Cowboys Draft: Wide Receiver Prospects & Strategies ⋆
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Cowboys Draft: Wide Receiver Prospects & Strategies

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Wide Receiver Prospects & Strategies

As we look at the possible positions where the Cowboys cold use a draft pick, the receiver position is one that keeps coming up as a need. The Cowboys could certainly use an upgrade at the receiver position given the fact Terrance Williams has not progressed and he is in his last year under contract.

The Cowboys will have several options to consider in this year’s draft. In this article we will take a look at some of the options available to them in the first four rounds.

Before we go into the each prospect, let’s review the attributes I look for when evaluating a receiver. Here is the top 10 attributes ranked in order of importance:

  1. Route Running – Do they run good routes that create space and give the QB a throwing lane
  2. Hands – Do they catch with their hands or with their body
  3. Body Control – Can you adjust to balls thrown low, tall, behind, ect
  4. Size – The bigger the better
  5. Speed/Quickness – Quickness will help create space, Speed helps to be a deep threat
  6. Strength/High Point – Can you make the 50/50 catch
  7. Strength/Release – Can you get off press coverage
  8. Blocking – Are you a willing and effective blocker
  9. Intelligence – Do you understand the game
  10. Character/Work Ethic – Do you work hard and make the team better

 

Laquon Treadwell

Strengths

  • Strong hands
  • Big body, can out physical a corner
  • Tends to catch with hands not body
  • Possibly the best blocking receiver in the draft. Likes to hit
  • Nice use of hands to get off press
  • Will fake block to set up route. Good use of deception
  • Good running after the catch
  • Is a jump ball threat which sets up back shoulder fade too
  • Nice speed to break free and stretch field. Not elite speed, but enough to make corner respect it
  • Knows how to set down in the zone. Finds hole and becomes big target
  • Big production in big games
  • Knows how to set up block in screen day will break tackles.
  • He can plant hard, drop hips and create separation on the IN cutting routes.
  • Can use the pick nicely and also provided a pick on several occasions

Weaknesses

  • Does not possess top end speed
  • Will occasionally drop passes
  • While being a great blocker when he wants, there are plays he is disinterested. Needs consistency of intensity
  • Did not run a large route tree. Go, stops, and digs were the main routes.

Summary

  • Is an outside X receiver
  • At pro day, he needs to at least put up a decent number. Anything around 4.6 should solidify his position
  • Highest rated receiver in this draft
  • For Cowboys he would be a nice second option to play opposite Dez. However, I believe it would be too high of a pick at 4 and Dallas has more pressing needs.
  • I have him rated as a top 15 player

Corey Coleman

Strengths

  • Quickness and speed
  • Athletic, should be a workout hero
  • Great leaper
  • Deep threat
  • A threat to catch a screen and go all the way
  • Probably best position is slot, but can play either
  • Great body control
  • Tracks the deep ball effectively
  • Return capability
  • Toughness

Weaknesses

  • Can have drops on easy catches
  • Does not have ideal height
  • Because of Baylor’s offensive system, he has never ran a full route tree. We have no idea if he can consistently get separation.

Summary

  • Makes difficult catches, then misses the easy ones
  • He will continue to get better as he works on running the full route tree
  • He is a big play threat now, if he becomes a polished route runner, he will be very difficult for corners to deal with
  • For Cowboys, he would be the Y and slot. He would give them a homerun threat they lack.
  • I have him rated as a top 40 player.

Josh Doctson

Strengths

  • Good ball skills; this is his best trait. Adjusts well and can snag ball
  • He has good body control. Adjusted to high and low ball, passes behind or short of him.
  • Catches with hands. Extends his catch radius
  • Will come back for ball. He sets up well and makes a big target for the QB
  • Runs hard, fast routes
  • Creates spacing on in cutting routes. Can get separation when planting.
  • Sets up corner before making cut. Not a polished route runner, but can be effective.
  • High points ball on jump balls
  • Physical running ball or break press coverage
  • Decent blocker

Weaknesses

  • Plays deep ball and outs better than ball going over the middle.
  • Will short arm and pull up if he sees safety.
  • Runs hard, but is not necessarily a polished runner
  • Needs to get stronger

Summary

  • He will continue to get better. Needs more work on route trees
  • He is a receiver that will give you a large catch radius. Good for 50/50 balls
  • For Cowboys, he would be a backup to Dez at the X, and would share time with Williams at the Y the first year. Should replace Williams by the second year
  • I have him rated as a top 30 player.

