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Could Cowboys Find Another Starting Safety From UConn?

Brian Martin

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Could Cowboys Find Another Starting Safety From UConn?

It was just two short years ago that a safety/cornerback from the University of Connecticut started making waves in the scouting circles. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, you know that player to be none other than #31, Byron Jones.

Jones was the talk of the scouting world at the time and certainly didn’t disappoint at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine when he put on a jaw-dropping performance. That performance helped him to get drafted in the first round (27th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2015 NFL Draft.

UConn isn’t exactly known for churning out a high number of NFL prospects, but there is a former Husky that could pique the interest of the Cowboys come draft time.

Much like Byron Jones, Obi Melifonwu, another talented UConn safety, has really started to open up a lot of eyes in the scouting community.

Melifonwu recently measured in at 6’4″, 219 at the Senior Bowl, and he has scouts drooling over his size and athleticism.

Could Cowboys Find Another Starting Safety From UConn? 1It is rare to see a player with that kind of size and athleticism playing the safety position. Often times, the 6’4″ defensive backs have trouble sinking their hips and redirecting in coverage, but that’s not one of Melifonwu’s weaknesses.

The former Husky safety moves really well for player his size and it’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was a busy man at the Senior Bowl and met with a number of teams, including the Cowboys.

We all know that the Dallas Cowboys will likely address the safety position at some point this off-season, especially with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox possibly leaving in free agency.

Obi Melifonwu makes a lot of sense and that could mean that we see history repeat itself come draft day if the Cowboys pull the trigger on yet another UConn safety.

I don’t know if it’s ever happened before in the history of the NFL that a team has two starting safeties from the same school, but that’s the way things could turn out.

How cool would that be?

Melifonwu would fit in nicely on the backend of the Cowboys defense next to Byron Jones. It would give defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli two athletic interchangeable safeties, which would mean we would no longer have to worry about Wilcox or Church being a liability in coverage.

Melifonwu may look like a strong safety because of his size, but he has really good range as well. Both he and Jones are more than capable of not only playing down the box, but also playing that single high safety.

CBS Sports currently has Obi Melifonwu listed as the third best strong safety and the 73rd  overall player in their rankings.

The Dallas Cowboys are likely hoping that Obi slides a little bit and is still on the board in the third round when they are on the clock at 92. But, that might be wishful thinking with the buzz he has already created so early in the draft process.

I expect he will continue to rise up draft boards the closer we get to April. That means the Dallas Cowboys will likely have to use their second round draft pick (60th overall) if they want to secure his services.

Unfortunately, will have to wait until April to see how things ultimately turn out.

Does Obi Melifonwu sound like a safety the Cowboys could use?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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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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4 Comments
  • Albert Smith

    I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him in the back-end of our defense we would shutdown TE’s but I think it’s a possibility he’s going to have to be taken before our 3rd round pick it just depends on how the board looks, it’s so many player’s that stock has risen even before the combine that we’re bound to catch a few breaks.

    • Brian Martin

      Albert, you’re right. He is likely to climb draft boards tthe closer we get to the draft. Hopefully with a little luck the Cowboys can get him in the third round. There is no way of knowing what the Cowboys big board actually looks like, but right now I still have him ranked as a third round player.

      • Albert Smith

        Agreed, we’ll just have to see how it all plays out but I’m confident we’ll have another good haul.

        • Brian Martin

          They’ve been doing a much better job of finding players through the draft these past few years. I’m confident they will do so again this year.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?
Brad Loper / The Dallas Morning News

Four of the five starting offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys were first round selections in the NFL Draft. Left Tackle Tyron Smith, Center Travis Frederick, and most recently Right Guard Zack Martin have all done their part in establishing the Cowboys’ identity up front — collectively signaling a culture change in Dallas as the team has thrived with their running game.

Considered a bust prior to starting alongside Frederick and (mostly) Smith at left guard for the Cowboys this season, Jonathan Cooper is also a former first-round pick who will now enter free agency. Add in the once projected first-round status of RT La’el Collins, and the Cowboys offensive line is truly a modern football masterpiece — a crafty collection of talent that does well to not handicap the team’s salary cap.

