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Cowboys War Room: How Much Say Will “New” Coaching Staff Have?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys War Room: How Much Say Will "New" Coaching Staff Have?

AT&T Stadium -- In just over two hours, the 2018 NFL Draft will begin from the Dallas Cowboys' home at AT&T Stadium. Over in Frisco, the Cowboys brain trust will prepare to go on the clock with the 19th overall pick. Tonight's pick is one of ten total selections the Cowboys hold - a team experiencing a youth movement on the heels of a nine win season.

Those nine wins were enough for the Cowboys to keep Head Coach Jason Garrett, along with his top coordinators in Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli. Paired with the Jones family and Will McClay, it is pretty well understood who will be making draft decisions in Dallas.

Last year's "controversial" selection of Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton was immediately tabbed as a "Garrett pick", sending McClay on a rarely-seen media tour to perhaps defend his status as the perceived architect of America's Team.

Claiming the Cowboys have a divided war room or anything of the sort is nothing more than a narrative without merit. This team's draft classes have spoken for themselves, as they'll hope 2018 is no different.

Our Staff Writer Brian Martin covered the three prospects the Cowboys are reportedly targeting at 19th overall this morning, and from that we should have plenty of insight on how the decision goes down inside The Star.

Cowboys Draft Target: FSU DB Derwin James

Let's start with Florida State Safety Derwin James, who could be seen as the final piece to a retooled Cowboys secondary. This secondary will be coached by new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, who is already tabbed as the heir to Marinelli's DC position. Richard has shown his prowess in shifting Byron Jones from safety to cornerback for the upcoming season, but will he convince the Jones' to trade assets for James?

The likelihood of an all-around athlete and difference maker like James sliding outside of the top 15 picks is unlikely, but difference making prospects is exactly what the Cowboys are after tonight. They feel there are others, still on defense, with Boise State Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and Washington Defensive Tackle Vita Vea.

Both front seven fortifiers sure feel like Rod Marinelli guys, as the Cowboys are in agreement that Vander Esch could provide needed depth behind both Sean Lee at WILL and Jaylon Smith at MIKE. Based on who we know the Cowboys "like", LVE feels like a safe fallback for Dallas to come away happy with tonight's outcome.

Trading down for arguably the fourth best linebacker available in this first round may make Cowboys Nation feel better, but NFL teams do not often trade away from players they collectively love.

Report: Cowboys, Rod Marinelli View Washington's Vita Vea as "Three Down Player"

Vita Vea is not your typical Rod Marinelli 1T DT, but that bodes well for the Cowboys Defensive Coordinator pounding the table for a prospect that many would view as a steal with the 19th pick. The Cowboys do see Vea as a three down player with the versatility to fit their defensive front, a presence in the middle that would undoubtedly boost the play of rising players like DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Maliek Collins.

That brings us to the Cowboys most glaring team need, which happens to be in new Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal's crowded room of pass catchers. It's likely that we'll never truly know how Lal ranks the top receivers available, with Calvin Ridley projected to come off the board prior to the Cowboys pick.

The Cowboys are going to come away from this draft with a rookie wide receiver for Dak Prescott to throw the ball to, but it may not be tonight. If it is, we are looking at Maryland's D.J. Moore or Courtland Sutton of local SMU.

Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett Attends Courtland Sutton's SMU Pro Day

Whether or not either of these prospects are talented enough in the Cowboys eye to pass on Vander Esch or Vea is what I believe tonight's decision will come down to. The Cowboys war room will watch as their latest first round pick is introduced at his new home stadium in Dallas, with plenty of familiar faces having their say in who that player will be.

Based on the shrinking group of targets the Cowboys have for tonight, their pick will also show signs of influence from new positional coaches expected to significantly improve this team in 2018 - at the cost of those aforementioned familiar faces. Should they make all ten picks, the Cowboys will be a new-look football team by the end of this week.

Happy Draft Day! We are live tonight from AT&T Stadium.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys War Room: How Much Say Will “New” Coaching Staff Have?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska RB Devine Ozigbo

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska RB Divine Ozigbo

NAME: Devine Ozigbo

POSITION: Running Back

SCHOOL: Nebraska

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 22

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'0"

WT: 220

D.O.B.: 10/2/1996

Rushing Rushing Rushing Rushing Receiving Receiving Receiving Receiving Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Nebraska Big Ten FR RB 8 38 209 5.5 1 5 62 12.4 0 43 271 6.3 1
*2016 Nebraska Big Ten SO RB 9 97 412 4.2 5 5 100 20.0 0 102 512 5.0 5
2017 Nebraska Big Ten JR RB 10 129 493 3.8 3 16 123 7.7 0 145 616 4.2 3
2018 Nebraska Big Ten SR RB 12 155 1082 7.0 12 23 203 8.8 0 178 1285 7.2 12
Career Nebraska 419 2196 5.2 21 49 488 10.0 0 468 2684 5.7 21

Highlights:

Devine Ozigbo 2018 ULTIMATE Highlights!!

By the end of the season, Ozigbo had rushed for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. He became Nebraska's first 1,000-yard rusher since Ameer Abdullah in 2014. He also ended with an average of 6.98 yards per carry, which put him at fourth in the Big Ten among players with at least 100 carries.

Pros:

Devine Ozigbo looks the part of a prototypical NFL running back. He has a well muscled/thick frame, with a strong lower half. He is a physical runner capable of playing in a power/gap or zone blocking scheme, but probably projects best as a zone runner. Has the skill set to be a three-down player, with starting potential. Low tread on the tires, only 419 career carries at Nebraska.

Ozigbo runs with good patients on film, "slow to, fast through", which gives his lineman time to secure their blocks. Runs with good power and leg drive, but also has nimble feet with the elite ankle flexion that allows him to make quick lateral cuts to evade defenders. Finisher in short yardage situations. Shows good vision. Waits for defenders to commit to their run fits before hitting the cutback lane. Has surprising burst and elusiveness for a RB his size.

Can be a threat in the passing game both out of the backfield and split out wide. Has shown the ability to run basic route stems when split out wide. Is a solid hands catcher and has shown he can catch passes thrown outside his frame. Quickly goes from receiver to runner and is surprisingly elusive in the open field. His size helps him in pass protection. He has a strong punch and long arms to keep defenders at bay, but also understands how to absorb contact.

Cons:

One-year wonder? The lack of production at Nebraska might be the biggest concern about Devine Ozigbo as a running back prospect. He had to finally transform his body in 2018 to get on the field, but found success once that happened. Can he maintain that kind of discipline in the NFL? There are also concerns about his long speed.

As a runner, Ozigbo may be only a zone runner in the NFL. Might be scheme dependent. There are times on film where he struggles with his vision, especially when there are multiple offensive lineman pulling. Will also struggle with his reads at time. Better when his reads are clearly defined pre-snap. Takes time to hit top speed and it looks lackadaisical at times. Might take time to adjust to the speed of the game at the next level.

In the passing game he has struggled with passes thrown at a high velocity. Has double caught, bubbled, and dropped a number of high velocity passes. This could be an issue, because he doesn't have the softest hands to begin with. Needs to clean up his technique in pass protection. Will telegraph cut blocks, allowing defenders to easily avoid and pressure the quarterback. Could stand to become a better route runner to be more of a factor when split out wide as a receiver.

Cowboys Fit:

Devine Ozigbo is reportedly one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors, suggesting the former Cornhuskers running back is already on their radar. He would immediately become the RB2 behind Ezekiel Elliott as a rookie and give the Cowboys a formidable one-two punch to wear down opposing defenses. He possesses an intriguing skill set, but isn't the change of pace/got back many have wanted to complement Zeke in the running game.

Ozigbo is a physical runner with a surprisingly nimble feet and flexibility for a RB his size. At Nebraska, he was at his best one running inside zone plays, which just so happens to be a staple in the Cowboys zone blocking scheme. He is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and a solid pass protector. Overall, he has a three-down back and someone who could help lighten the load on Zeke's shoulders. He could be a steal for the Cowboys on Day 3, which is where he's projected to be drafted.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Mock Draft: 2 Different Simulators, 2 Different Outcomes

Brian Martin

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7-Round Cowboys Mock Drafts Using Draft Network and Fanspeak

The Dallas Cowboys have done an outstanding job of filling holes with some cost-effective free agents so far in free agency, which should allow them two approach the 2019 NFL Draft without any glaring "needs". This should free them up to take the best player available if they so choose, but they still have to keep the future in mind as well. After all, there are several players on a one-year deal or entering the last year of their contracts.

