The Dallas Cowboys are sure to get more and more national media attention as we inch closer to the draft, as a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations now holds a top 5 pick at #4 overall. While Dallas has said little about their intentions at the pick, outside of Jerry Jones claiming the team will not take a QB (let's remember, draft season always starts with rumors), the national writers in the past few days have attempted to fill out the team's draft card - hyping up the idea of Ezekiel Elliott being our selection.
Let's start with this - I absolutely love Ezekiel Elliott as a prospect. In fact, I am terrified of the thought of him potentially landing to the Giants in the first round at 10th overall. That said, I do not want to see the fourth overall pick be used by the Cowboys to select a running back - as good as Elliott may be.
Darren McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards this season for Dallas, proving that - while blown out of proportion before the season - the Dallas offensive line was indeed capable of turning a career average-at-best running back into a very good one.
In fact, McFadden was fourth in the league in rushing this season while serving as the Cowboys best offensive weapon for most of the year.
Ezekiel Elliott, in his final season at Ohio State, rushed for 1,821 yards. Now, let's assume that Elliott sees a boost of about 100 yards to that number in Dallas thanks to the offensive line. That gives you a rookie season of 1,921 yards. While that is far and away good enough to top any rusher from this past season, it is just 732 yards more than what McFadden produced last season.
Again, that is also with McFadden being the primary option for the Cowboys, and running against stacked boxes on a regular basis. Bringing Tony Romo back in 2016 could do wonders for McFadden. To show this, we can adjust some numbers in our tests.
Let's say that 16 games of McFadden and Romo results in an additional 200 yards for DMC next season. Now the gap from him to Elliott is a much more manageable 532 yards.
532 rushing yards is nothing to laugh at, but is it an upgrade you are willing to spend the fourth overall pick on?
Now, of course, the major flaw in the case for McFadden here is that 2016 will be his contract year and his time as a top back even with the Cowboys is likely limited to just a few years past 2016 - should he have his contract extended.
Elliott would consistently put up the numbers given above, but so would another back in this draft. Meet Devontae Booker, a running back out of Utah.
In his final season in the PAC-12, Booker rushed for 1,261 yards. This figure brings us to just under 600 yards from Elliott's 2015 production, and by applying the same process of adding yards to both Elliott and Booker by virtue of being in Dallas, the gap closes to anywhere between 500 and the above 600.
From the first example, we landed on an additional 532 yards provided by Elliott as not being worthy of a fourth overall pick. Not only does this second plan get the Cowboys off of a running back at four, but it gives them a later round option that perhaps even makes that differential smaller in Booker!
I have already written about the prospect of Booker having his name called for the Cowboys right here, but by running some numbers on the matter it makes even more sense. Below is the full scouting report here on Inside The Star for Devontae Booker, which goes into great depth explaining the reasons why I would love to see him with a star on his helmet. His field vision, balance, and power are all on display in this scouting report:
In a way it is odd, to see the national media support an idea solely because they feel it would significantly improve the Cowboys. Since when are we the team that other people WANT to see win? It is certainly strange, and we will certainly be doing plenty of winning come 2016, but it will hopefully also be with Devontae Booker - not Ezekiel Elliott - in the backfield.
Instead, the fourth overall pick could be used on any number of positional improvements, whether it be the secondary, defensive line, wide receivers, or quarterbacks.
What do you think of Booker joining the Cowboys backfield? If not Elliott, who should Dallas draft in the first round? Let's talk about it! Tweet to @ShoreSportsNJ, or leave a comment below!
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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