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Cowboys Draft: Quarterback Prospects & Strategies

Tommy Simon

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Cowboys Headlines - Draft Prospects and Strategies for Quaaterbacks

This is the last of my position by position review of the players and strategies that the Cowboys will be analyzing. Of course we saved the best for last and today we will look at the QB prospects.

If you have read my previous articles, you know that I expected the Cowboys to add a free agent for the backup QB role. Since most of the viable free agents are taken, it looks more and more like the Cowboys will take a QB in the draft with an early pick.

Before we look at the various prospects, here are some of the attributes that are important when analyzing the QB position. Typically I look at:

  1. Accuracy – Can they consistently put the ball where they want to put it
  2. Intelligence – Do they understand what the offense is trying to do
  3. Pre-Snap Read – Do they understand what the defense is doing before the ball is snapped
  4. Vision – Do they see what the defense is doing during the play
  5. Calmness – Does the game slow down for them
  6. Pocket Presence – Do they feel pressure, move up in pocket and keep eyes downfield
  7. Arm Strength – Can the make all of the throws
  8. Quick Release – Does the ball get out of their hands quickly
  9. Leader – Does the team rally around them. Do they trust and are confident in the QB
  10. Character/Work Ethic – Are they the right kind of guy

Now let’s take a look at some of the prospects that will be available to the boys.

Jared Goff

Strengths

  • Smart, well coached quarterback
  • Good leader, team seems to rally around him
  • Poised, calm, confident
  • Calm in the pocket, can walk up into the pocket while keeping eyes down field
  • Good mechanics and footwork.
  • Over the top, quick release.
  • Good eye discipline to look off defenders
  • Understands defensive concepts and can make reads pre-snap
  • Nice touch, throws a catchable ball
  • Can make every throw. Accuracy at all levels
  • Puts the ball on receiver in stride to max out YAC
  • Protects the ball, he does not throw too many picks
  • Is mobile enough to take off and run when needed
  • Tough, will stand in the pocket and delivery throw even when being hit

Weaknesses

  • Thin, could be injury prone at next level
  • Needs to get stronger
  • For first rounder, does not have elite arm strength
  • Can try to force balls rather then throw them away
  • With his accuracy and the system he was in, I am not sure why his percentage was not higher
  • Can he read complex defenses he will face as an NFL starter

Summary

    • Should be a starter in the NFL
    • Polished, confident leader that will get the team to support him
    • Can make the throws in the NFL, but can he read the defenses
    • For Cowboys, he would be a potential Romo replacement
    • I have him as a top 10 player

Carson Wentz

Strengths

  • Looks the part of a NFL QB. Tall frame with broad shoulders.
  • Is also a good leader that that can get a team behind him
  • Poised, calm, confident
  • Smart, understands the game
  • Good mobility for his size
  • Good mechanics and footwork.
  • Quick release
  • Can make every throw. Good arm strength
  • Can progress from rout to rout
  • Gives his receivers a chance
  • Protects the ball, he does not throw too many picks
  • Is mobile and can take off and run when needed

Weaknesses

  • Has not played against top caliber competition
  • Has a gunslinger mentality
  • Makes up his mind on routes pre-snap. Misses open receivers too often because of it
  • Can lock onto receivers. Will cause picks in NFL.
  • Can he read complex defenses he will face as an NFL starter?

Summary

    • Should be an eventual starter in the NFL
    • Polished, confident leader that will get the team to support him
    • Can make the throws in the NFL, but can he read the defenses?
    • For Cowboys, he would be a potential Romo replacement
    • I have him as a top 20 player

Paxton Lynch

Strengths

  • Great arm strength
  • Really good mobility for his size
  • Tall; can survey the field more easily than most
  • Tough, took big hits and kept coming
  • Throws well on the run or in pocket. Makes him a versatile threat if OCs that can take advantage
  • Quick release
  • Smart, understands what offense is trying to do
  • Good eye discipline. Can move safety and can move from route to route
  • Can slide in pocket to buy time and avoid edge rush
  • Is mobile and can take off and run when needed

Weaknesses

  • Needs to play under balance with better footwork and bend.
  • Needs to protect ball better. Will try to force throws.
  • Takes a lot of sacks; probably because he thinks he can scramble and get out of it.
  • Can lock onto receivers. Will cause picks in NFL.
  • Some teams confuse him on his pre snap reads.

