The 2013 NFL Draft has come to a wrap. Just like that the months of anticipation seem senseless as we pretended to know what was going to happen.
The Cowboys came in with a different strategy as we anticipated but came out with a huge haul of guys with extreme upside.
The Cowboys didn’t walk away with the three starters we all thought they needed to. However, they did walk away with dynamic weapons that serve as above average depth and are now loaded up and down the depth chart.
Here is how I graded this year’s draft
Center Travis Frederick
The Cowboys are catching a lot of flack for drafting Frederick and rightfully so. They surrendered the 18th overall pick when a top prospect is on the board.
That’s all in the past now though.
The selection of Frederick will forever be known as a reach but it will not forever be known as a bad value. Offensive centers are hard to come by, especially good ones. The Cowboys got one here.
What you get with Frederick is a road-grading, mean interior lineman who is an excellent anchor in the center of the offensive line. Yes, he’s slow and might struggle at times but he has good size and eliminates defenders once he gets his hands on them.
Frederick is a good character, high IQ type player who diagnoses plays well. He can make the reads on the offensive line and take some of the pressure off of Romo’s pre-snap routine.
I expect Frederick to be a career type guy along with Tyron Smith who will make Cowboys happy for years to come.
Grade: A – Probably more of an A minus considering how much they did reach for him but he’ll be an asset to the offensive line and Tony Romo moving forward.
Tight End Gavin Escobar
Escobar is talented receiver who is really disciplined in his routes. He has extremely sure hands and will be an explosive playmaker for the Cowboys in the red-zone.
What you see with Escobar is strictly a receiving tight end but you see some glimpses of blocking ability and assume that Jason Witten will help him with technique to improve.
Overall, Escobar gives the offensive a completely different look. The Cowboys will now operate out of a base “singleback” package that will create mismatches in two tight end sets. The truth is that the Cowboys will be able to employ a two tight end set that the teams in the NFC East won’t be able to cover due to weaknesses in coverage.
Grade: B - Love the player but question the pick with some of the other guys available.
Wide Receiver Terrance Williams
What Williams offers the Cowboys is a legitimate outside receiver who an allow Miles Austin to effectively move to the slot and not worry about coverage adjustments. Williams is a weapon and one that will be utilized often in the Cowboys offense.
Another thing is that Austin isn’t exactly reliable and the Cowboys missed having a true outside receiver to fill in the void when he’s out. Williams offers an insurance policy as well as future star to keep along Dez Bryant for the foreseeable future.
Grade: A – Williams really fits what the Cowboys are looking to do moving forward.
Safety J.J. Wilcox
Wilcox is really as dynamic as they come. He is raw and slightly inexperienced but he has a tremendous skill-set.
Wilcox is an aggressive player with a mean attitude. He isn’t afraid to initiate contact and diagnoses plays well. Wilcox is always around the ball, playing with a wreckless abandon but sometimes getting overly aggressive.
Wilcox played running back and wide receiver before converting to safety. He has good speed and is really rangy. I like his instincts but he needs to hone is pure coverage skills. He’ll be fun to watch as he progresses.
Grade: A – Might take some development but he’s easily a starting caliber safety.
Cornerback B.W. Webb
I thought that this was weird pick but not a bad one. B.W. Webb is a guy who is extremely solid in pass coverage. He has exceptional ball skills and instincts when in coverage and he excels in man-press coverage.
Webb isn’t an asset in run support so it makes me wonder how he fits in the cover 2 defense. Regardless, Webb is still physical enough to make you enamored with his prospects.
Webb won’t overtake Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne but he’ll compete with Orland Scandrick for the slot position. It’ll be fun to see what this trio of press-corners do in what appears to be a hybrid version of the Tampa 2.
Grade: B+ - Not a good overall pick in terms of scheme fit but considering value and skill-set this pick is tremendous.
Running Back Joseph Randle
This is going to be real quick. There is a ton of things that Joseph Randle does well. He is a three-down, all-around back that will eventually become a feature caliber back in the NFL.
Randle possess excellent vision and maneuverability in the open field and is explosive through holes. Additionally, Randle gives you a guy who is strong pass-protection as well as a solid receiver out of the back field.
Overall, this pick makes an incredible amount of sense. The Cowboys aren’t sure about Murray’s durability and will owe him a contract extension in two years while they also have to pay Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant.
Look for Randle to emerge as a young star for this team.
Outside Linebacker DeVonte Holloman
In the Tampa 2 defense, Holloman fits perfectly. He has good reaction times and is solid on zone coverage’s. I believe that he’ll be able to come in during sub packages to alleviate any potential mismatches out of the backfield or against tight ends.
The knock here is that Holloman is a guy who needs to improve his tackling. There is a need for depth at the linebacker position but the Cowboys seem to be happy with Justin Durant starting. This means that Holloman needs to bust it on special teams to be on the active roster.
Holloman had a DUI in 2011 and that’s worth keeping in your mind. He won’t get an automatic bid on this team, he has to want it.
Grade: B – Holloman is a decent player with one particular skill set. Would have liked a project offensive lineman or defensive lineman here.
2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott
The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.
Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.
This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.
Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:
The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.
Let's take a look…
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.
Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.
D'Andre Swift, Georgia
D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.
Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.
Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.
Travis Etienne, Clemson
The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.
Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.
Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.
The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.
- Cam Akers, Florida State
- Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
- Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
- Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
- Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.
Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
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