Michael Thomas

Strengths

  • Well rounded. Can catch, jump, run, and block
  • Big receiver
  • Good catch radius. Will use his hands to catch
  • Can run after catch
  • For a big receiver he runs good routes
  • Uses body lean to set up corner
  • Good on the 50/50 balls
  • Good body control, can adjust to make difficult catches
  • Can get free of jams with movement or power
  • Sets up routes. Knows how to get DB in bad position

Weaknesses

  • Ohio State did not have a big route tree. Need to see him run all routes
  • Needs to get better separation on initial cut
  • Lacks top end speed

Summary

  • A possession receiver who can run routes, make tough catches, and be a threat in the screen game
  • He will continue to get better. Needs more work on route trees
  • He will also block for the screen and run games
  • For Cowboys, he would be a backup to Dez at the X, and would split time with Williams at the Y the first year. Would then replace him next year.
  • I have him rated as a top 50 player

Will Fuller

Strengths

  • Speed and acceleration
  • Big play receiver
  • Good body control. Uses body lean to get into the right position
  • Polished route running
  • Gets separation on cuts
  • Uses change of pace very well
  • Runs the In/cross route very well. Gains separation and accelerates to increase speed
  • Has versatility, can play slot or on the outside
  • Threat on screen as well
  • Willing blocker, but does not have size for it

Weaknesses

  • Struggles against press if defender can get the initial jam
  • Needs to add strength. Can struggle against physical corners.
  • Smaller than other top receivers. Could be injury concern
  • Needs to work on slants and drags. Needs to work through traffic
  • Needs to learn how to set down in a zone

Summary

  • Provides a down field threat.
  • Can run the speed routes well. Gains separation immediately
  • Highly productive. More than a touchdown per game started
  • For Cowboys would be the immediate starter at the Y.
  • I have him rated as a top 60 player.

Braxton Miller

Strengths

  • Pure athlete
  • Speed and quickness both
  • Great strength, quickness ratio.
  • Great body control and balance.
  • Smart, understands offensive concepts and how QBs want a receiver to adjust
  • Good hands. Shows that he can catch difficult passes even when he needs to adjust
  • Is a hands catcher
  • Quick in the slot. Creates spacing using double moves. Can get separation when planting.
  • Will be the best runner in the group of receivers. Probably could be drafted as running back
  • Will be a standout special teams player
  • A team leader with swagger (perhaps too much swagger)

Weaknesses

  • Raw, still needs to work on techniques and route trees
  • Gets week knees in the middle. Needs to accept contact
  • Had some drops on routine plays
  • Not good at 50/50 highpoint balls

Summary

  • Just needs more time running routes and learning the nuances of the position
  • Best position will be slot, but will learn to play outside too
  • Big play ability
  • Great special teams
  • For Cowboys, he would split time at the slot and eventually the Y. Would be a special teams stud
  • I have him rated as a top 60 player.

Tyler Boyd

Strengths

  • Very good route runner. Sets up routes nicely
  • Versatile. Can play X. Y or slot.
  • Good hands. A hands catcher, he can make contested catches
  • Plays with body control
  • Patience, can set up routes
  • Knows how to find the soft spot in zone
  • Looks like a running back (one who bounces outside too often) with ball in his hand
  • Good body control, can adjust to make difficult catches
  • Comes back to the ball
  • Good acceleration off of the line of scrimmage
  • Can get free of jams with quick movements
  • Gains separation by body lean route running, and by a strong plant foot
  • Polished, ready for NFL now

Weaknesses

  • Will occasionally drop passes
  • Tries to be a blocker, but does not have the size
  • Does not have enough upper body strength yet
  • Average to below average speed
  • Thin frame could lead to injury concerns

Summary

  • A versatile receiver who can play both inside and outside
  • Will create space and present himself to the QB. Comes back to ball.
  • Needs to add weight and strength
  • I think if he would have run sub 4.5, he would have become the second rated receiver on the board
  • For Cowboys, he would be a nice get. There is a slight chance he is there in the fourth and the Cowboys should run to the podium and select him if he is.
  • I have him rated as a top 90 player.

