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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys Select EDGE Rusher Randy Gregory at #60

Bryson Treece

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Draft Blog - Dallas Cowboys Select EDGE Rusher Randy Gregory at #60

And the Cowboys sparked yet another controversy of character with this selection.

Randy Gregory fell in the draft because of his off-the-field issues and a failed drug test at the scouting combine. Even though the experts (and guys I trust, like Dane Brugler) say he's a top talent, the character concerns have weighed heavily on the young man's career transformation to the National Football League. Perhaps the most heavily scrutinized aspect of the pick is the fact that Gregory stipulated in advance of the draft that he would require the assistance of a "babysitter" from which ever team drafted him.

Many criticize the mandate as evidence of his inability to bring value to the Cowboys' defense, but I - and many, many others (@CowboysNation, for one) - believe the fact that he was brave enough to not only acknowledge his short-comings, but seek direct guidance to overcome them, coupled with the experience Dallas has in this area (RE: Dez Bryant), makes for one of the better scenarios Randy Gregory could have possibly hoped for.

Jerry Jones is no stranger to adversity in the locker room. A trait that could very well allow Gregory to outlast his woes on the way to a stellar NFL career in Dallas.

Now, let's take a look over Dane Brugler's evaluation of Gregory from his 2015 NFL Draft Guide:

3. RANDY GREGORY | Nebraska 6047|235 lbs|4JR Fishers, Ind. (Hamilton Southeastern HS) 11/23/1992 (age 22) #4

2011: Arizona Western Community College GRADE 1st Round
2012: Arizona Western Community College (Redshirted) MEASUREABLES Arm: 34 | Hand: 10 | Wingspan: 81 7/8
2013: (13/10) 66/19.0/10.5/1/1 (Nebraska) COMBINE 40-YD: 4.64 | 10-YD: 1.61 | 20-YD: 2.71 | BP: 24 | VJ: 36 1/2 | BJ: 10’05”
2014: (11/10) 54/10.0/7.0/1/0 (Nebraska) PRO DAY 3C: 6.79 | LS: 11.81
Total: (24/20) 120/29.0/17.5/2/1

BACKGROUND: A football and basketball recruit out of high school, Gregory was committed to Purdue, but admittedly had a case of “senioritis” and allowed his grades to decline, failing to academically qualify for the NCAA level. He considered going the basketball route instead, but enrolled at Arizona Western Community College and dominated on the football field as a freshman in 2011, drawing interest from several FBS programs. However, he suffered a broken fibula in his left leg during practice as a sophomore and his recruitment cooled, redshirting and missing the entire 2012 season. He was still committed to Purdue, but de-committed after the coaching change and transferred to Nebraska, choosing the Huskers over UCLA and Oklahoma because of his connection with the coaches. Gregory was an unknown in 2013 at Nebraska, but the redshirt sophomore quickly earned a starting job (10 starts) and led the conference in tackles for loss (19.0) and sacks (10.5), earning First Team All-Big Ten and team MVP honors. He battled through injuries as a junior, but started 10 games and finished with a team-best 7.0 sacks, adding 54 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Gregory again earned First Team All-Big Ten honors in 2014 and chose to skip his final season in Lincoln to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

STRENGTHS: Explosive get-off to burst upfield quickly with terrific speed and range...looks natural in space with easy ankle flexion and change of direction skills to easily redirect and close...fluid dip and body control around the edge with lateral quickness to flatten...long strides to effortlessly accelerate in pursuit to chase and catch ballcarriers – often lined up on the field side with his athleticism to play the run in space...unlocks and uses his length to swim and club as a pass rusher...not shy extending and shooting his hands into blockers with violent, aggressive limbs at the point of attack – initiates the action and enjoys talking to get in the head of opponents...uses his length well to work off blocks with improved hand use to hold the edge – dynamic movements to never be out of the play...competitive and scrappy, always seeking out contact and forcing opponents to account for him...reliable motor and fights to the ball, looking to get involved – not a spectator and won’t give up on plays...improved ball awareness to read the play with quick reflexes, staying home and not overpursuing...doesn’t often lose contain, doing a better job anchoring at the point of attack...experienced at left and right defensive end with his hand on the ground or a two point stance...highly productive during his two seasons in Lincoln (20 starts) with 29.0 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks and 34 QB pressures, including two blocked kicks in 2014.

WEAKNESSES: Lanky frame and trunk with skinny limbs...lean lower body and can be knocked off his feet with below average body girth...questionable growth potential and needs to sustain a consistent weight, allowing for too much fluctuation over his career...can be overmatched by power in the run game, lacking the functional strength to consistently dispose of blockers in his path...struggles to generate pop as a pass rusher without momentum and too easily slowed, even by off-balanced blocks...needs to improve his hand strength to be a consistent finisher once he makes contact...late to recognize zone reads and needs to play smarter...snap anticipation has room for improvement to capitalize on his edge speed...needs to keep his emotions under control and harness his passion...tends to wear down later in games with questionable toughness and threshold for pain, often leaving the field of play for minor injuries...durability needs investigated after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee (Aug. 2014) that caused him to miss one game followed by a concussion (Nov. 2014) that forced him out of another game...history of anti-depressant and marijuana use, including two failed tests during his junior season and a failed drug test at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine – very concerning habit.

SUMMARY: The son of parents both stationed in the Air Force, Gregory moved eight times growing up and played mostly offense until his sophomore year in high school when he settled in as a pass rusher. He wins with his first step quickness, flexible frame and natural length, displaying the explosive traits to be an impact pressure player. Gregory has experience standing up and blitzing different gaps, showing the change of direction skills and developing instincts to play on his feet, but is unproven dropping into coverage as a linebacker. He has a puzzling weight timeline with his pounds fluctuating between 220 and 250 pounds in college, lacking an ideal frame to sustain bulk. Gregory was routinely banged up at Nebraska and the tape shows a concerning trend from game-to-game that will bring up toughness and durability concerns in the NFL. He has the active motor and athletic traits that will excite NFL teams, but he has two strong on-field concerns that create doubt: functional strength and growth potential. Due to those size concerns, Gregory is best suited standing up at linebacker in the NFL with massive NFL upside, but his risk is almost as high, especially with the uncertainty of his off-field habits – top-20 talent with question marks.

With Demarcus Lawrence having a little more experience behind him, and minus an injury that sat him out the first half of 2014, I think Gregory has a shot to come in and make an immediate impact on this defense as a rotational EDGE rusher.


Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.


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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.

Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.

Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.

Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.

But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.

Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.

Drew Davison on Twitter

The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.

With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.

What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?

For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.

But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.

 "If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft. 

For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.

At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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