After watching the Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, the world was introduced to what we as Cowboys fans already knew for months: this team lacks a real pass rusher.
Sure, some guys like David Irving and Demarcus Lawrence makes plays here and there, and flash their potential at times, but Dallas is still lacking in terms of a blue-chip edge rusher.
USA Today's The Draft Wire put out their latest 2017 Mock Draft yesterday, with a bit more accurate projections now that all but four teams know where they'll be picking. With the 28th overall pick in this mock draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley.
Personally, this pick would make me so happy. Takk is a guy I loved watching play during the 2016 season, as he finished with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He's incredibly athletic, explosive, and tends to make those splash plays which the Cowboys defense currently lacks.
In my draft coverage over at Slant Sports, I broke down film from Takk's final college season and came away with a pretty simple conclusion. Takkarist McKinley is going to be a very good professional pass rusher.
"This play is a great example of everything there is to love about Takkarist McKinley as a pass rusher. He is explosive off the ball, has the speed to dip, rip, and win around the edge with ease, and can convert speed to power when countering the tackle’s punch.
McKinley might have the best traits of any pass rusher in the draft. He has ridiculously long arms which help to create separation from the offensive tackle, win the hand battle, and strike and shed to make plays.
He is incredibly athletic for his size, as he recently promised to run a 4.4 40 yard dash at this year’s combine. Of course, we are just taking him at his word here, but his play speed jumps right off the tape."
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Of course, for a player with this much explosiveness off the edge to fall to the 28th overall pick, he has some limitations...
"First and foremost, he is an incredibly raw prospect. While he made many splash plays in 2016, most were due more to his sheer athleticism than his technical prowess. He will need to add a few more pass rush moves to his repertoire in the NFL.
Takk also has the tendency to play with high pad-level, and to stick to blocks at times. He doesn’t have a big frame, and while his hands remain active, they aren’t as “heavy” as some other rushers in this class."
The very raw, but talented, McKinley would make a great addition to a Cowboys defensive line which currently lacks any true speed rushers. Demarcus Lawrence is developing into a solid end, and David Irving continues to get better, but Takkarist McKinley would give the Cowboys pass rush an explosiveness it doesn't yet have.
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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