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NFL Draft

Film Room: Bruce Anderson Could be the Lightning to Zeke’s Thunder

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson

The Dallas Cowboys can't continue to play with fire in 2019 the same way they did last season. They need to find someone who can lighten the load on Ezekiel Elliott's shoulders, because he is the engine that drives the entire offense. If he were to go down with an injury it would be catastrophic.

As much as I like Rod Smith, he just wasn't talented enough to cut into Zeke's touches. He did well for himself in 2017 as a substitute during No. 21's suspension, but simply isn't the right kind of complement/change of pace back the offense needs from their RB2. It's time to find that player.

Enter Bruce Anderson, former North Dakota State running back.

I believe Bruce Anderson could be exactly the kind of RB the Dallas Cowboys need behind Ezekiel Elliott. He could be the lightning to Zeke's thunder. But, don't take my word for it. Continue to read below to see some of the clips I put together to showcase Anderson's intriguing skill set.


2019 Senior Bowl Weigh-in

Bruce Anderson, RB, North Dakota State | Ht: 5-11 1/4 | Wt: 209 | DOB: 6/20/97

Measurements- Arm: 32 1/4 | Hand: 9 | Wing Spin: 76 3/4


North Dakota State is a power running football team. They use a lot of multiple tight end sets and a fullback in their offense. Bruce Anderson has shown he's more than capable of being successful in this kind of scheme, but I think might be even better in a zone blocking scheme like the Dallas Cowboys incorporate on offense.

The first play I want to share with you is one that kind of highlights all of Bruce Anderson's strengths as a running back. He uses his unique skill set to go a little Beast Mode for an impressive rushing touchdown.

Anderson going Beast Mode:

beast mode Bruce Anderson

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

This was hands down my favorite play I saw from Bruce Anderson in all the games I studied. I think it displays his strengths as a running back and why I'm so intrigued by his unique skill set.

I love how Anderson continues to press to the outside before using his vision to find the cutback lane. The defense has to respect his speed to the outside, causing them to over pursue. Anderson takes advantage of this, exploiting their mistake. Before the defense knows what to do he is past the second level and using his power to run over their last line of defense. He then turns on the jets on his way to the end zone.

Anderson Running Downhill:

Bruce Anderson inside power run

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

Like I mentioned earlier, North Dakota State is a power running team. Try to ignore the fact this was a perfectly blocked play by the offensive line and watch Anderson's approach to the line of scrimmage and how patient he is before exploding through the hole. He waits the perfect amount of time for his lineman to secure their blocks.

I also want to draw attention to how he keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and runs with his pads over his knees. He is ready to absorb the contact that never comes, all the while keeping his eyes/head up. I think this is important because often times we see RBs drop their head a little bit and it causes them to lose sight of where they're going.

Anderson's Balance and Agility:

Bruce Anderson balance/agility

No Description

The above play is another one of my favorites from Bruce Anderson. This is him making something out of nothing, and doing so quite impressively if I do say so myself. It's an impressive display of balance and agility.

This is a play Anderson should've been tackled for negative yardage, instead he turns it into a 15+ yard gain. He is able to slip the first tackle and maintain his balance before getting hit once again, which caused him to spin 180° around all the while maintaining his balance. He then tight ropes the sideline showing off his balance and agility once again before capping off the run with an impressive leap that picks up an extra 5 yards.

Anderson's Pass Catching Ability:

Bruce Anderson receiving threat

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

As you can see from the play above, Bruce Anderson is a natural hands catcher and can be a threat in the passing game in the NFL. This was a simple wheel route out of the backfield that he was able to take to the house for a touchdown.

Anderson immediately puts the defense in a bind due to his free release out of the backfield and speed to quickly get down the field. He then shows the proper hand placement to snatch the ball out of the air and isn't phased at all with a defender diving at his feet. He of course will need to expand his route tree in the NFL, but he has the tools to do so.

Anderson's Ball Security:

Bruce Anderson ball security

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

I probably place more importance on ball security than most people, but it absolutely drives me nuts to see a player put the ball the ground. Luckily, I was pleased to see Bruce Anderson has been coached up to carry the ball high and tight while also securing the points of the ball between his elbow and hand.

You can see from the clip above Anderson putting the ball close to his chest as soon as he takes handoff off and keeps it high and tight even while running through traffic. In doing so it makes it extremely difficult for defenders to strip the ball as evidenced above. Anderson simply spins out of the attempt and picks up extra yardage.

