The NFL Draft is practically here. Thursday night will begin what the draft world refers to as Football Christmas. Front office and scouting personnel wake up that day like little boys and girls around the world on Christmas morning, hoping there'll be presents under their tree.
Opening that present and discovering a lump of coal can be heart-wrenching for a franchise; especially when that first round pick doesn't work out. There are countless stories from around the league of first round draft picks turning out to be that dark, boring, lump of coal.
Think about how ineffective the Morris Claiborne pick was. He was a serviceable player, but when you trade up for a player at the sixth overall pick, the expectations are sky-high.
While Mo was good in stretches, his inconsistency and inability to stay healthy hindered the franchise at cornerback.
On the flip side we have Anthony Brown, the 2016 sixth round pick.
A lot of people from Cowboys Twitter seemed to like the pick, but nobody expected Brown to play a significant role for the team in his rookie season. He showed, however, that he was up to the significant challenge of starting on the outside and helping in the slot.
Your Dallas Cowboys have had their fair share of goodies and coal throughout the years; as has every franchise. And as we've seen from the 2016 NFL Draft, one group of rookies can change the fortune of your franchise's future for years to come.
That was a rare draft class that produced four impact players in their rookie seasons.
With Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Maliek Collins, and Anthony Brown, this group has the potential to be part of the core of this team for the next decade. If the optimistic reports (which I tend to believe, as the eternal optimist) about Jaylon Smith and Charles Tapper come to be, last year's draft class could provide six players that have a starting or rotational role for years to come.
There will be a lot of columns from around the football world following the draft assigning grades to the Dallas Cowboys 2017 draft class. That grade will likely be based on how the individual grader views each player.
Let's not forget that the Cowboys front office was universally panned for selecting Travis Frederick 31st overall in the 2013 draft. All he's turned out to be is a perennial Pro Bowler with All-Pro ability as he anchors the league's best offensive line.
2016 may have spoiled us as a fan base with the amount of rookie contributions we got from the four rookies mentioned above. Typically we don't see a rookie class have that kind of impact in their first year, and we may not in 2017.
The great thing about this Football Christmas is the things on your wish list will be well stocked.
They will have plenty of weak-side pass rushing defensive ends, which is the top thing I'm asking Santa for this year.
Defensive back high on your list? There's plenty of those to meet the demand in 2017.
Need a tight end to replace the one that has a lot of sentimental value, but just isn't working like he once did, there are excellent options in the first four rounds of the draft.
The point being, the Cowboys front office won't have to overpay like Toby did for "Princess Unicorn" in The Office to find impact players that will have a chance to contribute in 2017 and for years to come.
The moment when Toby pleads with Daryl to let him have the last doll for his daughter. Toby's excitement is rather shortlived, however. Watch The Office US on Google Play: https://goo.gl/zV92hg & iTunes https://goo.gl/qbYX3Y Subscribe // http://bit.ly/subOfficeUS Watch The Office S05 E10 - 'Morrocan Christmas' on Google Play now: http://goo.gl/viII9P Watch out for the 12 Days of Christmas at The Office coming soon...
That said, we likely won't know how good or bad the 2017 NFL Draft turned out for the Dallas Cowboys for several years.
This year when we wake up on Football Christmas, there will be a ton of hope and excitement for the gifts the Cowboys will open up, don't let national "draft gurus" dampen your excitement with premature draft grades.
I'm dreaming of a War Daddy
To be picked at Twenty Eight
Who has speed to spare and
Pass rush moves that can win
And can blow by tackles everyday
I'm dreaming of an impact rookie
Who will be a starter from day one
May your Sundays provide wins and delight.
And may all your Lombardi's shine bright.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions
"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.
It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."
The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.
For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.
Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington
"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."
The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.
Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.
An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.
Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia
"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."
This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.
Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.
Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.
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