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Cowboys Draft Target: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmonds 1

Draft season! Draft season! Draft season! Pardon my excitement, but it's one of my favorite times of the year. We all get the chance to study and speculate about the new crop of rookies coming in and determine their potential fit with NFL teams, and in this case, the Dallas Cowboys.

This draft season, especially, is shaping up to be an exciting one because the Cowboys have clear needs pretty much across the board. That means there is no clear answer as to which direction they will go with any of their draft picks, especially when they're on the clock at 19 in the first round.

There is of course one draft need that has to be near the top of the list, if not #1 overall.

There can be no arguing the Dallas Cowboys absolutely need to address the linebacker position, especially with Sean Lee's continued health concerns and Anthony Hitchens' potential departure via free agency.

Finding linebacker depth through the draft is a must!

A lot of Cowboys fans have already become enamored with former Georgia Bulldogs LB Roquan Smith, and rightfully so.

Smith will likely be the first linebacker off the board when the 2018 NFL Draft gets underway, which means he won't be available for the Cowboys at 19.

But don't be disheartened Cowboys fans, I think there is a linebacker in this draft class who possesses the God-given talent to be even better. Let me introduce you to a linebacker who I believe has Superstar potential.

Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

Tremaine Edmunds checks all the boxes for an NFL linebacker. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in this entire draft class because of his versatility to play in any scheme. But, most intriguing is he is slated to be the second youngest (19) prospect ever drafted, only Amobi Okoye was younger.

But don't let his youth fool you; he's a monster on the field.

Tremaine Edmunds is a natural in so many phases of the game, and it has everything to do with his rare athleticism.

Edmunds has the size of an edge player (6'5", 250), but the movement/athleticism of the smaller and quicker linebackers we've seen become popular around the NFL. To put it simply, he looks like a lion, but moves like a gazelle in the open field with his long strides and flexible hips.

Here's an example of his loose/flexible hips in coverage.

Tremaine Edmunds loose hips in coverage - Streamable

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

This isn't a play you would typically ask a 6'5", 250-pound man to make, but Tremaine Edmunds makes it look easy.

On this particular play, Edmunds drops into his hook/curl zone coverage. He then realizes the quarterback has decided to pull the ball down and scramble. He shows excellent field awareness and breaks from his coverage responsibility to make the open field tackle on the QB, despite the referee getting in the way.

This play probably wouldn't have been possible if Edmunds was unable to flip his hips to change direction in order to make the tackle after covering the tight end. He does this with ease.

What I really like about Tremaine Edmunds is his versatility to play in any kind of defensive front/scheme. But, I personally believe he fits best in a 4-3 scheme, which is why I think he makes an excellent Cowboys draft prospect.

I think he fits best in the 4-3 scheme because of all of the different positions he can play. In the 4-3 scheme, Edmunds could play:

MIKE (middle): He has tremendous gap-shooting ability and play anticipation.
SAM (strong-side): He has the ability to stop the run and still drop into coverage.
EDGE: He has the size, athleticism, flexibility, and explosion.

Tremaine Edmunds played all of these positions while at Virginia Tech, and I think he could even play WILL (weak-side) as well, but that's something he wasn't asked to do in college.

But, you don't have to take my word for it.

Edmunds at MIKE:

Tremaine Edmunds read/react - Streamable

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

Here you see Tremaine Edmunds playing the MIKE LB position. He quickly reads and diagnoses the play, shooting the gap to make the tackle for a loss on third down.

It's an excellent play and shows the God-given talent he was born with. You can't teach those kind of instincts.

Edmunds at SAM:

Tremaine Edmunds covering RB - Streamable

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

On this particular play, Edmunds is lined up at the SAM LB position and has responsibility of covering the running back out of the backfield. Not only does he once again show his loose hips in coverage, but he makes an excellent open-field tackle on third down for a minimal gain to get the defense off the field.

Edmunds at EDGE:

Tremaine Edmunds off the edge - Streamable

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

Tremaine Edmunds was also utilized as an edge rusher, at times, while at Virginia Tech. Here you see him lined up in a two-point stance on the defense's left side.

At the snap of the ball, you can really see his first-step explosion, natural bend and athleticism.

The TE trying to block him had no chance, and Edmunds probably would have gotten the sack if not for the slight hold and the QB's ability to get rid of the ball quickly.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As you can see, Tremaine Edmunds is an intriguing prospect for the Dallas Cowboys, and could probably start right away at the SAM LB position while also providing much-needed depth in other areas.