Summary

    • Should be an eventual starter in the NFL
    • Athletically he is as god as anyone, but needs to focus on his mechanics and reads
    • He will fit some offensive schemes very well
    • Potential Romo replacement but not sure he fits the Cowboy scheme
    • I have him as a top 40 player

Connor Cook

Strengths

  • Competitor, has the fire to win
  • Good size and arm strength
  • Polished, understands route progressions and combinations
  • Good eyes when in pocket. Can ready multiple route combinations
  • Generally good accuracy at all levels. Can throw deep, In, comeback and back shoulder effectively.
  • Reads defense well pre-snap
  • Doesn’t panic when team gets down. Keeps his cool and competes.
  • Traditional NFL QB

Weaknesses

  • Needs to complete a better percentage
  • Takes eyes off of receivers when scrambling
  • Can panic in pocket. Moves when he has time.
  • Will force throws
  • Every now and then he sails a ball. Always dangerous and will hurt him in NFL. Needs to eliminate the really bad throw
  • Can lock onto receivers
  • Throws off balance under pressure

Summary

    • Could be an eventual starter in the NFL, but will need to eliminate the errant throws that sail
    • Is a prototypical NFL type QB, but needs to calm in the pocket
    • Has the physical skills, but does he have the mental and leaderships skills necessary to lead
    • For Cowboys, he would be potential Romo’s replacement if he can  improve his consistency and accuracy
    • I have him as a top 75 player

Dak Prescott

Strengths

  • A leader
  • Tough and physical
  • Athletic and Mobile
  • Protects the football
  • The “right kind of guy”
  • Smart, a good football IQ
  • Can work through progressions to find open receiver
  • Good eyes. Keeps safeties at bay
  • Give you a short down option for short yardage and goal line
  • Above average arm strength

Weaknesses


  • His weakness is lack of consistency and accuracy throwing the ball. This inconsistency begins with his footwork
  • Needs to learn to throw the entire route tree
  • Pre-determines which route to throw pre-snap. Causes him to miss open receivers and throw into double coverage.

Summary

    • Should have a long term career in the NFL, but will probably be a career backup.
    • Athletically he is as god as anyone, but needs to focus on his mechanics and reads in pass game
    • He does provide a weapon on short downs and goal lines.For Cowboys, he would be Romo’s backup eventually but not sure he is the long term replacementI have him rated as a top 90 player

Christian Hackenberg

Strengths

  • Arm talent. Can make every throw
  • Has the swagger of a NFL QB
  • A good team leader. Confident.
  • Has the size and toughness to stand in and take hits
  • Good technique and footwork
  • Can move in pocket to buy time
  • Will give his receivers opportunities to make plays
  • Durable
  • Competitive and resilient

Weaknesses

  • Is awful throwing the deep patterns. I saw three games where he did not complete a pass that travelled over 20 yards. Much better in screen and slant game.
  • Will just have throws that sail on him for no reason. Has far too many of these. Accuracy is an issue.
  • Has good footwork until he gets in trouble and then bails out.
  • Needs better movement skills in pocket.
  • Does not see field well. No progression.
  • Predetermines throws before he leaves the huddle. Too many open receivers missed.

Summary

    • A risk/reward pick. It is hard to grade him because I have not seen another QB being hit as often as he was. Think he is getting into bad techniques because of pounding.
    • Could be an eventual starter in the NFL, but will need to rebuild him. He needs to begin with the basics and work his way through defenses.
    • Has the physical and leadership skills, but does he have the timing, accuracy, and consistency needed?
    • For Cowboys, if he improves he would potential be Romo’s replacement, but that is a long shot.
    • I have him as a top 120 player

Cardale Jones

Strengths

  • Big man, hard to arm tackle
  • Strong arm. They call him 12 gauge, what else do you need to know about his arm strength
  • Good touch for a big arm. Throws a catchable ball.
  • Remains calm in the pocket, he does not panic
  • Can scramble when he needs to. No Cam, but effective.
  • Gives a team a short and goal line threat immediately
  • Confident, will give his receivers opportunities
  • Traditional NFL QB with vertical offense