✭✭✭✭✭

As you can see, there is a lot to like about Bruce Anderson and his potential fit with the Dallas Cowboys. They have supposedly already met with him at the Senior Bowl, so we know he is at least on their radar. I believe he would make a really good addition to the Cowboys backfield and be a good change of pace back to Ezekiel Elliott.

I don't know about you, but I see a little Alvin Kamara when I watch Anderson play. He has a lot of the same qualities as a runner and receiver and can be utilized in the same manner. I think he's an intriguing mid-round running back option for the Cowboys.

Do you think RB Bruce Anderson would be a good fit with the Cowboys?



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

Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.

Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

https://t.co/0NAzPv0bvY

Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.

If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.

Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.

It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.

The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.

Tell me what you think about "Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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

Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys defense was one of the better units throughout the season, but it wasn't without its flaws. An area where they struggled was in creating turnovers and at times against the run. As good as they were in 2018, they have positions where they can use upgrades; defensive tackle and safety. Xavier Woods showed a lot of promise in his second season with the Dallas Cowboys and should continue to be a prominent player moving forward, but Jeff Heath's full-time role may have run its course. Today we're going to look at Darnell Savage Jr, safety from Maryland.

Per College Football Reference, Darnell Savage Jr. stands at 5-11 and weighs in right at 200 pounds. In his last three years at Maryland he played in 35 games. He averaged 56.67 tackles, 2.67 interceptions (3.5 per season over his last two seasons and four in his senior season), and three tackles for loss over his final three seasons. He had eight pass deflections as a junior and two more as a senior.

Savage could be a player that's in play for the Dallas Cowboys at number 58 of the second round.

I watched the Texas and Temple Games from 2018.

Darnell Savage Jr. Film Notes

  • Maryland lined him up in two-deep cover two looks a lot and dropped him into different coverages. From his two-deep alignment, he would move into cover-3, cover-4, and man coverages.
  • Temple or Texas looked to avoid him as part of their game plans. The one time the either Texas or Temple through his way, he came down from his 2-deep look into man coverage and jumped a five yard out route and intercepted the pass, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown.
  • He's excellent in diagnosing bubbles screens and swing passes. On several occasions he met the ball carrier five yards behind the line of scrimmage and dropped him for a loss.
  • Savage wraps up in the open field against. Once he diagnoses the play, he gets moving toward the ball in a flash.
  • Willing to take on bigger blockers and receivers with the ball in their hands. Stymied the 6-4 225 pound Lil' Jordan Humphrey from Texas on a bubble screen after Humphrey had broken one tackle. Savage wrapped him up and brought him to the ground.
  • Temple attempted to run a reverse after the hand off and Savage came all the way from across the field to meet the runner for a six yard loss.
  • Plays with excellent speed and aggressiveness when he sees the play. Sometimes Savage gets caught watching the action on his side of the field and doesn't recognize what is happening in the middle or opposite side of the field.
  • Several times on the read-option, it appeared that he didn't recognize that the QB had given the ball away. It could be that he was schemed to take the quarterback, but one time the runner went against the grain to Savage's side of the field and he was unable to get to him before he scored a short touchdown.
  • Maryland had Savage cover tight ends and wide receivers and again, Temple and Texas didn't throw his way much at all.
  • Again, in a two-deep safety look came up from 10 yards deep to make a play on a toss to the running back and tackled him for a four yard loss. It's dangerous to run things to the perimeter with this guy. If he gets to the line of scrimmage unblocked, he's bringing you down.
  • When blocked on runs to the perimeter, he does a good job of stringing the play to the outside. Savage works his blocker and doesn't give up on the play. He fights to get unblocked in order to make a play.
  • When a team runs play action or hands the ball off out of shotgun or pistol formations, Savage is slower to react and diagnose the play. He'll need to get quicker in processing what's happening there at the next level.
  • One of the more impressive plays I saw him make was on a trick play. Temple attempted to run a wide receiver pass to the outside. Everyone bought the wide receiver reverse and even Savage did too, but was able to use his quickness and speed to make up five yards of separation that the Temple receiver had on him to be in good coverage. The Temple receiver wasn't able to come down with the catch and Savage's coverage affected that.