He's not a polished prospect by any means, he's still raw, but I believe he has the upside to be one of the great ones.

If I were to compare him to a current NFL player, I would compare him to either Anthony Barr (Vikings) or Jamie Collins (Browns). Both players have been successful as inside linebackers as well as edge players in the NFL, and that's what I envision Edmunds will do in his career.

I think Edmunds is going to open a lot of eyes once we get further into the draft process, especially after he puts on a show at the combine. He will likely shoot up draft boards, which means he should be in play for the Dallas Cowboys with the 19th overall selection. I have absolutely zero concerns about taking him there.

What do you think about Tremaine Edmunds as a Cowboys draft prospect?



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.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Mr. Jaguar

    January 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Brian it would be GOD sent if Edmunds is still on the board at 19. But what if Vea the DT is there as well. Who do you select?
    If it was me it would be DT and draft a LB in rd 2. Just my 2 cents.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 19, 2018 at 9:38 am

      I think I’d still have to go LB in that scenario. Edmunds ability to play several positions is just too good to pass up, especially with the lack of depth the Cowboys have there. I think you can find a pretty solid 1-tech later in the draft. But, I wouldn’t be upset if they took Vea. He’s a monster on the interior of the DL.

  2. Kevin Black

    January 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    I like Edmunds football IQ. He seems to understand what the offense is trying to do each play. That was one of my problems with Roquan Smith. Smith has athleticism, but he was more reactionary. Edmunds seems to start going before the play is finished developing.

    I’d pick Edmunds over Vea or Smith at this point.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 19, 2018 at 1:22 pm

      I really like Edmunds football IQ. I still have Smith rated higher, but not by much. It would be a tough call for me if I had to decide between the two if they are both there at 19.

      • Kevin Black

        January 19, 2018 at 4:39 pm

        I put a lot more stock in football IQ than I do athleticism. If you can get both, you’ve hit the lottery.

        When watching Smith play, he seemed too reactionary to me, using his athleticism to make up the time delay. He reminds me of Carter out of NC years ago. Great athlete and did alright in college, but his athleticism covered his football IQ, clearly reacting to the play after it’s developed.

        I haven’t watched much of Edmunds, but based on the videos you show here, he seems to be moving before the play is developed. This seems more much like Sean Lee to me. The bonus is that with his athletic body, he can do more damage and get players much deeper behind the line.

        Give me football IQ every day. Athleticism will wane over time, but football IQ will make you a hall of famer.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 19, 2018 at 4:46 pm

          What I like most about Edmunds is his versatility to play different positions, whereas Smith is most likely just a weak side LB. I’m not sure Smith could stand up to playing MLB.

          • Kevin Black

            January 20, 2018 at 8:17 am

            I noticed he played SAM almost as effectively as Lee plays the WILL. I didn’t see if he was good at shedding blocks. How’s his skill at that?

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            January 20, 2018 at 9:48 am

            He’s still a little raw in that area. He needs to do a better job of finding off blocks, he sometimes lazy, but that will improve with NFL coaching I think.

          • Kevin Black

            January 20, 2018 at 10:55 am

            Block shedding seems to be an issue for a lot of college players. Is it due to the type of college offenses being so pass oriented?

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            January 20, 2018 at 11:28 am

            The spread offense a lot of college teams use has a lot to do with LBs struggling with stack and shedding. But, I think it has more to do with coaching and learning the proper technique. There is so much turnover year after year in the college ranks that coaches just don’t have the time to stress the importance of fundamentals/technique.

          • DevilDog58

            January 21, 2018 at 5:45 pm

            You know, I think that’s one of the reasons there are so many more concussions in football today. Kids aren’t being taught to break down and tackle with their heads up. Most lead with their helmets or a combination of helmet and shoulder. And so many DB’s just dive head first into an offensive players legs or feet. We were taught to keep your eyes on the opponents number, lead with the shoulder and wrap up, then lift and drive. Fundamentals have gone by the wayside in so many things.

  3. EverybodyTalks

    January 20, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    The ironic thing about your article was that everything you said about Tremaine, you could say about Hitchens. They are like clones of each other on several aspects. Imagine the Cowboys with 2 Hitchens or if you prefer 2 Edmunds. The other ironic thing is that, in a roundabout way, we are saying Hitchens is worth a 1st round pick. I mean, aren’t we? I just don’t see how/why we wouldn’t resign him and draft Edmunds. Right now our roster has Lee, Smith and Wilson @ LB. That’s it. Even resigning Hitchens and drafting Edmunds would only give us 5 LBs. After this season, you content with 5 LBs? Me neither. Would they draft 2 LBs? Josey is still in the wings, waiting! Great article.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      January 20, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      I think Edmunds is going to be better than Anthony Hitchens. I think he has Superstar potential. I do think however that the Cowboys should probably double dip at LB in the draft. They definitely need depth at the position.

