Connect with us

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Iowa Hawkeyes RB Akrum Wadley

Brian Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Draft Target: Iowa Hawkeyes RB Akrum Wadley
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

With each passing day, we grow closer and closer to the main event of the offseason… the 2018 NFL Draft. It's one of the more exciting events to take place until the official NFL season kicks off, but it sometimes feels like an eternity until the month of April finally comes around.

To pass the time, I've decided to share with you some of the prospects the Dallas Cowboys could possibly target with one of their 10 draft picks, and today I want to take a look at the running back position.

The Dallas Cowboys will without a doubt have Ezekiel Elliott handle the bulk of the workload in 2018. Rod Smith could slide into the main backup position behind Elliott. He performed well in 2017, but the Cowboys could use a running back with a different type of skill set, more of a change of pace/3rd-down RB.

Enter Akrum Wadley, former Iowa Hawkeye.

Below, I've provided a brief scouting report on Wadley's strengths and weaknesses as a RB prospect, and his potential fit with the Cowboys.

Continue to read below to learn more about Wadley and please don't hesitate to let me know what you think about him as a potential Cowboys draft target in the comment section located at the end of the article.


Senior Bowl Weigh-in

Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa | 5097, 188 lbs | 3/13/95 (21)

Measurements  Arm: 29 7/8 | Hand: 8 1/8 | Wing Span: 72 7/8


Strengths

Akrum Wadley

Iowa RB Akrum Wadley (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

Akrum Wadley possesses premium athletic ability and is one of the more exciting running backs to watch in the entire 2018 draft class.

He should make a smooth transition into the NFL after playing in a pro-style offense at Iowa.

Wadley's superb footwork and elusiveness make it difficult for defenders to get a hand on him. He has good -- but not elite -- speed; more of a glider than a burner. He often creates a lot of yardage himself with his improv skills. He uses a devastating spin move, jump cut, and sidestep move to evade defenders, both in the backfield and in the open field.

He shows good vision and patience to allow his blocks to develop. He's an aggressive runner who runs behind his pads with good shoulder lean, which causes him to fall forward more times than not. He's effective running inside and out, and shows good functional strength, despite what his size would indicate.

Wadley is also a reliable receiver out of the backfield.

He has experience lining up in the slot and is difficult for linebackers to cover. He shows a wide catching radius and is easily able to contort his body to make difficult catches. He also provides added value in the return game as a kick returner.

Let's take a look at his elusiveness and how he's able to create yardage on his own.

Wadley's Elusiveness:

Akrum Wadley's elusiveness - Streamable

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

In the clip above, Akrum Wadley shows off why he is considered the most elusive running back in the 2018 draft class, and does it against one of the best defenses in the collegiate ranks last season.

Wadley makes several Buckeyes defenders look foolish and left grasping nothing but air on his way to pick up a large gain for a first down.

You can see how difficult he is for defenders to get a hand on, and how he uses his footwork to sidestep defenders to run through arm tackles. He doesn't really give defenders an easy target to hit and make a tackle.

Wadley's Pass Catching Ability:

Akrum Wadley catching ability - Streamable

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

The play above is personally one of my favorites that I saw when studying Wadley. There's so much that takes place in this one play, I don't know if I'll be able to break it all down for you properly.

The first thing you might notice is how Wadley has to pretty much do a complete 180 in order to catch the ball thrown behind him. Most times, that would kill the play right there, but he's able to gain his composure and get the screenplay back on track.

He once again shows off his elusiveness by sidestepping two defenders, while waiting for his blocks to develop downfield. He then lowers is shoulders to bounce off a would-be tackler to pick up the first down on a third-and-15 play.

On this one play, Wadley shows his pass catching ability, his elusiveness, vision, patience, and a little of his functional power for what ended up being a large gain.

Weaknesses

Akrum Wadley

Iowa RB Akrum Wadley

Akrum Wadley's size is his biggest weakness as a RB prospect. He has a slender frame, which probably won't support added bulk to become a more prototypical sized NFL running back. This will turn off some teams since he might just be a change of pace/3rd-down RB at the next level.

His lack of size also hurts him as a pass protector. He seems willing enough, but he has poor technique, which allows defenders to pretty much run over him. He prefers to cut block as a pass protector, but more times than not dives at the defenders ankles instead of keeping his eyes up and making solid contact.

His size will also hurt him in short yardage situations. He doesn't have the leg strength or power to pick up the dirty yards, instead usually relying on his elusiveness. He also needs to work on his route running in the passing game.

Let's take a look at Wadley as a pass protector.

