The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group had a very productive 2019. Amari Cooper set career high’s in yards (1,189), touchdowns (8), and yards per catch (15.1). Second-year sensation Michael Gallup doubled his efforts from his rookie season with 66 receptions for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns. Lastly, nine-year veteran Randall Cobb had 828 yards as a third option.
Now, as the 2020 season approaches, the Cowboys have a few decisions to make at receiver with several unrestricted free agents. Cooper will be the team’s top priority once Dak Prescott‘s deal is done, and the anticipation is he won’t be let out of the building.
Cobb signed a one-year deal worth five million last offseason and wouldn’t require much financial commitment to be retained. His history with new Head Coach Mike McCarthy, going back to their days in Green Bay, makes him one of the top candidates to return next year.
Tavon Austin is also set to hit the open market, and with very little impact since he arrived in Dallas in 2018, he’s probably seen his last days with a star on his helmet.
That leads to an opportunity for the Cowboys to upgrade the wide receiver position in April’s NFL Draft. With a deep class entering the league, we could see a plethora of them selected in the first round. There’s one receiver in this class, however, that could be there for the taking in round two and have an instant impact for the Cowboys, and that’s Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk.
He started his collegiate career at Sierra College in 2016. As a freshman, he registered 29 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns while also being named to the All-Big 8 team. A year later, he would be selected as a Junior College All-American as he racked up 60 receptions for 960 yards and 14 touchdowns in addition to over 700 total kick return yards.
This led to Aiyuk transferring to Arizona State for his final two years of eligibility. He chose the Sun Devils over other offers from Colorado State, Kansas, Tennessee, and Alabama because they saw him as a receiver and not just a return specialist. In 2018, he would total 33 receptions for 474 yards and three touchdowns while also adding 406 return yards.
He would be named third-team preseason All-Pac-12 heading into his senior year, and he didn’t disappoint. Aiyuk finished with 65 receptions for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns. Also, he totaled 672 return yards and added an additional trip across the goal line. He would be named first-team All-Pac-12 for his efforts.
Aiyuk is an interesting prospect for several reasons. At 6’1 205 pounds, he has all the physical measurables you want. He not only has the ability to play outside but you can slide him inside as well. This would give the Cowboys the opportunity to move Cooper and Gallup around more and not let the team’s key in on them because they’ll have to pay so much attention to Aiyuk. His speed makes him a deep threat which will also make it hard to swing coverage to Cooper or Gallup. Finally, as mentioned earlier, being a return specialist is also in his tool bag, which could fill the void the aforementioned Austin has failed to since he’s been on the roster.
Watch “Brandon Aiyuk 2019 Highlights” on YouTube
With Prescott headed for a lucrative payday, you want to provide him with as many weapons as possible. Cooper is a top 10 receiver, Gallup is one of brightest young stars as the position, and Cobb, if he returns, is one of the league’s best slot options. Adding another piece like Aiyuk would really make the Cowboys passing attack extremely difficult to stop, and make a life for All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott even easier.
Of course, this all depends on if Aiyuk makes it to the Cowboys on day two. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III are expected to hear their names called in the first round. Also, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Clemson’s Tee Higgins will be off the board early. This makes it more of a possibility that Aiyuk will be available in the second round, and if he is, the Cowboys should turn in his draft card, expeditiously.