We're just hours away, folks!
Having the number-four pick in tonight's NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are generating as much pre-draft buzz and excitement as at any point in many years. Not only their own fans anxious to see what top-level talent gets selected, but other teams and their followers are waiting to see how Dallas' decision impacts the rest of the draft.
I thought I would share all of my final pre-draft predictions, opinions, and wonders as we all await the start of the festivities. Please chime in with your own. Also, please plan to join me tonight in the Pigskin Hub Live Chat at the following links:
Also, be sure to check out the following resources as you prepare for and enjoy tonight's draft:
- Final Mock Draft covering the Cowboys' first AND second round picks.
- My Cowboys "Big Board" for the top 35 players Dallas should be wanting.
Now, all that business aside....
Almost No Chance of a Trade Down
I don't think the Cowboys will be calling anybody about trying to trade down from their #4 pick. They will have their pick of at least two of Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, or Jalen Ramsey and maybe even all three. Assuming their interest in Myles Jack has cooled with the rising knee concerns, those three make the most sense for Dallas given their perceived and the Cowboys' needs.
That doesn't mean another team won't make an offer, though. If someone is really craving one of those players, or perhaps one of the offensive tackles or even quarterback Paxton Lynch, they may call Dallas about moving up. The Cowboys could be enticed by a generous package of picks like we've seen the Rams and Eagles give up in recent weeks.
One team I'm watching hard is New Orleans, who would seem very interested in a quarterback given Drew Brees' age and expiring contract. The move from their #12 pick to the Cowboys' spot would require at least their second-round pick and at least one more mid-round pick. Dallas would have the leverage and may be able to force next year's first-rounder out of the Saints.
I don't think this will happen but you can't ignore the possibility. Ultimately I think the Cowboys will very happy to land one of the draft's premiere talents at a position of need.
Are We Getting Two Players Tonight?
Speaking of trades, Dallas has the ammunition to try and trade up from their #34 pick in the second round and select another player tonight. Combining that pick with their third-round selection should be able to get them into the 18-22 range. Using their first fourth-round pick would get them to around the 26-30 picks.
If they trade up, don't assume it's for a quarterback. There are several talents at wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker, or the secondary who could prompt Dallas to move up.
I expect Dallas to take either Ramsey or Elliott at #4 despite their glaring need for a pass rusher. If someone like Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd slips down the board then I could easily see the Cowboys moving up for one of them to make sure they've added some help at defensive end.
Why Not Bosa?
As I said in my Big Board I think Bosa will, at worst, be a very solid player who can get you close to double-digit sacks any season. However, that doesn't make him any better than guys we've seen in the past like Greg Ellis or Anthony Spencer. Those players were considered first-round disappointments and neither was taken in the top five of their draft.
Bosa doesn't strike me as the kind of physical phenom who usually emerges as one of the league's best pass rushers. People comparing his combine numbers to J.J. Watt are ignoring two key facts; Watt was over 20 pounds pounds heavier running those drills and crushed Bosa in the bench press.
I like Bosa's floor in that I don't think he will be anything close to a bust. He'll give you enough seasons of good production that you're ultimately satisfied with his tenure. But from a top-five pick I want a guy that I truly believe has a chance at being the best in the NFL at his position. Bosa just doesn't hit that mark for me.
Ramsey vs. Elliott
The Chargers may take care of this for us and draft Ramsey, leaving Elliott as the clear front-runner for Dallas' pick. Assuming San Diego goes with one of the offensive tackles or DeForest Buckner, what should the Cowboys do if they have to pick between the draft's best defensive back and it's best running back?
I stand by what I've been saying for about two years now; there's only so much that extra talent will do to improve Dallas' running game. DeMarco Murray, a former third-round pick with one great season to his name, broke records set by one of the greatest backs to ever play for the Cowboys or any team.
Dallas has built an offensive line that will continue to get league-leading production out of solid to even marginal talent. Darren McFadden didn't start getting starter touches until Week 6 and was still the fourth-best runner in the NFL last year. He did it with a rookie playing at left guard and no passing game to help take the pressure off.
The Cowboys line will be better this year than ever before. Zack Martin and La'el Collins are entering their third and second years. Collins could take an especially dramatic leap. The hopeful returns of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to healthy status will diversify the offense and open up even more lanes for runners.
In 2014 the Cowboys rode that combination of high run production and efficient passing to a 12-4 record, the NFC East crown, and a playoff win. However, their season ended in Green Bay because the defense could do nothing to stop an injured Aaron Rodgers.
Everyone comparing Elliott and the offensive line to the days of Emmitt Smith and the Great Wall are forgetting how strong that 90s defense was. Right now we only have a couple of guys who could've played with that crew.
The chance to get a Jalen Ramsey doesn't come often. Guys with his upside aren't hanging around the middle or late parts of the first round. If you don't like McFadden or Alfred Morris then don't worry, because we can still find upgrades for them in any draft class. Ramsey presents a far rarer opportunity.
I don't care what anyone says about Ramsey being a better safety than a cornerback. If that's true then play him at safety and enjoy what teams like the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Chargers have with the likes of Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, and Eric Weddle. As I said with Bosa, I want guys who I think can be the best in the league at their position. If you think Ramsey can be the best safety in the NFL then I have no issue with him at the #4 pick.
