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Cowboys Draft: Ranking Dallas’ Pre-Draft Visits at Defensive End

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Ranking Dallas' Pre-Draft Visits at Defensive End

If you’re cramming for the 2017 NFL Draft like I am for finals, you likely already know that you can sound smart in any Cowboys circle by simply bringing up Dallas’ need at defensive end. Some of the top names in this draft class are pass rushers, with Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett expected to be the first overall pick.

Our Staff Writer Kevin Brady has done a great job breaking down the defensive end talent that could be available for the Cowboys with the 28th overall pick, first by hypothetically constructing their board at the position and more recently narrowing the talent pool at DE down to four players.

While this ranking will cover more than four players, it will not include defensive ends that the Cowboys have not had pre-draft visits with – a solid indication of their interest in a prospect.

It’s not just draft season, it is the week of Football Christmas. Let’s rank some players.

Charles Harris

1. Charles Harris, Missouri

The Dallas Cowboys’ connection to Charles Harris has been one of the more sustained team-prospect links over this draft process. Missouri has produced waves of talented pass rushers at the next level, and their latest in Charles Harris is almost perfectly built for Rod Marinelli’s scheme at RDE.

WATCH: Missouri DE Charles Harris’ High Character, RKG Behavior Could Attract Cowboys

With a go-to spin move that Harris can win on day one with along with a violent inside counter, the impact Charles Harris can have off the weak side edge in Dallas is clear-cut – with room to grow as an all-around defender.

Harris’ ability to be a feared pass rusher with the Cowboys at the position they’ll need him the most puts him at the top of my pre-draft DE rankings.

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2. Malik McDowell, Michigan State

Is Michigan State’s Malik McDowell Worth the Risk for Dallas?

When he wants to be, Malik McDowell is a top player in this class that has no business even being discussed with the 28th overall pick. His inconsistent effort at Michigan State however – which has been tied to the team’s overall lack of success, injuries to McDowell, and even reports that he played through late growing pains in 2016 – has put him right in the middle of the Cowboys’ consideration.

McDowell, if motivated the right way by defensive line guru Rod Marinelli, could quickly become the steal of this draft for the Cowboys. From the moment he steps on the field, Malik can play as an athletic RDE, disruptive 3T DT, and immensely strong LDE.

Part of the reason I also think the Cowboys are in a good position to tap into McDowell’s elite potential is that their current starter at 3T DT, second-year player Maliek Collins, appears to already be slotted in to McDowell’s best position for some time. Malik would have to earn his snaps in Dallas, but if he does, you’ll never see him leave the field.

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3. T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

While Harris’ buzz with America’s Team has been ongoing, the recent push for T.J. Watt by Cowboys Nation has been deafening. First and foremost, yes, Watt is the younger brother of Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt.

In only one full-year on the defensive side of the ball, Watt flashed all the traits to be a quick-developing sack master in the NFL at Wisconsin – recruited originally by the Badgers as a TE and missing all of 2014 and parts of 2015 with separate knee surgeries.

If the Cowboys can put his injury history behind them, there is no doubt that T.J. Watt will be high on their list of pass rushing targets in the first round as – like Harris – he can make a difference on the edge with his quickness and power to work underneath offensive tackles on day one while developing even further as a defensive end.

Takkarist McKinley

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4. Takk McKinley, UCLA

Another talented and budding pass rusher that the Cowboys have shown interest in is UCLA’s Takk McKinley. Jerry Jones’ “war daddy” remark has help up through this draft process in Dallas’ search for a feared pass rusher, as has his all-important note that the Cowboys can’t be afraid to take some reasonable risks in adding an impact defensive end.

Takk McKinley’s shoulder injury may cause him to miss some time through his first training camp, but in the long run he is one of the most explosive players in this deep DE pool off of both edges.

Capable of winning the corner and finishing off the right edge or patiently reading the run on the strong side, McKinley slides into these pre-draft rankings just behind three ready-to-go players in Charles Harris, Malik McDowell, and T.J. Watt.

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5. Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: DE Derek Barnett

Derek Barnett’s draft profile was one of the first I wrote to begin this long 2017 draft process. While I personally love the player, I believe the Cowboys view him as a solid left end – hurting his stock in Dallas’ pursuit of their first true feared right end since DeMarcus Ware.