Weaknesses

  • Waits to long to throw deep ball. He thinks he is going to out throw the receiver and because of this he waits too long to let it go. Too many deep balls wind up woefully short
  • Waits until receiver is open to throw it. Usually too late by then. Needs to get feel for throwing receiver open.
  • Determines who he is throwing to in huddle way too often. Is not progressing through reads
  • Will force throws because of arm strength. Most make it through, but there are a few that….
  • Can lock eyes onto receivers
  • Throws off balance too often

Summary

    • A risk/reward pick. My have the most upside of any pick, but also has the highest risk of failing
    • Could be an eventual starter in the NFL, but will need a lot of work understanding the offense and learning to progress through reads
    • Has the physical skills, but does he have the timing, accuracy, and ability to read defenses?
    • He is the QB with the most upside in the draft. If I were the Cowboys, he is who I would try to get and see if you can fix his flaws and improve his strengths.
    • Needs to improve to be potential Romo replacement
    • I have him as a top 130 player

Brandon Allen

Strengths

  • Intangibles. A leader that team rallies behind.
  • Never feels out of the game. Confident no matter the score.
  • Throws with accuracy and anticipation.
  • Uses eyes well. Keeps safeties at bay, can progress from route to route.
  • Remains calm in the pocket, he does not panic.
  • Has feel for when to scramble and make a big play
  • Throws a very catchable ball
  • Has great touch

Weaknesses

  • Smaller in stature with small hands
  • Will throw balls into coverage
  • Stares down receivers
  • Struggles reading complex defenses.

Summary

  • A solid leader that has limited upside.
  • Likely a career backup
  • Has a feel for the game, but does he have the physical size and strength
  • I think he would be a viable option for the Cowboys to develop. he will get better with experience. He will not ever replace Romo, but could be an effective backup in a couple of years.
  • I have him as a top 150 player

The Cowboys could go with a quarterback in the first round, either Goff or Wentz, if they believe one of them will be the QB of the future. If this happens, you can count on Tony Romo being the quarterback for three years or less. However, Jerry Jones does not sound convinced that that will be the case. Therefore, I would not expect to see this happen.

After all, why spend an early first round pick on a player that may never see the field?

In the second round, there will be options available. Lynch may fall, and Connor Cook should be available. I don’t think the Cowboys have that high of a grade on Cook though and I think Lynch will be gone in the first, so I don’t think the Cowboys will pick up a QB in the second round.

The third round is a possibility, particularly if Connor Cook is still available. Prescott may also be an option in the third but most other QBs will not grade out at a third round level.

In the fourth round, things open up. Hackenberg, Jones and Allen could go in the fourth. These are developmental quarterbacks that could be viable options for the Cowboys to nurture and groom.

Or they may have a raw QB that they believe they can nurture. Perhaps a small school guy? If the Cowboys have not drafted a QB by the 6th round, expect them to take a flier on a physically gifted but relatively unknown QB.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. Look for my next article conceiving draft scenarios later this week. Until then...


Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

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NFL Draft

2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

Brian Martin

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2020 RB Options for Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.

Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.

This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.

Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:

The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.

Let's take a look…

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor

Wisconsin Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.

Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.

D'Andre Swift, Georgia

D'Andre Swift

Georgia Bulldogs RB D'Andre Swift

D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.

Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.


J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins

Ohio State Buckeyes RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.

Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Travis Etienna

Clemson Tigers RB Travis Etienna

The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.

Najee Harris, Alabama

Najee Harris

Alabama Crimson Tide RB Najee Harris

Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.

Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.

Honorable Mention

The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.

  • Cam Akers, Florida State
  • Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
  • Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
  • Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
  • Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.

Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?


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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.

One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.

At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.

A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.

In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.


But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?

The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.

Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.

Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.


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NFL Draft

Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class

Brian Martin

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Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class

The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.

You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.

The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.

Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:

  • DT, Trysten Hill
  • RB, Tony Pollard
  • RB, Mike Weber
  • WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
  • CB, Chris Westry

If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.


The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.

I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.

After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.

This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.

It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.

Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?


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