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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies

Tommy Simon

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NFL Draft - Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies

In my previous two articles we looked at the prospects and strategies at running back and wide receiver, so today we will look at the tight ends.

First the state of the TE position. With Jason Witten and James Hanna returning, Geoff Swaim being an up and coming option, and Gavin Escobar still in the mix, I doubt the TE position is high on the Cowboys list. But if someone drops and the Cowboys get great value, then it is always a possibility. So let’s look at the players available in the draft that the Cowboys may be interested in the first four rounds.

Here are some of the attributes that are important when analyzing the tight end position. Typically I look at:

  1. Route Running – How do they run routes to create separation
  2. Zone Awareness - Can they sit down in a zone and find space
  3. Hands – Do they catch the ball? Can they catch with hands vs body
  4. Size – The bigger the better
  5. Speed – Will they be a mismatch
  6. Blocking – Can they seal the edge, can they drive linebackers backwards, can they pick up blitzes
  7. Power/Physicality - Can they make contested catch, can they get a push when blocking
  8. Running – Can they get YAC
  9. Intelligence – Do they understand concepts
  10. Character/Work Ethic – Are they the right kind of guy

Now let’s take a look at some of the prospects that will be available to the Cowboys:

Hunter Henry

Strengths

  • Good size
  • Skilled route runner. Knows how to set them up
  • Can quickly get up the field on seam routes. Tough match up for linebacker
  • Knows how to use body lean to set up route and gain separation
  • Understands how to sit down in a zone
  • Great hands. Will make the contested catch
  • Great body control
  • Plays with effort in blocking game
  • Knows how to set up picks. Understands route combinations
  • Can run isolation routes

Weaknesses

  • Not an inline blocker
  • Lacks strength
  • Will get moved off spot when blocking
  • Struggles if linebacker gets hands on him

Summary

    • Best receiving TE in the draft
    • Polished route runner, should contribute in passing game immediately
    • Needs to add strength and learn to block
    • He is not on Cowboys board in the first or second round
    • I have him as a top 50 player

Nick Vannett

Strengths

  • Good size
  • Good speed combine
  • Great body control
  • Good with ball in his hands. Will get YAC.
  • Good hands. Will make the contested catch
  • Willing blocker who uses his hands well and uses his body to shield and redirects
  • Plays with good leverage and understands who to block in pass protection
  • Understands how to sit down in a zone
  • Hard worker. Good engine

Weaknesses

  • Has not ran full route tree
  • Needs to set up routes better. Needs to learn to use body lean to set up route
  • Has not played in NFL type offense

Summary

    • May be the best overall TE in draft
    • Reminds me of Witten, but is not the polished route runner Witten is
    • Will need to learn NFL type offense and defense schemes
    • He is not on Cowboys board in the first or second round
    • I have him as a top 60 player

Jerrell Adams

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Tall, with long arms
  • Best athlete in TE class
  • Can get up field on linebackers, can use his size against safeties
  • Plays inline or in slot. Can even line up on the outside too
  • He creates separation on the routes
  • Uses body well to shield blockers
  • Good functional strength

Weaknesses

  • Unpolished, needs to learn technique
  • Needs to set up routes better
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Can play tall in blocking game and loses leverage

Summary

    • Best athlete of TEs
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • Needs to become polished route runner, but athleticism and speed will make him effective until then
    • I have him as a top 75 player

Austin Hooper

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Smart, understands how to sit in zone,
  • Understands route combinations and how to set them up
  • Good blocker, can set edge or pass protect
  • Good motor, sustains block to the end
  • Hands catcher, creates a large catch radius
  • Tough runner after the catch, though not necessarily the most athletic
  • Hard working by all accounts

Weaknesses

  • Average speed and athleticism
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Is not as quick out of breaks as other TEs

Summary

    • Solid all around TE
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • Needs to become polished route runner, but athleticism and speed will make him effective until then
    • I have him as a top 90 player

Tyler Higbee

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Good runner after the catch
  • Is a hands catcher that can catch in traffic
  • Really good body control
  • Can high point the ball
  • Puts effort into blocking
  • Good motor, plays to whistle
  • Versatile as H-back, TE and can play some FB.

Weaknesses

  • Limited upside
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • He played against weak competition.

Summary

    • Risk/reward pick
    • Hard nose player, but limited upside
    • I have him as a top 130 player

Bryce Williams

Strengths

  • Good runner that will get YAC
  • Smooth route runner. Past receiver, knows how to set up routes
  • An athlete, good body control
  • Aggressive, will go get the ball
  • Versatile, he can line up anywhere on the field
  • Willing blocker

Weaknesses

  • Below average speed and athleticism
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Needs more work on blocking techniques

Summary

    • Good in passing game
    • Good route runner but needs to add other facets to game
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • I have him as a top 150 player

The Cowboys will not be looking for a TE early in this draft, but I would not be surprised to see them take one if one of the top 4 TEs drop to the fourth round. If they do not, then I could see them taking a flier on a blocking TE with a sixth round pick.

That is all for the TEs, stay tuned for the next article which will look at the offensive tackle position.

