With only 16 days to go until the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, a plethora of information will be coming at you as teams and analysts try to sort out just what will happen as the draft plays out. By this point in the draft process, typically the first overall pick is fairly settled, but this year even that is a question. So, trying to figure out what the Dallas Cowboys are going to do at pick 58 is an impossible process.
The Cowboys give us some insight with their pre-draft visitors and private workouts, so we have something to go on, but it's misinformation season around the NFL.
One draft analyst, who does incredible work every year to get draft information out for us to consume is Dane Brugler of The Draft Show and The Athletic.
On Monday, Dane produced a full, 32 team NFL mock draft over on The Athletic. If you haven't taken a look, it's well worth your time. This is Dane's attempt to project how he thinks the NFL Draft will go. No draft analyst is 100% correct, but if the draft goes like this for the Dallas Cowboys, there will be a lot to like.
Round 2, 58th Overall - Juan Thornhill, Free Safety, Virginia
Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill is a really good prospect that could be available for the Dallas Cowboys in the second round. He's not a perfect prospect, particularly in the run game, but he shows a willingness to put his head in the play to take on blockers or make the tackle.
What's really exciting about Thornhill's game is his ability in coverage. He's a natural in his drops and plays zone very well. As a plus athlete with 4.42 speed, he is able to run with receivers all over the field.
In his senior season, Thornhill had six interceptions for the Virginia Cavaliers and 13 total over his final three seasons. He also had 26 passes defended in his final three years at Virginia to go along with 208 total tackles and 12 tackles for loss.
He lined up all over the secondary and even as a nickel linebacker. He'd be a great partner for Xavier Woods as Rod Marinelli could use either guy to play in the box or as the deep cover three safety. Thornhill and Woods could provide a dynamic duo in the back end that could create turnovers in the passing game.
Check out Brian Martin's breakdown on Juan Thornhill.
Round 3, 90th Overall - DT Trysten Hill, Central Florida
The Dallas Cowboys have been revamping their defensive line this offseason with the additions of Robert Quinn and Christian Covington and with the 90th overall pick, Dane sends University of Central Florida Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill to the Cowboys.
Here's what Dane has to say.
"With Demarcus Lawrence on a new deal and Robert Quinn in the fold, the Cowboys are in good shape on the edges, but could use more help inside. Hill is quick to pounce off the snap and moves more like a linebacker than a 308-pound defensive tackle."
Dane Brugler - The Athletic
Hill projects as a potential 3-tech defensive tackle with his quickness and strength at the point of attack. With Maliek Collins set to be a free agent after the 2019 season, the Cowboys could be looking to replace Collins who was their third rounder in the 2016 NFL Draft.
He recorded three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss in his junior season.
Check out Brian Martin's breakdown on Trysten Hill.
4th Round, 128th RB - Bryce Love, Stanford
You know Bryce Love as the Heisman finalist who ran for more than 2,000 yards his junior season. Unfotunately, his college career ended tragically as he tore his ACL in the last game of the season last December.
The Dallas Cowboys currently only have Ezekiel Elliott, Jamize Olawale, and Darius Jackson on the roster. If they plan to extend Ezekiel Elliott long-term, the front office needs to get him some help. Though Bryce Love's numbers dropped considerably from his junior to senior season, he's still a dynamic back who could help spell the NFL's leading rusher.
Any projection of Love will have to take his ACL injury into account. Though Love could offer a dynamic ability, at this point in the draft, I'd rather see the Cowboys get a player who should be ready to help them week one like Justice Hill from Oklahoma State or Rodney Anderson from Oklahoma.
Anderson would be my preference as he isn't just a change of pace or passing game back.
4th Round, 136th Overall - DL John Cominsky, Charleston
With the 2019 NFL Draft deep along the defensive line, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Dallas Cowboys double up along the defensive line this year. So, here Dane Brugler takes Defensive Lineman John Cominsky out of Charleston.
He's a raw player with a lot of athleticism who probably projects best as a 3-tech defensive tackle in the NFL. He plays with good leverage and is able to move his blocker back on the bull rush. With his athleticism, he's able to disengage and flow with the play.