      • EverybodyTalks

        January 21, 2018 at 2:50 am

        Very possible, a superstar. I hope so, especially if we draft him. All I’m saying is that Tremaine will take time to develop in the NFL. We will still need the experience of a veteran, like Hitchens. I sense folks think Anthony is of little value. Maybe I am being over sensitive, With Lee at 32, we need to hold on to Hitchens, even if we draft 2 LBs

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          January 21, 2018 at 8:57 am

          I would love to keep Hitchens, but I think somebody else will offer him more money than the Cowboys can afford.

          • DevilDog58

            January 21, 2018 at 5:50 pm

            And I think that’s because our GM (or lack of one) pays average to above average players like superstars. I never understood why Jones gave Tyrone Crawford that huge contract.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            January 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm

            At the time it looked like a good signing, but Crawford never progressed in his development. Unfortunately, that’s just the way things go sometimes and what worries me about signing DeMarcus Lawrence long-term. His back surgeries are a huge red flag for me.

          • DevilDog58

            December 6, 2018 at 3:21 pm

            Now, though, Crawford is playing much better. Amazing what time and being surrounded by more talent can do for a player, isn’t it Sean? Hopefully Irving will help even more!

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Since Kris Richard has taken over the back-end of the Dallas Cowboys defense, they have clearly shown a bias towards a "type" of cornerback. Richard, looking to build this Dallas unit in a similar form to his Seattle teams, has prioritized long corners both in height and arm length.

As his responsibilities within the organization increase, it's only fair to expect Kris Richard to have more say in who the Cowboys' defense acquires in terms of talent. This means we should anticipate more defensive backs who fit his type, such as Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Player

So why does Lonnie Johnson fit the mold of what Kris Richard tends to look for? Well, for starters, he is 6'3" and 206 lbs with 32 1/4" arms. He's a long corner with excellent size and the trait profile which indicates he could be the perfect candidate to play cornerback in Dallas.

But while he might look great on paper, the tape is always the most important factor for evaluating and projecting talent. And, for Johnson, the tape isn't all-that great. Despite his length, Johnson struggled mightily in press-man coverage at Kentucky. Too often he is late or ineffective with his hands, leaving him susceptible to being blown by by the opposing receiver. He often loses balance due to poor footwork, and is rather average with his hips and quick change of direction.

Where Johnson was his best in college was in zone coverage, playing his deep third of Kentucky's cover-three look. Rarely did he allow receivers behind him in zone coverage, and displayed good instincts when deciding whether to jump routes or play more conservatively when playing in that deep third. He was not nearly as comfortable underneath, and Kentucky didn't ask him to play in that role too often. Because of how big he is, Johnson is able to contest at the catch point regularly, yet he only deflected 9 passes in 2 years.

What gives me the most hope for Lonnie Johnson as a prospect (besides his length) is his Senior Bowl performance. Johnson impressed daily at the Senior Bowl, looking more comfortable in man coverage and playing much better in his press technique.

Was this Johnson becoming more comfortable over time and a sign of things to come at the next level, or was it an anomaly that we shouldn't read too much into? The answer to that question is up to the individual teams, but his combine performance will play a huge role in how those teams answer.

The Fit

As I've discussed already, Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits what Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks. He is long, tall, and relatively athletic, making him a clay piece for a coach like Richard to develop.

The question is, however, how much development can really occur? The highs for Johnson are rather high when he maximizes his natural abilities on the field. But too often he is sloppy in technique, or looks lost in man coverage. Whether or not Richard can "fix" Johnson completely may never be seen, but teams (especially this one) could fall in love with him as a prospect for what he can become if it all comes together.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma Like, Comment, and Subscribe for More! Follow my Instagram: @szhighlights Songs: - "Don't Know Me" by Trae Tha Truth - "Better Days" by Trae Tha Truth I do not own any of these highlights or music clips.

Before we get into the player, we should really try to get to know Rodney Anderson the person. He attended Katy High School in Katy, Texas, one of the powerhouse HS football programs in the state. He was a four-star recruit who received offers from Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind and decided to go to Oklahoma instead. He had an up-and-down career on the football field at Oklahoma because of injuries, but did graduate with a degree in Arts and Sciences in May 2018 and is pursuing his Master's in Human Relations.

