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Did the Cowboys Pre-Draft Visitors Reveal Their 2019 Draft Strategy?

Brian Martin

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Did Cowboys' 30 Pre-Draft Visitors Reveal Their 2019 Draft Strategy?

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys and their draft strategy, knowing the prospects they bring in for their allotted 30 pre-draft visits is a really good indicator of the direction they will go come draft day. Over the past several years they've targeted these players in the draft, which is why this year I decided to keep a pre-draft visitor tracker for the Cowboys.

So far, I've been able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 Cowboys pre-draft visitors and I think it's safe to say Dallas may have shown their hand a little as to how their 2019 NFL Draft strategy may play out. It takes a little reading between the lines and a little creative thinking, but because of the players they brought in I can confidently guesstimate their thought process for the first three rounds.

Let's take a look…

Dallas Cowboys Targeting Safety at 58?

Juan Thornhill

Virginia S Juan Thornhill

The Dallas Cowboys haven't been shy about showing their interest in several of the safety prospects in this year's draft class. I have been able to confirm six so far they have brought in as pre-draft visitors, and at least four of those could be in play for the Cowboys with their second-round pick at 58th overall - Taylor Rapp (Washington), Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State), Juan Thornhill (Virginia), and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida).

Now, there's no way of knowing if any of these safety prospects will still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock at 58, but this would indicate they are hoping that is the case if you read between the lines. I personally think there is a really good chance at least one, if not all four, of the safeties will still be on the board for Dallas. I actually prefer Thornhill or Gardner-Johnson because I believe they are more versatile players, but would be just as happy if Rapp or Abram ends up being the pick.

Looking at Dynamic Wide Receivers at 90?

Mecole Hardman

Georgia WR Mecole Hardman (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

On paper it looks like the Dallas Cowboys have a logjam at wide receiver, but outside of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and maybe Randall Cobb they are all basically unknown and unproven. That's why I wasn't completely surprised to see the Cowboys add four WRs to their allotted 30 pre-draft visitors - Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), Mecole Hardman (Georgia), Emanuel Hall (Missouri), and Jon'Vea Johnson (Toledo). Samuel, Hardman, and Hall could slide and be in play for Dallas at 90th overall in the third-round.

I am completely on board with drafting another WR with the Cowboys third-round selection. Having said that though, it needs to be a player who brings something a little different to what is currently on the roster and I think Samuel, Hardman, and Hall definitely fit into that criteria. Each one of these receivers are dynamic in space and could seriously challenge for large amount of playing time as rookies, especially when you take into consideration Cobb's recent injury history.

Pencil in Defensive Tackle in the Fourth-Round

Trysten Hill

Central Florida DT Trysten Hill

We would all probably like to see the Dallas Cowboys address the defensive tackle position earlier than this, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lot of value at the position in the second or third-round when the Cowboys are on the clock. The fourth-round seems to be where the best value is for the Cowboys to add more DT depth, especially if you take a look at their pre-draft visitors at the position.

Four of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are defensive tackles, and each of them could be in play still for them in the fourth-round. Gerald Willis III (Miami), Trysten Hill (Central Florida), Kingsley Keke (Texas A&M), and John Cominsky (Charleston) are all projected to be drafted somewhere in this range and they all make sense for the Cowboys. They have several DTs on the roster right now on one-year contracts and definitely need to address a position at some point. The fourth-round looks to be where the value lies unless one of the top prospects somehow slides to them at 58.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys pre-draft visitors revealed their draft strategy?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Special Teams

Jess Haynie

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Brett Maher, Chris Jones

Some have argued that the words "kicker" and "punter" don't belong in the same sentence as "NFL Draft." But just last year, six special teams players were drafted by NFL teams. Could the Dallas Cowboys consider such a player with one of their 2019 draft picks?

From 2009-2018, various teams have drafted 19 kickers and 18 punters. The highest pick was a second-rounder; Tampa Bay's selection of Roberto Aguayo in 2016. Outside of one pick in the third round and another in the fourth, the other 34 picks have all been in rounds 5-7.

The Dallas Cowboys have only contributed on pick to this total. In 2009 they selected David Buehler in the fifth round, two years after using a sixth-round pick on Nick Folk.

Ten years later, could Dallas finally use another draft pick on special teams?

There are a few of factors that make this possible. For one, the Cowboys are already fairly loaded with talent across the roster. A late-round pick spent at any number of positions would have a hard time surviving final cuts.

Second, in terms of the quality of player versus the round, there's no better value than on special teams. You can possibly get the best kicker in the country in the fifth or sixth round; no other position offers that.