Wadley in Pass Protection:

Akrum Wadley pass protection - Streamable

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

Akrum Wadley wasn't asked to stay in and pass protect much as a RB during his time in Iowa, but when he did, the results weren't pretty.

In the clip above you see one of the rare occasions Wadley is asked to stay in and pass protect. To his credit, he identifies the right blitzer, but his effort and technique leave a lot to be desired. You would like to see him be more of an aggressor here and sink his hips while squaring up to the defender in the situation. That way the blitzer has to run through him at least.

Instead, he waits for the defender to get to him and then feebly throws a shoulder in an attempt to slow him down. This will absolutely have to be cleaned up if he plans on playing anytime soon in the NFL.

Right now, he is a liability as a pass protector.

Wadley in Short Yardage:

Akrum Wadley short yardage - Streamable

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

As you can see in the clip above, Wadley will struggle in short yardage situations in the NFL due to his size. He does have some functional strength, but defensive lineman are going to outweigh him by about 100 pounds.

To his credit though, he made the right read on this play and had a chance to pick up the first down. But, he's just not going to be able to run through many defenders, or drag them for extra yards in the short yardage situations.

He's willing, but his lack of power and bulk will hurt him in this area at the next level.

Summary

Akrum Wadley wearing the #25 jersey is fitting, because he has a lot of the same traits as some others who have donned that jersey in the NFL. His skill set is a lot like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and even Reggie Bush. All three of those running backs have found success in the NFL, and there's no reason Wadley can't follow their career path as well.

Wadley's highlight reel in college full of jukes, cuts, and missed tackles proved just how elusive/explosive he can be, and the Dallas Cowboys offense could definitely use more of that.

Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith are both bigger backs with similar playing styles, but Wadley would be a nice change of pace from those two and could catch opposing defenses off guard once inserted into the lineup.

He could become that receiving type RB the Cowboys have missed since the departure of Lance Dunbar.

He will, of course, have to improve in pass protection in order to become the third-down back, but with better coaching and improved technique, he could become a difference maker. His ability to make a difference in the running and passing game could make him a dangerous weapon.

Plus, he provides added value in the return game, which could come in handy in 2018 if Ryan Switzer becomes more involved on offense.

All in all, he could be just what the Dallas Cowboys are looking for to provide more depth at the RB position. But, he is likely going to be a Day-2 selection in the draft, and that might be higher than the Cowboys want to take a RB.


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

Sean Martin

Published

on

Sean's Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys

By now you know that the Dallas Cowboys have not prioritized the defensive tackle position at the Draft in some time, a point made prominent with the amount of talent available at DT in this 2018 class.

Despite not being as high on him as most, Florida's Taven Bryan would fit what the Cowboys are doing defensively under Rod Marinelli very well. Bryan is a disruptive player at the 3T position, where the Cowboys currently have a decision to make on RFA David Irving.

Even if Irving and Maliek Collins are back in the fold for 2018, Taven Bryan would be a great addition to this front seven - thanks to his raw athleticism and motor.

Let's take a closer look at how Bryan fits the Cowboys' defense.

Bryan2 - Streamable

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

"Bryan excels at not giving his man much of a blocking surface area – playing with good pad level and impressive bend for a DT."

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Florida's Taven Bryan at Slant Sports. Far from a finished product, Bryan shoots gaps and beats guards off of the line with ease. This is a player with rare traits at the 3T position, bending well while playing with enough strength throughout his entire frame.

"Using a smooth upper body paired with quick footwork and burst, Bryan is frequently shooting gaps to finish in the backfield."

When I watched Taven Bryan, I was reminded of current Cowboys DT Maliek Collins in 2016. As a rookie, Collins played the penetrating 3T spot with similar burst and power.

With the Cowboys now preferring Collins at the 1T position, Bryan could fill in on day one as an interior force with the upside to become one of the league's best match up weapons up front.

Bryan1 - Streamable

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

Unless a blocker across from Bryan works quickly into his frame, this is a player that is going to generate push and flow to the football with elite speed and balance.

"Taven Bryan allows his frame to be controlled too often, effectively getting washed out of any play where his blocker can squat against the speed rush and shoot their hands inside on Bryan."

Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence proved that he is the "alpha" of this defensive line in 2017. Building this unit around Lawrence will yield positive results for the Cowboys, especially if they can find a long-term 3T to play alongside him.

One with as high of a ceiling as Taven Bryan becomes an intriguing option, especially considering the Cowboys' ability to play him in a rotation early in his career.

"Unleashing Taven Bryan as a gap-shooting 3T DT is the best way to see this prospect reach his ceiling..."