Coming off of a 9-7 season defined by who wasn’t on the field through crucial stretches, a serious case could be made that no absence set the Cowboys back more than that of Tyron Smith in 2017. Lingering back issues remaining a concern, Smith missed three games entirely this season, also exiting the Cowboys’ final home loss to the Seahawks after one series.

Without Tyron Smith in the lineup, the Cowboys did their best to get franchise QB Dak Prescott killed. In a loss that began with a stretch of three straight in week 10 at Atlanta, Prescott was sacked eight times with Chaz Green unable to hold up at LT.

Chaz Green

Dallas Cowboys OT Chaz Green

Thinking all the way back to training camp in Oxnard, Green was originally the favorite to be the Cowboys’ starter at LG, after Collins made his transition to RT. Starting Cooper allowed the Cowboys to instead keep the injury-prone Green as tackle depth off the field, having Collins as additional insurance inside should the line be forced to reshuffle.

Of course, Cooper also did not survive 2017 without injury, departing the Cowboys’ meaningless week-17 win in Philadelphia with a knee injury. All indications are that he should be ready for next season, whether he is with the Cowboys or elsewhere.

This sudden uncertainty on the Cowboys’ offensive line warrants this question:

Should Dallas use the 19th pick on another offensive lineman?

The Cowboys could get maximum value out of this pick by drafting a tackle with the ability to start his career at guard. In a draft class that lacks “star power” at the top, where the best overall player may be Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson, making this safe pick at 19th overall is far from the worst thing the Cowboys could do.

In doing so, there is no hiding the fact the Cowboys would have to ignore more pressing needs elsewhere on both sides of the ball. Plugging Jonathan Cooper back in at left guard, and looking for depth behind Smith later in the draft or in free agency could open up the board elsewhere in the first round. If recent history is any indication, this will basically be the Cowboys approach leading up to the draft.

The Cowboys don’t like entering the draft pigeonholed at any one position, allowing them to draft the best player available.

Last year’s draft also tells us a pure “BPA in round one” approach is far from reality for the Cowboys, as Head Coach Jason Garrett made his winning pitch for Michigan DE Taco Charlton over other highly graded prospects in Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys: What's The One Thing That Makes The OL Great? 1

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith, RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick

Knowing how well this current front office and scouting staff evaluates offensive line talent, making the greatest strength even stronger feels like one of the most reassuring ways for the Cowboys to return to form in 2018. Expecting 16 games out of Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys could be much closer to the 13-win team they were in 2016, or 12-win team of 2014 with a better-than-ever OL and healthy defense.

As the Cowboys roster stands currently, there aren’t many positions where immediate starters could be drafted in the first round or beyond.

Defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, and wide receiver stand out as four potential areas in need of young talent.

Whether or not the team feels like they can wait to continue building their fast-developing defense or add weapons for Prescott until later in the draft — or wait to risk seeing their offensive line actually hold them back again — is going to be a difficult decision that will leave some fans unhappy, no matter the outcome.

For a talented team with ten picks in this 2018 NFL Draft, starting the roster build in April by hitting on a potentially needed OL pick at 19th overall feels like a great way to get the Cowboys back on track.

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?” 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

Sean’s Scout: UTSA’s Marcus Davenport Fills Pass Rush Need for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: UTSA's Marcus Davenport Fills Pass Rush Need for Cowboys
Daniel Dunn / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is not often at all that a team picking 19th overall may be out of range to draft a small school prospect, but this is rightfully the case for the Dallas Cowboys and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. For scouts who only care about how these prospects can help their NFL teams, Davenport has all of the traits to be an impact defensive end the second he enters the league.

Should the Cowboys find themselves in position to draft Marcus Davenport in the first round, he would fill an immediate need as another pure pass rusher to pair with DeMarcus Lawrence.

Firmly a first round player on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, let’s take a closer look at Davenport’s potential fit in Dallas.

Davenport5 – Streamable

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What is most exciting about Davenport’s projection to the NFL is that he’s an ideal right defensive end prospect that played mostly on the left side in college. That means Davenport is stout against the run as a powerful player who also displays freakish speed, dip, and balance as a quarterback hunter.

“Simply forcing offensive tackles to respect his rare combination of speed and dip allows Marcus Davenport to knock them backwards with hands-above-eyes technique.”