Lastly, and most importantly, the Cowboys have a pretty clear opportunity to upgrade at kicker. They also could use the draft to save some cap space by making a change at punter.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

As I've written about beforeBrett Maher was a Jekyll & Hyde kicker in 2018. He was brilliant from long range but a major liability closer in, and his 80.6% total field-goal accuracy was near the bottom of the league.

While Maher's distance is a true asset, does it outweigh the risk of him missing a game-winning FG from 35 yards? And what about extra-point kicks, for that matter?

Dallas should certainly bring Brett back in 2019 to compete for the job. Remember, he was still Dan Bailey's backup until close the start of the regular season. Perhaps a full offseason as the primary kicker would help him stabilize his game.

But given the uncertainty, the Cowboys could easily justify spending a late-round pick at kicker. They could potentially land LSU's Cole Tracy or Utah's Matt Gay, two of the top prospects in this draft class.

The worst-case scenario is that Maher beats one of these guys and you cut them. But there was a high probability that you'd have cut whoever you drafted at another position anyway. Essentially, you'd have spent a late draft pick as an insurance policy against Maher's development.

That's not bad business. In fact, maybe you'd be able to trade that kicker at final cuts to a team who suffers a preseason injury or is otherwise dissatisfied at the position. There's a chance you could even recoup your draft pick.

6 Cowboys Players Primed To Make Their First Pro Bowl

Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Another consideration is at punter. Chris Jones has been a very solid one for a while now, but he turns 30 in July and counts $2.3 million against the salary cap. Could the draft give Dallas a chance to get someone younger and cheaper?

Let's say Dallas drafted one of the nation's top punters like Jack Fox out of Rice or Stanford's Jack Bailey. They'd have that player on a four-year rookie deal costing roughly 20% of what Jones' does.

Dallas could trade or release Chris Jones for $800k in 2019 cap relief, or $1.8 million if he's cut after June 1st. That would push $1 million of dead money onto the 2020 cap.

Those aren't big numbers, so the real gain here is if you think one of the top rookie punters could match or even exceed Jones' play. Then you've got that player on the cheap for the next four seasons.

I would not predict that the Cowboys will spend a draft pick at either kicker or punter, but the point of all this is that you can't entirely dismiss it. 2019 presents the right mix of circumstances for Dallas to consider it more than they have in the past, especially considering how long Dan Bailey was a fixture on the roster.

Brett Maher doesn't enjoy that same status. Dallas could easily look at some of the top kickers available and think that an upgrade is possible.

Will that lead to the Cowboys spending a draft pick on special teams for the first time in a decade?

Draft Likelihood: 10%
Projected Round: *6th-7th

* The Cowboys don't currently have a 6th-round pick, but could acquire one in a potential trade.

~ ~ ~

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NFL Draft

Potential CB Prospects Dallas Cowboys Could Target in Each Round

Brian Martin

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Potential CB Prospects Cowboys Could Target in Each Round

It has somewhat flown a little bit under the radar, but Dallas Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard has been touring around the country working out several cornerbacks in this year's draft class. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering into the last year of their contracts, it wouldn't be all that surprising if the Cowboys draft a CB at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the cornerbacks the Dallas Cowboys could target in each round in which they hold a draft pick. In order to keep it as realistic as possible I tried to narrow it down to the potential CB prospects that fit Richard's parameters. We all know he likes those tall, lengthy defensive backs and that's what I tried to focus on.

Let's take a look…

Second Round

Joejuan Williams

Vanderbilt CB Joejuan Williams

Justin Layne, Michigan State

Justin Layne was a four-star wide receiver recruit coming at a high school, but ended up becoming a three-year starter on the other side of the ball at cornerback during his time at Michigan State. He has tremendous ball skills due to his background at receiver and has the size and length (6'1", 192) Kris Richard covets in his defensive backs. He needs to continue to improve is overall technique, but he has Day 1 starting potential.

Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt

Joejuan Williams was a two-year starter during his time at Vanderbilt and primarily played press and off-man coverage. At just a smidge under 6'4", Williams typically towers over the wide receivers he faces, which has allowed him to find success at this point because of his mere size and length. He has the skill set and athleticism to become an eventual starter in the NFL, but really needs to develop his mechanics and the mental side of his game a little more.

Third Round

Jamel Dean

Auburn CB Jamel Dean

Jamel Dean, Auburn

After overcoming three major knee injuries earlier in his career, Jamel Dean eventually became a two-year starter to finish his career at Auburn. He has elite size (6'1", 202), length (31 3/4" arms), and speed (4.3 40-yard dash), but his durability is a red flag moving forward. He also needs to play with a little better mean streak, especially in press man coverage. The talent is there though and he has a chance to develop into a really good starting CB if he can stay healthy.