Summary

Darnell Savage Jr. doesn't have a ton of height, but he's an explosive player who can play down in the box and in two deep looks for the Cowboys. He's a guy that would pair well with Xavier Woods as you could use those two interchangeably depending on the matchup you face week-to-week. He's an aggressive player who uses his speed to get into the play and cause disruption. Savage could be around for the Dallas Cowboys at 58 and if they don't sign one of the big name free agent safeties, should be the selection. If he isn't a day one starter, he'd be starting by the end of the season.



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NFL Draft

Pre-Combine Position Rankings: Sorting Out The Tight Ends

Kevin Brady

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Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists

It's pretty much universally agreed that the Dallas Cowboys have a need for a starting tight end, particularly one who can stretch the field as a receiving threat.

Despite not having a first round pick, this class should give the Cowboys an opportunity to add tight end talent to their roster through the NFL Draft.

Will that be TE1 talent, though? Or will it just be another replacement-level tight end on a roster which already seems full of them?

Let's get into my top 5 tight ends of this 2019 class, and see what they could potentially bring to the Cowboys this season and beyond.

1. TJ Hockenson, Iowa

The clear TE1 in this class is TJ Hockenson. The 2018 John Mackey Award winner earned his way to the top of this list with his versatility, lining up in-line and as a slot receiver for Iowa during his college career.

At 6'5" 243 pounds, Hockenson looks like he was made in a tight-end producing lab, and he has the athleticism and ability to maximize his build.

In the run game TJ Hockenson is a good blocker, showcasing excellent effort and competitiveness through his blocks. A technical route runner with good hands, a plus-catch radius, and legitimate yards-after-catch ability, Hockenson has a chance to be the very first offensive skill player off the board this Spring.

2. Noah Fant, Iowa

Hockenson's teammate at Iowa, Noah Fant, comes in at number two on my tight end rankings. While Hockenson is the more well-rounded of the two players, Fant certainly has more athletic upside. I expect him to test better than Hockenson will at the combine, and has the receiving skills to be a real threat at the next level.

Noah Fant fits the bill for a modern NFL tight end, flexing out wide and threatening defenses vertically with his receiving ability. A long player with good route running ability and speed, Fant is able to create separation against defensive backs in a variety of ways.

Fant is far from a one-trick pony, and would be an excellent addition to a Cowboys offense which is yearning for this type of flex-threat from the tight end position.

Unfortunately, he won't last anywhere near 58th overall.

3. Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Cowboys Draft Target: Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.

Can I interest you in a tight end who averaged 16.3 yards per catch and scored 7 touchdowns last season? If so, meet Alabama's Irv Smith Jr.

Smith is the number three tight end on my board entering the combine, and I really don't expect him to drop whatsoever in the coming months. Smith is an athletic player who runs good routes and offers excellent run blocking ability. He's not as refined as Hockenson nor as athletic/explosive as Fant, but he combines the in-line and flex abilities of the two to a certain extent.

Smith is the first somewhat-plausible target for the Cowboys on this list, though I'd still be surprised if he lasted until 58th overall.

4. Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Jace Sternberger came out of nowhere last season at Texas A&M. Relatively unknown before the 2018 season, Sternberger finished the year with 800+ yards and 10 touchdowns on 48 catches, and earned All-American honors for his production.

Now he has a chance to be a second round pick in the 2019 draft, and is finding himself mocked to the Cowboys by many major draft media outlets. Sternberger fits the prototype of the modern receiving tight end, with better speed and hands than most others in his class. Though he is still raw in many areas, his upside is intriguing, and there's no doubt he's a pretty good player as is.

Like the first three, it's hard to imagine I will move Sternbeger any lower than fourth in this class, and he is a legitimate option for the Cowboys 58th overall.

5. Isaac Nauta, Georgia

While the first four tight ends on this list will make their money with their passing game production, Georgia's Isaac Nauta looks like more of an old-school run blocker. Nauta is right up there with any tight end in this class in terms of blocking, and would be an immediate contributor to the Cowboys' run game in that area.

He's still growing in multiple areas as a receiver, however, such as his route running and yards-after-catch ability. Still, I think Nauta is much better as a receiver than his college production would suggest. He, like others in that talented Georgia offense, got lost in the shuffle a bit, and didn't get the number of targets he could have seen elsewhere.

There's a real possibility Nauta is available at 58 when the Cowboys pick, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were the pick either.



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