when they are able to get a hold of him.
Landry would certainly require more attention at the RDE position than any of the players the Cowboys are throwing out there right now. That opens up more opportunities for DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, if both players are re-signed like I imagine.
That dip RT @EricElizondo8: Harold Landry bending the corner https://t.co/zFzO7sqY7t
- Bradley Chubb - N.C. State - 6'4" 275lbs
While Harold Landry doesn't really fit the profile the Dallas Cowboys like out of their defensive ends, Bradley Chubb does. Chubb is a bigger body that could play either LDE or RDE, maybe even some three-technique in certain situations.
Chubb is extremely powerful and has a large arsenal of pass-rush moves that he uses to get after the quarterback. If Chubb can hang around until the 17th overall pick, don't be surprised if his card gets turned in.
- Marcus Davenport - University of Texas San Antonio - 6'7" 255lbs
Knowing it's hard to believe the Cowboys spend back to back first round picks on defensive ends, I added Marcus Davenport to my list.
Davenport is a freak athlete that is still learning how to rush with good technique. At 6'7" 255lbs, Davenport runs like a running back but has the strength of a defensive tackle.
The UTSA senior has the speed to excel at RDE, but also the strength and ability to play the run as a LDE in the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme. If the Cowboys do go elsewhere in the first round, Marcus Davenport may be a great option in the second round to help bolster the Dallas Cowboys pass rush.
UTSA DE Marcus Davenport #93 was dominant vs. UNT: 4 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF...6-6, 255 athlete w/ hoops background. NFL excited about him. https://t.co/EJVzXiSqZQ
There is still a lot of football left in the 2017-2018 NFL Season, but it's never too early to start talking about some guys who could potentially help the Dallas Cowboys get to the Super Bowl in 2018. We're only a few months away from hearing who your Dallas Cowboys select in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft!
Who do you think the Cowboys should draft in April?
Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)
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…
Stanley Morgan Jr.
|Arm length||31 3/8"||32 3/8"|
|Hand size||10"||9 7/8"|
|20 yard shuffle||4.14||4.13|
|3 cone drill||7.03||6.78|
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?
Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
NAME: Johnathan Abram
SCHOOL: Mississippi State
JERSEY: No. 38
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
HT: 5' 11 3/8"
|Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles|
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dallas Cowboys Make Trades in this 7-round Mock Draft
Though we're still in the midst of the free agency frenzy that took hold this week, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing the grind toward the end of April as they look forward to the most important aspect of roster building for their franchise, the NFL Draft.
As we know by now, the Dallas Cowboys prefer to build their team through draft, supplement their roster with lower cost free agent signings, and retain their own players through contract extensions and resignings. As they get ready for the draft, they'll be exploring all opportunities to improve a roster that made it to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in 2018 with the hopes of advancing even further in 2019.
This is the first installment of mock drafts that you'll see from me here at Inside The Star, and like last year, I wanted to explore what some trade options might look like for the Dallas Cowboys. For this installment, I used Draftek's big board over with Fanspeak's On The Clock Premium Simulator. It allows for trades and allows you to select whether the simulation will use the same big board or multiple big boards to create more variables. I selected multiple, because that's closer to the reality of the NFL Draft. Every team has a unique big board that they're operating from.
All trades went through Draftek's Trade Value Chart, which is what the teams use when assigning value to draft picks.
58 - TRADE
58 to San Francisco for 67 and 86
Because the Cowboys don’t have a first round pick or a sixth round pick and this draft class is deep at several positions where the Cowboys could use some reisnforcements, they’re going into the draft looking to trade back with their first pick.
The San Francisco 49ers come calling and offer picks 67 (3.3) and 104 (4.2) for the 58th overall pick.
Per the trade value chart produced by Draftek, the Cowboys gain 21 points in value from the trade. It’s not a far trade back, as it’s only nine spots. Their ability to pick up an extra fourth is huge.
67 - Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama
With their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys select Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama.
Somewhat of a forgotten man on the Alabama defense, Miller exploded for eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
Check out The Draft Network's Scouting Report on Christian Miller.
90 - Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas
Admittedly, I’m not as high on Charles Omenihu as some others might be as a second round selection, but as a third rounder, I can see the value in drafting Omenihu to help fortify your defensive line.
The Texas Longhorn product has experience playing on the EDGE, 3-Tech, and 1-tech alignments, and would probably be best suited playing 3-Tech in the NFL.
He reminds me a bit of Tyrone Crawford in that he doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he finds ways to make plays.
