The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2018 NFL Draft with a number of needs, and they left with possible answers to most of them. Whether these needs were truly met or not won't really be answered until these rookies hit the field.
Until then, everyone will have their own opinions of the picks and how the Cowboys did overall in the draft.
Maybe you cheered when the Commissioner called out the pick, or maybe you screamed at the TV because the team passed on the player you wanted. Don't be embarrassed, you were not alone.
If we dive into all the selections, then you can gain a proper perspective of each pick, why they were chosen and if the selection was worth it.
Round 1 (19): LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
A good fit for the Cowboys, and it fills a major need on defense, but the timing of the selection is a question mark.
Leighton Vander Esch looks like he'll be a good player, and a natural fit at MIKE. However, I and some other analysts had him locked in as a second round player, bringing in the value of the pick as well as considering the other available players Dallas could have taken instead, such as receiver Calvin Ridley.
This move was necessary with the health problems of Sean Lee and the growth of Jaylon Smith but I can't help but feel that he would have still been available in the next round. It's a good player, but a questionable pick.
Round 2 (50): OL Connor Williams, Texas
Undeniably the Cowboys best value pick, and possibly biggest steal. Fans of both the Longhorns and Cowboys know they go themselves a stud.
Connor Williams has been ranked among the top offensive line prospects in the draft for months now, with some even thinking he wouldn't be available to the Cowboys at pick 19. But such is the nature of the draft; you never know what will happen.
The only hole remaining on the offensive line was the left guard and it has been filled by a 6'5", 300 lb, Two-time All-American. Dak Prescott will stay upright, Zeke will eat and the rest of the league will soon take notice.
Round 3 (81): WR Michael Gallup, Colorado State
Wide receiver became an even bigger need after the release of Dez Bryant. What Dallas needed was a player who has sticky hands, runs good routes, and is tough after the catch.
Enter, Michael Gallup.
Gallup has been a personal favorite since I first saw him play against Alabama, and then I watched his tape against Boise State and Nevada, specifically. Gallup has been a shining star on an otherwise average Colorado State team.
In just two seasons Gallup caught 176 passes, 2,690 yards and 21 touchdowns while earning 2nd-Team All-American honors. Don't be surprised if he finds a rapport with Prescott early and becomes the Cowboys new number 1 receiver.
Round 4 (116): DE Dorance Armstrong Jr, Kansas
At the start of 2017, some thought he would be a potential first round prospect, but his production dipped in his junior season. With that, you should take Dorance Armstrong Jr.'s 2017 decline, as opposed to his successful 2016 season, with a grain of salt.
In 2016, he posted 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. While in 2017, he only posted 2 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. However, this is probably due to the team's defensive scheme change. In 2016, he was a 4-3 defensive end, but was switched to a 3-4 outside linebacker, having to stand up as opposed to having his hand in the dirt.
As a Cowboy, his hand will stay in the dirt. It's possible we'll see the player that some had expected to see last season.
Round 4 (137): TE Dalton Schultz, Stanford
Stanford seems to have a knack for producing quality NFL tight ends such as Coby Fleener and Zach Ertz. Tight end became a serious need after the retirement of James Hanna and Cowboy legend and future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten.
With Dalton Schultz, we get a very raw receiver, but with good hands. His best attribute is his blocking. Watching him, it sometimes looks like he's really an offensive tackle who can run.
Schultz is going to come in to a depleted tight end group, but could potentially become a starter early in the season. Despite Schultz not being the receiving threat that most fans wanted the Cowboys to get, he's a good fit to a team in need of his services.
Round 5 (171): QB Mike White, Western Kentucky
A bit of a surprise pick, the Cowboys seemed to have found their backup in Cooper Rush last season. However, the Cowboys went with who they thought was the best player available.
The quality of the player is not in question, Mike White had a good college career with the Hilltoppers. However, with so many other holes to fill, it's hard to understand creating competition for the backup quarterback spot instead of filling one of the other team needs.
Hopefully the team decides to keep Mike White on the roster or on the practice squad. As a fifth round pick, he's not guaranteed a spot and I would hate to see a wasted pick. Especially if it wasn't necessary.
Round 6 (193): LB Chris Covington, Indiana
After Leighton Vander Esch was drafted, there were only four linebackers locked in for a roster spot: LVE, Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson. Depth at the position became a bigger need.
While I don't expect Covington to start, he will provide solid depth and will likely have a large role on special teams, as many late round picks tend to do.
In a year or two, Covington could compete for a starting job but until then, expect to see him mostly in sub situations on defense and on special teams, exclusively.
Round 6 (208): WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
After second round pick Connor Williams, Cedrick Wilson was the team's next best value pick. Many expected Wilson to be gone by the third round, but was found three rounds later.
He had a similar career to Michael Gallup with 139 catches, 2,640 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 2 seasons. Ironically, Wilson also plays similar to Wilson in his toughness, sticky hands and solid route running.
Possibly not this year, but by next year we could be seeing Cedrick Wilson on the opposite side of the field of Michael Gallup, improving the receiving group to a level expected of the Cowboys.
Round 7 (236): RB Bo Scarborough, Alabama
With the trade for Tavon Austin, and his reported switch to running back, the Cowboys had their 3rd down back. One who could catch passes out of the backfield and add speed to the team. With the final pick, the Cowboys picked another running back anyway; A big one.
Alabama seems to be a pipeline for NFL running backs, and most of them are big, strong, bruising players who punish defenses. In Dallas, he's a luxury pick who joins a very talented backfield, led by Ezekiel Elliott.
