"It is now the post-Witten era in Dallas and unless a tight end on the roster emerges this season, the position could be high on the wish list next offseason. His athleticism makes Fant an appealing up-and-coming prospect."
One of the most exciting moments NFL fans wait for during the Draft process is NFL Network Draft Analyst Mike Mayock's Mock Draft. Widely recognized as one of the best in the business, he only presents one simulation per year and usually presents what many consider "hot takes." Someone like Mayock tends to have pretty good "insider" information and gives the Draft community things to think about hours before the event.
For instance, this time around he has QB Josh Rosen falling all the way to the 15th overall pick and C Frank Ragnow in the first round to the Bengals (something basically no one was talking about).
Of course, the NFL Draft will forever be unpredictable and most Mock Drafts will be thrown away usually after the second or third pick. It's just the way it works. Every year, media members give it their best shot, knowing deep down they'll be wrong come Draft Day.
Heck, Mike Mayock was right in only five picks last year! Even still, these are great exercises to get to know the prospects and the teams' most pressing needs.
Having said that, the Dallas Cowboys pick in Mayock's 2018 Mock Draft sure was a surprise.
The player himself isn't really that much of a surprise. People have been mocking Courtland Sutton at 19 for Dallas many times over the past month. What was surprising about the pick was the fact that many other talented prospects were still on the board.
Boston College DE Harold Landry may find his way into the top 15 despite being injured most of his last season in college football. However, in this mock, Mayock has him sliding all the way to the Detroit Lions at 20.
The Cowboys don't need a DE urgently, but if Landry is there, they need to consider adding a promising RDE to have one of the best defensive lines in the country with Lawrence and Irving. But okay, it won't be as shocking simply because it isn't that big of a need. D-Law just had a breakout season and Taco Charlton may progress into a quality starting RDE after a season of experience.
Passing on Calvin Ridley to take Courtland Sutton is the most surprising thing for me in this mock. I mean, if it's between DJ Moore and Sutton, I won't be surprised at all to see the SMU product be the pick, but Ridley at 19 is amazing value.
I get it, he's not an "X" receiver and he's 24 years old. But hey, so what?
He naturally gets open, he's an amazing route runner and out of every receiver available, he'll be the most ready and will make the most impact from week 1. The guy would provide Dak Prescott a potential best-friend for years to come.
Sutton, on the other hand, will take some time to fully develop, perhaps a season or more. I think this offense needs a guy who can ball out as soon as possible. This is a contending team. It's time to add players who will create a big impact since 2018. I have trouble believing Sutton is that guy.
However, Mike Mayock could be right on with his prediction. The Cowboys have shown a tremendous amount of interest on Sutton and (depending on who's still on the board) would be anything but a surprise if he's the name in the card the Cowboys send for the Commissioner to read.
Anyway, we're only a few hours away from knowing what actually happens. Happy Draft Day, Cowboys Nation!
2019 Senior Bowl: 3 Tight Ends To Watch
Though there is only one game remaining in the 2018-19 NFL season, there is a silver lining we can all look forward to.
It's NFL Draft season.
With draft season comes the 2019 Senior Bowl, where some of the draft's best prospects will put their talents on display all week long. Despite not having a first round pick this year, the Dallas Cowboys will have ample opportunity to improve their roster through the NFL Draft.
And if Stephen Jones' recent comments mean anything, Dallas might be looking to take a tight end with their second round pick in April. And while the best tight ends in this upcoming class are underclassmen, there are some seniors who can make a name for themselves among Cowboys Nation.
So, let's take a look at the Senior Bowl rosters and identify three tight ends you should keep an eye on this week.
Dax Raymond, Utah State
If the Cowboys are looking to add a "modern" style tight end on day two of the NFL Draft, Dax Raymond just might be their guy.
At 6'5" 250 pounds, Raymond has impressive movement skills, looking rather fluid for a player of his size. The Cowboys have lacked a middle of the field seam-buster at tight end for quite some time, and there is reason to believe Raymond can become that guy.
With a wide catch radius and rather consistent hands, Raymond's ability as a pass catching tight end is not under much scrutiny. As a run blocker Raymond is inconsistent overall, but is certainly not a bad option as an in-line tight end. Personally, I believe Dalton Schultz will be a better run blocker over time, but Raymond can provide the flex ability as a receiver which Schultz might not have.
Foster Moreau, LSU
While Dax Raymond provides more as a receiving threat, the Cowboys should consider LSU's Foster Moreau if they are looking for some extra pass protection and run blocking for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
With blocking as his best trait, Moreau didn't offer all that much in terms of pass catching production at the collegiate level. And, beyond just college stats, Moreau's skillset isn't one of a modern pass catching tight end in the NFL either.
Still, the Cowboys should keep an eye on Moreau at the Senior Bowl. Despite what some may think, Dallas doesn't have a true blocking tight end, even if Schultz developed nicely throughout his rookie year. Most scouting reports cap Moreau's upside as a TE2, which could keep him off the Cowboys radar on draft day.