He was a productive player at Texas finishing with 9.5 sacks in the season.
Back in February I wrote a film review on Omenihu.
104 - TRADE
104 to the Buffalo Bills for 112 and 131
In another trade back, the Cowboys sent pick 104 in the fourth round to the Buffalo Bills for their two fourth round picks, 112 and 131. Per the trade value chart, the Cowboys picked up 25 points in pick value by trading back eight spots.
112 - Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St.
The Dallas Cowboys could use a safety that can play in the box and Johnathan Abram from Mississippi St. could very well be the guy to line up next to Xavier Woods in the secondary.
In 2018, Abram recorded 99 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defenses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions.
In 2017, he recorded 71 total tackles, diver tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed.
Abram, who will be one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 visitors in preparation for the draft, was a splash player in the SEC.
128 - Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Were it not for the ACL injury suffered by Oklahoma Running Back Rodney Anderson, it’s possible we’re talking about a top 60 selection in this year’s draft. Anderson’s injury history, however, has him consistently available for the Cowboys in the fourth round.
As they look for a backup to Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to find a runner as productive and as talented as Anderson is without paying a premium price.
Like Elliott, Anderson’s a smooth runner, who is able to play through contact as well as make people miss in the open field.
For his career, Anderson averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns. His only full season with the Sooners, he rushed for 1161 yards on 188 attempts (6.2 yards per carry), 13 touchdowns, and caught 17 passes for 281 yards, and five more touchdowns. That’s a touchdown every 11.4 touches.
Prior to being lost for the season in week two against UCLA, Anderson was averaging 10.8 yards per carry.
Read Brian Martin's Draft Preview on Rodney Anderson.
131 - Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Parris Campbell has the speed, quickness, and athleticism to be a threat both in the slot and on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys.
Admittedly, it’s not likely that a player with his athletic traits and production would be available in the fourth round, but in the NFL Draft, there are few guarantees.
Campbell recorded 90 receptions for 1,063 yards, and 23 touchdowns in his senior season with the Buckeyes. He'd be an excellent asset in the slot and on the outside as a speed threat for the Dallas Cowboys.
136 - Ben Banogu, EDGE/LB, TCU
You can never have too many pass rushers, and that’s what the Cowboys believe as they double-up on weakside EDGE players by selecting Ben Banogu from TCU in the fourth round.
Banogu was a very productive player for the Hirned Frogs. For his junior and senior seasons, Banogu averaged 8.5 sacks and 17.25 tackles for loss.
At 6-4, 249, he brings good length to the position and has the frame to add a bit more bulk to help him set the edge in the NFL.
165 - Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
Count me as one who’s excited about the possibility of Blake Jarwin developing into a starting tight end for the Cowboys. He certainly showed over the last half of the season that he’s capable, just needs more experience and playing time. That said, despite the addition of Jason Witten, the Cowboys should still look to add a tight end in the draft, and here’s a good one in UCLA product, Caleb Wilson.
In 11 games for the Bruins in 2918, Wilson caught 60 passes for 965 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception in the PAC 12.
If there’s a knock on Wilson, it’s that he has had some injury struggles in his collegiate career. He has potential to be a move tight end in the NFL with his receiving ability.
241 - Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
There are few prospects that can be had around the fifth round or later that are as intriguing as Baylor Wide Receiver Jalen Hurd.
The first three years of his collegiate career, Hurd played running back for the University of Tennessee and averaged about 4.6 yards per carry. In his freshman season, he ran for 899 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 221 yards receiving on 35 catches and two more touchdowns.
When he transferred to Baylor for his senior season, the Bears coaching staff converted him to wide receiver and he flourished. In 12 games, Hurd caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears also used him as a runner and he gained 209 yards on 48 carries for three more touchdowns.
In his four year career, he averaged 1,070 yards from scrimmage on 193 touches for 8.25 touchdowns. That’s at two different positions and two different schools.
at 6-4, 217 pounds, Hurd has the size to play receiver in the NFL. He has the ability to play both inside and outside and can give you some snaps out of the backfield as well.
Check out Brian Martin's film review on Jalen Hurd.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
This is just one of many scenarios that could take place when the NFL Draft rolls around at the end of April. The possibilities are endless. The Cowboys have several needs on the offensive and defensive side of the football and this draft has players that can fill those areas of need throughout. Obviously, they'll look to draft the best player available when they come on the clock, and these could very well be players that end up with a star on their helmet in 2019.
How would you feel about the Cowboys drafting any of these guys?
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