Isaiah Johnson, Houston

Isaiah Johnson is another player with elite size (6'2", 208), length (33" arms), and speed (4.4 40-yard dash) at the cornerback position and is someone Kris Richard has met with and worked out on a number of occasions. Johnson was a former three-star wide receiver recruit coming out high school before making the switch to CB his final year in Houston. He played mostly bail technique for the Cougars and is still really raw as a CB prospect, but he has immense upside. He will likely need a year or two to further develop his craft before he can be relied upon.

Fourth Round

Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky

There are actually three Kentucky defensive backs the Dallas Cowboys could target, but Lonnie Johnson Jr. is the top-ranked prospect so far. He has the size, length the Cowboys are looking for, but he really needs to refine just about every aspect of his game before he's ready to compete at the next level. He has tremendous instincts which has gotten him to this point, but he's going to have to develop both technically and mentally if he wants to find any kind of success in the NFL. All of the tools are there though.

Jordan Brown, South Dakota State

Jordan Brown was a three-year starter at South Dakota State, playing primarily press and off-man coverage. He has the size, length to play as a boundary corner in the NFL, but only has average top end speed. He is a competitor with a scrappy mentality that unfortunately runs a little hot and cold at times. He plays with good balance when making his transitions, which allows him to stick with receivers. Overall, he is a solid developmental mid-round pick with starting upside.

Fifth Round

Michael Jackson

Miami CB Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, Miami

Michael Jackson was a two-year starter at Miami on the right side, playing mostly press man. He is a good-sized athlete with the kind of length and athleticism Kris Richard is looking for in his cornerbacks, but he has shown a tendency to struggle against savvy route runners. He's not the most fluid of athletes and will struggle in his transitions, so he might fit best in a defensive scheme that plays a lot of zone or cover 2.

Kris Boyd, Texas

Kris Boyd was a three-your starter during his time in Texas and played on both the right and left side, often times shadowing the opposing team's best wide receiver. He plays with the desired competitive nature and checks all the boxes as far as size, speed, and athleticism are concerned for a starting caliber cornerback. But, he plays undisciplined and doesn't trust his eyes, often times causing him to arrive late with his reads. If he can become more disciplined he could be a steal this late in the draft.

Seventh Round

Chris Westry

Kentucky CB Chris Westry (Photo By Donald Page)

Chris Westry, Kentucky

Chris Westry was a three-year starter at Kentucky, but gradually started to see his playing time decrease with the emergence of Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Derrick Baity Jr.. At 6'4", 199 pounds and legitimate 4.35 speed, Westry has extremely rare size and speed for the cornerback position. Unfortunately, he is a better athlete than he is a football player right now and might be nothing more than a developmental project.

Derrick Baity Jr., Kentucky

Derrick Baity Jr. worked his way into the starting lineup at Kentucky as a freshman and ended up becoming a four-year starter. He has excellent size for the position (6'2", 197) and is light footed with good ball skills, but he doesn't play with the kind of physicality you'd think from my player his size. He is an untrustworthy tackler and undisciplined with his fundamentals. His size and ball skills should get him drafted, but he might be nothing more than a developmental project.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Will A Quarterback Be Considered?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: Will A Quarterback Be Considered?

Dak Prescott is the current and future starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Let's make that clear.

Prescott has done more than enough over the first three years of his career to earn this "franchise quarterback" title, and the contract he will eventually receive from the Cowboys' front office.

But that doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't consider drafting a quarterback this year. Or next year. Or the year after that.

Quarterback is the game's most important, and highest paid, position. It's the position where a player can most greatly effect a game individually, both positively and negatively.

And it's the position you must make sure is accounted for heading into any new season. Yes, the Cowboys clearly trust now fourth-year quarterback Dak Prescott, but adding talent to your QB room is never a bad thing. In fact, it's typically a great thing.

Behind Prescott are Cooper Rush and Mike White. Rush beat out now-offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for the backup job during the 2017 preseason, and then held off rookie Mike White in 2018 to maintain the job.

When the Cowboys drafted White, however, they had dreams of a new backup quarterback in mind. White didn't perform as well, or progress as quickly, as some had hoped leaving Cooper Rush as the unquestioned QB2, however.

Is Cooper Rush good enough, though?

This is a question which really is yet to be answered. And if the Cowboys have it their way, it will never be truly answered. He was excellent during the 2017 preseason, no doubt about it. But he was, well, bad last year. Rush and the offense struggled mightily during the preseason, and while lack of offensive line depth didn't help him, Rush's play didn't spark much optimism or excitement either.

The Cowboys would be wise to consider drafting a quarterback later in the 2019 NFL Draft, but they shouldn't spend too much time worrying about it either way. The backup quarterback, especially behind Dak Prescott, will bring his value in terms of game-planning and aiding Prescott, rather than with his actual arm talent.



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