Josh Oliver, San Jose State
Let's get back to the pass catchers, shall we?
San Jose State's Josh Oliver is a height-weight-speed guy that should do well in the coming weeks. At 6'5" and 253 pounds Oliver moves well, and could make coaches believe he can be their big red zone target.
Catching 56 balls for over 700 yards and 4 touchdowns last season, Oliver clearly has the receiving skills Dallas may covet out of a tight end in this draft class. Oliver is a raw route runner, and needs to learn how to harness his overall athleticism into specific football ability, but his ball skills make him an intriguing prospect going forward.
Josh Oliver could also be used as a slot receiver in the Cowboys' scheme, attacking the middle of the field and being that seam buster which fans so badly desire.
Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts, a Pass Catching Theme Persists
The Dallas Cowboys haven't played the 2018 NFL season yet, but that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft and seeing what players the team will have their eye on this fall.
With the NFL season fast approaching, that means the college football season is as well, and as we look through these mocks, perhaps you get an idea of whom to watch with a Cowboys perspective this fall.
I scoured the internet looking for the best and brightest minds and their "way too early 2019 mocks." As I perused the mocks, one thing was clear. Many of the national writers see the Dallas Cowboys going with an offensive pass catcher in the 2019 NFL Draft. Namely a TE.
TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Noah Fant, from the University of Iowa, will be a junior in his 2019 season and as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage may not look all that impressive, but if we think about Iowa's offense in the Big 10, we can understand that he's not going to get many opportunities to catch the ball when the team is running it as often as they do.
In fact, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 10 more times per game than they threw it and their quarterback only completed - on average - 15 passes a game.
Fant accounted for 21% of the receiving yards on the season and 42% of the passing touchdowns. He was only 36 yards away from leading the team in receiving despite catching 21 fewer passes than leader Nick Easley. No other pass catcher for Iowa had more than four receiving touchdowns.
If there's something not to like at the moment about Fant, it's his size.
At the moment, College Football Reference has him listed at 232 pounds. There are running backs that weigh more than Fant does and he'll probably need to add about 10-20 pounds in the NFL to be an effective in-line blocker.
Mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by Dane Brugler of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com. In a mock draft he did for Sports Day DFW and the Dallas Morning News, he had this to say.
Dane Brugler - Sports Day DFW, Dallas Morning News
Eric Galko of The Sporting News selected the Iowa tight end to the Cowboys as well, seeing him as a special prospect that has the chance to fill the shoes of Jason Witten.
Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington also had Noah Fant to the Cowboys, thinking they are in need of a Jason Witten replacement.
DE Austin Bryant, Clemson
Depending on what Dallas can get out of Right Defensive Ends Tyrone Crawford, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, and Charles Tapper, it could have the Cowboys taking a defensive end in the first round for the second time in three years.
Will Brinson's mock doesn't offer much analysis on Bryant, mostly saying that Clemson is going to be good. But here's what Draftek.com's Brett Clancy, who covers the 49ers, had to say about Bryant:
"Clemson's Austin Bryant is the 4th EDGE off the board in this mock and 2nd from his school, but he's still well worth a mid-round pick. Bryant broke out with 8.5 sacks as a junior last year and many thought he'd go pro. I like Bryant's move to stay in school and refine his game, specifically growing a repertoire of pass rush moves to complement his strong edge-setting ability."
Brett Clancy - Draftek.com
Bryant was amazingly disruptive for the Clemson Tigers as a junior, racking up 50 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. At 6-5 265, he could come in and play right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys on day one.
DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama
We know that the Dallas Cowboys have an affinity for Power 5 prospects and Jason Garrett goes back with Nick Saban.
Despite that relationship, it hasn't led to many Alabama players being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, that should tell us something.
One other factor that could be in play with Davis is dependent upon who the defensive coordinator is in 2019. We all know that Rod Marinelli doesn't place premium draft value on defensive tackles, but prefers to find diamonds in the rough to develop.
If Kris Richard takes over as the defensive coordinator in 2019, the story could be a bit different. Seattle, with Richard at the defensive helm, selected defensive tackles in the second round of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to spend a first on a defensive tackle, this is the guy to do it on.
He was highly productive as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, racking up 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also had one interception that was returned for 19 yards. At 6-7 306 pounds, he has the size and frame to be an immediate impact player on the Dallas Cowboys interior.
If the Dallas Cowboys choose not to resign David Irving in the 2018 offseason and Maliek Collins doesn't take a step forward, then Davis becomes a real possibility.
Here's what Draftek's Cowboys analyst had to say about Raekwon Davis.
"Alabama's Raekwon Davis has played both DT and DE in the Crimson Tide's 3-man line. He can maintain his gaps against the run when needed, but his primary skill set is using his long arms and strong lower body to use a variety of pass rush moves to win with power and speed.
"One red flag on Davis happened 8/27/17: he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet during the wee hours of Sunday morning at a Tuscaloosa bar (Bar 17) where several shootings have occurred over the past few years. Despite HC Jason Garrett's affinity for Nick Saban coached players, this incident might remove him from the Dallas board."
