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: 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?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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