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Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: Kansas State DE Jordan Willis

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: Kansas State DE Jordan Willis

Jordan Willis' name is one that has picked up steam in relation to the Dallas Cowboys and the 2017 NFL Draft as of late. Solely based on the position he plays, a productive defensive end prospect out of Kansas State, this is not at all surprising. Talks of the Cowboys needed improvements in this draft at pass rusher have only succumbed slightly to the same talks about their secondary since the start of free agency.

Will Jordan Willis be the prospect that Dallas pulls the trigger on in the first round - by far their safest spot to grab the consensus first or second round DE - and would his traits justify the pick?

Let's find out.

2017 DE Jordan Willis Vs Texas - Streamable

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Jordan Willis plays with a constant motor that allows him to make plays off the edge even when offensive tackles get a good set against him.

If you stopped reading this quote from my full scouting report on DE Jordan Willis at Slant Sports at "constant motor", you aren't unlike many in Cowboys Nation that are tired of seeing defensive line guru Rod Marinelli get little to work with along his actual line.

While part of this is the recently-extended Defensive Coordinator's own doing in trusting his ability to mold every high motor pass rusher, it's also just the beginning for an impressive player like Jordan Willis.

Not dominant in any one area as a true pass rusher, Willis has an outstanding feel for how to use his body in positioning but also his 33.5″ arms to disrupt passes...

Willis may not "wow" with any one trait as a pass rusher, but his flash plays are a thing of beauty, and are often a result of his hustle combined with the technical skill to set up blockers up the field and power back to the football.

Likely a left defensive end in the Cowboys' scheme, Willis tested much better than expected at the NFL Combine athletically, leaving no doubt that he can hold the point of attack as a left end in addition to using his active hands to get into the backfield.

2017 DE Jordan Willis Vs Texas - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When Willis is able to get a good first step up the field, his hand work is at its best as a rusher.

As mentioned, there has already been a lot of talk about Jordan Willis' fit as "the guy" to fix the Cowboys pass rush - much of it somewhat pessimistic due to his lack of bend and consistency.

However, I see Willis as a prospect with a higher floor than most late first-round defensive ends, with the ceiling to be just who Dallas needs. Pad level is rarely an issue for Jordan Willis, and when he is able to capture the edge with some initial quickness he shines as a nicely polished rusher that can both extend and snap or pin and drive into the backfield.

On a consistent basis, it is certainly fair to say that Jordan Willis' lack of strength on initial contact with offensive tackles is a bit concerning, as is his bend in not getting steered behind the pocket.

An incredibly aware player, Willis is always looking for ways to fight back to the football and put his stamp on a play. In run defense, Willis will hold the point of attack by extending against his blocker while being able to fluidly turn and chase as well.

Ideally used in the Dallas Cowboys' patented pass rushing rotation to start his career anyway, Jordan Willis can quickly overcome some of these issues by benefiting from situational snaps as both a base LDE or Nickel RDE.

With more than enough flash plays at both spots, the Cowboys can feel comfortable with a player like Willis in using the traits that made him successful against top collegiate competition at the NFL level. Additionally, they already know Willis meets their measurement thresholds - perhaps better than any defensive end in this draft.

Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: Kansas State DE Jordan Willis 1

Jordan Willis was able to stand out in a loaded class of 2017 NFL Draft EDGE prospects at the Combine, dominating from Indy with the college tape to match his performance.

Jordan Willis' 4.53 second 40-yard dash time is a full quarter-second faster than the Cowboys' "prototype" defensive end based on past draft history - even exceeding their apex for this Combine drill by over a half second at 4.59.

If watching Jordan Willis run 40 yards in a straight line doesn't sell you on his fit with the silver and blue, he also matches Dallas' apex of 125" in the broad jump with a 1.58 ten-yard split.

Finish your evaluation of Jordan Willis both at the Combine and on film with the fact that his three-cone drill was the best out of any EDGE prospect in Indianapolis by a full 0.6 seconds (a critical measurement that shows a player's change of direction and burst ability), and it's not hard to imagine that the pass rusher we've been waiting for is within Kansas State's Jordan Willis.

Going back to my complete scouting report for Willis, he earned a second-round grade on my live 2017 NFL Draft Board. While there are an abnormal amount of first-round talents in the 2017 Draft, the Cowboys will still likely be staring down a board left with second-round players on the clock with the 28th overall pick.

If this is indeed the case, get ready for Jordan Willis' phone to ring.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Target: Kansas State DE Jordan Willis" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott

Sean Martin



2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire)

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.

Josh Norris on Twitter

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.

Tell us what you think about "2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”

Kevin Brady



Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

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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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions

"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.

It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.

CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama

CBS Sports' R.J. White:

"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."


The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.

For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.

Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington

USA Today Draft Wire's Jacob Infante:

"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."


The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.

Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.

An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.

Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia

Drafttek's Long Ball:

"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."


This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.

Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.

Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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