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NFL Draft

This Late Round Linebacker Could Be a Steal for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Late Round Linebacker Could Be a Steal for the Dallas Cowboys

In all of the discussions covering the NFL draft, linebacker hasn't really been discussed as much of a need, and for good reason. The Nerve. Who knew a nerve could get so much play in the media? With the optimism that Jaylon Smith is set to make his NFL debut in 2017, the linebacker position hasn't been talked about much this offseason.

The Cowboys actually have a pretty good group there:

That's a versatile, solid group. Not great, but solid, and it provides a lot of special teams snaps between Hitchens, Wilson, and Wilber. So, not surprisingly, linebacker isn't a priority for this team, and I don't think it should be.

That being said, there is a linebacker that will likely be available in the sixth round that could provide more depth and a knack for making plays on the football.

University of Oklahoma Linebacker, Jordan Evans.

He's been sort of the forgotten man coming into the draft out of OU with players like Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook, and Samaje Perine stealing the headlines (for a variety of reasons), but Jordan Evans could be an instant playmaker who could fit in a variety of situations for the Dallas Cowboys.

You can read Jordan Evans' bio from SoonerSports.com here. Here's a draft profile from the Crimson and Cream Machine, and one from Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.

A few statistical notes on Evans:

  • Started 36 of 37 games his final three seasons at OU.
  • During his senior season he racked up 98 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions (which he returned for 145 yards - 36.25 yards per return), 3.5 sacks, and eight pass breakups.
  • His four interceptions tied him for 26th in the NCAA.
  • He was tied with potential first round defensive backs Cordrea Tankersley, Gareon Conley, Teez Tabor, and Marshon Lattimore.
  • Those four interceptions led the Sooners in 2016.
  • Of his four interceptions, he returned two for touchdowns, including one for 80 yards.
  • First team All-Big 12 in 2016.
  • Second Team All-Big 12 in 2015.
  • Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2014.

As someone who watched a lot of OU football over the last several years, I noticed something that is probably the strength of Jordan Evans. He shows an innate ability to be around the football in the passing game. He shows good awareness in his zone drops and is able to match up with tight ends.

But, there are reasons that a lot of analysts have him available after the fifth round.

I believe that his tape is hurt by several factors that also contributed to Charles Tapper being a fourth round pick; scheme and the offensive nature of the big 12.

He is a versatile linebacker who would be an excellent addition for the Cowboys nickel scheme.

He played light at 233 in a pass-heavy Big 12 Conference, but could add some weight to his 6'2" frame to play the strong side for the Cowboys. His ability to play coverage could open up opportunities for Jaylon Smith to line up on the EDGE and rush or send Orlando Scandrick from the slot on the blitz more often.

The Dallas Cowboys have shown a penchant for drafting linebackers.

In Jason Garrett's six drafts since taking over as head coach in 2011, the Cowboys have selected nine linebackers. At least one in every draft. Those selections have been made throughout the draft (aside from the first round).

If they continue to follow that trend of drafting a linebacker, Evans could be a steal in the sixth round.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Randy Martin

    April 26, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I have to admit , I’ve been studying the players in the draft pretty hard with a focus on need and surprised I haven’t heard his name come up. I know LB has not been a great need but I think it’s a quiet need (based on what happens with Jaylon Smith) . Those are pretty solid numbers. He’s a bit light but not that light. Sounds like a consideration but I haven’t seen his tape.

    • John Williams

      John Williams

      April 27, 2017 at 3:07 am

      To be honest I forgot about him a bit too until I was doing some mock drafts on Fanspeak.com. He kept coming up as a possibility n the 6th round. If they are looking at drafting a linebacker to add depth, he could be a great addition for the team. Played mostly in the middle, but has the athletic ability to learn the outside as well. I think his best attribute to the team would be to line up in the nickel with Sean Lee and cover the middle of the field. Most of his INTs and PBUs came as he dropped into his zone. Has good instincts in zone coverage, something I think that Anthony Hitchens is lacking a bit.

    • John Williams

      John Williams

      April 27, 2017 at 3:11 am

      To be honest, I’m not really one that studies tape, just remember from watching OU during the season. Was always around the football when it was thrown into his zone, which was a lot.

      His best attribute in the NFL will be in his zone pass coverage. I think it’s elite. I think he has good instincts for being around the ball and anticipating where the quarterback is looking to go with the football.

      He is a bit limited in the run game, but also doesn’t have a ton of work against it coming from the big 12.

      I think he would be best suited as s nickel line backer where he can drop into the middle zone. He may be no more than depth for the Cowboys, but I think his passing game anticipation would be an upgrade over Hitchens.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft

Jess Haynie

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Why Finishing 8-8 Improves Cowboys' 2018 NFL Draft Position

The Dallas Cowboys will receive an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the league awarded compensatory picks today.

The pick will be 136th overall, which is one spot below were Dallas drafted Dak Prescott in 2016.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

And in other news... NFL awarded compensatory draft picks today - Patriots and Rams each received two third-round picks. The full list, per sources:

We have Anthony Hitchens to thank for this extra pick. The former Cowboys linebacker signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason which far surpassed any of the deal that Dallas made with their own free agent acquisitions.

Only free agents whose contracts expired, not those released in the offseason by their previous team, count towards the compensatory pick formula.  Therefore, Allen Hurns' deal was not a mitigating factor.

As mentioned already, the fourth round of the NFL Draft recently gave Dallas its starting quarterback. Other notable fourth-round picks in the modern era have been Hitchens, Doug Free, Marion Barber, and Chris Canty.

Last year, Dallas drafted DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz with fourth-round picks.

Already short their first and sixth-round picks this year from previous trades, the Cowboys are certainly happy to have this extra selection for April's draft.



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NFL Draft

7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition

Brian Martin

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3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys 2

I thought it would be a good idea to get out another 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week. Not only will the Combine shakeup a lot of people's big boards and draft rankings, but it will also be the first opportunity a lot of us will get to see some of these players firsthand.

For this Cowboys mock draft I used Matt Miller's big board on Fanspeak.com. I don't necessarily agree with where he has some of these players ranked right now, but that's part of the fun of doing these kind of exercises. With that said, he is still one of my favorite draft analysts.

Without further ado, here is my Pre-Combine 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft.

TE, Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M (2nd-round)

*189th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jace Sternberger

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger (John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports)

First off, I think Matt Miller has Jace Sternberger ranked way too low on his Big Board. I don't think he will make it out of the second round and may not even be available for the Dallas Cowboys when they are on the clock with the 58th overall pick. But if he is, I'm writing his name down on the draft card and not looking back.

The Cowboys have made it pretty clear they want to upgrade their TE position, but in order to do that they're going to have to draft one pretty early in my opinion. Sternberger may be a one-year wonder at Texas A&M, but he is exactly what Quarterback Dak Prescott needs in the passing game. He would change the dynamic of this whole offense.

At 6'4", 250 pounds, Sternberger has the size the Cowboys look for in their starting tight ends. His biggest asset right now is his natural receiving ability and how dangerous he is after the catch. He runs and moves like a big receiver. He's decent as an in-line blocker as well, but it's an area of his game that is still improving.

OT, Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (3rd-round)

*89th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bobby Evans

Oklahoma OT Bobby Evans

It's a little surprising it hasn't been brought up more this offseason, but with Tyron Smith's continued back problems and La'el Collins entering a contract year, the Dallas Cowboys could be looking into drafting another offensive tackle. I know it may be an unpopular pick in the third-round, but I couldn't pass up on Bobby Evans.

At 6'5", 300 pounds, Bobby Evans has the prototypical size teams look for in their starting offensive tackles. He is a smooth athletically gifted lineman who does his best work in the running game. He projects best in a zone blocking scheme where he can use his athleticism to his advantage. He will struggle a little bit in pass protection until he cleans up his hand technique.

With the Cowboys he could compete with La'el Collins for the starting RT position as a rookie, but at the worst be the teams swing tackle in 2019. Since he has the ability to play either tackle position, he would make a good insurance policy if Tyron Smith has to miss time again because of his back issues. Again it may be an unpopular pick, but a necessary one.

OLB, Christian Miller, Alabama (4th-round)

*161st on Matt Miller's Big Board

Christian Miller

Alabama OLB Christian Miller

With the Dallas Cowboys needing more depth at linebacker and defensive end, I decided to select Christian Miller with their first fourth-round draft pick. He unfortunately hasn't been able to showcase his skill set on a regular basis due to being buried on the depth chart at Alabama and some unfortunate injuries, but he has immense potential.

I think a lot of teams will look to draft him as a outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but I really like the variety of roles he could play in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. I think he could replace Demian Wilson as their strong side linebacker, provide depth at defensive end, and be a special-teams demon as a rookie.

The Cowboys of course will have to be comfortable with his injury history, but in the fourth-round I don't think that would be a problem. If he can stay healthy he has Pro Bowl potential as a pass rusher because of his size (6'4", 247), athleticism and fluidity to bend and torque his body. This might be my favorite pick in this Cowboys mock draft.

DT, Daylon Mack, Texas A&M (4th-round comp pick)

*178th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Daylon Mack

Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack

The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use some more defensive tackle help, especially after all but washing their hands of David Irving. They currently just have Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins on the DT depth chart, unless you want to count Tyrone Crawford. That's why I returned to Texas A&M for the second time in this Cowboys mock draft and selected Daylon Mack.

Daylon Mack is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing at Texas A&M. Don't let that fool you though, he has the talent to earn a starting job with the Cowboys as a rookie at either the one or three-technique. He is the kind of prospect Rod Marinelli would love to work with.

At 6'1", 327 pounds, Mack would provide some much-needed beef to the Cowboys defensive front. He has surprising athletic ability for his size and has a devastating first step to be the kind of disruptive DT Marinelli prefers along his DL. I really love his violent hands and raw athletic ability, and I believe he could be an absolute steal in the fourth-round even though Matt Miller has him ranked much lower.

WR, Jalen Hurd, Baylor (5th-round)

*159th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jalen Hurd

Baylor WR Jalen Hurd

Outside of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the wide receiver position in Dallas is pretty dreadful. There are some young WRs who show some promise, but they still need more depth regardless. That's why I decided to take Jalen Hurd in the fifth-round in this Cowboys mock draft. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire 2019 draft class.

The most intriguing aspect of Hurd's game is his background as a running back. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was once considered a top RB prospect during his time in Tennessee before deciding to transfer to Baylor in order to switch to wide receiver.

At 6'4", 227 pounds, he has the prototypical size teams look for in a WR prospect. He reminds me a little bit of Cordarrelle Patterson, but is much more natural catching the ball. His route running is a little raw, but he has the ability to play in the slot or on the outside, something he did at Baylor. I think he could help replace some of Cole Beasley's lost production.

RB, Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State (7th-round)

* 206th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bruce Anderson

North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson

I reached a little bit with this pick, but if Bruce Anderson is available this late in the draft I would do everything within my power to bring him aboard if I was the Dallas Cowboys. I really think he could be the lightning to Ezekiel Elliott's thunder in the Cowboys backfield. I personally have him in the 3rd-5th round range, but can understand why he's ranked so low on Miller's Big Board right now.

Unfortunately, the draft process hasn't been very kind to Bruce Anderson so far. He was originally expected to open a lot of eyes in Mobile at this year's Senior Bowl, but unfortunately sustained an injury that kept him from competing. To make matters worse, he was a surprise snub at the Scouting Combine, meaning he only has private workouts and his Pro Day to impress scouts.

I for one am a big fan of Anderson's though. I believe he is exactly the kind of RB the Cowboys need behind Zeke. I personally see a poor man's Alvin Kamara when I watched his game film because of the different ways he can be utilized as both a runner and receiver. But, he can also contribute on special teams as a return specialist.

How do you feel about this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

While most fans are hoping the Cowboys snag a different safety who played his football in the state of Washington, Huskies safety Taylor Rapp should be towards the top of their draft targets on day two.

The Cowboys have some decisions to make when it comes to their back-end, particularly at safety. Do they want to pursue a full time strong safety type who can play in the box, allowing Xavier Woods to play solely as the centerfield free safety? Or would they rather add a hybrid safety who can play in that deep third role, giving their defense more flexibility in how they utilize Woods moving forward?

If their answer to this question is to go with a more traditional strong safety, and slot Woods into one permanent role, then Washington's Taylor Rapp could be the right man in this draft class.

The Player

Taylor Rapp is not the single-high safety that I would typically value high in an NFL draft. He lacks the range to really play that centerfield role, and doesn't have the speed or agility to project to this role in the NFL. No one ever gets behind him, but that's more due to ridiculously deep alignment than excellent coverage skills.

Where Rapp does excel, though, is playing forward and downhill. Rapp is aggressive both in his pursuit of plays and in his tackling. He tackles with good technique as well, and can absolutely lay the wood when coming up to hit receivers over the middle. Rapp plays how you'd expect your old-school strong safety to play, and projects as a split-zone and box safety at the next level.

Rapp isn't anything special in man coverage, but he executes well at times. He's at his best when asked to cover tight ends in man coverage, something which would certainly be valued both in today's NFL and on this version of the Cowboys' defense. I wouldn't be as comfortable lining him up against shifty slot receivers over the middle, but he can match up well physically with tight ends in man.

Overall, Rapp is one of the best tacklers I've seen in this draft class so far, and with his instincts, size and physicality he will serve as a solid strong safety at the next level.

The Fit

I don't see Taylor Rapp as the typical versatile chess-piece the Cowboys have valued when drafting defensive backs in recent years. He does what he does well, but they would be ill-advised to mess with his alignment too often or try to make him fit into a different role. He's not going to move all over the field like Xavier Woods can, but he can certainly fit the Cowboys' current need for a strong safety.

Many fans want the Cowboys to pursue Landon Collins in free agency, but if they strike out there, Rapp could be their consolation prize in the NFL draft.

No, he's not as good as Landon Collins. Let me make that perfectly clear. But for a day two pick Rapp could fit a similar role to what Collins would here in Dallas: a strong safety who will play primarily in the box and cover tight ends in man.



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