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NFL Draft

Cowboys Going Defense at #28, No Matter What? Not So Fast

John Williams

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Defense at 28 No Matter What? Not So Fast. 2
Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Inside The Star staff writer Brian Martin took a stab at a complete 32-team first round mock draft ahead of the NFL Draft that takes place 10 days from now. Understandably, he took Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley at pick number 28 for the Dallas Cowboys. Check out the rest of Brian’s mock draft here.

Much has been made this offseason about the Dallas Cowboys drafting defense. And while I agree that defense is a top priority for pick number 28, Brian got me really thinking about a player that he passed on for the Dallas Cowboys.

WR John Ross.

2017 Draft Class Ideal Landing Spots for Fantasy Football 2

Now I know what you are thinking; the Cowboys don’t need to draft a wide receiver with their first round pick.

I would tend to agree with you, but John Ross is the player that would make me think long and hard about foregoing defense in the first round. Let me tell you why.

Speed is essential in the modern NFL and John Ross has it in spades. His 4.22 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine was a new record in that test.

NFL.com compares John Ross to DeSean Jackson. That’s a player who would have me questioning my need for defense in the first round.

Read the overview from NFL.com’s scouting report.

Ross was just getting started on his way to stardom in Washington when he tore his left ACL in the spring of 2015. He had become known as a kick returner (three TDs in 2013-14) and big-play receiver in limited touches (16-208, TD in 2013; 17-371, 4 TD in 2014) before having to redshirt his third year at UW.

In fact, coaches liked Ross’ athleticism so much he started three games at cornerback (INT, two pass breakups) in a season he gained honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.

In his return to the field in 2016, Ross became a star, garnering second-team All-American honors and first-team All-Pac-12 accolades with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns (tied for second in the nation).

– Lance Zierlein

Defense at 28 No Matter What? Not So Fast.

Imagine for a moment what this offense could look like by adding a player with John Ross’ athleticism and speed on the outside.

Picture that the Cowboys have come to the line in 11-personnel (3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB) and it’s Ross and Dez Bryant on the outside, Jason Witten lined up next to the tackle and Cole Beasley or Terrance Williams in the slot, with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.

As Dak Prescott comes from under center and begins to turn toward the running back, defenses will be caught guessing; handoff or play action pass. You can’t cover both and if you guess wrong you are looking at Bryant or Ross taking one to the house through the air, or Elliott taking the handoff for a big gain as the defensive backs have to cover the pass.

You want a guy who can return kicks? Well Ross can do that too.

As was mentioned earlier, he was beginning to be noticed as a returner before getting injured.

Defense at 28 No Matter What? Not So Fast. 1

Ross accounted for 28 total touchdowns in his three seasons at Washington.

While I still see the rationale in taking defense at number 28, a player like Ross, with his speed and proficiency for scoring touchdowns, takes an already very good offense and makes them elite.

While the Dallas Cowboys are very good at controlling the ball and scoring on long drives, how great would it be to add another guy that can score for you on one play.

John Ross is that kind of player.

I know I’m in a very small minority thinking that defense doesn’t have to be the pick at number 28. If I had to put money on it, I would bet that defense would be the pick, but for a player like Ross, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Cowboys front office decided to take their offense to the next level.

Elite speed doesn’t come around all the time, we shouldn’t be so quick to pass on it.

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I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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2 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    I mean I get it but how long do you continue to ignore defense It doesn’t matter how much you score If you can’t stop anybody you will keep coming up short in the playoffs wen it matters

    • John Williams

      Yeah no doubt. It would be a tough decision. He warrants a discussion though. Especially considering how deep the draft is at EDGE and CB.

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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NFL Draft

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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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