He may only get about 5-10 carries a game, but that might be all the team needs him to do. Imagine if you're an NFL defender and you realize you'll need to try to take down Elliott for 20-25 times a game, and then have deal with his 6'2" 235 lbs backup for 10 more.
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."
Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.
There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.
Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.
Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.
Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.
Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.
Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.
Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.
Cowboys Draft Dilemma: Deebo Samuel (Rd. 2) vs. Stanley Morgan Jr. (Rd. 4)
There are a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation who are hoping former South Carolina Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel is still on the board when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the second-round with the 58th overall selection. Samuel is the dream replacement for Cole Beasley for a lot of us, but would likely be a luxury this early in the draft instead of a need.
I don't want to rain on the parade for all you Deebo Samuel fans, myself included, but I don't know if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a WR that early. This is especially true considering there is someone who I believe compares favorably to Samuel and could be available at least two rounds later. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm talking about former Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
Deebo Samuel of course is the more hyped WR and is in the running as one of the top five receivers in the 2019 draft class, but Stanley Morgan Jr. shouldn't be considered a consolation prize. These two WRs could be a carbon copy of one another on paper and tested surprisingly similar at the NFL Combine as well.
Don't take my word for it of course. Take a look for yourself…
Stanley Morgan Jr.
|Arm length||31 3/8"||32 3/8"|
|Hand size||10"||9 7/8"|
|20 yard shuffle||4.14||4.13|
|3 cone drill||7.03||6.78|
As you can see from the measurements and the testing, Deebo Samuel and Stanley Morgan Jr. are amazingly similar on paper. The similarities don't end there though. Both players are devastating with the ball in their hands and easily create separation through their route stems.
The only real difference I have seen between the two is Samuel is a little more thickly built and has been more productive as an outside receiver so far in his career. He is also the more powerful of the two, which serves him well in contested catch situations. That's not saying Morgan can't be just as effective as an outside WR. He just wasn't utilized in that manner during his time at Nebraska.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, both Samuel and Morgan would be ideal inside/outside WR candidates capable of replacing Cole Beasley in the slot. The only question now is which receiver would the Cowboys prefer?
It's really a tossup if you don't really know these receivers and have never watched them play, but not if you take into consideration what we know about the Dallas Cowboys. They like bargains, which is why I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be bargain shoppers in the 2019 NFL Draft like they have been so far in free agency.
As much as we all love Deebo Samuel and the skill set he would bring to the Cowboys, investing a second-round pick might be too high for Dallas considering they can get a similar player at least two rounds later. Stanley Morgan Jr. is a bargain I just don't think they could pass up.
This is all speculation of course, but it's definitely something to take into consideration when the 2019 NFL Draft gets underway.
Deebo Samuel or Stanley Morgan Jr.? Which receiver would you draft?
Cowboys Draft Target: Mississippi State S Johnathan Abram
NAME: Johnathan Abram
SCHOOL: Mississippi State
JERSEY: No. 38
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
HT: 5' 11 3/8"
|Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Tackles||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Def Int||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles||Fumbles|
Johnathan Abram, playing for the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University, is considered the hardest hitting safety in college football. He's top NFL prospect, who is projected to be selected in the late 1st to early 2nd round(s) of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Johnathan Abram's biggest strength as a safety prospect is his ability to play around the line of scrimmage as a box safety, which is why he's projected to be a strong safety in the NFL. Possesses the prototypical size for the position. He also has the ability and skill set to play a hybrid safety/linebacker role as well.
Abram is at his best when he's playing downhill and sideline to sideline against the run. His size, strength, and physicality allow him to stack and shed blocks like a linebacker. Aggressive tackler who is always looking to deliver a big hit. Also shows good technique to get his head across the ball carrier's chest while wrapping up to make the tackle.
Shows adequate range and speed in coverage. Is able to flip his hips and redirect to change direction quickly, but there is some stiffness there as well. Has the size and athletic ability to match up with tight ends. Shows an understanding of route recognition. His physicality in the run game carries over into the passing game.
The biggest concern about Johnathan Abram's game is his ability, or lack thereof, in coverage. Whether it's an man or zone coverage, he struggles with his responsibilities and can be eaten alive by receivers who know what they're doing. This doesn't bode well for his transition to the NFL, which has become a heavy passing league.
His aggressive nature will get him into trouble in the passing game. Can be clunky in his transitions against good route runners. Will panic and grab when he's caught out of position, which has generated, or should have, flags being thrown. Lack of desired range will keep him from becoming a deep safety, making him a strong safety only.
Questionable ball skills. Only has two interceptions and 10 pass deflections in his career. Struggles locating the ball and doesn't show instincts or anticipation to jump routes. Can be too aggressive against the run, causing him to over pursue and create cutback lanes.
If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a hard-hitting strong safety who excels around the line of scrimmage, then Johnathan Abram is their guy. He is a heatseeking missile when playing downhill or sideline to sideline, and would play that Kam Chancellor type role on the backend of Kris Richard's defense. He has outstanding size and speed for the position, and is a more fluid athlete then he's given credit for. More of a "traditional" throwback safety.
Abram unfortunately struggles in coverage, despite showing good range and long speed. He may be nothing more than a box safety or nickel/dime linebacker in the NFL. This could hurt his chances of landing with the Cowboys, especially if they are looking for an interchangeable safety to pair with Xavier Woods. But, if there are looking for that "enforcer" type of player, they'd probably have to take him at 58 in the second-round because it's unlikely he will still be there when they're on the clock in the third-round.
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