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.
Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)
There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.
I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.
Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…
Stanley Morgan Jr.
|Arm length||31 3/8"||32 3/8"|
|Hand size||10"||9 7/8"|
|20 yard shuffle||4.14||4.13|
|3 cone drill||7.03||6.78|
As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.
The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?
It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.
As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.
This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.
Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?
Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
NAME: Johnathan Abram
SCHOOL: Mississippi State
JERSEY: No. 38
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
HT: 5' 11 3/8"
|Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles|
Johnathan Abram, playing for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, is considered the hardest hitting safety in college football. He's top NFL prospect, who is projected to be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round(s) of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Johnathan Abram's biggest strength as a safety prospect is his ability to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, which is why he's projected to be a strong safety in the NFL. Possesses the prototypical size for the position. He also has the ability and skill set to play a hybrid safety/linebacker role as well.
Abram is at his best when he's playing downhill and sideline to sideline against the run. His size, strength, and physicality allow him to stack and shed blocks like a linebacker. Aggressive tackler who is always looking to deliver a big hit. Also shows good technique to get his head across the ball carrier's chest while wrapping up to make the tackle.
Shows adequate range and speed in coverage. Is able to flip his hips and redirect to change direction quickly, but there is some stiffness there as well. Has the size and athletic ability to match up with tight ends. Shows an understanding of route recognition. His physicality in the run game carries over into the passing game.
The biggest concern about Johnathan Abram's game is his ability, or lack thereof, in coverage. Whether it's an man or zone coverage, he struggles with his responsibilities and can be eaten alive by receivers who know what they're doing. This doesn't bode well for his transition to the NFL, which has become a heavy passing league.
His aggressive nature will get him into trouble in the passing game. Can be clunky in his transitions against good route runners. Will panic and grab when he's caught out of position, which has generated, or should have, flags being thrown. Lack of desired range will keep him from becoming a deep safety, making him a strong safety only.
Questionable ball skills. Only has two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in his career. Struggles locating the ball and doesn't show instincts or anticipation to jump routes. Can be too aggressive against the run, causing him to over pursue and create cutback lanes.
If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a hard-hitting strong safety who excels around the line of scrimmage, then Johnathan Abram is their guy. He is a heatseeking missile when playing downhill or sideline to sideline, and would play that Kam Chancellor type role on the backend of Kris Richard's defense. He has outstanding size and speed for the position, and is a more fluid athlete then he's given credit for. More of a "traditional" throwback safety.
Abram unfortunately struggles in coverage, despite showing good range and long speed. He may be nothing more than a box safety or nickel/dime linebacker in the NFL. This could hurt his chances of landing with the Cowboys, especially if they are looking for an interchangeable safety to pair with Xavier Woods. But, if there are looking for that "enforcer" type of player, they'd probably have to take him at 58 in the second-round because it's unlikely he will still be there when they're on the clock in the third-round.
Dallas Cowboys Make Trades in this 7-round Mock Draft
Though we're still in the midst of the free agency frenzy that took hold this week, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing the grind toward the end of April as they look forward to the most important aspect of roster building for their franchise, the NFL Draft.
As we know by now, the Dallas Cowboys prefer to build their team through draft, supplement their roster with lower cost free agent signings, and retain their own players through contract extensions and resignings. As they get ready for the draft, they'll be exploring all opportunities to improve a roster that made it to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in 2018 with the hopes of advancing even further in 2019.
This is the first installment of mock drafts that you'll see from me here at Inside The Star, and like last year, I wanted to explore what some trade options might look like for the Dallas Cowboys. For this installment, I used Draftek's big board over with Fanspeak's On The Clock Premium Simulator. It allows for trades and allows you to select whether the simulation will use the same big board or multiple big boards to create more variables. I selected multiple, because that's closer to the reality of the NFL Draft. Every team has a unique big board that they're operating from.
All trades went through Draftek's Trade Value Chart, which is what the teams use when assigning value to draft picks.
58 - TRADE
58 to San Francisco for 67 and 86
Because the Cowboys don’t have a first round pick or a sixth round pick and this draft class is deep at several positions where the Cowboys could use some reisnforcements, they’re going into the draft looking to trade back with their first pick.
The San Francisco 49ers come calling and offer picks 67 (3.3) and 104 (4.2) for the 58th overall pick.
Per the trade value chart produced by Draftek, the Cowboys gain 21 points in value from the trade. It’s not a far trade back, as it’s only nine spots. Their ability to pick up an extra fourth is huge.
67 - Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama
With their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, The Dallas Cowboys select Christian Miller, EDGE, Alabama.
Somewhat of a forgotten man on the Alabama defense, Miller exploded for eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his senior season with the Crimson Tide.
Check out The Draft Network's Scouting Report on Christian Miller.
90 - Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas
Admittedly, I’m not as high on Charles Omenihu as some others might be as a second round selection, but as a third rounder, I can see the value in drafting Omenihu to help fortify your defensive line.
