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How Alabama LB Rashaan Evans Could Fit Cowboys’ Plan

Kevin Brady

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Alabama LB Rashaan Evans Joins Dallas Cowboys List of 30 Visits

After hosting Alabama defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne for a 30-visit earlier this week, the Cowboys have also reportedly met with Payne's college teammate, linebacker Rashaan Evans.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Alabama LB Rashaan Evans visiting the Cowboys today.

Rashaan Evans is an interesting prospect, and one the team might consider in the first round. While I have my reservations about taking any linebacker not named Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds at 19, Evans is "LB3" on my own board.

In college, Evans played as both an off ball linebacker and an edge player on passing downs. While effective as an edge rusher, Evans isn't nearly the polished rusher you'd want when allowing a player to be your third-down rushing specialist. I think Evans would be a full-time off ball linebacker for the Cowboys, and an effective one at that. Still, he could be used in sub packages as a pass rusher, or even just as a blitzer, to get to the quarterback.

As an off ball linebacker, Evans is an athletic sideline-to-sideline player who flies around making plays on tape. It's tough to standout on film when playing alongside the talent on Alabama's defense, but Evans did so every week.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

And here it is for LB. Better set of training data so should be more predictive of future picks. LVE is a freak athletically.

At 6'1" and 232 pounds, Evans is actually a bit smaller than most linebackers the Cowboys tend to target in the draft. His 3 cone time and broad jump both surpass the Cowboys' athletic thresholds, and his 20 yard shuttle just misses the mark by 0.3 seconds.

As high as I am on Rashaan Evans, I don't think he would be the right pick 19th overall. In fact, as I just mentioned, I don't think Dallas should be taking any linebacker outside of the top two guys in round one. Not only is there is enough depth in this class for the Cowboys to snag a linebacker at 50th or 81st overall, but I also don't see linebacker as all that important a position to upgrade.

You win on defense in the NFL with defensive linemen and cornerbacks first. Dallas has already upgraded their cornerback group, now it's time to add an impact defensive tackle before addressing their linebacker needs.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Charles

    April 4, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I disagree with you in saying LB is not that important in this year’s draft. It is very important and even more importantly is the fact that we choose the right LB. The General is the smartest player on the defense maybe the smartest person on the team. So when we choose his eventual replacement he needs to not only be physical but he has to be able to put his teammates in the right position to make the play like Lee does now. We see what happens when Lee is out. The defense looks lost without him. I don’t know much about Evans but if he’s smart then maybe he is worth a look. I guess we will see in 22 days.

  2. Chet Horton

    April 5, 2018 at 12:03 am

    I completely disagree but enjoy the debate.

    They don’t need a 1 or 3 technique DT until the 4th or 5th round. They have 3 DT and one is a true 1 technique and 1 technique DT aren’t game changers.

    The Cowboys desperately need a stud linebacker that can be a game changer, like Sean Lee. Sean Lee is hurt several games every year. Jaylon Smith may never be a game changer and he is still learning. They lost 2 LB’s and replaced them with a less talented LB in free agency. Now if they draft that stud LB and Jaylon Smith lives up to his potential then we have a much stronger defense even with Brent Price at 1 technique than we would have by drafter Vita Vea at 19 this year and whatever LB they end up with later in the draft.

    The problems with our defense last year were because of injuries and players doing something stupid and getting suspended. The starting defense the last half of the season raised their level of play to the point they could have won several of those games they lost earlier in the year if they had played with that lineup and played at that level.

    Say you don’t go LB… they need a G in the 1st round much more than they do a DT. A TE is a better idea than a DT this year for that matter.

  3. Tommy Davis

    April 5, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I see a lot of comments by folks who apparently did not watch many Cowboys games. For a player playing in what was really his rookie year on the field and playing at about 70% of his physical capacity, Jaylon Smith had an outstanding year. He was second on the team with 99 tackles and his play improved greatly during the second half of the season. he is close to being 100% now and the Cowboys expect even greater things from him this upcoming season. That’s why they don’t feel linebacker is their most glaring need. The Cowboys play a lot of 2 linebacker sets, SeanLee and Jaylon Smith. Damien Wilson is a capable 3rd linebacker. As for the defense looking loss when Sean Lee was out, that was more on Marinelli the Defensive coach, he seldom played the right combination of players on defense. When pressured, he finally started playing D. Lawrence, M. Collins, D. Irving, T.Crawford, S. Lee, J. Smith , A. Hitchens, C.Awuzie, J. Lewis, B. Jones and X.Woods. That combination made the defense formidable.

