Cowboys Draft: 5 Late-Round Defensive Players With Starting Potential

With no first-round draft pick and only two selections on the second day, the Dallas Cowboys are really going to have to hit some home runs on Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft. Luckily, this is a pretty deep draft class for the positions they should be targeting so there should be some starting caliber players available for them in the later rounds.

Yesterday I shared with you five late-round offensive players with starting potential who I believe the Dallas Cowboys could target, but today I want to focus on the other side of the wall. This could be a defensive heavy draft for the Cowboys, so knowing some of these late-round prospects might be a good idea.

Let’s take a look…

DT, Michael Dogbe, Temple

Michael Dogbe
Temple DT Michael Dogbe

Michael Dogbe is one of the strongest players in the entire 2019 draft class. In summer workouts he bench pressed 505 pounds, including 37 reps of 225 and squatted 685 pounds. He is a physical freak who possesses the strength and athletic ability to become a starting caliber defensive tackle in the NFL. He played all along the Owls defensive line during his time at Temple, but projects best as an under tackle, or three-technique in a 4-3 defensive scheme. That just so happens to be a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys, which is why I believe he could be someone they target at some point on Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft. He would be a good rotational DT as a rookie and an eventual starter in Year 2.

DE, Jalen Jelks, Oregon

Jalen Jelks
Oregon DE Jalen Jelks

On Day 3 of the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys and every other team are looking at players with certain intangibles they can hopefully develop. Jalen Jelks possesses just about all of the intangibles NFL teams look for in an edge rusher and he probably has the flexibility to play either as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense or an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. As a pass rusher he shows good initial quickness at the snap the ball, the ability to bend and contort, and good ankle flexion. He is quicker rather than fast and his lack of long speed shows up on film when he’s trying to get up the field as well as in pursuit. He also needs to become stronger at the point of attack, but nonetheless he does have starting ability with further development.

LB, Cole Holcomb, UNC

Cole Holcomb
North Carolina LB Cole Holcomb

Cole Holcomb has created quite a buzz for himself after putting on a phenomenal performance at his Pro Day where he ran a 4.4 40-yard dash, 132 inch broad jump, 6.77 3-cone, and 4.18 short shuttle. At 6’1″, 234 pounds, that makes Holcomb one of the more athletic linebackers in the entire 2019 draft class. He played all three linebacker spots during his time at North Carolina and could do the same with the Dallas Cowboys in their 4-3 defensive scheme. He’s unlikely to see the field much as a rookie with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch fully entrenched as the starters at MLB and WLB, but he could challenge to be a starter at SAM. At the very worst, he would provide really good depth his first year in the NFL before challenging for a starting job down the road.

CB, Jordan Miller, Washington

Jordan Miller
Washington CB Jordan Miller

Jordan Miller is the Washington cornerback nobody is talking about. Everybody knows about Byron Murphy because he projects to be one of the first, if not the first, CB to come off the board when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway. Miller may not receive the same kind of fanfare as his former teammate, but he has the ability to start in the NFL as well. He has the size, length, and athleticism Kris Richard looks for in his defensive backs. He excels at playing press man in bump and run coverage, but really needs to get in the weight room and add a little muscle to his frame before he’s ready to contribute on a regular basis. As a rookie he would provide depth, but he could compete for a starting job in Year 2.

S, Khari Willis, Michigan State

Khari Willis
Michigan State S Khari Willis (Nic Antaya |

Khari Willis was one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors and an intriguing late-round prospect who possesses the ability to start in the NFL. At Michigan State he played a variety of roles in their secondary. He lined up at both free safety and strong safety, and even played slot cornerback. That can versatility would be a welcomed addition on the backend of the Cowboys secondary. He is a good open field tackler, but needs be more disciplined at times because he can get caught off guard by play action. Willis would likely be a special teams ace as a rookie, but could compete for a starting job in a year or two after developing his craft a little more.

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.


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