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Dallas Cowboys Draft: Is Stanford’s Solomon Thomas Worth Trading Up For?

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Draft: Is Stanford's Solomon Thomas Worth Trading Up For?

Super Bowl LI was the best possible ending to the 2016 NFL season – except for one thing. The Dallas Cowboys weren’t playing, and ever since this reality set in with their Divisional loss to the Packers, I’ve been scouting defensive line prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft over at Slant Sports. The Cowboys’ need for improvements along the defensive line is a well-known problem now, and solutions to this problem will be plentiful throughout the draft.

Even if they stay home and draft off of their board with the 28th overall pick, they can likely find EDGE talent – as my recent three round mock lands UCLA’s Takk McKinley in Dallas with this pick.

Should the Cowboys want to trade up and land a premier defensive line prospect though, Solomon Thomas of Stanford could be their guy. With the talent to instantly make a difference on Rod Marinelli’s defense, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this Cardinal Junior could be the missing piece for America’s Team in advancing through the playoffs in 2017.

2017 DL Solomon Thomas VS Colorado – Streamable

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With his best reps coming against guards, Thomas’ incredibly strong legs never stop driving, which often sets him up to shed blocks at the point of attack and finish.

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Solomon Thomas, and quickly gives you a feel for his natural strength, power, and size. An absolute force for any offensive guard to deal with, Thomas’ most explosive rushes come from the 3T DT position, where Dallas is already well off with Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, and Maliek Collins all capable of producing at the position.

What still makes Thomas a target for a potential blockbuster trade on draft night with the Cowboys is his ability on tape to translate his skill set seen as an interior rusher to the left defensive end position.

…his NFL projection to me comes down to the “ceiling vs. floor” debate. Thomas’ ceiling is certainly high, and while it may not be as astronomically high as other true EDGE prospects in this draft, it is his floor that makes him a special player.

The 2017 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded with EDGE talent, and thus there are different types of rushers that will fit each team’s needs differently. It would be unfair to pair Thomas with the true speed defensive ends that many in Cowboys Nation covet, but he would be an elite strong side base DE with the Cowboys in year one.

2017 DL Solomon Thomas VS UCLA – Streamable

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What made the 2016 Dallas Cowboys draft class so special this past season was their depth, as a fourth round pick won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a sixth round pick stepped up to play a major role at cornerback. Obviously, trading away the picks that could land the Cowboys their next Dak Prescott or Anthony Brown would drastically change expectations for this draft compared to the last – but that is nothing more than a compliment to the star that Solomon Thomas could soon become in the NFL.

…Solomon Thomas is going to be a fixture on any team’s defensive line for a long time in the NFL

It is time long overdue for the Cowboys to fix their defensive line, and drafting young talent at the position is the best way to go about this. Whether they evaluate the talent left on the board with the 28th overall pick, or try to move up and get their guy like Solomon Thomas, a pass rush is the last realistic thing standing between Jason Garrett’s team and a Super Bowl.

As far as I’m concerned, Solomon Thomas could be this pass rush, and is well worth moving up for on draft night.

Tell us what you think about “Dallas Cowboys Draft: Is Stanford’s Solomon Thomas Worth Trading Up For?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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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 wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    Just before our season ended I was already doing mocks and Thomas was always my target. At that time I was not hearing his name discussed by scouts and pundits but somewhere along the line the cat came out of the bag and everybody has moved him up their board. Now pretty much every mock I do he is going in the top 10 every time. Of course that is some algorithm doing the picking. But I hear some like him better than Jonathan Allen. However, as much as I like Thomas it might be a little rich to move up into the top 10 to take him. If I’m moving up at all I would be moving up to take Myles Garrett. For me this draft is more like a move back draft into early 2nd round and stockpile more picks and take advantage of the depth at our positions of need. Of course it also depends on who might fall to us at #28. Combine starts in 21 days!

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      I’m convinced that it would take a trade to the #1 overall pick to get Garrett, but you’re right about where this team would need to go to get Thomas. Top 10-12.