For this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft exercise I decided to use the mock draft simulators for Draft Network and Fanspeak. I was curious to see the difference, if any, between the two. I have to say, even though I used two different draft simulators, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Let's take a look…

Draft Network

Fanspeak

Rd 2 (58) DE, Christian Miller DE, Christian Miller
Rd 3 (90) DT, Trysten Hill S, Amani, Hooker
Rd 4 (128) OT, Bobby Evans TE, Kahale Warring
Rd 4 (136) S, Marquise Blair RB, Rodney Anderson
Rd 5 (165) WR, Jalen Hurd DT, Michael Dogbe
Rd 7 (241) RB, James Williams WR, Cody Thompson

Even though I used two different draft simulators, you can clearly see the positions I was targeting for the Dallas Cowboys. I think each one of these players I selected can challenge for a starting job in 2019, but at the worst can be solid depth this year and then become starters in 2020.

Let's dive into this a little deeper so I can tell you why a selected each one of these players…

2nd-round (58th overall)

Christian Miller is the only player I drafted in both mock drafts for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of my "pet cats" this year and someone who I believe fits the criteria the Cowboys look for in their defensive ends. I believe he could challenge to be a starter as a rookie, but at worst would be a really good rotational piece with starting potential down the road.

3rd-round (90th overall)

Trysten Hill is a penetrating DT who could challenge Maliek Collins to become the starting three-technique as a rookie, but at the very least be a really good rotational piece with starting potential.

Amani Hooker is someone who I believe could start next to Xavier Woods as a rookie, even after the Dallas Cowboys added George Iloka to the mix.

4th-round (128th overall)

Bobby Evans has the ability to play the left or right tackle position in the NFL and could immediately challenge La'el Collins at RT. At worst, he would be Collins' replacement in 2020.

Sitting behind Jason Witten and learning for a season would be ideal for Kahale Warring, because he does have the potential to become the Dallas Cowboys TE1 in 2020 despite his lack of college production.

4th-round (136th overall)

Marquise Blair is an underrated safety in the 2019 draft class and someone who would also pair nicely with Xavier Woods. He played mostly strong safety at Utah, but as the ability to be a factor in coverage as well.

Rodney Anderson would immediately step in and become Ezekiel Elliott's backup as a rookie. He is an upgrade over Rod Smith and has starting potential if he can stay healthy.

5th-round (165th overall)

Despite signing Randall Cobb, the Dallas Cowboys could use a slot receiver for the future. I personally really like Jalen Hurd as a "big slot". He gives the Cowboys some size at the WR position and a big target for Dak Prescott to throw to in the slot.

Michael Dogbe is another potential three-technique with starting potential for the Cowboys. He'd likely be a rotational player as a rookie, but could take over for Maliek Collins in 2020.

7th-round (254th overall)

James Williams would bring an intriguing skill set to the Dallas Cowboys as Zeke's backup running back. He is arguably the best receiving RB in the entire draft out of the backfield and when split out wide like a WR.

Cody Thompson reminds me of LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp and would play a similar role with the Cowboys. He needs to fine-tune his route running, but I think he can become their future slot receiver.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Blake Jarwin, Giants

Tight end has become a very intriguing position in Dallas. For the first time in 15 years, the Cowboys went through a season without Jason Witten lining up with the offense in 2018. Instead, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz took over and didn't contribute much to a struggling offense. They both had a few flashes here and there, but TE production wasn't really special for the Cowboys last season. Now, Witten is back from retirement and he'll work with the younger guys to upgrade the offense.

However, tight end still feels like a team need at this point. Jason Witten will be 37 years old when the season begins. His speed was a problem during the last years of his career and that problem will likely show on the field now that he's back. The Cowboys made a good decision bringing him back, but he's clearly not a long-term answer.

Jason Witten, FOX Sports, and the Future at Tight End for the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys)

It seems like Witten will get the starts, but don't expect Blake Jarwin to have no say on who's the most important TE on the team. Jarwin didn't have the best stats in 2018 but, how could he? There were only three games last season in which he was targeted more than three times. In those games, he had 229 yards, including a three touchdown performance versus the New York Giants (when he was targeted eight times).

With Kellen Moore taking over as the offensive coordinator, tight ends might be more involved on the Cowboys offense than in previous years. If that's the case, the Cowboys will have Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz on the roster. All three of these guys will be able to contribute. Schultz is the one who's still unproven, but he did a decent job as a rookie both as a blocker and as a receiver on the rare occasions a ball was thrown his way.

We talk about drafting a tight end for the future when the Cowboys might see their future in Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. These two along with Jason Witten are virtual locks to make the roster. The Cowboys would need to carry four tight ends for it to make sense to draft one in the first place.

Fortunately, the Cowboys have done something at pretty much every position of need this offseason, giving them flexibility to take a "best player available" in April. I truly won't be surprised if the front office doesn't prioritize the need for a young TE. If they do, let's hope they get a very good one.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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