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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.

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I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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3 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    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

      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

      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.

NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller A Needed Weapon For Cowboys
AP Photo / Jessica Hill

Slotted to pick 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in position to add a first-round talent to a team that fell just short of the playoffs at 9-7 in 2017. Faltering entirely on offense without RB Ezekiel Elliott too many times this season, it’s hard to argue this asset is not best spent on new talent at WR.

The Cowboys haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2010, trading up for Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. Frequent injuries and the inability to develop with QB Dak Prescott have diminished Bryant’s status as a star receiver in Dallas, and it may be time to overhaul the position entirely.

After scouting Memphis WR Anthony Miller, he may be just what the Dallas Cowboys need. Let’s take a closer look at his fit in the Cowboys’ offense in the first draft-season edition of Sean’s Scout.

WR Anthony Miller 2 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

With 96 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season at Memphis, Senior WR Anthony Miller is one of the top players at his position in the 2018 NFL Draft. These inflated numbers in the Tigers’ pass-happy offense do little to highlight Miller as a next level prospect…

This film clip and quote from my full scouting report on Miller shows the pure play-making ability Miller has. Miller wouldn’t fill the Cowboys need for an over-the-top burner at WR, but he has no problem tracking the ball with ease and adjusting in the air to make big plays down the field.

…Miller is as tough of a cover as you’ll find thanks to his explosive and concise release off the line.

Anthony Miller is certainly a “Dak-friendly” pass catcher, as he possesses the catch radius to snag passes away from his frame using his exceptionally strong hands. Even when he is covered, Miller is open vertically.

With that said, Miller has more than enough ability to separate with good initial quickness and elite balance through his routes.

WR Anthony Miller 4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…he wastes no time accelerating through the secondary, and running with a powerful stride that makes it difficult to bring him down.

There may be better technical route runners in this draft class, but few set up defenders as consistently well as Miller — who has the production to match these NFL traits.

A willing run blocker too, Miller could walk into Dallas and immediately earn snaps as an X, Z, or Y receiver. Miller’s best fit to start his career is likely as a Z receiver, drawing less attention in coverage while being allowed to run a full route tree.

…Miller gets on cornerbacks in a hurry, setting them up with his fluidity and size to track the football through contact.

A potential replacement for Terrance Williams with the Cowboys, Miller is somewhat of a similar player in the way he wins with mostly size.

The Memphis product would still be an upgrade over Williams though, as it is much easier to get the ball in Miller’s hands. Add in the red-zone ability that Anthony Miller has to box out defenders, and the run-after-catch burst as an inside target, and Miller is a weapon the Cowboys could desperately use.

WR Anthony Miller 1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

…I found myself constantly impressed with the speed at which Miller gets up the field when taking the ball underneath.

Miller will have nothing but opportunities to raise his draft stock over the coming months. He will be at this month’s Senior Bowl, receiving NFL-level coaching to refine his game. The Scouting Combine will also be critical for Miller’s testing numbers to confirm the athlete seen on tape dominating at Memphis will take the next step.

Earning a second round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, there is a chance the Cowboys have to use their first round pick if they truly want Anthony Miller in Silver and Blue. A very complete player that fills a need, Miller as the Cowboys first pick could make plenty of sense in April.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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NFL Draft

Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL?

Brian Martin

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Due to growing concerns about Tyron Smith‘s availability and future health, due to reoccurring back injuries, there seems to be a growing consensus among Dallas Cowboys fans that there’s a need to draft an offensive lineman with the first-round pick. But, is it actually a need, or would it be more of a luxury?

There is legitimate concern about Tyron Smith and his future health.

Back injuries have a way of flaring up at the most inopportune times. It’s also not an injury that’s going away anytime soon, if ever. This is the unknown the Cowboys are faced with heading into the off-season, and it could end up having a major impact on the direction they go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

There seems to be a growing consensus around Cowboys Nation that the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider selecting the best available offensive tackle with the 19th overall pick.

There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Tyron Smith’s health concerns, and
  2. the need to upgrade the swing tackle position after watching Byron Bell and Chaz Green play in 2017.

But, the question remains: is drafting yet another offensive lineman in the first-round a luxury or need for the Dallas Cowboys?

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument. So, let’s break it down a little and examine each.

Luxury

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys have already invested an enormous amount of resources to build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

They’ve spent three first-round draft picks to acquire Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, two of which have already received long-term extensions with Martin waiting in the wings.