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Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

NFL Draft

The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For

Kevin Brady

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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.

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NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Iowa LB Josey Jewell A Hard-Hitting Depth Option

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Iowa LB Josey Jewell A Hard-Hitting Option for Depth

Much of what the Dallas Cowboys do at the linebacker position this offseason will be determined by their confidence in Jaylon Smith, which has not wavered since drafting him in the second round in 2016 - making his NFL debut this season. With Anthony Hitchens set to hit free agency and Sean Lee not getting any younger though, the Cowboys could use an injection of youth at LB.

The 2017 Draft marked the first time the Cowboys did not select a linebacker since 2004 (!), making it that much more of a priority this offseason. Should they target a mid-round option with the ability to step in and contribute right away, Iowa's Josey Jewell makes a ton of sense.

Jewell4 - Streamable

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"Iowa LB Josey Jewell is an incredibly instinctive player, reacting to plays with a rare mix of balance, burst, and physicality against the run."

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Josey Jewell at Slant Sports. Playing primarily the MIKE position at Iowa, Jewell will fit best in the NFL at either WILL or SAM - with the versatility to provide depth at both.

With these two LB spots being ones of need for the Cowboys, Jewell would add a enforcing presence to the second level of this defense, the likes of which have been missing in Dallas for some time.

A square player with adequate power in his hands and above average movement ability, Jewell is a magnet for the football against the run.

"...Josey Jewell plays with the stopping power that NFL scouts absolutely love out of any front seven players. Asked to play a lot of MIKE linebacker at Iowa, Jewell will be a physical presence for any defense to add..."

Jewell1 - Streamable

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

Jewell is not only comfortable around the line of scrimmage as a sure tackler, flashing the ability to shoot gaps with great burst and technique. Jewell may be far from a "pass rusher", but he does attack blockers similarly, coming downhill to disengage violently.

"Jewell plays with textbook technique in pass coverage as well, playing light on his feet with the balance to hang with shifty receivers throughout the down."

Jewell's vertical movement as a WILL linebacker also make him an ideal fit for the Cowboys, as he could develop quickly into a starter on Nickel packages - requiring him to be one of just two LBs on the field.

NFL.com scout Lance Zierlein actually compared Josey Jewell to Sean Lee in his own scouting report. Outplaying his own second round draft status, I believe Jewell has a chance to do the same as a valuable third round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board.

"While Josey Jewell’s Iowa tape left no questions about his ability to move backwards with ease and attack forward, his lateral movement leaves some concerns."

It was ultimately Jewell's limitations as a rangy defender that pushed him down into the third round for me, which is an ideal spot for the Dallas Cowboys to be targeting a linebacker in this 2018 Draft. Jewell's floor would make him a noticeable contributor to the Cowboys' defense in year one, a top 100 prospect that should be an NFL starter in the near future.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Iowa LB Josey Jewell A Hard-Hitting Depth Option" 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

Cowboys Draft: Would Dallas Consider A 1st Round CB?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: Would Dallas Consider A 1st

As has been talked about before, the Dallas Cowboys spent a plethora of draft capital on their secondary a year ago. By taking cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis with two of their top three picks, and then tripling down at corner with Marquez White on day three, the Cowboys overhauled their aging cornerback group.

While some fans still want the team to add another safety, drafting a cornerback in the first round seems out of the question.

Or is it?

Historically, 19th overall is a bit of an awkward place to be. In most drafts, teams are running out of first round grades, but drafting a player you've graded as a round two talent in the top 20 can feel like a reach. When put in situations such as these, teams like to trade back, acquire future assets, and feel more comfortable about where they're taking the player they want. The problem is, of course, that you need a team to want to move up to your spot.

Obviously there's a chance the Cowboys are completely cleaned out at receiver and linebacker by the time their on the clock. Regardless of the scenario, taking Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn is my plan A, but the team may feel differently.

I currently have four cornerbacks with first round, or late first-to-early second round grades. This list includes Ohio State's Denzel Ward, Louisville's Jaire Alexander, UCF's Mike Hughes, and Iowa's Josh Jackson. All four are deserving of first round consideration, but in the right situation, I'd have to think long and hard about taking the first three 19th overall.

All three are phenomenal players who should make an impact during their rookie seasons, but the question the Cowboys would have to ask themselves is: "do we have a place for this player?" Sunday Morning Wishlist: DAL Cowboys @ NY Giants 1

Awuzie looks like the CB1 of the future, and Lewis could be effective on the outside as well. Ward, Alexander, and Hughes are all shorter cornerbacks and wouldn't be too much of a change from what the Cowboys already have on the back-end. Still, Orlando Scandrick may be done in Dallas, and Anthony Brown provided more questions than answers during his Sophomore season.

The Cowboys could be put in a situation similar to that of the 2017 NFL Draft. When they finally got on the clock, they only had one first round grade remaining. That player was reportedly running back Dalvin Cook, and considering they had selected Ezekiel Elliott the year before, Cook wasn't ever an option.

I have to wonder that because of how last offseason went, if the Cowboys would even think of taking a cornerback early on in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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