    • Charles

      April 5, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      When exactly did I say anything negative about Jaylon Smith and whoever you want to blame it is a fact that the Cowboys are lost when Lee is not on the field. He is the defensive QB and has a knack high football IS for putting players where they need to be. Maybe Jaylon can be like Lee someday but he is not there yet.

    • Fedx

      April 5, 2018 at 11:46 pm

      I see whr ur going with this, and ur abt to crash!!! LB, by far is the position of need in Dallas.. If not LB, S!!!

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NFL Draft

3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys

Brian Martin

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3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys

By now it's no secret the Dallas Cowboys don't have a first-round draft pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. The Amari Cooper trade took care of that, meaning sitting through the entire Day 1 could be a little tiresome for us fans. But, Day 2 of the draft could get really interesting for the Cowboys, especially as it pertains to the players/positions they could target.

Today, I wanted to take a look at a few of the Day 2 tight end prospects the Dallas Cowboys could be interested in. This would be the second tier of TEs behind the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Irv Smith, all of which should be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock at 58th overall in the second round.

I really believe that if the Dallas Cowboys plan on drafting a starting caliber tight end in this year's draft class they are going to have to do it with either their second or third round selection. The TEs available beyond that point probably aren't much of an upgrade over Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz, which is praise in itself about the upside of the young TEs they currently have on the roster.

With all of that in mind, I put together a list of three tight ends I would personally target on Day 2 if I were the Cowboys. I tried to identify what they typically look for in a starting TE (size, speed, athleticism), while also taking into account the ones that are are versatile enough to contribute on all three downs in both the running and passing game.

Isaac Nauta, Georgia

Isaac Nauta

Georgia TE Isaac Nauta

Isaac Nauta is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs. He is a top-notch blocker both in line and when split out wide, but due to the Bulldogs run heavy offense he never really developed into the pass catcher many envisioned him becoming. He possesses good speed and terrific hands to be a threat in the passing game though, even if he doesn't show a lot of separation ability on film.

Nauta looks and plays like a prototypical Dallas Cowboys tight end. He has the desired size (6'4", 246), athleticism, and skill set to step in and be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie. His blocking ability alone will get him on the field early, but he also shows enough pass catching ability to be a threat in the passing game as well. Overall, Nauta is a pro-ready three down TE who is a high floor prospect with very little downside.

Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Jace Sternberger

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger

Jace Sternberger is a former three-star recruit and the definition of a one-year wonder. He was basically a complete unknown before the 2018 season and had just one catch for 5 yards during his two years at Kansas before deciding to transfer to JUCO. He didn't fare much better at Northern Oklahoma A&M, but Jimbo Fisher thought enough of him to bring him aboard a Texas A&M, essentially turning him into an All-American and first team All-SEC.

Sternberger is almost the exact opposite of Isaac Nauta, but still has the desired traits the Dallas Cowboys look for in their tight ends. Unlike Nauta, Sternberger is much more accomplished as a passing threat. He runs and moves like a big wide receiver and possesses good separation ability. Due to his size (6'4", 250) and athletic ability he is difficult to bring down after the catch as well. He's not as accomplished as a blocker as Nauta, but he shows good technique and will improve in time with added strength. He has the ability to be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie.

Dawson Knox, Ole Miss

Dawson Knox

Ole Miss TE Dawson Knox

Dawson Knox is a former walk-on quarterback at Ole Miss, but spent the last two years playing tight end for the Rebels. He is one of the more difficult tight ends to evaluate in this draft class due to the unorthodox offense he played in and his usage in the system, but may actually be more pro-ready than many of us believe. He does have the size (6'4", 250), speed, and natural hands to be a complete three-down TE in the NFL and reminds me a little bit of George Kittle when he was entering the league.

Knox is still pretty raw as a player, but moldable and he has the upside to be one of the best tight ends in this entire draft class. He could probably compete to be the Dallas Cowboys TE1 as a rookie, but it might be better for him to be in a timeshare of sorts while he develops his God-given talent. Nevertheless, I have a hard time seeing him making it out of Day 2 of the draft, especially after he puts on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. His talent might be too much for the Cowboys to pass up.