The Cowboys' 19th overall pick may be a bit rich for Taven Bryan, but this is a prospect to look for in the second round, where Dallas holds the 50th overall pick. A second round DT on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, Bryan should outplay his draft status regardless of the pick if put in the right situation to use traits that would greatly help the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Florida DT Taven Bryan A Disruptive Target for Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Continue Reading

NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?

Sean Martin

Published

on

Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With Tight End Jason Witten set to enter his 16th season for the Dallas Cowboys, it has become an annual offseason tradition to discuss the team's need for young talent at TE. In a down year for the entire Cowboys offense, Witten caught the fewest passes (63) he has since 2003 - his rookie year.

Since 2003, the Cowboys have drafted seven tight ends, most of which suffering the same fate in Dallas. Playing behind the future first-ballot Hall of Fame TE in Witten, the only players that have sustained any success behind him remain current tight ends James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

A sixth and seventh round pick respectively, Hanna and Swaim don't exactly excite anyone expecting the Cowboys to upgrade their passing game in 2018 and beyond for Quarterback Dak Prescott.

For all of the buzz about the Cowboys using their current 19th overall pick on a WR (a decision I would be against), where is the ideal spot in this draft to target a TE?

This year's draft class at TE is a top-heavy one, with some big time pass catchers available at the top of it. If the Cowboys are serious about adding a legitimate middle-of-the-field threat on offense, they could consider the likes of Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, or Ian Thomas with the 50th overall pick in the second round.

Of course, Cowboys Nation continues to hold out hope for Rico Gathers to revolutionize the TE position in Dallas as their last pick in the 2016 draft, but the Baylor basketball convert has done little to prove he's motivated to rise up the depth chart anytime soon.

Doug Nussmeier is the Cowboys' third TE coach in as many seasons, joining the staff for 2018 with no previous experience in this coaching role specifically. Nussmeier does bring extensive experience alongside Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, as well as nine years as an OC himself with Fresno State, Washington, Alabama, Michigan, and Florida.

It is safe to say that Nussmeier understands the importance of the TE position for a QB, especially a young one like Prescott - who has inconsistently used Jason Witten as the "security blanket" he became known as under Tony Romo.

If recent draft history holds up, the Cowboys will wait until the later rounds to possibly address tight end. The impact a top player from this class could immediately have in Dallas needs to be considered though, making TE an intriguing draft need as early as the second or third rounds.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: How Early Should Cowboys Consider Tight End?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Continue Reading

NFL Draft

The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For

Kevin Brady

Published

on

1

The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2018 NFL Draft needing help in multiple areas. Of course, they could use new blood on the interior of their defensive line, in their linebacker corps, and in their receiver room. Their most important need to fill in the first round, however, seems to be left guard.

If the Cowboys could find an immediate starter at left guard, a dominant player who can function as an effective run blocker and allow Dak Prescott to trust his left side once again, their offense would be back in business. We typically think of the Cowboys offense, and their line in particular, as a strength. But down the stretch in 2017 that simply wasn't the case.

As I've discussed before, there should be realistic options available with the 19th overall selection, particularly Georgia guard Isiah Wynn. There is one player in this NFL Draft class they should consider moving up for if the price is right, though.

That player is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

Make no mistake, Quenton Nelson is the best prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He is a massive, yet athletic interior offensive lineman who cemented himself as the best guard in college football during his senior season with the Fighting Irish.

Nelson plays with an edge that you love from offensive linemen, especially from those you will be asking to run block often. He doesn't just open holes, he embarrasses defensive tackles. He doesn't just smartly use body positioning and footwork, he finishes his blocks and snatches souls. Plus, he shows the athleticism and agility to get to the second level to seal off linebackers.

Quenton Nelson works well in pass protection as well. Often labeled a weakness in his game coming out of high school, Nelson has shown vast improvements in his footwork, awareness, and balance in his pass set while at Notre Dame. He would be a day one starter in Dallas, and would take the Cowboys' offensive line back to their 2014-2016 form.

But how realistic is it that the Cowboys would move up for Nelson?

Well, not very realistic at all. In fact, I'd say it's more likely the Cowboys move back to take Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn than it is they give away future assets in such a Day Two-rich draft. If, for some reason, Quenton Nelson falls to around the 12th overall pick however, there could be an opening for the Cowboys to come up and snag him.

I don't condone trading up often whatsoever, but Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson leads a very short list of players I'd move up for if I were the Cowboys. Trading up for a guard seems like flawed logic, but considering the importance and impact he would have for this team, Quenton Nelson is well worth it.


Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).




Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending