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Is 2018 the Year Cowboys 2nd-Round Gambles Pay Off?

Brian Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

It's well-known that the Dallas Cowboys don't mind gambling on players in the second-round of the NFL Draft. Over the last decade they've targeted players who have fallen in the draft for some reason, whether it be a poor injury history or off the field related problems. Unfortunately, that gambling hasn't really paid off, but 2018 could be the year it finally does.

If you were to look back over the Dallas Cowboys second-round draft picks for the last decade or so you would notice hardly any of those players are still on the roster. That's not good at all. In fact, it's pretty pathetic!

Second-round draft picks are supposed to be players that become the cornerstones of your team. The Cowboys have one maybe two players in the last decade who can possibly be considered cornerstone players… Sean Lee and DeMarcus Lawrence.

When healthy, Sean Lee is without a doubt one of the best linebackers in the league. If not for his inability to remain healthy for an entire season, he would without a doubt be a cornerstone player. He probably still deserves that distinction, especially considering he's the only second-round draft pick to see a contract extension over the last decade.

The jury is still out on DeMarcus Lawrence. His first three seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys are pretty much forgettable, but last season was pure dominance. If he can replicate that kind of performance in 2018, he could become another Cowboys second-round success story and receive a contract extension.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Unfortunately, that's about as much success the Dallas Cowboys have had with their second-round draft picks. They have done a much better job the past two seasons by drafting Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and Guard Connor Williams, who should both be cornerstone players, but what about the other second-round draft picks still on the roster?

The Cowboys second-round gambles that I think could actually pay off this year in 2018 is Linebacker Jaylon Smith and Defensive End Randy Gregory. Both players were arguably top 10 selections in their respective drafts based on their talent, but both saw their draft stock plummet for different reasons, landing right in the lap of the Dallas Cowboys.

Randy Gregory of course saw his draft stock plummet because of failed drug tests in not only college, but at the NFL Scouting Combine as well. That trend continued as a member of the Cowboys, but luckily for him he still is a chance to turn his career around now that he's earned his reinstatement into the league.

For Jaylon Smith, his draft stock took a hit because of an unfortunate injury in his last collegiate game that almost ended his professional career before it even got started. It was a 50-50 chance he would never play again, but the Cowboys decided the risk was worth reward and it could end up paying off big time.

I say all of this because I think this is the year we will finally see the Dallas Cowboys second-round gambling pay off. It started a little bit last year with DeMarcus Lawrence's domination and Jaylon Smith's return to the field, but now we can hopefully throw in Randy Gregory as well. All three could play really important roles in 2018 and become the cornerstone players they should be as second-round draft picks.

Do you think the Cowboys second-round gambling will finally pay off in 2018?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Reynaldo Laporte

    Mr. Martin, I am most interested to see if Jaylon Smith is indeed fully healthy. The lack of a brace is a great sign but I’m still a little worried about him talking on blockers.

    Anything we get out of Gregory is plus, Williams is plug and play to me, and to be honest even though I think Lawrence will produce I would still tag him again. Good article!

    • Brian Martin

      Reynaldo, I’m right there with you about Jaylon Smith. If he can be anything like the player he was at Notre Dame this season, he could be a huge difference maker on defense.

      I also have high hopes for Randy Gregory. Even if he is just used as a situational pass rusher, I think we can expect 4-5 QB sacks.

      Thanks for reading

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    As much as I would LOVE to see it…..I don’t see it happening. This organization loves hype more than the actual thing itself……. Now with no TE, no WR this team will move backwards……..What they need is a real HC for starters.

  • John Williams

    Totally agree that this is the year that the Dallas Cowboys will be able to cash in on those risky buys. This defense is about to look nasty. A full training camp for Gregory and another year removed from injury for Jaylon and these guys are going to be flying around.

  • Brian Moore

    Randy Gregory is just another draft bust Dallas has kept, Crawford does not deserve the money either he is making, no other team would pay him that much without getting any penetration or sacks. Jaylon Smith was picked 34th in the draft and has been a Draft bust so far, You have a 1 year wonder in LVE, he was hurt already and is a big gamble. Sean Lee come from Penn State, hard hitter but always injured so they knew exactly what they where getting. Is their no players who have not had trouble past, crippled that Dallas could ever draft. Blue collar players who come in with no baggage who are teachable without much risk https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e3c65a591ec5134e12606e920e1eac6d947ded557246e07eac28cf498c1412b.jpg >?

    • Steve

      1 yr wonder in LVE?? How so? Obviously u went from making sense to not ANY! Crawford doesnt deserve what he makes for sure and he hasn’t from the day he signed, but Gregory has been a bust so far and it’s always easy in today’s NFL to drop someone at the first sign of trouble and cut ties never to be bothered again! I appreciate Big D sticking with Randy and allowing him to prove his worth and who knows he may very well come out busting his a$$ and getting sacks! We will find out soon enough on how solid our Defense is gonna be and by year end IMO BIG D WILL have a top 5 D….

Player News

Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Has RB Rod Smith Emerged As Ezekiel Elliott's Primary Backup? 2
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

For once, the Cowboys are not playing what feels like a do-or-die game on Sunday, needing just 1 win over their final 3 to win the NFC East. This week the 8-5 Cowboys go on the road to face the 7-6 Colts, with each times vying for playoff spots in their respective conferences.

Both the Cowboys and Colts have turned around what looked like dead seasons, but there is no doubt the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do to keep pace for the 6th seed in the AFC.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 47 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

The once 3-5 Cowboys are now head and shoulders above the rest of their division, after winning their fifth straight in thrilling fashion over the Eagles last Sunday. The team which seemed so disjointed and inconsistent through 8 games has found their identity, and is playing complete team football as of late.

Dak Prescott is coming off a career-best game in terms of yardage, and despite some poor turnovers is still playing some of the best football of his career. This is due in large part to two stars in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, who have shouldered the production load of this offense the last 5 weeks.

And, of course, there is the defense which continues to make life a living hell for opposing offenses. Randy Gregory is coming into his own as a pass rusher, getting another sack last week and getting flagged for what should have been his second sack of the day.

Dallas is playing the brand of football they told us they would before the season, and are beginning to make their front office and decision makers look very smart in the process.

Indianapolis Colts

At 7-6 and fighting for the final AFC playoff spot, the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do. Getting shut out by the lowly Jaguars two weeks ago may ultimately keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but a win this Sunday and a little help elsewhere could set them up nicely down the stretch.

Indy has quietly one of the best passing offenses in all of the NFL, with star quarterback Andrew Luck playing his best football in quite some time. Luck is healthy and looks like himself again, and the selection of Quenton Nelson to sure-up the offensive line has gone a long way to improving this offense as well.

Defensively the Colts have been even more impressive lately. Though they have a roster comprised of no-names nationally, the Colts defense is 11th in DVOA. Darius Leonard has been a revelation for the Colts at linebacker, and their young defense seems to be improving by the week.

The Colts are coming off of a big road victory over the Houston Texans a week ago, and will look to defeat the Texans' in-state rivals on Sunday to improve to 8-6.

Trends

  • The Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread their last 5 games, and have won all 5 straight up.
  • The score total has hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • But the score total has gone under 4 of the Colts' last 5 games.
  • The Colts are 4-1 straight up their last 5 home games.
  • Dallas is 6-3 their last 9 games against the Colts.

Prediction

The Cowboys' winning streak has to end at some point, right?

Well, unlike Vegas, I don't expect that ending to happen on Sunday. The Cowboys have been playing desperate football over the last 5 games and they are well aware what a win over Indianapolis would mean.

A victory would clinch them a division title for the third time in five years, and just as they did in 2014, I expect the Cowboys to get that clinching victory over the Colts. Give me the Cowboys and the points this week.



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Player News

Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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