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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!



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 Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft

Jess Haynie

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Why Finishing 8-8 Improves Cowboys' 2018 NFL Draft Position

The Dallas Cowboys will receive an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the league awarded compensatory picks today.

The pick will be 136th overall, which is one spot below were Dallas drafted Dak Prescott in 2016.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

And in other news... NFL awarded compensatory draft picks today - Patriots and Rams each received two third-round picks. The full list, per sources:

We have Anthony Hitchens to thank for this extra pick. The former Cowboys linebacker signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason which far surpassed any of the deal that Dallas made with their own free agent acquisitions.

Only free agents whose contracts expired, not those released in the offseason by their previous team, count towards the compensatory pick formula.  Therefore, Allen Hurns' deal was not a mitigating factor.

As mentioned already, the fourth round of the NFL Draft recently gave Dallas its starting quarterback. Other notable fourth-round picks in the modern era have been Hitchens, Doug Free, Marion Barber, and Chris Canty.

Last year, Dallas drafted DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz with fourth-round picks.

Already short their first and sixth-round picks this year from previous trades, the Cowboys are certainly happy to have this extra selection for April's draft.



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NFL Draft

7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition

Brian Martin

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3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys 2

I thought it would be a good idea to get out another 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week. Not only will the Combine shakeup a lot of people's big boards and draft rankings, but it will also be the first opportunity a lot of us will get to see some of these players firsthand.

For this Cowboys mock draft I used Matt Miller's big board on Fanspeak.com. I don't necessarily agree with where he has some of these players ranked right now, but that's part of the fun of doing these kind of exercises. With that said, he is still one of my favorite draft analysts.

Without further ado, here is my Pre-Combine 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft.

TE, Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M (2nd-round)

*189th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jace Sternberger

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger (John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports)

First off, I think Matt Miller has Jace Sternberger ranked way too low on his Big Board. I don't think he will make it out of the second round and may not even be available for the Dallas Cowboys when they are on the clock with the 58th overall pick. But if he is, I'm writing his name down on the draft card and not looking back.

The Cowboys have made it pretty clear they want to upgrade their TE position, but in order to do that they're going to have to draft one pretty early in my opinion. Sternberger may be a one-year wonder at Texas A&M, but he is exactly what Quarterback Dak Prescott needs in the passing game. He would change the dynamic of this whole offense.

At 6'4", 250 pounds, Sternberger has the size the Cowboys look for in their starting tight ends. His biggest asset right now is his natural receiving ability and how dangerous he is after the catch. He runs and moves like a big receiver. He's decent as an in-line blocker as well, but it's an area of his game that is still improving.

OT, Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (3rd-round)

*89th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bobby Evans

Oklahoma OT Bobby Evans

It's a little surprising it hasn't been brought up more this offseason, but with Tyron Smith's continued back problems and La'el Collins entering a contract year, the Dallas Cowboys could be looking into drafting another offensive tackle. I know it may be an unpopular pick in the third-round, but I couldn't pass up on Bobby Evans.

At 6'5", 300 pounds, Bobby Evans has the prototypical size teams look for in their starting offensive tackles. He is a smooth athletically gifted lineman who does his best work in the running game. He projects best in a zone blocking scheme where he can use his athleticism to his advantage. He will struggle a little bit in pass protection until he cleans up his hand technique.

With the Cowboys he could compete with La'el Collins for the starting RT position as a rookie, but at the worst be the teams swing tackle in 2019. Since he has the ability to play either tackle position, he would make a good insurance policy if Tyron Smith has to miss time again because of his back issues. Again it may be an unpopular pick, but a necessary one.

OLB, Christian Miller, Alabama (4th-round)

*161st on Matt Miller's Big Board

Christian Miller

Alabama OLB Christian Miller

With the Dallas Cowboys needing more depth at linebacker and defensive end, I decided to select Christian Miller with their first fourth-round draft pick. He unfortunately hasn't been able to showcase his skill set on a regular basis due to being buried on the depth chart at Alabama and some unfortunate injuries, but he has immense potential.

I think a lot of teams will look to draft him as a outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but I really like the variety of roles he could play in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. I think he could replace Demian Wilson as their strong side linebacker, provide depth at defensive end, and be a special-teams demon as a rookie.

The Cowboys of course will have to be comfortable with his injury history, but in the fourth-round I don't think that would be a problem. If he can stay healthy he has Pro Bowl potential as a pass rusher because of his size (6'4", 247), athleticism and fluidity to bend and torque his body. This might be my favorite pick in this Cowboys mock draft.

DT, Daylon Mack, Texas A&M (4th-round comp pick)

*178th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Daylon Mack

Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack

The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use some more defensive tackle help, especially after all but washing their hands of David Irving. They currently just have Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins on the DT depth chart, unless you want to count Tyrone Crawford. That's why I returned to Texas A&M for the second time in this Cowboys mock draft and selected Daylon Mack.