      • Randy Martin

        Definitely would have to be pick #1 to get Garrett and I wouldn’t advocate for that. Would cost too much and we need more picks, not less. I think if we can do some trade backs in a couple rounds we can pick up additional picks. With quality depth at DL, CB, TE, and WR, I would like more trips at the plate to increase my chances for hitting it out of the park!

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?
Brad Loper / The Dallas Morning News

Four of the five starting offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys were first round selections in the NFL Draft. Left Tackle Tyron Smith, Center Travis Frederick, and most recently Right Guard Zack Martin have all done their part in establishing the Cowboys’ identity up front — collectively signaling a culture change in Dallas as the team has thrived with their running game.

Considered a bust prior to starting alongside Frederick and (mostly) Smith at left guard for the Cowboys this season, Jonathan Cooper is also a former first-round pick who will now enter free agency. Add in the once projected first-round status of RT La’el Collins, and the Cowboys offensive line is truly a modern football masterpiece — a crafty collection of talent that does well to not handicap the team’s salary cap.

Coming off of a 9-7 season defined by who wasn’t on the field through crucial stretches, a serious case could be made that no absence set the Cowboys back more than that of Tyron Smith in 2017. Lingering back issues remaining a concern, Smith missed three games entirely this season, also exiting the Cowboys’ final home loss to the Seahawks after one series.

Without Tyron Smith in the lineup, the Cowboys did their best to get franchise QB Dak Prescott killed. In a loss that began with a stretch of three straight in week 10 at Atlanta, Prescott was sacked eight times with Chaz Green unable to hold up at LT.

Chaz Green

Dallas Cowboys OT Chaz Green

Thinking all the way back to training camp in Oxnard, Green was originally the favorite to be the Cowboys’ starter at LG, after Collins made his transition to RT. Starting Cooper allowed the Cowboys to instead keep the injury-prone Green as tackle depth off the field, having Collins as additional insurance inside should the line be forced to reshuffle.

Of course, Cooper also did not survive 2017 without injury, departing the Cowboys’ meaningless week-17 win in Philadelphia with a knee injury. All indications are that he should be ready for next season, whether he is with the Cowboys or elsewhere.

This sudden uncertainty on the Cowboys’ offensive line warrants this question:

Should Dallas use the 19th pick on another offensive lineman?

The Cowboys could get maximum value out of this pick by drafting a tackle with the ability to start his career at guard. In a draft class that lacks “star power” at the top, where the best overall player may be Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson, making this safe pick at 19th overall is far from the worst thing the Cowboys could do.

In doing so, there is no hiding the fact the Cowboys would have to ignore more pressing needs elsewhere on both sides of the ball. Plugging Jonathan Cooper back in at left guard, and looking for depth behind Smith later in the draft or in free agency could open up the board elsewhere in the first round. If recent history is any indication, this will basically be the Cowboys approach leading up to the draft.

The Cowboys don’t like entering the draft pigeonholed at any one position, allowing them to draft the best player available.

Last year’s draft also tells us a pure “BPA in round one” approach is far from reality for the Cowboys, as Head Coach Jason Garrett made his winning pitch for Michigan DE Taco Charlton over other highly graded prospects in Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys: What's The One Thing That Makes The OL Great? 1

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith, RG Zack Martin, C Travis Frederick

Knowing how well this current front office and scouting staff evaluates offensive line talent, making the greatest strength even stronger feels like one of the most reassuring ways for the Cowboys to return to form in 2018. Expecting 16 games out of Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys could be much closer to the 13-win team they were in 2016, or 12-win team of 2014 with a better-than-ever OL and healthy defense.

As the Cowboys roster stands currently, there aren’t many positions where immediate starters could be drafted in the first round or beyond.

Defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, and wide receiver stand out as four potential areas in need of young talent.

Whether or not the team feels like they can wait to continue building their fast-developing defense or add weapons for Prescott until later in the draft — or wait to risk seeing their offensive line actually hold them back again — is going to be a difficult decision that will leave some fans unhappy, no matter the outcome.

For a talented team with ten picks in this 2018 NFL Draft, starting the roster build in April by hitting on a potentially needed OL pick at 19th overall feels like a great way to get the Cowboys back on track.

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Draft: Time for OL in Round 1 Again?” 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

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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