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Cowboys Draft: Film Study on Houston Cougars CB Isaiah Johnson

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Film Study on Houston Cougars CB Isaiah Johnson

The Dallas Cowboys will begin gearing up for their pre-draft visits including Dallas Day, their "national 30 visits," and will make visits to college campuses for pro-days over the next few weeks. The Dallas Cowboys have already begun meeting with players and attending pro-days. Last week, Cowboys coaches and scouts were in Houston visiting the Cougars' pro-day. While most of the focus from NFL teams was on top of the draft talent, Ed Oliver, the Cowboys had Cornerback Isaiah Johnson in their sites.

Allan Uy on Twitter

Just a friendly chat between Kris Richard, a #Cowboys scout, and Isaiah Johnson. #UHProDay @Cover_1_ https://t.co/T9my6ZgLcE

The relationship between the Cowboys and Johnson seems to be heating up as Johnson reportedly introduced his family to Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard. You know things are getting serious when you bring your special friends home to meet your parents.

Allan Uy on Twitter

Isaiah Johnson also took the time to introduce his parents to Kris Richard. Johnson's family had a friendly conversation with the Cowboys coach. https://t.co/HUcgqE5aK7

It's a relationship that appears to blossoming this Spring as the football world gears up for the 2019 NFL Draft. It was the second time in the last month that the Cowboys spent significant time with the cornerback after having a formal meeting with Johnson at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

There is a growing amount of buzz between the Dallas Cowboys and Johnson and it's warranted given Kris Richard's affinity for long and tall cornerbacks. Isaiah Johnson is one of the biggest defensive backs in the draft and nearly the biggest in every measurement. He's a really good athlete too as he ran a 40 yard dash of 4.4 seconds and had a broad jump in the 96th percentile for his position group,


He's a raw player. Johnson only made 22 starts at cornerback for the Cougars after converting from wide receiver between his sophomore and junior seasons. Johnson had two interceptions in each of his junior and senior seasons for the Cougars.

Film Study

For this film study I looked at games from the 2018 season against Memphis, Rice, and Texas Tech, and then took a look at his game against Temple from 2017.

  • Isaiah Johnson's size is the first thing that stands out. He uses a one arm stab at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the route of the receiver before beginning his back pedal in coverage.
  • The Cougars used Johnson primarily at right corner back, but he got significant playing time at left corner as well. He also played a few snaps in the slot and a few snaps at safety.
  • Houston didn't ask him to be a press man corner very often, instead using that quick jab at the line of scrimmage to slow the wide receiver's get off. Was used a lot in cover-3 for the Cougars to limit big plays down the field.
  • Johnson moves well for his size and is willing to put his head down and tackle. Was really good at bringing the ball-carrier down once he made contact.
  • Plays better with the receiver in front of him than when playing chase coverage. Mirrors his receivers well in man and can carry them across the formation when necessary.
  • He has good start and stop to come up in run support after his drop and to break on the route.
  • Shows very soft and natural hands when challenging the ball. His interceptions were smooth and easy. Wasn't fighting the ball.
  • Was pretty tight in man coverage. The only routes that he appeared to allow consistent separation were comeback routes, but several of those times, he was playing off coverage and was able to get to the receiver to limit yards after the catch.
  • On screens and in outside running plays, Johnson maintained good discipline by not allowing the runner to get outside of his containment, trusting his team to be there.
  • Very willing tackler in run support. Doesn't seem to shy away from contact. Form tackler that doesn't go for the runner's knees.
  • He needs some more experience and technique work to gain more confidence. Needs to trust his length more. Several times he was flagged for grabbing the jersey of the opponent to prevent getting beat. Several catches he gave up were with his back to the quarterback and he didn't turn around to play the ball. Some refining of his technique will help him to use his length better.

Summary

Isaiah Johnson is an intriguing prospect that combines really good height and length with a natural ability to play football. He's a project player at this point in his career after making the transition from wide receiver just two-years ago. With NFL coaching and some patience, he could be a starter in the NFL. He'll likely be a fourth or fifth round choice and that's where I'd feel comfortable taking him as a developmental player. Kris Richard has had success in developing cornerbacks drafted in the later rounds with the Seattle Seahawks and Isaiah Johnson could be the next player to benefit from his coaching. He's a project player, but someone who has the tools that could help him develop into a starting cornerback in the NFL.


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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NFL Draft

Midseason Grades: Dallas Cowboys Need More From Their 2019 Rookies

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Getting Little out of Their 2019 Draft Class

The Dallas Cowboys are officially halfway through their 2019 season after the win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. With that in mind, I thought I'd take the opportunity to take a closer look at the Cowboys rookie class and hand out some midseason grades.

After each and every NFL draft teams are hopeful their rookie class can come in and contribute on a regular basis, but that's not always the case. For the Dallas Cowboys this year's rookies are a mixed bag of results through the first eight games of their season.