Long Ball - Dratek.com
Interestingly, Draftek did a second round in this mock and they sent Boston College Safety Lukas Denis to the Dallas Cowboys.
S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Speaking of safeties, Dan Kadar over at SBNation sent one to the Dallas Cowboys in the form of Jaquan Johnson.
Johnson, from the University of Miami, was very productive in his junior season for the Hurricanes, racking up 96 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.
Here are Kadar's thoughts on the second team All-ACC player:
"There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro."
Dan Kadar - SB Nation
Obviously, this pick will depend on what happens with Earl Thomas over the next nine months and the development of Xavier Woods, but Johnson will be a name to watch for teams that need a safety.
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Another Hurricane to have on your NFL Draft radars is Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richard, who is going into his junior season at Miami.
The Dallas Cowboys have begun the process of overhauling their wide receiver corp with the departures of Dez Bryant and Brice Butler in the 2018 offseason. In 2019, it's likely that Terrance Williams (contract) and Cole Beasley (age) could be next to go.
That would leave them with Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson as their WR depth chart. It's certainly a solid group, but adding a talent like Richards could help.
The Draft Wire's Luke Easterling believes, "Richards would be another great addition with impressive size and speed."
In two seasons at Miami, Richards has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, and 68.65 yards per game. He's got deep-threat ability which would combine well with Gallup and Hurns.
WR Collin Johnson, Texas
If Richards doesn't do it for you, then lets head a couple of hours south of Dallas to the University of Texas and Wide Receiver Collin Johnson.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the Dallas Cowboys going with the junior wide receiver and had this to say:
"The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas' Collin Johnson at 6'6" can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.
"Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season."
Matt Miller - Bleacher Report
I'll agree with Miller that Johnson will need to increase upon his production. Some believe that the quarterback limitations in Austin have been a factor, but at the moment, I'm leery of taking a wide receiver from the Big 12 that doesn't have excellent production in the first round of the draft.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
It's obvious from these mock drafts that analysts see the Dallas Cowboys continuing to invest in pass catchers for their offense and that is a reasonable thought.
Obviously, a lot will change between now and next April when the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock, but this gives us a bit of insight on who to watch in this upcoming college football season.
What names will you be watching in college football this season?
Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?
Last night, it was reported that Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident comes from a traffic confrontation that took place back in October, where White -- according to his camp -- was justified in drawing his weapon for self-defense.
A promising young player that stuck on the Cowboys practice squad in his rookie season, the sixth round pick doesn't need this case hanging over his head as training camp approaches. When considering the timing up against this week's supplemental draft, and the rare crop of defensive back talent available in it, White could soon be fighting for relevance on the Cowboys roster.
Becoming complacent in building one of the best young secondaries in the league won't be an issue for the Cowboys under new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. The Cowboys were relying on White to be a depth option behind projected starters Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis.
White's spot on the depth chart may very well hold up, but by the end of the week he could also have added competition in Adonis Alexander or Sam Beal.
Respectively, the former Virginia Tech and Western Michigan cornerbacks are two of the most talented supplemental prospects to enter the draft in years -- both likely to be the first players drafted since 2015.
Alexander and Beal are also joined by Mississippi State Safety Brandon Bryant as another backup option for Dallas.
A lengthy cornerback with the toughness to play on the boundary, Alexander is a similar player to White, and one that Richard should love for his physical traits. Whether or not this natural skill outweighs some maturity issues that saw Alexander fall from freshman starter to suspended at VT will determine if the Cowboys feel comfortable sending away a 2019 draft pick for his services.
Where Alexander's career leaves his arrow trending downward on the eve of the supplemental draft, Beal is a rising prospect that some are calling the best to ever enter this draft.
An all-conference cornerback as a Junior out of Western Michigan, Beal improved with each passing college season, determined to finish out his degree along the way. However, once Beal's eligibility for his Senior season was called into question, the feisty 6'1" CB decided to turn towards the NFL.
Beal's professional football faith is now in the hands of any team that's done their homework on him. Projected to be taken as early as the third round, teams impressed by Beal's tape could be giving away a premium pick in next year's draft to add him just before training camp.
Should this team be the Cowboys, Beal's presence would put more than just White on notice. The Cowboys are also expecting corners like Duke Thomas and Kam Kelly to fight for roster spots. In a perfect world, say the one the Cowboys were living in yesterday before this White news broke, Thomas or Kelly could replace White on the practice squad as the Florida State product took another jump in Oxnard.
As I've written before though, teams must be relentless in their search for talent. The Cowboys have drafted well, but passed on big name free agents in recent years. The result is a young roster full of potential and ready to compete.
If either Adonis Alexander, Sam Beal, or even Brandon Bryant help them do so this year, we could be right here talking about a new Cowboys rookie in the middle of July. Marquez White would be happy to see this talk overshadow his legal situation for the moment.
This won't be the case when he's competing against another player that will likely cost the Cowboys more than the sixth round pick they invested in him two years ago.
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