Sterling Shepard

Strengths

  • Natural route runner
  • Acceleration and change of direction to create immediate separation
  • Good hips, can drop them and drive back to ball
  • Sets up routes then blows past.
  • Body control to make difficult catches
  • Sets up routes well. Knows how to get corner in bad position and then exploit it.
  • Natural hands catcher
  • Returner

Weaknesses

  • Undersized
  • Not the physical receiver who can power through press coverage
  • Can be overpowered on 50/50 balls
  • Not much of a blocker

Summary

  • Can he deal with the physicality of the NFL or will he be overwhelmed
  • More of a slot than outside receiver
  • Has return capabilities
  • For Cowboys, he would split time at the slot and the Y. Would be a special teams starter
  • I have him rated as a top 75 player.

Kenny Lawler

Strengths

  • Good length, looks to have long arms
  • One of the best route runners in draft. Good setting up routes. Will fake block, then get into route. Effective in goal line.
  • Quick feet allows him to set up corners and beat press coverage
  • Really drives off of the plant foot. Either foot, on the in or the out.
  • Great hands, I did not see him drop a pass in the three plus games I watched. Does not fight ball. Strong hands, and they are soft too. Saw him make a couple of difficult one hand catches
  • Makes contested catches
  • Great hand eye coordination.
  • Runs hard when catching screen. Good at cutting back and using blockers
  • Tries to block on each run play

Weaknesses

  • Thin, could be injury risk
  • May not have top end speed needed. Pro day numbers will be important
  • Can be knocked off routes by physical corners. Saw several routes he actually got knocked down by big corners
  • Although he runs hard and is a willing blocker, he does not have the size to excel at it.

Summary

  • One of the most polished route receivers in the draft and he has great hands to go with it.
  • Speed and his thin frame are why he is not higher on boards.
  • For Cowboys, he would backup Dez at the X (his best position) and he split time at the Y. Would most likely take the position from Williams by end of the year.
  • I have him rated as a top 100 player.

Rashard Higgins

Strengths

  • Good length, looks to have long arms
  • Polished route runner
  • Gains separation on first move
  • Understands how to set down in the zone
  • Drives back to the ball
  • Strong hands.
  • Likes the middle. Very good on in cutting routes
  • Good making contested catches.
  • Great hand eye coordination. Catches the ball at all levels with ease. Doesn’t fight ball
  • Good body control

Weaknesses

  • Thin, could be injury risk
  • May not have top end speed needed.
  • Can be knocked off routes by physical corners
  • Is not a physical 50/50 type player. Can be overpowered
  • Not a real run after catch kind of guy

Summary

  • One of the most polished route receivers in the draft
  • He is a risk/reward type pick with a lot of upside
  • For Cowboys, he would backup Dez at the X (his best position) and he split time at the Y. Would most likely take the position from Williams by end of the year.
  • I have him rated as mid-fourth, a top 110 -120 player.

Leonte Carroo

Strengths

  • Strong hands. Can snatch the ball
  • Uses his whole body on fakes. Good running double moves, it buys him space
  • Understands route concepts and is a good route runner
  • Can shake press coverage pretty easily. Good feet and use of hands.
  • Comes back to the ball well
  • Good adjustment on the low balls
  • Run drags well, weaves through traffic and finds open space
  • Will set in a zone. Knows how find the open space

Weaknesses

  • Undersized at just around six feet
  • Does not look like he has top speed or quickness
  • Is 50/50 on jump balls
  • Has been in trouble with law

Summary

  • Polished route runner with good hands.
  • The biggest concern is whether he has the speed and quickness to separate from NFL caliber corners.
  • For Cowboys he would backup Williams and Dez. Could be a contributor on the coverage teams.
  • I have him rated as a top 130 player

Pharoh Cooper

Strengths

  • Versatile playmaker. Big play capability in pass, run and return game
  • Quick, decisive cuts make him hard to tackle or cover
  • Runs the screen game very well
  • Stop start quickness, quick laterally, ideal for slot
  • Willing blocker
  • Good vision when running and in zones. Can find daylight
  • Will be special teams star
  • Catches the ball well