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NFL Draft

Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.

Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

https://t.co/0NAzPv0bvY

Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.

If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.

Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.

It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.

The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.

Tell me what you think about "Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys defense was one of the better units throughout the season, but it wasn't without its flaws. An area where they struggled was in creating turnovers and at times against the run. As good as they were in 2018, they have positions where they can use upgrades; defensive tackle and safety. Xavier Woods showed a lot of promise in his second season with the Dallas Cowboys and should continue to be a prominent player moving forward, but Jeff Heath's full-time role may have run its course. Today we're going to look at Darnell Savage Jr, safety from Maryland.

Per College Football Reference, Darnell Savage Jr. stands at 5-11 and weighs in right at 200 pounds. In his last three years at Maryland he played in 35 games. He averaged 56.67 tackles, 2.67 interceptions (3.5 per season over his last two seasons and four in his senior season), and three tackles for loss over his final three seasons. He had eight pass deflections as a junior and two more as a senior.

Savage could be a player that's in play for the Dallas Cowboys at number 58 of the second round.

I watched the Texas and Temple Games from 2018.

Darnell Savage Jr. Film Notes

  • Maryland lined him up in two-deep cover two looks a lot and dropped him into different coverages. From his two-deep alignment, he would move into cover-3, cover-4, and man coverages.
  • Temple or Texas looked to avoid him as part of their game plans. The one time the either Texas or Temple through his way, he came down from his 2-deep look into man coverage and jumped a five yard out route and intercepted the pass, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown.
  • He's excellent in diagnosing bubbles screens and swing passes. On several occasions he met the ball carrier five yards behind the line of scrimmage and dropped him for a loss.
  • Savage wraps up in the open field against. Once he diagnoses the play, he gets moving toward the ball in a flash.
  • Willing to take on bigger blockers and receivers with the ball in their hands. Stymied the 6-4 225 pound Lil' Jordan Humphrey from Texas on a bubble screen after Humphrey had broken one tackle. Savage wrapped him up and brought him to the ground.
  • Temple attempted to run a reverse after the hand off and Savage came all the way from across the field to meet the runner for a six yard loss.
  • Plays with excellent speed and aggressiveness when he sees the play. Sometimes Savage gets caught watching the action on his side of the field and doesn't recognize what is happening in the middle or opposite side of the field.
  • Several times on the read-option, it appeared that he didn't recognize that the QB had given the ball away. It could be that he was schemed to take the quarterback, but one time the runner went against the grain to Savage's side of the field and he was unable to get to him before he scored a short touchdown.
  • Maryland had Savage cover tight ends and wide receivers and again, Temple and Texas didn't throw his way much at all.
  • Again, in a two-deep safety look came up from 10 yards deep to make a play on a toss to the running back and tackled him for a four yard loss. It's dangerous to run things to the perimeter with this guy. If he gets to the line of scrimmage unblocked, he's bringing you down.
  • When blocked on runs to the perimeter, he does a good job of stringing the play to the outside. Savage works his blocker and doesn't give up on the play. He fights to get unblocked in order to make a play.
  • When a team runs play action or hands the ball off out of shotgun or pistol formations, Savage is slower to react and diagnose the play. He'll need to get quicker in processing what's happening there at the next level.
  • One of the more impressive plays I saw him make was on a trick play. Temple attempted to run a wide receiver pass to the outside. Everyone bought the wide receiver reverse and even Savage did too, but was able to use his quickness and speed to make up five yards of separation that the Temple receiver had on him to be in good coverage. The Temple receiver wasn't able to come down with the catch and Savage's coverage affected that.

Summary

Darnell Savage Jr. doesn't have a ton of height, but he's an explosive player who can play down in the box and in two deep looks for the Cowboys. He's a guy that would pair well with Xavier Woods as you could use those two interchangeably depending on the matchup you face week-to-week. He's an aggressive player who uses his speed to get into the play and cause disruption. Savage could be around for the Dallas Cowboys at 58 and if they don't sign one of the big name free agent safeties, should be the selection. If he isn't a day one starter, he'd be starting by the end of the season.



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