For as long as we've had the NFL Draft, we've had teams reach in the first round for the most important position in sports - the quarterback. Evaluating the quarterback position continues to plague many teams that perpetually sit at the top of the draft order in search of their franchise guy, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the same will apply - potentially in a big way - the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft.
With the exception of Mitchell Trubisky, who essentially has just one year of college starting experience, the consensus on this year's QB class is that there are far more questions than answers about prospects like Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Pat Mahomes...and even Davis Webb.
The Davis Webb talk is legit as far as 1st round. Have had several #NFL people tell me that he is the guy they would want to coach. https://t.co/mUhgwbxydh
That's right, despite this draft class being absolutely loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, yet another flawed QB prospect is entering first round discussion with California's Davis Webb. Of course, it was a Cal signal caller that went with the first overall pick a year ago with Jared Goff, and his start in Los Angeles can hardly be described as encouraging.
Davis Webb spent just one season in the "Bear Raid" offense in the PAC-12 at California, and before that started for Texas Tech (yeah, he threw 1,367 passes in college) in 2013. Losing his starting job to injury to Pat Mahomes in 2014 led Webb to sit as his backup in 2015 before transferring.
If you're a Cowboys fan, I already know what your question is.
Why are we talking about a quarterback that lost his job in college and will likely be over drafted, we found our franchise quarterback in the fourth round last year?
As mentioned, and as fellow Staff Writer Kevin Brady and I have been bringing you with scouting reports at Slant Sports, this 2017 NFL Draft is full of defensive talent that can help the Dallas Cowboys. A simple look at their pre-draft visits to date doesn't hide the fact that the Cowboys know they need help on defense - and more accurately depth on this side of the ball.
Sounds like they're bringing ever CB in draft in for visit so I'd say none. https://t.co/Z4uQoS4cMg
Not only will every card turned in for a questionable quarterback before the 28th overall pick slide more defensive talent down the board for Dallas in the first round, but it could put them in a great position to add even more of this depth by trading down just a few spots and still choosing from waves of talented cornerbacks, safeties, or edge rushers.
If getting Will McClay and the Cowboys brain trust more draft picks this year following their 2016 draft haul is something you're interested in, you may want 27 teams to pass on the hype for these quarterbacks - of which there is one more piece in Davis Webb to potentially help America's Team.
Who could trade up for Webb's services, and what would the Cowboys get in return? Let's take a closer look.
The sun rises once every 24 hours, and with each new day the Browns are looking for a new quarterback around this time leading up to the NFL Draft. Cleveland has four picks in the first two rounds this year, and no immediate pressure to reach with any of them for a QB with Myles Garrett making their decision at first overall the easiest it's been since Andrew Luck to Indianapolis.
Assuming the Browns do take Garrett to kick off the draft on April 27th, things will get interesting when they come on the clock again with the 12th overall pick. As many as four teams could consider quarterbacks before this pick, but it is also just as likely they'll have their full stack of QBs to choose from here.
Stick with me Cowboys Nation, and assume that the Browns are once again smart (I know its difficult) with this pick and wait for their quarterback even longer.
Davis Webb's name is starting to re-surface with #Browns... https://t.co/jsavSBTwvd
By the time Dallas comes on the clock, naturally guys like Trubisky, Kizer, and Watson are gone - leaving former teammates Pat Mahomes and Davis Webb. A handy look at Jimmy Johnson's draft trade value chart tells us that the Browns would have to offer 660 points of trade value to the Cowboys to come back into the round and take one of these QBs.
The appetizing 33rd overall pick that leads off the second round is worth just 580 points, meaning Cleveland would also have to likely part with the first pick in the fourth round at 108th overall - worth 78 points.
The Browns get a new, exciting, gun-slinging quarterback while the Cowboys make up for their lack of a 5th round pick by adding a premium 4th and only moving back five spots from 28.
San Francisco 49ers
With needs all over the roster under new leadership with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers will likely pass on reaching for a quarterback with their 2nd overall pick.
It would be smart for San Francisco however to bring their first-year, QB-guru head coach a developmental QB at some point in this draft, and with their stocks always elevated the time to do so even on a guy like Davis Webb could be at the bottom of the first round.
What makes the 49ers an intriguing trade partner for the Cowboys is of course not only their 34th overall pick but their 109th - one of two selections they have in the 4th round.
These two picks would get San Francisco within 636 points of the needed 660 for the 28th overall Cowboys' first-round pick. Making things even more juicy is that the 49ers also have two picks in the 5th round.
Again, Dallas currently has no 5th round pick, but could get the 49ers to overpay in acquiring one at 146th overall - nine points over value on the remaining 24 points required for this move. More realistically, the 49ers 161st overall pick gets this deal done with 27 value points.
San Francisco adds a spread quarterback to one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys, with their second draft trade involving the 49ers in five years, pick at 34, 60, 92, 109, 133, and 161. Who says no?
In this last hypothetical trade scenario we'll break down, the Bills round out the top-ten in this 2017 Draft by passing on a quarterback. Cleveland breathes a sigh of relief.
Looking to add a developmental guy behind Tyrod Taylor though, Buffalo can offer the 44th overall pick to start for Dallas' 28th. This puts the Bills nicely within 200 points of the needed 660 at 460 points.
Worth 215 points to get the job done, the Bills could add their 75th overall pick in the third round to get this deal done. Compared to our last scenario with the 49ers, the Cowboys technically only kept three "premium" picks - or selections in the top 100. Recent draft history in Dallas should rightfully bring excitement for the 109th and 133rd picks, but even those fail in comparison to adding the 75th overall pick.
Davis Webb, or any quarterback that remains on the board with the 28th overall pick, could be the gift that keeps on giving for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2017 NFL Draft to put them over the top.
In a vacuum where fans (of teams without Dak Prescott of course) only care about tape and not the glimmer of hope a potential franchise QB in the draft provides, this year's class would leave plenty - perhaps too many - of these quarterback prospects on the board in the first round for Dallas on the clock.
The quarterbacks we've been talking about forever now, and one we haven't in Webb, are going to hear their names called earlier than they should though.
We go live to Jerry Jones - who already expressed his belief that he sees potential for a trade with the 28th overall pick - on draft night if the Davis Webb hype continues for three more short weeks.
To think some Cowboys fans wanted our fourth overall pick of a year ago to be used on a California quarterback.
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.
Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.
Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.
Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.
But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.
Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.
Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.
The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.
With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.
What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?
For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.
But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.
"If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft.
For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.
At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.
The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.
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