Weaknesses

  • Undersized
  • Needs more strength
  • Very raw running route tree
  • Needs to improve footwork and techniques

Summary

  • Will be special teams star to start while he improves his route running
  • Will be a playmaker that will get 8-12 touches a game
  • Needs to add strength
  • For Cowboys would be backup and special teams contributor
  • I have him rated as a top 120 player

Bralon Addison

Strengths

  • Quick feet. Quick cuts.
  • Good at faking plant foot and going the other way. It is a quick move that gets corner off balance
  • A running back with the ball in his hands.
  • Good setting up screen
  • Decent route runner but does not run full route tree
  • Big play ability
  • Good returner
  • For his size he can jump and high point. Good timing on leaps.

Weaknesses

  • Undersized
  • Needs more strength
  • Very raw running route tree
  • Has had injury history

Summary

  • Will be special teams star to start while he improves his route running. Could be starting slot.
  • Will be a playmaker that can get 8-12 touches a game
  • Reminds me of a Steve Smith type.
  • For Cowboys would be backup and special team’s contributor. He doesn’t fill a need for the Cowboys. I doubt he is on their radar.
  • I have him rated as a top 130 player

Aaron Burbridge

Strengths

  • Skilled possession receiver
  • Will fight for position and will come back to the ball
  • Smooth route runner, can gain initial separation
  • Understands how to use change of pace to create openings
  • Good hands, will catch in traffic
  • Good body control to adjust to catch the ball

Weaknesses

  • Has average quickness and speed
  • Is only average height
  • Needs to add strength
  • Has had inconsistency and health issues in the past

Summary

  • Possession receiver
  • Will be a the third or fourth receiver
  • Needs to be a special teams contributor
  • For Cowboys he would be the fourth receive backing up all positions
  • I have him as a top 130 receiver

Keyarris Garrett

Strengths

  • Big, tall receiver with good top line speed
  • For a long leg receiver he has some quickness
  • Decent run after catch. Covers a lot of ground in a few steps
  • While not a hands catcher, but he is a better than average at catching
  • Can stop plant and come back on a back shoulder
  • Knows how to shield defender from ball. Uses body lean and hands well
  • Good tracking the ball
  • Good hands eye coordination
  • Will fight for ball

Weaknesses

  • Will have problems with physical press coverage
  • Catches with body, not hands
  • Not super at jump balls. Tries catching with body
  • Not a route runner. Needs to understand route concepts better

Summary

  • Will be deep threat. Can take top off of the defense
  • Can run slants and use body to keep defenders away
  • For Cowboys would be backup to Terrence, could push him
  • I have him rated as a top 150 player

De’Runnya Wilson

Strengths

  • Big, tall receiver with an unusually big lower body. Looks more like a tight end than a receiver
  • He is nimble and quick for a man his size
  • Good, but not great hands
  • A good blocker when he wants to be. Consistent effort is lacking though
  • Will work his way back to ball
  • Understands how to use body to block out receiver
  • Takes a few guys to tackle him

Weaknesses

  • While having a quick first step, he lacks the topside speed you will need
  • May not be able to get separation at the next level
  • Very raw at running routes
  • Lacks basic footwork techniques
  • Worried his body type will add weight quickly and early. Weight gain could be issue.
  • Not good running after the catch

Summary

  • Will be end zone threat, but 4.9 in the 40 will limit him
  • Think he will add weight and will become TE
  • Either needs to shed weight and get faster to be receiver or gain weight to be TE
  • For Cowboys would be backup to Dez and special teams contributor
  • I have him rated as a top 200 player

The Cowboys should look to add a receiver in the draft. Options include Treadwell in the first, but I do not think they will go that route unless they move back in the first.

Other options may include Coleman, Fuller, or Doctson in the second.

In the third they may have an opportunity to pick up Miller or Shepard. There will also be talent in the fourth with players like Lawler or Higgins.

The Cowboys can have some patience with the receiver position this year. They do not have to draft a receiver in the first two rounds to get a talent. My guess is that they will use one of either their third or fourth round picks to grab a speed receiver.

Stay tuned for the next article, which will be on the TE position.

Tommy Simon

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

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