Here's what NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein had to say about him.
"The one-time option quarterback should be able to impress with his athletic testing during postseason workouts, but he still needs to keep adding play strength to be ready to handle NFL offensive linemen. Cominsky is built like a 3-4 defensive end and flashes potential to handle those types of run duties down the road. However, without more threat as a pass rusher, his NFL potential could be limited."
Lance Zierlein - NFL.com
May be missing snaps due to quality of video being tough to judge Cominsky from other players. Apologies for the inconvenience.
5th Round, 165 Overall - LB Cole Holcomb
The Dallas Cowboys generally draft at least one linebacker in every draft. Last year they took two in Leighton Vander Esch and Chris Covington. With Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, and Joe Thomas locked into the linebacker depth chart, there is room for some competition on the back end of the roster.
Dane Brugler takes a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round with his selection of North Carolina Linebacker Cole Holcomb. He has the looks of a weakside linebacker, but played primarily the MIKE for the Tar Heels.
He's fast, athletic, and is a hard, sure tackler. Holcomb makes plays on the football. He led the Tar Heels in tackles with 108 and had eight tackles for loss and four forced fumbles in his final season for North Carolina.
7th Round, 241 - CB Chris Westry
There are several cornerbacks who fit the profile for Dallas Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard in this draft, and Dane Brugler gives the Cowboys Kentucky Cornerback Chris Westry.
Westry stands at 6-4 and 197 pounds and comes to the NFL with a lot of experience at the University of Kentucky. He played in 48 games over four seasons and three interceptions and 14 passes defended.
His size is intriguing, but he'd be a project for the Cowboys to hope to develop and would likely start his career on the practice squad.
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Not every draft is going to go exactly as planned. There are far too many variables. However, if the draft went something similar to this, especially with Thornhill at 58, it could turn out to be a very good draft for the Dallas Cowboys. There's a possibility for them to add three difference makers on defense and a game breaker at running back. If there's a flaw in the projection, it's that there wasn't a wide receiver or tight end sent to the Dallas Cowboys. Again, not every draft will yield the results you like, and Dane knows as much as any analyst in the game, so this could be a pretty good haul for the Dallas Cowboys.
How would you feel with the Cowboys coming away with this group of players?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Special Teams
Some have argued that the words "kicker" and "punter" don't belong in the same sentence as "NFL Draft." But just last year, six special teams players were drafted by NFL teams. Could the Dallas Cowboys consider such a player with one of their 2019 draft picks?
From 2009-2018, various teams have drafted 19 kickers and 18 punters. The highest pick was a second-rounder; Tampa Bay's selection of Roberto Aguayo in 2016. Outside of one pick in the third round and another in the fourth, the other 34 picks have all been in rounds 5-7.
The Dallas Cowboys have only contributed on pick to this total. In 2009 they selected David Buehler in the fifth round, two years after using a sixth-round pick on Nick Folk.
Ten years later, could Dallas finally use another draft pick on special teams?
There are a few of factors that make this possible. For one, the Cowboys are already fairly loaded with talent across the roster. A late-round pick spent at any number of positions would have a hard time surviving final cuts.
Second, in terms of the quality of player versus the round, there's no better value than on special teams. You can possibly get the best kicker in the country in the fifth or sixth round; no other position offers that.
Lastly, and most importantly, the Cowboys have a pretty clear opportunity to upgrade at kicker. They also could use the draft to save some cap space by making a change at punter.
As I've written about before, Brett Maher was a Jekyll & Hyde kicker in 2018. He was brilliant from long range but a major liability closer in, and his 80.6% total field-goal accuracy was near the bottom of the league.
While Maher's distance is a true asset, does it outweigh the risk of him missing a game-winning FG from 35 yards? And what about extra-point kicks, for that matter?
Dallas should certainly bring Brett back in 2019 to compete for the job. Remember, he was still Dan Bailey's backup until close the start of the regular season. Perhaps a full offseason as the primary kicker would help him stabilize his game.
But given the uncertainty, the Cowboys could easily justify spending a late-round pick at kicker. They could potentially land LSU's Cole Tracy or Utah's Matt Gay, two of the top prospects in this draft class.