Pros:

Rodney Anderson has the ideal size and athleticism to become a featured back in the NFL. He shows good patience and vision on film to allow his offensive lineman to secure their blocks before sticking his foot in the ground and exploding through the hole. He runs behind his pads and shows good strength, loose hips, and balance to run through arm tackles. More than capable of picking up those "dirty yards" and is surprisingly slippery as a runner in the open field.

Anderson is capable of playing in a power scheme or a zone heavy scheme like the Dallas Cowboys deploy. He has been featured in a number of rushing concepts including gap/power, read action, and power sweeps. His talent also carries over to the passing game. He possesses soft hands and looks natural catching the ball both out of the backfield and down the field as a receiver. Solid in pass protection, but this is an area of his game where he can improve.

Cons:

The biggest negative about Rodney Anderson is his injury history at Oklahoma. He is basically a one-year wonder because of three separate season-ending injuries, but bad things happen in three so maybe that's behind him. Durability will be a question mark entering the NFL though.

His vision is sometimes questionable, especially on inside and outside zone reads. Has a tendency to to try to bounce runs to the outside too often or cut back too quickly. Shows good explosiveness, but only average burst through the hole. Seems to have adequate long speed on tape, but is 40 yard dash time will be heavily scrutinized if he's able to run at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the passing game he needs to improve his route running and pass protection if he wants to be a three-down back in the NFL. The talent is there, just not the production and consistency. Will also have to prove he can be productive against stacked boxes at the next level since he rarely saw any in college due to Oklahoma's spread offense.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back capable of being a featured back in the NFL, while also spelling Ezekiel Elliott from time to time, then Rodney Anderson is there guy. His combination of power, balance, explosiveness, and scheme diversity could come in handy as their RB2. Not only would he provide a good insurance policy if the unthinkable were to happen to Zeke, but he could take over if they decide not to give No. 21 a contract extension.

There is a lot to like about Rodney Anderson's game and his ability to contribute in the running and passing game, but he is not by any means a clean prospect. Despite his immense talent, his injury history and lack of consistency in college is bothersome. But, as a mid-round pick the reward far outweighs the risks. Paired with Elliott, the Cowboys could have a formidable one-two punch in their backfield and could pound opposing defenses into submission.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Our search for a new pass catcher for the Cowboys in this years' draft class continues, this time with a wide receiver.

South Carolina's Deebo Samuel put himself on the map with a strong Sophomore season, but fell off a bit due to a severe leg injury early in 2017. After a strong 2018 campaign, and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Samuel has played himself back into early Day Two draft discussions.

The Player

I don't know that anyone "won" Senior Bowl week more than Deebo Samuel did this January. Samuel, who had to deal with some poor quarterback play throughout his college career, didn't get much of a break in that department either at the Senior Bowl. But, he did show out every day at practice, and seemed to go viral on Twitter at least once a day.

During his actual collegiate season, Samuel finished with 882 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 catches, solid production especially coming off an injury and playing in a limited offense. Initially in the NFL, Samuel is going to make his money in the slot. He's a shifty yet explosive receiver type than can quickly beat defenders with his speed. He's not the speedster than someone like Marquise Brown is, but he is explosive enough in his own right, especially in terms of short-area quickness.

Samuel isn't someone who will go up and grab the ball consistently, or even make up for inaccurate throws as often as some others might be able to. But he does have reliable hands, and his ability to get open quickly and create separation should give someone like Dak Prescott easy windows to find him in for completions.

What makes Deebo Samuel so fun for me to watch, though, is his ability after the catch. Despite his lack of size, Samuel is tough as nails, and rarely defers out of bounds or avoids contact. He's built well enough to withstand that contact as well, and when he gets free, he's hard to catch and bring down.

The Fit

Drafting Deebo Samuel 58th overall would be a heck of a haul for the Dallas Cowboys. In need of another playmaker in the passing game, the Cowboys could make immediate use of Samuel's talents in 2019, specifically as a slot receiver.

As has been mentioned ad nauseam, it seems unlikely that Cole Beasley will be returning to the team this season, which makes the need for a slot wide-out that much greater. Samuel has big play ability from the slot already, and has traits which project him to potentially work outside as well. If he tests well enough at the combine, reps on the outside could very well be in his future.

Samuel should be on every Cowboys fans' shortlist of draft targets in the second round this year.



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