Daylon Mack is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing at Texas A&M. Don't let that fool you though, he has the talent to earn a starting job with the Cowboys as a rookie at either the one or three-technique. He is the kind of prospect Rod Marinelli would love to work with.

At 6'1", 327 pounds, Mack would provide some much-needed beef to the Cowboys defensive front. He has surprising athletic ability for his size and has a devastating first step to be the kind of disruptive DT Marinelli prefers along his DL. I really love his violent hands and raw athletic ability, and I believe he could be an absolute steal in the fourth-round even though Matt Miller has him ranked much lower.

WR, Jalen Hurd, Baylor (5th-round)

*159th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jalen Hurd

Baylor WR Jalen Hurd

Outside of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the wide receiver position in Dallas is pretty dreadful. There are some young WRs who show some promise, but they still need more depth regardless. That's why I decided to take Jalen Hurd in the fifth-round in this Cowboys mock draft. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire 2019 draft class.

The most intriguing aspect of Hurd's game is his background as a running back. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was once considered a top RB prospect during his time in Tennessee before deciding to transfer to Baylor in order to switch to wide receiver.

At 6'4", 227 pounds, he has the prototypical size teams look for in a WR prospect. He reminds me a little bit of Cordarrelle Patterson, but is much more natural catching the ball. His route running is a little raw, but he has the ability to play in the slot or on the outside, something he did at Baylor. I think he could help replace some of Cole Beasley's lost production.

RB, Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State (7th-round)

* 206th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bruce Anderson

North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson

I reached a little bit with this pick, but if Bruce Anderson is available this late in the draft I would do everything within my power to bring him aboard if I was the Dallas Cowboys. I really think he could be the lightning to Ezekiel Elliott's thunder in the Cowboys backfield. I personally have him in the 3rd-5th round range, but can understand why he's ranked so low on Miller's Big Board right now.

Unfortunately, the draft process hasn't been very kind to Bruce Anderson so far. He was originally expected to open a lot of eyes in Mobile at this year's Senior Bowl, but unfortunately sustained an injury that kept him from competing. To make matters worse, he was a surprise snub at the Scouting Combine, meaning he only has private workouts and his Pro Day to impress scouts.

I for one am a big fan of Anderson's though. I believe he is exactly the kind of RB the Cowboys need behind Zeke. I personally see a poor man's Alvin Kamara when I watched his game film because of the different ways he can be utilized as both a runner and receiver. But, he can also contribute on special teams as a return specialist.

How do you feel about this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

While most fans are hoping the Cowboys snag a different safety who played his football in the state of Washington, Huskies safety Taylor Rapp should be towards the top of their draft targets on day two.

The Cowboys have some decisions to make when it comes to their back-end, particularly at safety. Do they want to pursue a full time strong safety type who can play in the box, allowing Xavier Woods to play solely as the centerfield free safety? Or would they rather add a hybrid safety who can play in that deep third role, giving their defense more flexibility in how they utilize Woods moving forward?

If their answer to this question is to go with a more traditional strong safety, and slot Woods into one permanent role, then Washington's Taylor Rapp could be the right man in this draft class.

The Player

Taylor Rapp is not the single-high safety that I would typically value high in an NFL draft. He lacks the range to really play that centerfield role, and doesn't have the speed or agility to project to this role in the NFL. No one ever gets behind him, but that's more due to ridiculously deep alignment than excellent coverage skills.

Where Rapp does excel, though, is playing forward and downhill. Rapp is aggressive both in his pursuit of plays and in his tackling. He tackles with good technique as well, and can absolutely lay the wood when coming up to hit receivers over the middle. Rapp plays how you'd expect your old-school strong safety to play, and projects as a split-zone and box safety at the next level.

Rapp isn't anything special in man coverage, but he executes well at times. He's at his best when asked to cover tight ends in man coverage, something which would certainly be valued both in today's NFL and on this version of the Cowboys' defense. I wouldn't be as comfortable lining him up against shifty slot receivers over the middle, but he can match up well physically with tight ends in man.

Overall, Rapp is one of the best tacklers I've seen in this draft class so far, and with his instincts, size and physicality he will serve as a solid strong safety at the next level.

The Fit

I don't see Taylor Rapp as the typical versatile chess-piece the Cowboys have valued when drafting defensive backs in recent years. He does what he does well, but they would be ill-advised to mess with his alignment too often or try to make him fit into a different role. He's not going to move all over the field like Xavier Woods can, but he can certainly fit the Cowboys' current need for a strong safety.

Many fans want the Cowboys to pursue Landon Collins in free agency, but if they strike out there, Rapp could be their consolation prize in the NFL draft.

No, he's not as good as Landon Collins. Let me make that perfectly clear. But for a day two pick Rapp could fit a similar role to what Collins would here in Dallas: a strong safety who will play primarily in the box and cover tight ends in man.



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