Let's take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie class and how they've performed up until this point…

Cowboys Midseason Rookie Report

Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

Round 2 - Pick 26 (58) DT Trysten Hill

Despite having several quality safety prospects still available at 58th overall, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Trysten Hill instead. He's been inactive for several games this year and has only played 18.25% of the defensive snaps so far. Immaturity and work ethic seemed to be the main culprits in his lack of production, but he does have the talent to turn things around.

GRADE: F

Round 3 - Pick 27 (90) G Connor McGovern

The Connor McGovern pick in the third round was an odd one for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite investing quite a bbit in the OL already, the Cowboys believed McGovern was far superior to any of the other players left on the board. Only time will tell, but landing on injured reserve doesn't help the team in 2019.

GRADE: F

Round 4 - Pick 26 (128) RB Tony Pollard

Tony Pollard has been one of the lone bright spots from the Cowboys 2019 draft class. He's averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has a 100 yard game under his belt this season, but his underutilization is concerning. To date, he's only played 19.22% of the offensive snaps. Hopefully that changes in the second half of the season because he's proven to be a dynamic weapon.

GRADE: B

Round 5 - Pick 20 (158) CB Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson spent the first half of the 2019 season on the Cowboys practice squad before being poached/signed to the Detroit Lions active roster in Week 8. There was hope he could compete for a starting job next season after a year of development, but that's no longer the case.

GRADE: F

Round 5 - Pick 27 (165) DE Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson started the season on the 46-man roster, but has failed to make much of an impact halfway through the season. He has the versatility to play DE or DT, but may need more time to develop his craft before he can be relied upon. He has shown enough promise though and could develop into a solid rotational player in time.

GRADE: C


Round 6 - Pick 41 (213) S Donovan Wilson

Despite showing promise in preseason, Donovan Wilson has yet to play a single defensive snap or record a single statistic for the Cowboys this season. It's hard to judge him based on his lack of playing time, but the promise he showed in preseason is enough to make you believe he's capable of doing more if given the opportunity.

GRADE: C

Round 7 - Pick 4 (218) RB Mike Weber

Mike Weber is currently on the Cowboys practice squad. Maturity and work ethic needs to improve if he wants to become anything more than a PS player.

GRADE: F

Round 7 - Pick 27 (241) DE Jalen Jelks

Jalen Jelks has spent the entire season on injured reserve. He gave himself a chance to make the Cowboys 53-man roster out of training camp and it's those flashes that could earn him a defensive role in time.

GRADE: D

Undrafted Free Agent G/T Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight has started at right tackle for an injured La'el Collins and recently served has the swing tackle in place of Cameron Fleming when he was out with a calf injury. Excluding special teams, the UFA has received the most playing time out of any of the Dallas Cowboys rookies.

GRADE: B

Biggest Rookie Letdown

Trysten Hill

Dallas Cowboys DT Trysten Hill

I don't think anyone would argue, but the biggest letdown from the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie class has to be the play of Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. He will forever be compared to the safety prospects (Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill, Nasir Adderley), whether fair or not. Despite the need to upgrade the safety position, the Cowboys drafted Hill as a hopeful upgrade at DT. So far, he's been far from an upgrade.

I'm not ashamed to admit, but I liked the selection of Trysten Hill at the time. Now though I'm not so sure. I really liked Hill's talent/upside and believed he'd be contributing more than he has at this point in the season. That simply hasn't been the case and his lack of production more than likely resulted in the Cowboys trading for Michael Bennett. I'm still hopeful he can turn things around in the second half of the season, but for right now I think he's the biggest letdown from this year's rookie class.

Biggest Rookie Surprise

Alvin Kamara, Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

I couldn't make up my mind whether or not Tony Pollard or Brandon Knight has been the biggest rookie surprise halfway through the season, so I'm going to call it a tie. I think each deserve to land in this category, but for different reasons than you may think.

Take Brandon Knight for instance. To go from undrafted free agent (UFA) to emergency fill-in for La'el Collins at right tackle and swing tackle in place for an injured Cameron Fleming is a huge accomplishment. UFA's have a hard enough time just making a team out of training camp, but to be valued enough to not only make the game the roster but also earn a backup role is huge.

Now let's get to why I added Tony Pollard as one of the biggest rookie surprises. Yes, he's shown flashes of being a dynamic weapon, but I think we can all agree he's been underutilized through the first eight weeks of the season. As someone who is touted as being an Alvin Kamara like weapon it's somewhat surprising he hasn't been more involved in the game plan. Hopefully that changes from here on out.

What do you think of the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie class?


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Red River Rivalry Brings WR Devin Duvernay to Dallas, Hopefully to Stay

Brian Martin

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Red River Rivalry Brings WR Devin Duvernay to Dallas, Hopefully to Stay 1

If you happen to be a fan of college football and the Dallas Cowboys, then the 2019 Red River Rivalry between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns might just be a game you want to tune in for this weekend. Both teams will showcase quite a few players who could enter the 2020 NFL Draft and one of the more talented, although still underrated, players could be of interest to the Cowboys.

Enter Texas Longhorns Wide Receiver Devin Duvernay.