The Texas Longhorn product has experience playing on the EDGE, 3-Tech, and 1-tech alignments, and would probably be best suited playing 3-Tech in the NFL.
He reminds me a bit of Tyrone Crawford in that he doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he finds ways to make plays.
He was a productive player at Texas finishing with 9.5 sacks in the season.
Back in February I wrote a film review on Omenihu.
104 - TRADE
104 to the Buffalo Bills for 112 and 131
In another trade back, the Cowboys sent pick 104 in the fourth round to the Buffalo Bills for their two fourth round picks, 112 and 131. Per the trade value chart, the Cowboys picked up 25 points in pick value by trading back eight spots.
112 - Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St.
The Dallas Cowboys could use a safety that can play in the box and Johnathan Abram from Mississippi St. could very well be the guy to line up next to Xavier Woods in the secondary.
In 2018, Abram recorded 99 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defenses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions.
In 2017, he recorded 71 total tackles, diver tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed.
Abram, who will be one of the Dallas Cowboys 30 visitors in preparation for the draft, was a splash player in the SEC.
128 - Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Were it not for the ACL injury suffered by Oklahoma Running Back Rodney Anderson, it’s possible we’re talking about a top 60 selection in this year’s draft. Anderson’s injury history, however, has him consistently available for the Cowboys in the fourth round.
As they look for a backup to Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to find a runner as productive and as talented as Anderson is without paying a premium price.
Like Elliott, Anderson’s a smooth runner, who is able to play through contact as well as make people miss in the open field.
For his career, Anderson averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns. His only full season with the Sooners, he rushed for 1161 yards on 188 attempts (6.2 yards per carry), 13 touchdowns, and caught 17 passes for 281 yards, and five more touchdowns. That’s a touchdown every 11.4 touches.
Prior to being lost for the season in week two against UCLA, Anderson was averaging 10.8 yards per carry.
Read Brian Martin's Draft Preview on Rodney Anderson.
131 - Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Parris Campbell has the speed, quickness, and athleticism to be a threat both in the slot and on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys.
Admittedly, it’s not likely that a player with his athletic traits and production would be available in the fourth round, but in the NFL Draft, there are few guarantees.
Campbell recorded 90 receptions for 1,063 yards, and 23 touchdowns in his senior season with the Buckeyes. He'd be an excellent asset in the slot and on the outside as a speed threat for the Dallas Cowboys.
136 - Ben Banogu, EDGE/LB, TCU
You can never have too many pass rushers, and that’s what the Cowboys believe as they double-up on weakside EDGE players by selecting Ben Banogu from TCU in the fourth round.
Banogu was a very productive player for the Hirned Frogs. For his junior and senior seasons, Banogu averaged 8.5 sacks and 17.25 tackles for loss.
At 6-4, 249, he brings good length to the position and has the frame to add a bit more bulk to help him set the edge in the NFL.
165 - Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
Count me as one who’s excited about the possibility of Blake Jarwin developing into a starting tight end for the Cowboys. He certainly showed over the last half of the season that he’s capable, just needs more experience and playing time. That said, despite the addition of Jason Witten, the Cowboys should still look to add a tight end in the draft, and here’s a good one in UCLA product, Caleb Wilson.
In 11 games for the Bruins in 2918, Wilson caught 60 passes for 965 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception in the PAC 12.
If there’s a knock on Wilson, it’s that he has had some injury struggles in his collegiate career. He has potential to be a move tight end in the NFL with his receiving ability.
241 - Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
There are few prospects that can be had around the fifth round or later that are as intriguing as Baylor Wide Receiver Jalen Hurd.
The first three years of his collegiate career, Hurd played running back for the University of Tennessee and averaged about 4.6 yards per carry. In his freshman season, he ran for 899 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 221 yards receiving on 35 catches and two more touchdowns.
When he transferred to Baylor for his senior season, the Bears coaching staff converted him to wide receiver and he flourished. In 12 games, Hurd caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears also used him as a runner and he gained 209 yards on 48 carries for three more touchdowns.
In his four year career, he averaged 1,070 yards from scrimmage on 193 touches for 8.25 touchdowns. That’s at two different positions and two different schools.
at 6-4, 217 pounds, Hurd has the size to play receiver in the NFL. He has the ability to play both inside and outside and can give you some snaps out of the backfield as well.
Check out Brian Martin's film review on Jalen Hurd.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
This is just one of many scenarios that could take place when the NFL Draft rolls around at the end of April. The possibilities are endless. The Cowboys have several needs on the offensive and defensive side of the football and this draft has players that can fill those areas of need throughout. Obviously, they'll look to draft the best player available when they come on the clock, and these could very well be players that end up with a star on their helmet in 2019.
How would you feel about the Cowboys drafting any of these guys?
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