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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: The Single Best Trait For All 9 Rookies

Sean Martin

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The Dallas Cowboys added nine new players in the 2017 NFL Draft, seven of which upgrade the defensive side of the ball. From my own evaluation, I legitimately think the Cowboys added four starters to Rod Marinelli’s unit – with the other three late round defenders being drafted for traits.

So what single trait will stand out the most for each of Dallas’ picks? I’m glad you asked.

Gut-Reaction: The Day After DE Taco Charlton Became A Cowboy

1-28: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan — Strength

Ironically enough, the pick that Cowboys Nation seems to be most upset about is the Cowboys’ first round selection of Michigan edge rusher Taco Charlton with the 28th overall pick.

The knock on Charlton through this draft process has been that, despite certainly looking the part of a NFL-ready pass rusher, the tape shows a limited set of skills on the edge with a player that rarely finishes.

When I wrote this full scouting report at Slant Sports on Taco Charlton, I consistently noticed both his lower body strength to explode up field against offensive tackles and turn back to the quarterback along with the upper body strength to dip and drive underneath his blockers.

The Cowboys seem committed to molding Charlton into their right defensive end this defense is sorely missing. While his traits scream base LDE, Charlton’s dominant strength will give Rod Marinelli a great starting point to fine tune Taco’s rush moves and get production on the right side.

2-60: CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado —Instincts

The Cowboys did not shy away on Thursday night from telegraphing their plans to add a cornerback with their second pick at 60th overall, doing just that with a player that received some first-round buzz in Chidobe Awuzie. 

The instinctive Colorado cornerback was a magnet to the football in the Pac-12 for four seasons, gaining experience as both an outside CB, slot CB, and FS.

Awuzie will gamble too much at times, but his typically solid technique to mirror receivers and feel routes stem from his elite all-around instincts in the secondary.

Awuzie’s new Head Coach Jason Garrett initially embraced his versatility, but Joe Baker confirmed that he is viewed by the team first and foremost as a cornerback.

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For Cowboys fans that weren’t as happy with the Charlton pick because he “won’t be a noticeable pass rusher that opposing offenses fear”, get ready to notice Chidobe Awuzie quite a bit in the silver and blue this season.

3-92: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan — Cover Skills 

Jourdan Lewis has been one of the most intriguing prospects to follow through this draft process, having also scouted him fully at Slant Sports.

2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis – Slant Sports

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Receiving good news at the Senior Bowl where he measured in at 5100 with 31 inch arms, Lewis then saw his draft stock fall after domestic violence allegations against him. 

Potentially a first round talent, Lewis is not short on confidence coming to Dallas a third round pick, jumping out on tape as one of the best pure cover cornerbacks in this class with fantastic tackling ability as well.

Lewis will indeed be limited somewhat because of his height, but getting younger and adding a player with his cover skills in the slot is a great value pick for the Cowboys inside the top 100.

Balance, burst, and fluidity are all additional traits that make up Lewis’ overall cover skills – another player you’ll notice on the field this season for the Cowboys.

4-133: WR Ryan Switzer, North Carolina — Explosiveness 

Whether you love or hate comparing NFL Draft prospects to current players in the league, Ryan Switzer is undoubtedly Cole Beasley

The first offensive player taken by the Cowboys in this draft, Switzer compares perfectly to current Dallas Cowboys slot WR Cole Beasley – with more downfield explosiveness, versatility, and return skills.

It is likely those return skills that prompted the Cowboys to turn in Switzer’s card, as Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia was in the war room at the time, and it will be up to Scott Linehan to also get the most out of Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite target in the ACC.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Ryan Switzer special teams numbers. #Cowboys

Ryan Switzer is a smooth athlete with incredibly reliable hands, and I absolutely love his ability to surprise safeties at the second and third level by exploding past them to separate and extend to snap passes with a wider catch radius than you would expect from a slot receiver.

6-191: S Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech — Tackling 

If you’ve noticed a theme with the Cowboys draft stock allocated to this new-look secondary when it comes to adding versatile athletes that create turnovers, you’re absolutely right – and should get ready to enjoy Xavier Woods as the sixth round steal he can prove to be.

Woods was one of the last pre-draft visits that remained on the board for Dallas through their fourth round pick and all of the fifth. Lasting long enough in the sixth to prompt the Cowboys to move up in the sixth round using next year’s fifth round pick and draft him, Woods will have a chance in numerous positions to show off his tackling ability.

Displaying stopping power against running backs and rare physicality on the perimeter, Woods can hold his own in the box, carry receivers out of the slot, and come downhill from a deep safety position with range.

The Dallas Cowboys absolutely stole Xavier Woods, and with it added another athletic tackler to a defense that thrives on forcing teams to march methodically against them and get past waves of such tacklers consistently.

6-216: CB Marquez White, Florida State — Length 

The Dallas Cowboys used another sixth round pick on another basketball player this year, one with some football experience at Florida State in Marquez White. 

