In just two days, the Senior Bowl will get underway from Alabama! The top seniors from college football this year will have a chance to make an impression to coaches and scouts in an attempt to improve their draft stock.
Leading the North roster, which you can view here, will be Jason Garrett and the Cowboys staff - meaning they will get an exclusive look at these players.
Now, unless you have been living under a rock, you've likely been consumed in the debate swirling around the Cowboys fourth overall pick and its use on a quarterback. While I have been persistent in defending the selection of Jared Goff should he be on the board, the four quarterbacks the Cowboys will coach on Saturday are all very intriguing prospects.
The best thing about these quarterbacks is not only that they could benefit greatly from not having to be a day one starter, but they may all be options well past the fourth selection in the draft.
Allow me to step down from #TeamGoff for just a moment (I hope RJ is reading), and make a case for the Senior Bowl signal callers.
1. Carson Wentz - North Dakota State
The worst kept secret of this draft season is well out of the bag by now, and it's that small school QB Carson Wentz is good - really, really good.
All aboard the hype train.
I start with Wentz because out of all the quarterbacks I will look at here, Wentz BY FAR has the best chance to be selected in the first round. This means that the Cowboys would have to love what they see from Carson in the Senior Bowl and invest a top five pick in him, or find a way to get back into the first round - and potentially the top ten.
Should Wentz find a way to put a star on his helmet, I like the fit in this offense. Carson Wentz is the definition of your stereotypical NFL pocket-passing quarterback with a strong arm and great touch.
Wentz also possesses the ability to get out of the pocket and throw on the run with striking accuracy and even make plays with his feet when needed. What he will need to work on at the next level is getting through his progressions faster and finding the open man before the rush gets to him.
This is something that Wentz can greatly improve on just from sitting behind Tony Romo and learning for a few years. While the cost will be high, Wentz in Dallas could lead to a very bright future for the Cowboys in the post-Romo era.
2. Jeff Driskel Louisiana Tech
Jeff Driskel is a very interesting quarterback prospect, and unlike Wentz, he will not cost the Cowboys a first round pick. I gave my film review of him above, and to summarize, I was very intrigued and impressed by Driskel.
Once a top HS prospect entering the University of Florida, an unfortunate series of injuries led Driskel to end his collegiate career at LA Tech.
Driskel is another guy that could benefit greatly from the luxury of sitting and learning for a few seasons. Another thing he will greatly benefit from in Dallas, as is the case with any quarterback, is the Cowboys offensive line.
When given time to throw, Driskel shows that he can make any throw, and allow his routes to develop. The Cowboys will get a great look at him on Saturday, and if they like what they see as much as I do, I would have no problem with Jeff Driskel being brought in as the potential future to the Cowboys quarterback position.
3. Kevin Hogan Stanford
The Cardinal successor to Andrew Luck, Kevin Hogan put together an exceptional career at Stanford - throwing 75 touchdowns to 29 interceptions in his four years. While I prefer Driskel to Hogan, there is certainly room for Hogan to be developed in Dallas.
As is the case with plenty of players on the Stanford roster, Hogan possesses off the charts football IQ. In his film review above you'll see him be able to read complex coverages and understand where to put the football.
However, what Hogan provides in awareness he gives away with physical attributes. His somewhat awkward and slower throwing motion will need to greatly improve in the NFL. While selecting Hogan may be less of an investment in a bonified future-of-the-franchise quarterback for the Cowboys, he could be a high-value pick in the third or fourth round should the rest of the quarterback board take an unexpected turn.
4. Cody Kessler USC
Out of all of these quarterbacks, Kessler will likely need the best game on Saturday to improve his standing with the Cowboys. The Southern California product appears to be a product of another Pac-12 QB playground, which you get evidence of in the report above.
Kessler struggles to make NFL throws, and would again be a pick that doesn't do much for the future at the position in Dallas. I don't think any team will pick Kessler with hopes of him becoming a rookie starter, and I could easily see the Cowboys leaving him off their radar entirely.
With Jerry Jones coming out to say that Dallas does not need to take a quarterback this year, which you can read more about from RJ Ochoa here, the Cowboys may be putting serious consideration into selecting Driskel, Hogan or Kessler in a spot where the value of the pick is maximized. Of course, this has different meanings for each of the quarterbacks listed.
A "slide" for Wentz would be seeing him go outside of the top 10, while Driskel suddenly becomes a very high-value pick in the back end of the fourth round or early fifth.
While I remain loyal to the belief that the Cowboys must select Jared Goff if given the chance to do so at #4, they must be prepared for Goff to be off the board. With McClay and Co. coaching and scouting the Senior Bowl, I trust the best QB decision will be made in this scenario.
Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?
There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.
Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.
The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.
@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!
To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.
In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.
Huge blessing being surrounded by players like this 👊🏽👊🏽
All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.
The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.
The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.
It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.
Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?
Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley
With NFL Free Agency buzz at full speed this week, Dez Bryant is one of the most intriguing names in the Dallas Cowboys world. We all know the story. We've been talking about it since last season. Bryant, who was once among the "Top WR of the league" conversation, doesn't look like an elite player anymore.
That doesn't mean he is a bad football player, but the problem is that he's getting paid big time.
The Dallas Cowboys, who have struggled with cap space for many years now, may want to avoid paying $16.5M to a player who isn't justifying his paychecks on the field. Big name and all, it certainly doesn't feel that way.
His lack of production on the field the last three years is concerning, even though he's played with quarterbacks not named "Tony Romo." There are other receivers around the league who have played with bad quarterbacks and have still been able to produce.
Even still, it wouldn't be easy to replace Bryant on the offense just like that. Right now, top free agents are already off the market, so if Dallas wants to replace him, it'd have to be via trade or via the NFL Draft.
ICYMI: A few things to consider as we wait on news about Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys https://t.co/cCNpXmhARe
Right now, it seems that Dez is going to remain a Dallas Cowboy and after seeing the contracts other receivers in the league are about to get, who knows if a pay cut will even enter the equation.
Even if Dez keeps wearing the Star every week next season, wide receiver is still one of the team's top needs. Despite the fact that Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are some very well-known names, the truth is this offense needs a guy who can create separation and be harmful as a deep threat.
This is a draft class with a lot of depth at wide receiver, and the Cowboys could find contributors at the second or later rounds. Even still, if they're on the clock at 19 and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is available, the front office should pull the trigger.
Yes, even if Dez is still on the team.
Despite last year's struggles, we shouldn't lose faith on the Cowboys' offense when it has a lot of talent. We believed in this group to take us to the Super Bowl. What they are missing could just be a new, dynamic wide receiver.
Calvin Ridley is by far the best WR in the Draft this year and will be an impact player anywhere he goes. Despite a poor showing in the Combine, Ridley proves to be worthy of a first round pick on tape. Ideal route-running, great ability to separate and more than enough speed for the NFL.
This would certainly take a lot of pressure off Cole Beasley's shoulders, who was constantly double-teamed last year. Sure, he's still good, but if he continues to run into double-coverage, Dak Prescott and company will probably continue to struggle another year.
It's tough to imagine Calvin Ridley being available at 19, especially with the Baltimore Ravens holding the 16th overall pick. However, some people believe there's a 50/50 chance he's available once Dallas is on the clock. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't pass on this prospect.
Ridley could very well end up being the most productive receiver for the Cowboys in 2018 becoming an essential "best friend" for Dak Prescott.
We've seen how other front offices have made friendly offenses for their young QBs and if Calvin Ridley is what it takes, why even think about it?
2018 NFL Draft: What Cowboys Look For In LBs
As we continue to move through the Cowboys' positions of need and construct their overall draft board, we now take a look at what Dallas tends to look for in linebackers.
The Cowboys have some real questions to answer within their linebacker corps this offseason. Sean Lee is an obvious stud, but his injury history makes him a bit unreliable. Jaylon Smith began to come along later in the season, but how much better will he be in 2018? And then, of course, there is the impending free agency of Anthony Hitchens the team must deal with.
The Cowboys will certainly be looking at this somewhat-deep linebacker class in the upcoming draft, and after reviewing what their "type" has been in the past, a few prospects stood above the rest.
And here it is for LB. Better set of training data so should be more predictive of future picks. LVE is a freak athletically.
For starters, Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds must have been built in a lab. At 6'4" 253 pounds he is much bigger and stronger than the typical Cowboys linebacker, but his athletic testing all exceed the normal thresholds as well. He is significantly faster and more athletic than the typical Dallas draft pick, and would be an excellent candidate with the 19th overall pick. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate him being their for the taking.
Iowa's Josey Jewell is an interesting prospect to evaluate. A rather reliable player on film, Jewell also passes each of the athletic thresholds set by Dallas in previous years. Well, besides his 40 time, which is nearly a full second slower than their average selection. Still, considering his tape, short shuttle, 3 cone, and broad jump, I expect him to be a potential target for the Cowboys on day two.
The 2 linebackers which fit the Cowboys' plan best, however, are BYU's Fred Warner and Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch.
As seen on the spreadsheet, Vander Esch is a certified freak by Cowboys' standards. He greatly exceeds each of Dallas' athletic markers, and does it all at 6'4" and over 250 pounds. Like I said, he's an athletic freak in the eyes of the Cowboys.
Warner is just below the average weight in previous years (by only 2 pounds), but he is much more athletic than players we've seen the Cowboys draft since 2011. He is converting from more of an EDGE-type role in college to being a full time off-ball linebacker, and so far he has looked comfortable doing so at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
Considering the struggles the Cowboys have had on defense as of late, finding these younger and faster players should be a priority. And, as indicated by the testing of their previous draft classes, the Cowboys should be able to upgrade on that athleticism during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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