The worst-case scenario is that Maher beats one of these guys and you cut them. But there was a high probability that you'd have cut whoever you drafted at another position anyway. Essentially, you'd have spent a late draft pick as an insurance policy against Maher's development.
That's not bad business. In fact, maybe you'd be able to trade that kicker at final cuts to a team who suffers a preseason injury or is otherwise dissatisfied at the position. There's a chance you could even recoup your draft pick.
Another consideration is at punter. Chris Jones has been a very solid one for a while now, but he turns 30 in July and counts $2.3 million against the salary cap. Could the draft give Dallas a chance to get someone younger and cheaper?
Let's say Dallas drafted one of the nation's top punters like Jack Fox out of Rice or Stanford's Jack Bailey. They'd have that player on a four-year rookie deal costing roughly 20% of what Jones' does.
Dallas could trade or release Chris Jones for $800k in 2019 cap relief, or $1.8 million if he's cut after June 1st. That would push $1 million of dead money onto the 2020 cap.
Those aren't big numbers, so the real gain here is if you think one of the top rookie punters could match or even exceed Jones' play. Then you've got that player on the cheap for the next four seasons.
I would not predict that the Cowboys will spend a draft pick at either kicker or punter, but the point of all this is that you can't entirely dismiss it. 2019 presents the right mix of circumstances for Dallas to consider it more than they have in the past, especially considering how long Dan Bailey was a fixture on the roster.
Brett Maher doesn't enjoy that same status. Dallas could easily look at some of the top kickers available and think that an upgrade is possible.
Will that lead to the Cowboys spending a draft pick on special teams for the first time in a decade?
Draft Likelihood: 10%
Projected Round: *6th-7th
* The Cowboys don't currently have a 6th-round pick, but could acquire one in a potential trade.
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Other Draft Needs Articles
Potential CB Prospects Dallas Cowboys Could Target in Each Round
It has somewhat flown a little bit under the radar, but Dallas Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard has been touring around the country working out several cornerbacks in this year's draft class. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering into the last year of their contracts, it wouldn't be all that surprising if the Cowboys draft a CB at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the cornerbacks the Dallas Cowboys could target in each round in which they hold a draft pick. In order to keep it as realistic as possible I tried to narrow it down to the potential CB prospects that fit Richard's parameters. We all know he likes those tall, lengthy defensive backs and that's what I tried to focus on.
Let's take a look…
Justin Layne, Michigan State
Justin Layne was a four-star wide receiver recruit coming at a high school, but ended up becoming a three-year starter on the other side of the ball at cornerback during his time at Michigan State. He has tremendous ball skills due to his background at receiver and has the size and length (6'1", 192) Kris Richard covets in his defensive backs. He needs to continue to improve is overall technique, but he has Day 1 starting potential.
Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
Joejuan Williams was a two-year starter during his time at Vanderbilt and primarily played press and off-man coverage. At just a smidge under 6'4", Williams typically towers over the wide receivers he faces, which has allowed him to find success at this point because of his mere size and length. He has the skill set and athleticism to become an eventual starter in the NFL, but really needs to develop his mechanics and the mental side of his game a little more.
Jamel Dean, Auburn
After overcoming three major knee injuries earlier in his career, Jamel Dean eventually became a two-year starter to finish his career at Auburn. He has elite size (6'1", 202), length (31 3/4" arms), and speed (4.3 40-yard dash), but his durability is a red flag moving forward. He also needs to play with a little better mean streak, especially in press man coverage. The talent is there though and he has a chance to develop into a really good starting CB if he can stay healthy.
Isaiah Johnson, Houston
Isaiah Johnson is another player with elite size (6'2", 208), length (33" arms), and speed (4.4 40-yard dash) at the cornerback position and is someone Kris Richard has met with and worked out on a number of occasions. Johnson was a former three-star wide receiver recruit coming out high school before making the switch to CB his final year in Houston. He played mostly bail technique for the Cougars and is still really raw as a CB prospect, but he has immense upside. He will likely need a year or two to further develop his craft before he can be relied upon.
Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky
There are actually three Kentucky defensive backs the Dallas Cowboys could target, but Lonnie Johnson Jr. is the top-ranked prospect so far. He has the size, length the Cowboys are looking for, but he really needs to refine just about every aspect of his game before he's ready to compete at the next level. He has tremendous instincts which has gotten him to this point, but he's going to have to develop both technically and mentally if he wants to find any kind of success in the NFL. All of the tools are there though.
Jordan Brown, South Dakota State
Jordan Brown was a three-year starter at South Dakota State, playing primarily press and off-man coverage. He has the size, length to play as a boundary corner in the NFL, but only has average top end speed. He is a competitor with a scrappy mentality that unfortunately runs a little hot and cold at times. He plays with good balance when making his transitions, which allows him to stick with receivers. Overall, he is a solid developmental mid-round pick with starting upside.
Michael Jackson, Miami
Michael Jackson was a two-year starter at Miami on the right side, playing mostly press man. He is a good-sized athlete with the kind of length and athleticism Kris Richard is looking for in his cornerbacks, but he has shown a tendency to struggle against savvy route runners. He's not the most fluid of athletes and will struggle in his transitions, so he might fit best in a defensive scheme that plays a lot of zone or cover 2.
Kris Boyd, Texas
Kris Boyd was a three-your starter during his time in Texas and played on both the right and left side, often times shadowing the opposing team's best wide receiver. He plays with the desired competitive nature and checks all the boxes as far as size, speed, and athleticism are concerned for a starting caliber cornerback. But, he plays undisciplined and doesn't trust his eyes, often times causing him to arrive late with his reads. If he can become more disciplined he could be a steal this late in the draft.
Chris Westry, Kentucky
Chris Westry was a three-year starter at Kentucky, but gradually started to see his playing time decrease with the emergence of Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Derrick Baity Jr.. At 6'4", 199 pounds and legitimate 4.35 speed, Westry has extremely rare size and speed for the cornerback position. Unfortunately, he is a better athlete than he is a football player right now and might be nothing more than a developmental project.
Derrick Baity Jr., Kentucky
Derrick Baity Jr. worked his way into the starting lineup at Kentucky as a freshman and ended up becoming a four-year starter. He has excellent size for the position (6'2", 197) and is light footed with good ball skills, but he doesn't play with the kind of physicality you'd think from my player his size. He is an untrustworthy tackler and undisciplined with his fundamentals. His size and ball skills should get him drafted, but he might be nothing more than a developmental project.
Cowboys Draft: Will A Quarterback Be Considered?
Dak Prescott is the current and future starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Let's make that clear.
Prescott has done more than enough over the first three years of his career to earn this "franchise quarterback" title, and the contract he will eventually receive from the Cowboys' front office.
But that doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't consider drafting a quarterback this year. Or next year. Or the year after that.
Quarterback is the game's most important, and highest paid, position. It's the position where a player can most greatly effect a game individually, both positively and negatively.
And it's the position you must make sure is accounted for heading into any new season. Yes, the Cowboys clearly trust now fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott, but adding talent to your QB room is never a bad thing. In fact, it's typically a great thing.
Behind Prescott are Cooper Rush and Mike White. Rush beat out now-offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the backup job during the 2017 preseason, and then held off rookie Mike White in 2018 to maintain the job.
When the Cowboys drafted White, however, they had dreams of a new backup quarterback in mind. White didn't perform as well, or progress as quickly, as some had hoped leaving Cooper Rush as the unquestioned QB2, however.
Is Cooper Rush good enough, though?
This is a question which really is yet to be answered. And if the Cowboys have it their way, it will never be truly answered. He was excellent during the 2017 preseason, no doubt about it. But he was, well, bad last year. Rush and the offense struggled mightily during the preseason, and while lack of offensive line depth didn't help him, Rush's play didn't spark much optimism or excitement either.
The Cowboys would be wise to consider drafting a quarterback later in the 2019 NFL Draft, but they shouldn't spend too much time worrying about it either way. The backup quarterback, especially behind Dak Prescott, will bring his value in terms of game-planning and aiding Prescott, rather than with his actual arm talent.
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