At this point in the draft, especially having already landed two starting caliber cornerbacks, the Cowboys were drafting for developmental traits. CB Marquez White’s standout trait is his length that allows him to control receivers at the line and rally back to the football.

Getting great value on White, a cleanup on his mechanics will land Dallas another capable player in the secondary coming out of the 2017 NFL Draft.

7-288: DT Joey Ivie, Florida — Burst 

A one-gap player with inconsistent penetrating skills at DT for Florida, the Cowboys used one of three seventh round picks on Joey Ivie to add depth at a position they’re already pretty set at with Maliek Collins, David Irving, Cedric Thornton, and Stephen Paea. 

Ivie will have a chance to show some consistency in training camp with his athleticism to shed blockers and close on quarterbacks.

Struggling to make plays and jump out on tape because of his size and pad level, Joey Ivie has flashes to warrant this late round pick.

Cowboys Draft: The Single Best Trait For All 9 Rookies

7-239: WR Noah Brown, Ohio State — Blocking 

David Helman on Twitter

Jerry: “I don’t mind telling you that our No. 1 agent for Noah Brown was Zeke Elliott.

The Cowboys blocked their way for Ezekiel Elliott to lead the league in rushing as a rookie out of Ohio State in 2016, now adding one of his teammates at WR.

Noah Brown was the best receiver on Dallas’ board at the time of this pick, likely earning that spot thanks in large part to his blocking ability. Not afraid to square up defenders and steer them out of plays, Brown shines with a trait that is critical for WR Coach Derek Dooley.

Brown may face an uphill battle earning meaningful snaps for the Cowboys this season, although he does have strong hands to high point balls and win at the catch point, but look for his blocking to effortlessly stand out.

7-246: DT Jordan Carrell, Colorado — Motor 

A second defensive tackle drafted by the Cowboys, and their second Colorado defender, Carrell was viewed by most as a priority free agent. 

Instead, Dallas locked up his services with the 246th overall pick. Carrell logged plenty of snaps, leading his college team as a DT with some range to work down the line and finish at the football or free up others to make tackles.

We’ve already mentioned the depth the Cowboys have at defensive tackle, meaning they won’t at all have to count on either Ivie or Carrell. Both players have traits to look at though, and for Carrell its his motor as he gets set to work with Rod Marinelli.

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Perhaps the best part of the NFL Draft is watching players that never get much of a chance before their selection develop into reliable starters. If this is going to happen for the Cowboys, in trying to emulate the success of their 2016 draft haul, look for the above traits to earn these prospects their chance with America’s Team.

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Draft: The Single Best Trait For All 9 Rookies” 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.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s pretty clear defensive tackle is toward the top of the Dallas Cowboys’ needs. Dallas has invested multiple draft picks and resources into the secondary, linebackers, and defensive ends, but their interior defensive line still needs to add depth and talent. One potential target to fill this need is Michigan Wolverines Defensive Tackle Maurice Hurst.

Over at Slant Sports I completed a full scouting report on Hurst, giving him a first-round grade and ranking him atop this defensive tackle class.

At 6’2″ and about 280 pounds, Maurice Hurst clearly projects as a three technique at the professional level. Hurst played the under-tackle most of the time at Michigan, but he did kick down over the center or inside the guards at times. Still, I wouldn’t expect a team to draft Hurst to be their one tech of the future.

Hurst is an explosive beast at defensive tackle.

Playing with a nonstop motor, Hurst won off the ball often, but also created effort and hustle plays behind the line of scrimmage during his college career. Hurst’s first step, quick hands, ability to win with leverage, and overall explosiveness shine through on film.

nfldraft2018 maurice hurst 5 – Streamable

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“Here’s an example of that explosive first step. Hurst is lined up as the 3-technique on the far side. Winning with his first-step quickness and burst, Hurst gives the offensive linemen absolutely no chance to block him. He then powers through the recovery attempt by the lineman to make the tackle in the backfield.” ~Slant Sports

Hurst clearly doesn’t have the prototypical size of a defensive tackle in the NFL, but his play style suits his body well.

His explosiveness and burst off the ball make him incredibly dangerous, and his quick hands, low pad level, and strong lower body help him to win against any offensive lineman.

He obviously isn’t at the same level, and may not deserve eye-to-eye comparisons with this player, but Maurice Hurst’s play style and body type remind me of a young Aaron Donald. (I’m not saying he’s better than Aaron Donald, save the comments).

nfldraft2018 maurice hurst 8 – Streamable

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In terms of his fit with the Cowboys, Hurst would compete with Maliek Collins for playing time at three technique.

Respected draft guru Dane Brugler, has mocked Hurst to Dallas in his latest mock draft, but the way they handle both Collins and impending restricted free agent David Irving will play a huge role in determining if Hurst would even fill a need.

Regardless, Maurice Hurst is a name deserving of first-round buzz, and Cowboys Nation should keep their eyes on him this offseason.

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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

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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

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…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

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…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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