Davenport1 – Streamable

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This quote and accompanying film clip comes from my full scouting report on Marcus Davenport on Slant Sports. There simply aren’t many EDGE prospects at the top of any given draft as complete as Davenport, while still showing elite upside to get even better.

Davenport does not exactly have a plan for each of his rushes, but pointing him at the quarterback on every play from the RDE spot in Dallas could do him nothing but good from day one. This is a player who captures the corner with ease, thanks to his burst and length, doing so with the balance to absolutely punish blockers.

When Marcus Davenport hits someone, they go backwards. This is a great thing to say about any defensive prospect, particularly a pass rusher who can also bend the corner.

Davenport4 – Streamable

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“There simply aren’t many snaps on which he allows a blocker to work inside of his frame.”

The only slight projection that has to be made on Davenport playing defensive end with the Cowboys is his transition from playing mostly in a two-point stance to putting his hand on the ground. This technical change does little to affect a defensive end’s pass rush approach.

The strength Marcus Davenport shows in his hands is absolutely stunning, and equally as impressive is his controlled acceleration ability. These two traits alone are more than enough to expect Davenport to be able to beat left tackles at the next level with consistency, attacking them before they can reach this lengthy prospect.

“Tapping into Davenport’s full potential could be as simple as getting him in the habit of rushing the half man on every rep, but expecting him to do so right away is a projection.”

With Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli notorious for getting the most out of his defensive linemen, there is no question that Dallas is an ideal landing spot for Marcus Davenport to instantly reach his full potential.

The key to unleashing Davenport on the NFL will be teaching the mental aspects of the position to a player who dominated with raw traits in college.

Davenport3 – Streamable

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The Cowboys have some numbers to sort out at defensive end before the draft, as the likes of Charles Tapper and Randy Gregory could potentially give them enough of a presence across from Lawrence to warrant looking elsewhere with the 19th overall pick.

Of course, Dallas also used last year’s first selection on DE Taco Charlton — who took major strides in his game towards the end of 2017.

None of this should deter them from reinforcing their defensive front with another versatile pass rusher.

Marcus Davenport has a legitimate case to come off the board within the first 15 picks of the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, making him a great value for the Cowboys, slated to pick 19th.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

My latest scouting report is UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. Get to know this tenacious EDGE prospect — https://t.co/Fm9FYpNvsT https://t.co/DBcLiQEYhP

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: UTSA’s Marcus Davenport Fills Pass Rush Need for Cowboys” 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 Land Small School WR in Latest PFF Mock Draft

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft
Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post

It’s officially draft season around the NFL, meaning — whether you like it or not — it’s now mock draft season. Pro Football Focus is the latest of the national football media outlets to release a mock draft. Their version of the draft was controversial towards the top, but their pick for the Cowboys was equally intriguing.

PFF has the Cowboys taking Colorado State Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, with the 19th overall pick, a player they graded with a 92.1 in 2017.

“Dallas could go a number of ways here, but they add another receiving threat in Gallup, who can win with speed down the field and toughness at the catch point. He was the nation’s top-graded receiver in 2017 at 92.1 overall, and he adds another weapon for QB Dak Prescott.”

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Michael Gallup. As I stated in my scouting report of Michael Gallup for Slant Sports, I believe he is one of the top-five receivers in the 2018 draft class. Gallup caught 100 passes last season for Colorado State, finishing with 1,413 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

At 6’1″ and about 200 pounds, Michael Gallup is the perfect productive Z receiver that any NFL offense would want.

nfldraft2018 michael gallup 2 – Streamable

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Gallup is a smart, athletic, and tough wide out, with consistent hands and excellent ball tracking skills. He was incredibly productive in college, and should be able to contribute to an NFL offense right away as a rookie.

Drafting Gallup in the first round, however, may not be the best move.

I think he’s a fantastic day-two option for the Cowboys. But if they were to pass on Vita Vea and Roquan Smith for Michael Gallup, as they did in this PFF mock draft, I don’t think Cowboys Nation would be too happy.

Of course, this is just one of many mock drafts circling around the inter-webs, but Michael Gallup would be a great fit for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas desperately needs this type of wide out in their offense, but I hope they can get him 50th overall, rather than 19th.

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