It’s a little bit hard to believe, but draft season is already upon us. The Dallas Cowboys seem to have several needs to fill through the draft, and right now there is no clear-cut answer as to which position they should target in the first round. But, one of their top needs could be an upgrade at wide receiver.
There’s no way of knowing when the Cowboys will draft a receiver, or if they view it as a position of need. But regardless, so far my film study shows this 2018 WR draft class shapes up to be a pretty solid one.
The majority of Cowboys Nation is already familiar with the WRs the Cowboys could possibly draft in the first round, such as Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton. So, I’ve been looking at some of the more under the radar WRs and one of them particularly caught my eye for Dallas .
Louisiana State WR D.J. Chark
I’m honestly a little surprised D.J. Chark isn’t talked about more when referring to some of the top wide receivers in the 2018 draft class, but I think that will change once we get further into the process.
I’m pretty sure he’s still under the radar because the 21-year-old senior only caught 40 passes for 874 receiving yards and three touchdowns with the LSU Tigers in 2017.
Those aren’t exactly eye-popping numbers, but he did finish as one of the top receivers in the nation at yards per reception, averaging 21.9 yards.
D.J. Chark (6’3″, 200) possesses an impressive skill set that would really fit in with what the Dallas Cowboys like to do offensively. In fact, some of his strengths as a prospect are currently missing from the offense, which is why I think he makes an intriguing target.
Chark has strong, reliable hands and a large catch radius. He’s a solid route runner, but could stand to improve in this area once he’s in the NFL. He has the speed to take the top off of defenses and also used that speed on jet sweeps and reverses. He also wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work in the blocking game, showing pretty good technique.
Let’s take a look at how and why I believe he would make a good addition to the Cowboys offense.
Watch “DJ Chark toetapping TD catch” on Streamable.
This particular play was from his junior season, but it was one of his more impressive plays during his career at LSU.
What you probably first noticed is his speed to get past the defender. It’s an aspect of the Cowboys’ offense that’s currently missing.
Chark is excellent at tracking the ball through the air, but it was his spatial awareness that made this particular catch so impressive.
LSU’s QB threw the ball where only Chark could catch it, but unfortunately didn’t leave him much room to get his feet down and secure the catch. Chark knew exactly where he was at on the field and was able to do a little toe tapping to get not one, but two feet down for the TD.
Here’s another example from his senior season.
Watch “DJ Chark deep threat” on Streamable.
Again, D.J. Chark’s best quality right now is his speed, which is proven once again on this play.
From the snap of the ball, Chark puts the BYU defensive back in a tough position because of his speed. Even with the cushion the DB gave him, Chark is on top of him before he can react, creating separation on his way to the end zone.
Unfortunately, the QB under throws the ball on this play, or it would have been an easy six points. But, Chark does an excellent job of tracking the ball and securing the catch for a big gain.
So, you can see for yourself how D.J. Chark can stretch the field vertically, but he can also help the Cowboys offense by stretching the field horizontally.
Watch “DJ Chark jet sweep” on Streamable.
Remember the jet sweep? It was an underrated play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016. It wasn’t that successful, but it prevented the opposing defense from crushing the defensive ends down in the running game, and kept them from pinning their ears back in the passing game.
This is another area where D.J. Chark’s speed comes in handy, and something he did quite well during his time at LSU.
Like Dallas, LSU also has a run-first mentality, which is why they incorporated the jet sweep and the reverse into their offense. These kind of plays may not be very successful, and it wasn’t in this particular clip, but they help set up things in the running game to keep opposing defenses on their heels, instead of in attack mode.
Lastly, I want to show you what Chark can do on special teams as a returner.
Watch “DJ Chark punt return” on Streamable.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t necessarily need a punt returner after adding Ryan Switzer last year, but it never hurts to have another option just in case. D.J. Chark is dangerous with the ball in his hands because of his speed. If he can get into the open field, there’s not much chance of anyone catching him from behind.
It doesn’t really matter if it’s in the passing game or as a punt returner.
Overall, D.J. Chark has all the intangibles to find success with the Dallas Cowboys, and already knows what it feels like to play in a run-first offense.
His straight-line speed is really intriguing, but he has some quick-twitch ability to his game as well.
He has immense upside, but he’s nowhere near a polished prospect. Chark was somewhat inconsistent at LSU, but that has a lot to do with the quarterback play during his career. He also needs to become a better route runner at the next level, but that should come with better coaching.