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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Ranking Dallas’ Pre-Draft Visits at Safety

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Ranking Dallas' Pre-Draft Visits at Safety

A glance at the Dallas Cowboys pre-draft visits to date certainly doesn't hide the fact that they are committed to upgrading on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily for them, this draft will allow them to do that with a deep talent pool at some positions the Cowboys lack depth in like cornerback, defensive end, and safety.

With just eight days until the 2017 NFL Draft, I'll be ranking the players Dallas has visited with as I think they will by position. Let's start with the safeties.

1. Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut

Cowboys Interest in Obi Melifonwu Grows, UCONN Safety Takes Pre-Draft Visit

I've written pretty extensively about Obi Melifonwu - with a detailed scouting report available here - and his fit in the Cowboys' defense as another potential UCONN safety who tested incredibly well at the Combine.

In fact, the Dallas Cowboys have never drafted a safety that is taller, heavier, and with longer arms than Obi Melifonwu. Performing better at the Combine than he does on tape though, the bottom-of-the-first-round hype surrounding Melifonwu will likely put the Cowboys in a tough spot to grab Obi if he doesn't top their board with the 28th overall pick.

There are plenty of players I like at other positions more than Melifonwu for Dallas in the first round, but the potential to have him patrol the line of scrimmage as an athletic freak while his former college teammate and current star Byron Jones roams at free safety is an intriguing one - especially considering the fact that both players can flex to CB is absolutely needed.

Out of the safeties they've visited with, there is little doubt that the Cowboys really like Obi Melifonwu of Connecticut.

2. Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech

2017 Cowboys Draft Target: Louisiana Tech S Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods is another player that has generated a lot of buzz late in this draft process, warranted because of his ceiling as a free safety. Unlike Obi Melifonwu though, the Cowboys have never drafted a safety as short or light as Woods, nor one with shorter arms.

Still using a valuable pre-draft visit spot on Woods, the Cowboys could certainly still be interested in the Louisiana Tech product thanks to the flashes he makes on tape. By my evaluation, Xavier Woods is less of a direct replacement for either Barry Church or J.J. Wilcox - two safeties that left Dallas in free agency this offseason.

Instead, Woods is simply a solid all-around player with the instincts to react to the ball at all levels and stop ball carriers in their tracks. The Cowboys will also love the fact that the Senior captain defended 32 passes over his four years as a starter, intercepting 14.

With tons of room to grow into a reliable NFL starter, Woods could be the perfect target as soon as the 60th overall pick for Dallas.

3. Tedric Thompson, Colorado

2017 Cowboys Draft Target: Colorado’s S Tedric Thompson

Tedric Thompson checks every physical threshold for the Cowboys at safety, coming into this 2017 Draft out of a Colorado secondary that features multiple NFL prospects.

A later round safety that the Dallas Cowboys could target, Thompson's best trait is his ability to play as a center fielder with terrific range and the frame to defend passes with his long arms.

Right now, I don't think Tedric Thompson projects as an every-down safety in the NFL due to his struggles closer to the line of scrimmage and overall awareness in coverage concepts. Thompson can fill gaps against the run thanks to his quick feet with ease, but tackling at the point of attack is often an adventure with him dropping his eyes and lunging.

The Cowboys did get the most out of their safeties in 2016 by employing a rotation around Jones with Church, Wilcox, and at times Jeff Heath. To start his career, Tedric Thompson could become the perfect rotational safety in Dallas with a clear spot for him at the top of the depth chart should he impress in training camp.

I think the gap from Melifonwu to Woods in these rankings is slightly larger than the one from Woods down to Tedric Thompson.


This is how I see the Dallas Cowboys ranking the three safeties they've visited with before the 2017 NFL Draft. It would come as a surprise if this team did not come away with a safety at some point in this draft, and although just a three player sample size, you see how Will McClay and this front office have covered prospects that can be targeted at different times.

As we approach final preparations for the draft, I'll be posting similar positional rankings based on Dallas' visits right here at Inside The Star.

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



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Deebo Samuel vs. Stanley Morgan Jr.

There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.

I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.

Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…

Deebo Samuel

Stanley Morgan Jr.

Height 5'11" 6'0"
Weight 214 202
Arm length 31 3/8" 32 3/8"
Hand size 10" 9 7/8"
40-yard dash 4.48 4.53
20 yard shuffle 4.14 4.13
3 cone drill 7.03 6.78
Vertical jump 39" 38.5"
Broad jump 122" 125"
Bench 17 14

As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.

The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.

As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?

It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.

As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.

This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.

Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram

NAME: Johnathan Abram

POSITION: Safety

SCHOOL: Mississippi State

CONFERENCE: SEC

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 38

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 5' 11 3/8"

WT: 205

D.O.B.: 10/25/1996

Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2015 Georgia SEC FR S 8 11 14 25 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2017 Mississippi State SEC JR DB 12 43 28 71 5.0 2.0 0 0 0 5 0 2
*2018 Mississippi State SEC SR S 13 53 46 99 9.0 3.0 2 9 4.5 0 5 1 1
Career Overall 107 88 195 15.5 5.0 2 9 4.5 0 10 1 3
Georgia 11 14 25 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mississippi State 96 74 170 14.0 5.0 2 9 4.5 0 10 1 3

Highlights:

Johnathan Abram: Hardest Hitting Safety in College Football

Johnathan Abram, playing for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, is considered the hardest hitting safety in college football. He's top NFL prospect, who is projected to be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round(s) of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Pros:

Johnathan Abram's biggest strength as a safety prospect is his ability to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, which is why he's projected to be a strong safety in the NFL. Possesses the prototypical size for the position. He also has the ability and skill set to play a hybrid safety/linebacker role as well.

Abram is at his best when he's playing downhill and sideline to sideline against the run. His size, strength, and physicality allow him to stack and shed blocks like a linebacker. Aggressive tackler who is always looking to deliver a big hit. Also shows good technique to get his head across the ball carrier's chest while wrapping up to make the tackle.

Shows adequate range and speed in coverage. Is able to flip his hips and redirect to change direction quickly, but there is some stiffness there as well. Has the size and athletic ability to match up with tight ends. Shows an understanding of route recognition. His physicality in the run game carries over into the passing game.

Cons:

The biggest concern about Johnathan Abram's game is his ability, or lack thereof, in coverage. Whether it's an man or zone coverage, he struggles with his responsibilities and can be eaten alive by receivers who know what they're doing. This doesn't bode well for his transition to the NFL, which has become a heavy passing league.

His aggressive nature will get him into trouble in the passing game. Can be clunky in his transitions against good route runners. Will panic and grab when he's caught out of position, which has generated, or should have, flags being thrown. Lack of desired range will keep him from becoming a deep safety, making him a strong safety only.

Questionable ball skills. Only has two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in his career. Struggles locating the ball and doesn't show instincts or anticipation to jump routes. Can be too aggressive against the run, causing him to over pursue and create cutback lanes.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a hard-hitting strong safety who excels around the line of scrimmage, then Johnathan Abram is their guy. He is a heatseeking missile when playing downhill or sideline to sideline, and would play that Kam Chancellor type role on the backend of Kris Richard's defense. He has outstanding size and speed for the position, and is a more fluid athlete then he's given credit for. More of a "traditional" throwback safety.

Abram unfortunately struggles in coverage, despite showing good range and long speed. He may be nothing more than a box safety or nickel/dime linebacker in the NFL. This could hurt his chances of landing with the Cowboys, especially if they are looking for an interchangeable safety to pair with Xavier Woods. But, if there are looking for that "enforcer" type of player, they'd probably have to take him at 58 in the second-round because it's unlikely he will still be there when they're on the clock in the third-round.



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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys Make Trades in this 7-round Mock Draft

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Though we're still in the midst of the free agency frenzy that took hold this week, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing the grind toward the end of April as they look forward to the most important aspect of roster building for their franchise, the NFL Draft.

As we know by now, the Dallas Cowboys prefer to build their team through draft, supplement their roster with lower cost free agent signings, and retain their own players through contract extensions and resignings. As they get ready for the draft, they'll be exploring all opportunities to improve a roster that made it to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in 2018 with the hopes of advancing even further in 2019.

This is the first installment of mock drafts that you'll see from me here at Inside The Star, and like last year, I wanted to explore what some trade options might look like for the Dallas Cowboys. For this installment, I used Draftek's big board over with Fanspeak's On The Clock Premium Simulator. It allows for trades and allows you to select whether the simulation will use the same big board or multiple big boards to create more variables. I selected multiple, because that's closer to the reality of the NFL Draft. Every team has a unique big board that they're operating from.

All trades went through Draftek's Trade Value Chart, which is what the teams use when assigning value to draft picks.

58 - TRADE

58 to San Francisco for 67 and 86

Because the Cowboys don’t have a first round pick or a sixth round pick and this draft class is deep at several positions where the Cowboys could use some reisnforcements, they’re going into the draft looking to trade back with their first pick.

The San Francisco 49ers come calling and offer picks 67 (3.3) and 104 (4.2) for the 58th overall pick.

Per the trade value chart produced by Draftek, the Cowboys gain 21 points in value from the trade. It’s not a far trade back, as it’s only nine spots. Their ability to pick up an extra fourth is huge.

67 - Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama

With their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys select Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama.

Somewhat of a forgotten man on the Alabama defense, Miller exploded for eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his senior season with the Crimson Tide.

With Randy Gregory facing an indefinite suspension, the Cowboys could use some help on the opposite side of DeMarcus Lawrence that can provide pressure.

Check out The Draft Network's Scouting Report on Christian Miller.

90 - Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas

Admittedly, I’m not as high on Charles Omenihu as some others might be as a second round selection, but as a third rounder, I can see the value in drafting Omenihu to help fortify your defensive line.

The Texas Longhorn product has experience playing on the EDGE, 3-Tech, and 1-tech alignments, and would probably be best suited playing 3-Tech in the NFL.

He reminds me a bit of Tyrone Crawford in that he doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he finds ways to make plays.

He was a productive player at Texas finishing with 9.5 sacks in the season.

Back in February I wrote a film review on Omenihu.

104 - TRADE

104 to the Buffalo Bills for 112 and 131

In another trade back, the Cowboys sent pick 104 in the fourth round to the Buffalo Bills for their two fourth round picks, 112 and 131. Per the trade value chart, the Cowboys picked up 25 points in pick value by trading back eight spots.

112 - Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St.

The Dallas Cowboys could use a safety that can play in the box and Johnathan Abram from Mississippi St. could very well be the guy to line up next to Xavier Woods in the secondary.

In 2018, Abram recorded 99 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defenses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions.

In 2017, he recorded 71 total tackles, diver tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed.

Abram, who will be one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 visitors in preparation for the draft, was a splash player in the SEC.

128 - Rodney Anderson, RB,  Oklahoma

Were it not for the ACL injury suffered by Oklahoma Running Back Rodney Anderson, it’s possible we’re talking about a top 60 selection in this year’s draft. Anderson’s injury history, however, has him consistently available for the Cowboys in the fourth round.

As they look for a backup to Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to find a runner as productive and as talented as Anderson is without paying a premium price.

Like Elliott, Anderson’s a smooth runner, who is able to play through contact as well as make people miss in the open field.

For his career, Anderson averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns. His only full season with the Sooners, he rushed for 1161 yards on 188 attempts (6.2 yards per carry), 13 touchdowns, and caught 17 passes for 281 yards, and five more touchdowns. That’s a touchdown every 11.4 touches.

Prior to being lost for the season in week two against UCLA, Anderson was averaging 10.8 yards per carry.

Read Brian Martin's Draft Preview on Rodney Anderson.

131 - Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

Parris Campbell has the speed, quickness, and athleticism to be a threat both in the slot and on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys.

Admittedly, it’s not likely that a player with his athletic traits and production would be available in the fourth round, but in the NFL Draft, there are few guarantees.

Campbell recorded 90 receptions for 1,063 yards, and 23 touchdowns in his senior season with the Buckeyes. He'd be an excellent asset in the slot and on the outside as a speed threat for the Dallas Cowboys.

136 - Ben Banogu, EDGE/LB, TCU

You can never have too many pass rushers, and that’s what the Cowboys believe as they double-up on weakside EDGE players by selecting Ben Banogu from TCU in the fourth round.

Banogu was a very productive player for the Hirned Frogs. For his junior and senior seasons, Banogu averaged 8.5 sacks and 17.25 tackles for loss.

At 6-4, 249, he brings good length to the position and has the frame to add a bit more bulk to help him set the edge in the NFL.

165 - Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA

Count me as one who’s excited about the possibility of Blake Jarwin developing into a starting tight end for the Cowboys. He certainly showed over the last half of the season that he’s capable, just needs more experience and playing time. That said, despite the addition of Jason Witten, the Cowboys should still look to add a tight end in the draft, and here’s a good one in UCLA product, Caleb Wilson.

In 11 games for the Bruins in 2918, Wilson caught 60 passes for 965 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception in the PAC 12.

If there’s a knock on Wilson, it’s that he has had some injury struggles in his collegiate career. He has potential to be a move tight end in the NFL with his receiving ability.

241 - Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor

There are few prospects that can be had around the fifth round or later that are as intriguing as Baylor Wide Receiver Jalen Hurd.

The first three years of his collegiate career, Hurd played running back for the University of Tennessee and averaged about 4.6 yards per carry. In his freshman season, he ran for 899 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 221 yards receiving on 35 catches and two more touchdowns.

When he transferred to Baylor for his senior season, the Bears coaching staff converted him to wide receiver and he flourished. In 12 games, Hurd caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears also used him as a runner and he gained 209 yards on 48 carries for three more touchdowns.

In his four year career, he averaged 1,070 yards from scrimmage on 193 touches for 8.25 touchdowns. That’s at two different positions and two different schools.

at 6-4, 217 pounds, Hurd has the size to play receiver in the NFL. He has the ability to play both inside and outside and can give you some snaps out of the backfield as well.

Check out Brian Martin's film review on Jalen Hurd.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This is just one of many scenarios that could take place when the NFL Draft rolls around at the end of April. The possibilities are endless. The Cowboys have several needs on the offensive and defensive side of the football and this draft has players that can fill those areas of need throughout. Obviously, they'll look to draft the best player available when they come on the clock, and these could very well be players that end up with a star on their helmet in 2019.

How would you feel about the Cowboys drafting any of these guys?



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