When it comes to positions the Dallas Cowboy would be most interested in next year's NFL Draft, wide receiver might not be at the top the list… or so it would seem from the outside looking in. But if you look a little deeper only Amari Cooper, who the Cowboys will extend eventually, and Michael Gallup are locks to stick around beyond this season. That's where Devin Duvernay comes in.

With Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin under one-year contracts, the Dallas Cowboys could be looking for their next slot receiver. Devin Duvernay may be new to the position with the Longhorns this year, but he's already proving to be a dynamic weapon out of the slot and could be exactly what the Cowboys are looking for.

The slot WR position is an important one for the Dallas Cowboys, especially for Quarterback Dak Prescott. It has become a security blanket of sorts over the years for Prescott and finding a sure-handed receiver he's comfortable with is easier said than done. Luckily though, they don't come much more reliable than Devin Duvernay.


Devin Duvernay

Texas Longhorns WR Devin Duvernay (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to the folks over at Pro Football Focus, Duvernay was one of the rare collegiate WRs who didn't drop a pass in 2018. That's pretty impressive considering he played the Z-receiver role with the Longhorns last year before moving into the slot in 2019. I'd say that's pretty sure-handed. Down the field targets are much more difficult to haul in than the ones thrown near or around the line of scrimmage.

Sure handedness isn't Devin Duvernay's only impressive trait though. His physicality and infectious attitude on the field is something that would pair nicely with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, both of whom are a little low-key/reserved as far as their on-field persona is concerned. Duvernay is a WR who likes to punish would be tackler and he has the build to do just that.

At 5'11", 210 pounds, Duvernay's thick, well muscled frame is much more RB-esque than that of a traditional receiver. His build is comparable to Carolina's D.J. Moore and San Francisco's Deebo Samuel, both of whom were taken relatively high in their respective drafts the past couple of years. His play to both of these WRs is similar as well.

The soon to be former Longhorns WR has all the intangibles to take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. His physicality alone makes him difficult for any defensive back to tackle, but he also possesses elite speed as well. He claims he can run a 4.3 40-yard dash and his film certainly suggests he's capable of doing just that.

Overall, Devin Duvernay is absolutely someone the Dallas Cowboys should keep an eye on when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns meet up this weekend in Dallas for the Red River Rivalry. I'd be more than happy if he ended up being one of their Day 2 selections, which is where I have him being drafted right now.

Do you like the idea of WR Devin Duvernay in a Dallas Cowboys uniform?


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Cowboys Land CB in Matt Miller’s way-too-early 2020 NFL Mock Draft

Brian Martin

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Matt Miller's 2020 Mock Draft Predicts Cowboys Strengthen Their Secondary

What better way to kick off the 2019 NFL regular-season and the start of college football then a way-too-early 2020 mock draft? Well, you're in luck. Matt Miller, one of my favorite draft analysts, just released his latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft for Bleacherreport.com and you may be surprised as to who he selected for the Dallas Cowboys.

One of the reasons I enjoy Matt Miller's work above many other so-called "draft analysts" is because he has his ear to the ground and has a pretty good connection with scouts around the league. That kind of information is pretty invaluable, but he also has a solid understanding of team "needs". Add all of that up and you get a really solid guesstimate of who could be on a certain teams radar, in this case the Dallas Cowboys.

Let's take a look at who Matt Miller predicted the Dallas Cowboys could draft in the 2020 NFL Draft with their first-round selection. Miller set this particular mock draft according to current Super Bowl odds from Caesar's Palace.

25. Dallas Cowboys

Bryce Hall

Virginia Cavaliers CB Bryce Hall

The Pick: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia

Matt Miller predicting the Dallas Cowboys select Cornerback Bryce Hall with there first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft definitely seems like a plausible possibility. He knows the Cowboys can't afford to pay everyone and he even said as much. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering a contract year in 2019 and with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis having expiring contracts after 2020, Dallas' secondary could definitely need addressing.


The Cowboys know this as well which is why they probably attempted to add some developmental depth to the CB position through the 2019 NFL Draft when they took Mike Jackson in the fifth-round. Jackson has the attributes they look for in their corners, but in no way has he looked like he'd be ready for a starting role next season. That makes Miller's Bryce Hall selection a definite possibility.

According to Miller's 2020 mock draft Bryce Hall is the fourth secondary player to come off the board. There were three cornerbacks selected ahead of him and one safety. He does fit the mold Kris Richard prefers in his CBs (6'1", 200) and also has the physical playing style in press coverage Richard likes as well. All in all, this is a very solid prediction for the Dallas Cowboys.

Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys would choose to select a CB this early is unknown at this point. But, it certainly seems like a high possibility considering all the corners with expiring contracts in a year or two. I think the Cowboys could look into taking a tight end or a safety with their first-round pick as well, but again it's way too early to have any kind of clue as to how their draft board will look like when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around.

I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping a closer eye on Bryce Hall this season just in case Matt Miller is correct. I'd like to get a head start to see just how well he would fit, or not, with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you like the Bryce Hall selection for the Dallas Cowboys?


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