With that said, I also think the gap on this hypothetical board between McKinley and Barnett is razor-thin. McKinley will have a better chance to last until the 28th overall pick as well, as Barnett has all of the traits along with the production in breaking Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee to be long gone in the top 15 picks.

The Cowboys should be fortunate to even find themselves in position to pass on Derek Barnett on Thursday, but I believe they would for any of the players listed above.

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6. Taco Charlton, Michigan

Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: Michigan DE Taco Charlton

If Derek Barnett is a left defensive end on the Dallas Cowboys’ board that can flex to the right side, Taco Charlton is a true left end that can excel in an area the Cowboys are already pretty well-covered at for his position.

Despite looking the part, Charlton is limited as a pass rusher and leaves a lot of plays on the field off the edge as he’ll either struggle to snap the corner or generate enough power to shed his block and run to the ball with high pad level.

A very solid option against the run, Charlton falls behind five other pass rushers on this list, making it hard to imagine a scenario where he is indeed the pick at 28th overall.

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7. Tarell Basham, Ohio

Why The Cowboys’ Meetings With DE Tarell Basham Seem To Be Justified

Unlike any other defensive end on this list, Ohio’s Tarell Basham is a target the Cowboys could see in the second round. Generating some buzz from other teams at the back end of the first round, Basham may be the perfect player to trade down for and gain more picks in the Cowboys war room.

A small-school prospect that has managed to generate some well deserved hype, Basham can also play off of both edges with a consistent get off to capture the corner. Tarell Basham excels at using his long arms to generate power and push into the backfield before shedding and finishing at the football with consistency.

Basham may not be a day one “war daddy” in the NFL, but he would be a great start to a Cowboys draft that includes gaining extra picks to use towards the defense while trading down for his services at DE.

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8. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova

Scouting Cowboys Draft Target Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon

The best case scenario for the Cowboys landing Kpassagnon in this draft is if they’ve already landed one of the seven players ranked above. Kpassagnon has some intriguing traits to warrant a later round pick, but his glaring inconsistency on the edge paired with the concerns that come with Villanova’s level of competition take him out of consideration to really “move the needle” when it comes to Dallas getting to the quarterback anytime soon.

Relying on sheer strength and power with some rarely seen bend, Kpassagnon allows tackles to get his hands inside and steer him out of plays too often. If he continues to develop with his consistent pad level and increasing strength, Kpassagnon can find NFL snaps – but it won’t be as anyone opposing offensive coordinators lose sleep over while preparing to face the Cowboys.

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This is how I see the Cowboys ultimately ranking the eight defensive ends they have gotten to know better than the rest with pre-draft visits. Unlike the rankings for these three safety prospects, you see that Will McClay and the Dallas brass is more committed to addressing the need for a pass rusher early in this draft.

The real fun will begin as some of these players inevitably come off the board before pick #28, playing us into a situation where we can find out once and for all how this team has some of these edge players graded – potentially opting to look at a first round CB or S.

One thing is pretty certain when looking over the Cowboys full list of pre-draft visits, and it is that Dallas is all-in on upgrading defensively. Part of this plan could very well include one of the above pass rushers.

 

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Draft: Ranking Dallas’ Pre-Draft Visits at Defensive End” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments
  • John Williams

    Any one of those first four guys at 28, I’m in for. Otherwise, give me Kevin King.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      I would gladly go as far as five to Barnett, but then I’m definitely looking at defensive backs in the first round.

NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller A Needed Weapon For Cowboys
AP Photo / Jessica Hill

Slotted to pick 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in position to add a first-round talent to a team that fell just short of the playoffs at 9-7 in 2017. Faltering entirely on offense without RB Ezekiel Elliott too many times this season, it’s hard to argue this asset is not best spent on new talent at WR.

The Cowboys haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2010, trading up for Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. Frequent injuries and the inability to develop with QB Dak Prescott have diminished Bryant’s status as a star receiver in Dallas, and it may be time to overhaul the position entirely.