That’s a lot of money devoted to one position, which ultimately means the Cowboys have to go cheaper in other areas in order to fit under the salary cap. This is the money that would be used in free agency to acquire some of those higher-priced free agents fans are always hankering for.

It also can be used to re-sign some of the Cowboys players at other positions, such as DeMarcus Lawrence.

But, it’s not only the money that makes drafting a first-round OL a luxury.

Four out of five of the Cowboys OL are already pretty much set in stone. The left guard position is really the only unoccupied position right now, but that could be filled rather easily. This, of course, is assuming Tyron Smith stays healthy, but regardless, he is the starting left tackle when the 2018 season begins.

Need

Byron Bell

Dallas Cowboys OL Byron Bell

There’s no reason to believe Tyron Smith will be able to play an entire 16-game season going forward. The last two seasons he has had to sit out several games due to injuries, and unfortunately his back issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Dallas doesn’t have an adequate backup, which was proven on more than one occasion in 2017. Hence the need.

With the exception of the quarterback, the left tackle position is arguably the most important on offense. They protect the QB’s blindside and are largely responsible for keeping him healthy and upright.

There’s a reason they are drafted so highly and paid so handsomely: they are that important to a team’s success.

There was also a reason the Dallas Cowboys offense started to sputter once Tyron Smith started missing time. Opposing defenses no longer respected the Cowboys LT, and started putting their best pass rusher on that side to get after Dak Prescott.

Prescott ended up having happy feet and it had a ripple effect throughout the entire offense, and not in a good way.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Quite honestly, I think it would be a luxury to draft any kind of offensive lineman with the Cowboys’ first-round selection, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that’s the direction they went. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument.

But, if they stick to the draft board and an OL is their highest rated player there, I say go for it.

The only thing we can do is have faith that the Dallas Cowboys know more about Tyron Smith’s health and his availability to play then we do as fans. If they decide to draft an offensive lineman early, I think we should all take that as an indication that they are worried about Smith, at least a little bit.

Luxury or Need: Do the Cowboys draft a first-round OL?

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NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition
James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys football team has a lot of needs on both sides of the ball. Sure, that’s pretty sad to say as a die-hard Cowboys fan, but it should make for a very interesting offseason. This front office needs to find a way to add talent in the draft, and probably in free agency as well, all while finding ways to keep Anthony Hitchens, DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, and extending Zack Martin.

Maybe they’re not able to achieve everything, but as long as they don’t lose all of these guys, they should be fine. We may even see a surprising release or trade. It sure would be interesting to see this team release Dez Bryant, for example.

Last year, Dallas lost Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Ronald Leary… among others. But what do these four guys have in common? They all resulted in compensatory picks for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Including the expected Compensatory Picks that the Cowboys will receive for their Free Agents that signed with other teams in 2017, the Cowboys should have the following picks in the 2018 Draft:

The Cowboys got two additional fourths and two fifths. After trading up to get Xavier Woods in 2017, Dallas had no original fifth rounders for this year’s draft.

This is a front office that avoids making “big splashes” in free agency and in the draft lately, but I wonder if they’ll at least explore trading possibilities this time.

With three fourth-round picks and two fifths, they should have more than enough ammunition.

Will McClay Discusses 2016 Cowboys Draft Class, Looks Ahead to 2017

Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones, Will McClay

This team has done a nice job in the last few drafts, and with Will McClay staying for at least one more year, they might as well try to get everything they can out of their draft picks. After all, Dak Prescott himself was a fourth-round compensatory pick.

Even still, I would like to see this team do something out of the ordinary.

Whether it’s trading up to get a well-fitting player who might otherwise go before their pick, or if it’s to get another team’s player, it would be interesting to see this front office pull the trigger on an interesting trade.

Sometimes it’s surprising what NFL teams can get with late round picks.

The Buffalo Bills traded away Marcell Dareus for only a sixth-round pick less than a year ago. I mean, how would you have felt if Dallas had gotten Dareus for just a sixth rounder? I would’ve been completely fine with it, to be honest.

The Cowboys have enough ammunition to consider pulling a trade-off in free agency or the NFL Draft.

We may not like the coaching, but in the past few years, this front office has done a good job when it comes to team-building.

We were all frightened when we saw the defensive players that were leaving in the secondary, and a season later, the young defensive backs are one of the reasons why we’re very optimistic about this team’s future.

So if they decide to keep their picks to themselves, I’d say it’ll be worth it, too.

After a sad season, at least we have an intriguing offseason ahead of us to keep us entertained.

Tell me what you think about “The Dallas Cowboys Will Have More Than Enough Trade Ammunition” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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