As Mason Crosby’s second field goal went through the uprights and the 2016 Cowboys season came to a close, everyone immediately looked to the 2017 draft class for the next great defensive end.
Sure, at pick 28 blue-chippers like Myles Garrett would not be available, but with such a deep group of edge rushers, we expected Dallas to be successful in their search.
But now, as months have passed and free agency has caused roster turnover, the Cowboys’ draft direction is finally crystal clear. Barring a player like Myles Garrett falling to the end of round one (not happening) or the Cowboys falling in love with a more hybrid edge player like TJ Watt (very realistic), Dallas will most likely not be looking to bolster their defensive line with their first round pick.
Instead, it appears that they will be looking at the even deeper draft class of defensive backs to replace departed Cowboys’ veterans.
Knowing this, let’s take a look at some of the likely candidates to join the Cowboys secondary through the NFL Draft.
1. Fabian Moreau, UCLA
A riser over the last couple of months, UCLA CB Fabian Moreau impressed scouts and coaches alike with his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. His tape is impressive as well, and the more I watch the more I think he could fit in nicely with the Dallas Cowboys.
A fluid athlete who plays with loose hips and incredible speed, Moreau’s athleticism makes him one of the more intriguing cornerback prospects in this year’s NFL Draft.
At 6′ 206 pounds, Moreau already has a solid frame for an NFL corner. He certainly isn’t “super” strong, but he does enough to make due with the strength he has. I wouldn’t expect him to play too much press-man, but he could make a living in a zone coverage scheme, a la the Dallas Cowboys.
2. Teez Tabor, Florida
Unlike Moreau, Teez Tabor had one of the most disappointing combines in recent memory. A slow 4.62 40 time aside, Tabor has functional game speed and plays with good awareness. Due to his weak combine, Tabor is likely to take a fall down the board come draft day, and could tumble right into the Cowboys’ lap.
Staff writer Sean Martin wrote up a scouting report on Tabor over at Slant Sports, and actually came away giving him a first round grade. If anyone is familiar with how Sean grades, getting a first round grade from him is pretty impressive.
“With the toughness to stick to any target in man coverage along with the skill and understanding to play in zone, Tabor should find a home at the next level early in this draft and instantly upgrade any NFL secondary.”
Like Sean, I love the confidence (almost arrogance) that Tabor plays with, and think he could be a decent pick for the Cowboys at the end of round one.
3. Tre’Davious White, LSU
Out goes one LSU corner, in comes another?
My professional comparison for LSU CB Tre White is Morris Claiborne, so it would only be fitting that he would replace Mo in Dallas this year.
Listed at 5’11” 192 pounds, Tre White is a long, lanky defensive back who makes his living off fluidity, athleticism, and instincts. Like Sean, I’ve been scouting prospects at Slant Sports, and recently published one on Tre White.
“White is a fast player with good, quick feet and excellent closing speed. He does a nice job of coming downfield to attack receivers, and looks comfortable playing the ball downfield and turning his head around.”
I would really like to have Tre White in Dallas. Out of this list, however, he would only be my third choice. This next player, from White’s college-rival Alabama, is number two on that list.
4. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
This year’s cornerback class is one of the deepest groups in the entire draft. Outside of edge rushers, it could even be argued that cornerback is in fact the deepest group in the 2017 NFL Draft. One of the marquee corners in this great class is Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey.
The Cowboys just allowed two corners who primarily play in man coverage walk in free agency. In some ways, I think this signals a shift Dallas would like to make to using zone coverage more often than they have in the past.
If this is true, then Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey would be perfect for the Cowboys in round one.
“Marlon is at his best when everything is in front of him, and he is asked to come downhill to make plays. He is athletic enough to be that “last line of defense” and run with any receiver.”
Humphrey struggles playing the ball in the air, specifically when in man coverage. However, when asked to play zone, Humphrey excels. I had initially suggested Humphrey move to safety in the NFL, but if he can be a cover-two zone corner, then he will be a very good pro player.