After scouting Memphis WR Anthony Miller, he may be just what the Dallas Cowboys need. Let’s take a closer look at his fit in the Cowboys’ offense in the first draft-season edition of Sean’s Scout.

WR Anthony Miller 2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

With 96 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season at Memphis, Senior WR Anthony Miller is one of the top players at his position in the 2018 NFL Draft. These inflated numbers in the Tigers’ pass-happy offense do little to highlight Miller as a next level prospect…

This film clip and quote from my full scouting report on Miller shows the pure play-making ability Miller has. Miller wouldn’t fill the Cowboys need for an over-the-top burner at WR, but he has no problem tracking the ball with ease and adjusting in the air to make big plays down the field.

…Miller is as tough of a cover as you’ll find thanks to his explosive and concise release off the line.

Anthony Miller is certainly a “Dak-friendly” pass catcher, as he possesses the catch radius to snag passes away from his frame using his exceptionally strong hands. Even when he is covered, Miller is open vertically.

With that said, Miller has more than enough ability to separate with good initial quickness and elite balance through his routes.

WR Anthony Miller 4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…he wastes no time accelerating through the secondary, and running with a powerful stride that makes it difficult to bring him down.

There may be better technical route runners in this draft class, but few set up defenders as consistently well as Miller — who has the production to match these NFL traits.

A willing run blocker too, Miller could walk into Dallas and immediately earn snaps as an X, Z, or Y receiver. Miller’s best fit to start his career is likely as a Z receiver, drawing less attention in coverage while being allowed to run a full route tree.

…Miller gets on cornerbacks in a hurry, setting them up with his fluidity and size to track the football through contact.

A potential replacement for Terrance Williams with the Cowboys, Miller is somewhat of a similar player in the way he wins with mostly size.

The Memphis product would still be an upgrade over Williams though, as it is much easier to get the ball in Miller’s hands. Add in the red-zone ability that Anthony Miller has to box out defenders, and the run-after-catch burst as an inside target, and Miller is a weapon the Cowboys could desperately use.

WR Anthony Miller 1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…I found myself constantly impressed with the speed at which Miller gets up the field when taking the ball underneath.

Miller will have nothing but opportunities to raise his draft stock over the coming months. He will be at this month’s Senior Bowl, receiving NFL-level coaching to refine his game. The Scouting Combine will also be critical for Miller’s testing numbers to confirm the athlete seen on tape dominating at Memphis will take the next step.

Earning a second round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, there is a chance the Cowboys have to use their first round pick if they truly want Anthony Miller in Silver and Blue. A very complete player that fills a need, Miller as the Cowboys first pick could make plenty of sense in April.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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NFL Draft

Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL?

Brian Martin

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Due to growing concerns about Tyron Smith‘s availability and future health, due to reoccurring back injuries, there seems to be a growing consensus among Dallas Cowboys fans that there’s a need to draft an offensive lineman with the first-round pick. But, is it actually a need, or would it be more of a luxury?

There is legitimate concern about Tyron Smith and his future health.

Back injuries have a way of flaring up at the most inopportune times. It’s also not an injury that’s going away anytime soon, if ever. This is the unknown the Cowboys are faced with heading into the off-season, and it could end up having a major impact on the direction they go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

There seems to be a growing consensus around Cowboys Nation that the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider selecting the best available offensive tackle with the 19th overall pick.

There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Tyron Smith’s health concerns, and
  2. the need to upgrade the swing tackle position after watching Byron Bell and Chaz Green play in 2017.

But, the question remains: is drafting yet another offensive lineman in the first-round a luxury or need for the Dallas Cowboys?

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument. So, let’s break it down a little and examine each.

Luxury

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys have already invested an enormous amount of resources to build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

They’ve spent three first-round draft picks to acquire Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, two of which have already received long-term extensions with Martin waiting in the wings.

That’s a lot of money devoted to one position, which ultimately means the Cowboys have to go cheaper in other areas in order to fit under the salary cap. This is the money that would be used in free agency to acquire some of those higher-priced free agents fans are always hankering for.

It also can be used to re-sign some of the Cowboys players at other positions, such as DeMarcus Lawrence.

But, it’s not only the money that makes drafting a first-round OL a luxury.

