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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Examining What Dallas Looks For In WRs

Kevin Brady

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For a fan base scarce with agreements, there is one position we all believe the Dallas Cowboys need to fix this offseason: Wide Receiver.

In 2017, the Cowboys lacked any real speed on the outside, and failed to create separation and easy completions for their young quarterback. Of course, Dak Prescott must shoulder some of the blame as well, but there's no question the Cowboys aging and underperforming wide-out group can use an overhaul.

Unfortunately, due to contact situations and emotions, it's unlikely that overhaul will occur. Dallas will have the chance to upgrade their pass catchers through the 2018 NFL Draft, however. To get a better idea of who the Cowboys might target, I took a look at what the team tends to look at in terms of athleticism and measurables. What I found explained why the Cowboys have had such a problem in the passing game, and showed why they must stray from their normal thresholds during this year's draft.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.

Since 2010 the Cowboys have drafted 7 receivers, only two of which came within the top 100 picks. Because most of these were late picks, it can be hard to find concrete trends for what the team looks for athletically. Still, when examining height, weight, 40 yard dash time, and 3 cone time, it becomes clear the Cowboys have a "type."

Ryan Switzer skews the minimum requirements for height and weight, but outside of Switzer much of these receivers look the same on paper. On average, they run a 4.53 second 40 yard dash and a 3 cone just under 7 seconds. They also tend to be about 6'0" tall, with 6'2" being their ideal target.

As mentioned earlier, the biggest problem the Cowboys had on the outside was with their speed. It's a rather slow group that relies on winning contested catching situations. This, of course, is not sustainable in the NFL unless your WR1 is 2014-level Dez Bryant.

An average 40 time of 4.53 would support the perception of a lack of speed as well. Plus, the Cowboys have only taken 2 receivers in the first 100 picks since 2010. When Dez was a top 5-or-so wide out in the league, this wasn't much of a problem. Now, however, it definitely is.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Here are the numbers for some of the typical guys we talk about on here. I think you can forget about James Washington. Calvin Ridley is light but his 40 and 3 cone make him a real target. DJ Moore is a freak.

I then compiled the same numbers for some of the most popular targets in the upcoming draft among Cowboys Nation. Ignoring what you may think about their actual tape for a moment, a few players jump right off the page as potential picks for Dallas.

Clemson's Deon Cain is someone the National Media loves, but I kind of struggled with when evaluating. I simply don't see a first round player, despite what some national evaluators have had to say. Still, running a 4.43 40 and 6.71 3 cone at 6'2" 202 pounds should put him right in the Cowboys' cross hairs.

Michael Gallup also fits the Cowboys' typical thresholds to a "T." At 6'1" and 205 pounds he certainly looks the part of a receiver the Cowboys would draft. When you then consider his 4.51 40 time and 6.95 3 cone, he is basically a prototypical draft target for the Cowboys.

It may be time for the Cowboys to think outside of their "typical" targets, however. I love Michael Gallup as a prospect and would like to see him with the Cowboys, but how bad does this team really need another wide out with rather average speed? Breaking the mold a bit and going after a DJ Moore 19th overall could be just the shot-in-the-arm this offense needs going forward.

That 4.42 speed is clearly missing from the Cowboys' weapons, and I'm sure Dak Prescott would be ecstatic to have a guy like that to throw to.

Calvin Ridley's poor overall combine performance, coupled with his age, has led many to question just how good he'll be in the NFL. His 4.43 40 time and 6.88 3 cone help him remain a realistic target for the Cowboys, however.

Of course, there is a lot more that goes into drafting a player than just these few numbers, but they do provide a good baseline for what the Cowboys look for when drafting a wide receiver.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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4 Comments
  • Mr. Jaguar

    Kevin, very insightful news coverage regarding the Cowboys wide receiver position. IMHO, it’s time for the Cowboys to think outside of the box, for wide receiver position. The Cowboys need more than one speedy receiver. If I was the GM, I would draft 2 speedy receivers, that would definitely stretch the football field. It would have the defense to choose it’s poison, instead of erasing one player from the game plan. Coach Belichick would be in a compromise position, if he had to cover 2 speedy receivers, he wouldn’t be able to take away just one player, he would be force to choose, advantage offense. I would draft Moore and another speedy receiver to go with Switzer, Brown, Gathers. Making the Cowboys offense more explosive and unpredictable in the passing game .

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      In this draft class, I wouldn’t be afraid to double dip at WR. The Cowboys could use it, and the talent should be there. Thank you for reading!

  • Travis Diggs

    Dj moore from Maryland Lets get him, move Dez to #2 and trade T will

  • Russ_Te

    40 times can be misnomers of course – neither Jerry Rice nor Michael Irvin had a fast one. However I see that Julio Jones posted a 4.34 at his combine. Now you have a WR you know is faster than most DB’s, and that allows you pin the safeties into deep alignments. Now your QB can dice the defense up underneath. We owe that to Dak’s development curve.

    So I agree with Kevin that we need a WR who can legitimately frighten DB’s. I’m not interested in prospects with uncertainty about it. Get me speed, and keep Butler as depth for it.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

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.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

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.


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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

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?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 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.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

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.

Drew Davison on Twitter

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.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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