Bottom line; our offense already has enough talent to win a Super Bowl. Our defense doesn't. Ramsey's the pick.
Let's just hope the Chargers don't like him, too.
2018 NFL Draft: Cowboys to Hold Visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller
The Dallas Cowboys have been
frustratingly unsurprisingly quiet through the start of free agency, as their opportunity to improve at the AT&T Stadium hosted 2018 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. Offensive line depth remains a team need for the Cowboys, one they're actively looking to address by visiting free agent Guard Marcus Martin while planning a pre-draft visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller.
I'm told UTEP Guard Will Hernandez is another of Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors. Hernandez joins Alabama WR Calvin Ridley and UCLA G/T Kolton Miller on the list of reported visitors for the #Cowboys. Since 2014, 14 of Dallas' 35 picks (40%) have been pre-draft visitors.
Protecting one of the top quarterbacks available in the draft in Josh Rosen through college, Kolton Miller absolutely blew up the Combine in Indianapolis - entering the draft as one of the most athletic available linemen.
It is this athleticism and versatility that the Dallas Cowboys should absolutely be looking for, if trying to add another "blue chip" player to an offensive line already featuring LT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, and RT La'el Collins.
Kolton Miller with the broad jump world record for an offensive lineman at 10 1 wow
Tyron Smith's health (along with the level of play the Cowboys received at his spot in his absence) and the FA status of Jonathan Cooper are both reasons the Cowboys should consider adding a new, controllable option to their dominant offensive line. Whether this is with the 19th overall pick, or later on with a prospect like Miller, will depend on how the board falls through the first 18 picks of the draft.
With ten total picks coming in, the Cowboys could be positioning themselves for a move up the board to land an impact defender, or an additional piece for Kris Richard to work with in the defensive backfield. Staying home at 19th overall and selecting a player capable of playing swing tackle would not only be a safe option for the Cowboys, but a smart one with Ezekiel Elliott returning full-time to the lineup in 2018.
Without Elliott for six games in 2017, the Cowboys still managed nine wins. This is a point lost to most of Cowboys Nation, especially those watching the entire playoffs without their team in it, only to watch the Eagles hoist the Lombardi. Elliott's impact on each's week game plan for Dallas is hard to understate, and the Cowboys' trust in him begins up front.
Testing as an elite athlete with the film to match at tackle in the Pac 12, Kolton Miller should be a welcome addition to America's Team - getting the opportunity to learn the Cowboys' way with a trip to The Star in his future.
Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?
There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.
Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.
The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.
@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!
To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.
In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.
All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.
The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.
The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.
It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.
Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?
Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley
With NFL Free Agency buzz at full speed this week, Dez Bryant is one of the most intriguing names in the Dallas Cowboys world. We all know the story. We've been talking about it since last season. Bryant, who was once among the "Top WR of the league" conversation, doesn't look like an elite player anymore.
That doesn't mean he is a bad football player, but the problem is that he's getting paid big time.
The Dallas Cowboys, who have struggled with cap space for many years now, may want to avoid paying $16.5M to a player who isn't justifying his paychecks on the field. Big name and all, it certainly doesn't feel that way.
His lack of production on the field the last three years is concerning, even though he's played with quarterbacks not named "Tony Romo." There are other receivers around the league who have played with bad quarterbacks and have still been able to produce.
Even still, it wouldn't be easy to replace Bryant on the offense just like that. Right now, top free agents are already off the market, so if Dallas wants to replace him, it'd have to be via trade or via the NFL Draft.
ICYMI: A few things to consider as we wait on news about Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys https://t.co/cCNpXmhARe
Right now, it seems that Dez is going to remain a Dallas Cowboy and after seeing the contracts other receivers in the league are about to get, who knows if a pay cut will even enter the equation.
Even if Dez keeps wearing the Star every week next season, wide receiver is still one of the team's top needs. Despite the fact that Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are some very well-known names, the truth is this offense needs a guy who can create separation and be harmful as a deep threat.
This is a draft class with a lot of depth at wide receiver, and the Cowboys could find contributors at the second or later rounds. Even still, if they're on the clock at 19 and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is available, the front office should pull the trigger.
Yes, even if Dez is still on the team.
Despite last year's struggles, we shouldn't lose faith on the Cowboys' offense when it has a lot of talent. We believed in this group to take us to the Super Bowl. What they are missing could just be a new, dynamic wide receiver.
Calvin Ridley is by far the best WR in the Draft this year and will be an impact player anywhere he goes. Despite a poor showing in the Combine, Ridley proves to be worthy of a first round pick on tape. Ideal route-running, great ability to separate and more than enough speed for the NFL.
This would certainly take a lot of pressure off Cole Beasley's shoulders, who was constantly double-teamed last year. Sure, he's still good, but if he continues to run into double-coverage, Dak Prescott and company will probably continue to struggle another year.
It's tough to imagine Calvin Ridley being available at 19, especially with the Baltimore Ravens holding the 16th overall pick. However, some people believe there's a 50/50 chance he's available once Dallas is on the clock. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't pass on this prospect.
Ridley could very well end up being the most productive receiver for the Cowboys in 2018 becoming an essential "best friend" for Dak Prescott.
We've seen how other front offices have made friendly offenses for their young QBs and if Calvin Ridley is what it takes, why even think about it?
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