Four out of five of the Cowboys OL are already pretty much set in stone. The left guard position is really the only unoccupied position right now, but that could be filled rather easily. This, of course, is assuming Tyron Smith stays healthy, but regardless, he is the starting left tackle when the 2018 season begins.

Need

Byron Bell

Dallas Cowboys OL Byron Bell

There’s no reason to believe Tyron Smith will be able to play an entire 16-game season going forward. The last two seasons he has had to sit out several games due to injuries, and unfortunately his back issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Dallas doesn’t have an adequate backup, which was proven on more than one occasion in 2017. Hence the need.

With the exception of the quarterback, the left tackle position is arguably the most important on offense. They protect the QB’s blindside and are largely responsible for keeping him healthy and upright.

There’s a reason they are drafted so highly and paid so handsomely: they are that important to a team’s success.

There was also a reason the Dallas Cowboys offense started to sputter once Tyron Smith started missing time. Opposing defenses no longer respected the Cowboys LT, and started putting their best pass rusher on that side to get after Dak Prescott.

Prescott ended up having happy feet and it had a ripple effect throughout the entire offense, and not in a good way.

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Quite honestly, I think it would be a luxury to draft any kind of offensive lineman with the Cowboys’ first-round selection, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that’s the direction they went. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument.

But, if they stick to the draft board and an OL is their highest rated player there, I say go for it.

The only thing we can do is have faith that the Dallas Cowboys know more about Tyron Smith’s health and his availability to play then we do as fans. If they decide to draft an offensive lineman early, I think we should all take that as an indication that they are worried about Smith, at least a little bit.

Luxury or Need: Do the Cowboys draft a first-round OL?

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NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition
James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys football team has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. Sure, that’s pretty sad to say as a die-hard Cowboys fan, but it should make for a very interesting offseason. This front office needs to find a way to add talent in the draft, and probably in free agency as well, all while finding ways to keep Anthony Hitchens, DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, and extending Zack Martin.

Maybe they’re not able to achieve everything, but as long as they don’t lose all of these guys, they should be fine. We may even see a surprising release or trade. It sure would be interesting to see this team release Dez Bryant, for example.

Last year, Dallas lost Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Ronald Leary… among others. But what do these four guys have in common? They all resulted in compensatory picks for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Including the expected Compensatory Picks that the Cowboys will receive for their Free Agents that signed with other teams in 2017, the Cowboys should have the following picks in the 2018 Draft:

The Cowboys got two additional fourths and two fifths. After trading up to get Xavier Woods in 2017, Dallas had no original fifth rounders for this year’s draft.

This is a front office that avoids making “big splashes” in free agency and in the draft lately, but I wonder if they’ll at least explore trading possibilities this time.

With three fourth-round picks and two fifths, they should have more than enough ammunition.

Will McClay Discusses 2016 Cowboys Draft Class, Looks Ahead to 2017

Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, Will McClay

This team has done a nice job in the last few drafts, and with Will McClay staying for at least one more year, they might as well try to get everything they can out of their draft picks. After all, Dak Prescott himself was a fourth-round compensatory pick.

Even still, I would like to see this team do something out of the ordinary.

Whether it’s trading up to get a well-fitting player who might otherwise go before their pick, or if it’s to get another team’s player, it would be interesting to see this front office pull the trigger on an interesting trade.

Sometimes it’s surprising what NFL teams can get with late round picks.

The Buffalo Bills traded away Marcell Dareus for only a sixth-round pick less than a year ago. I mean, how would you have felt if Dallas had gotten Dareus for just a sixth rounder? I would’ve been completely fine with it, to be honest.

The Cowboys have enough ammunition to consider pulling a trade-off in free agency or the NFL Draft.

We may not like the coaching, but in the past few years, this front office has done a good job when it comes to team-building.

We were all frightened when we saw the defensive players that were leaving in the secondary, and a season later, the young defensive backs are one of the reasons why we’re very optimistic about this team’s future.

So if they decide to keep their picks to themselves, I’d say it’ll be worth it, too.

After a sad season, at least we have an intriguing offseason ahead of us to keep us entertained.

Tell me what you think about “The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition” 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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