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Martin’s Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks

Sean Martin

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Martin's Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks 2
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It is draft week. By this time next week, all 32 NFL teams will come away from the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium hopefully feeling better about their football team for the 2018 season.

For the hosting Cowboys, this draft may very well be their chance to put this roster over the top, with ten total selections to work with.

I will be departing for Dallas on Wednesday morning to bring Cowboys Nation coverage of this draft. Before then, here is my final prediction for how Thursday's first round plays out - along with the remaining nine Cowboys picks.

1. Cleveland Browns: QB Josh Allen - Wyoming

Once again, the Cleveland Browns control the draft with the first overall pick. In a draft with at least four passers expected to go in the first round, there has not been much consensus from scouts anywhere on this class of quarterbacks.

Baker Mayfield has remained my QB1, but the Browns seem content with project that is Josh Allen. Paired with reports that they'll also consider a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, and earlier comments from HC Hue Jackson about starting Tyrod Taylor, the Browns are going to have teams on the edge of their war room seats on Thursday night.

2. New York Giants: QB Sam Darnold - USC

The New York Giants may have a fresh face on the sidelines in Head Coach Pat Shurmur, but the former Vikings Offensive Coordinator will be leading this team into his first season with 37-year old QB Eli Manning still under center.

Working on the belief that they're not as bad as their 3-13 record indicates, the Giants take advantage of their position at second overall to draft the QB the Browns should have first. Sam Darnold would be ready to play right away should he be forced into action in New York, but sitting a year behind Manning could only do him well.

Cowboys 2017 Mock Draft: Dallas Trades Down With San Francisco 7

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3. New York Jets: QB Baker Mayfield - Oklahoma

All reports out of New Jersey are that the Jets love Baker Mayfield. As my top available QB, it is hard not to - especially for a team looking to take the next step after being led to a surprising five wins with Josh McCown.

It would be hard for the Jets to pass on a prospect as electrifying as Mayfield and still feel good about their QB situation in 2018, assuming he's the quarterback they're hoping slides past their "roommate" Giants.

4: Cleveland Browns: G Quenton Nelson - Notre Dame

By my own evaluations, the Browns would not be making a smart choice in Josh Allen first overall. They could make up for this in a big way by drafting my top overall prospect in Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson.

The definition of a plug-and-play lineman, Nelson should dominate at either guard position for a long time in this league. Drafting a player with a floor as high as Nelson to protect their latest rookie quarterback is a safe bet for the Browns - should they not be tempted by flashier players on both sides of the ball.

5: Denver Broncos: DE Bradley Chubb - North Carolina State

Per John Elway, this fifth overall pick is for sale in Denver. Depending on how the run of quarterbacks goes at the top, there may be one the Broncos cannot pass on. Another team may feel the same way though, offering Denver a significant haul to trade up.

Assuming the Broncos stay in and make a pick, the best pass rusher of the 2018 Draft is a terrific consolation prize. Like Myles Garrett a year ago, Chubb is ready to perform at a high level on day one. Chubb displayed a full array of pass rush moves in the ACC while testing as the same dominant athlete at the Scouting Combine.

6: Indianapolis Colts: RB Saquon Barkley - Penn State

Trading down to this pick with the Jets, the Colts feel they can still target a similar crop of players at sixth overall compared to third. Saquon Barkley has always been in the discussion for a Colts team welcoming back Andrew Luck in 2018.

Being able to acquire additional picks while landing one of the best overall RB prospects in recent memory is a great move for a rebuilding Colts team playing in a tough division.

7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Minkah Fitzpatrick - Alabama

The Buccaneers could use a new starter alongside Vernon Hargreaves in their secondary. Whether or not they feel that Alabama's MInkah Fitzpatrick is the guy at cornerback or safety, Fitzpatrick is this draft's top defensive back.

Allowing Fitzpatrick to patrol this Tampa Bay defense at any level will instantly give the Buccaneers a boost - particularly playing twice a season against Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton.

8: Chicago Bears: LB Roquan Smith - Georgia

The Bears should be absolutely ecstatic if given the opportunity to draft Roquan Smith. Arguably this draft's best linebacker, along with Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds, Smith was a star in the SEC at Georgia and projects to be one in the NFL too.

I give Smith the nod over Edmunds for a Bears defense lacking a physical presence like him, as eighth overall is not too rich for a LB talent like Roquan.

9: San Francisco 49ers: WR Calvin Ridley - Alabama

The 49ers are the best example going right now of how important the QB position is compared to any in sport. By acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots as their new starter, the 49ers' rebuild was kicked into high gear under John Lynch.

A combination of Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo has a chance to be something special out west for San Francisco. They'll embrace the future of their offense here by drafting the most ready-made contributor at WR available, Alabama's Calvin Ridley.

Ridley is a smooth route runner with polish as a vertical threat and reliable hands catcher, hindered by poor QB play in college but waiting to explode onto the NFL scene.

10: Oakland Raiders: CB Denzel Ward - Ohio State

Just how much of an impact the loss of rookie CB Gareon Conley had on the Raiders' struggles defensively remains to be seen, but this is a team that needs to do everything they can to upgrade their passing defense at the draft.

Adding Conley's teammate in Ward is a fantastic start, as I have the Raiders passing on Derwin James to take a player of more pressing need. Ward can line up at any cornerback position on the field and stick to receivers with his fluidity, balance, and length to attack the football relentlessly.

Martin's Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks

Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

11: Miami Dolphins: LB Tremaine Edmunds - Virginia Tech

Searching for new leaders on the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins are an ideal spot for 19-year old LB Tremaine Edmunds. Age is far from Edmunds' only positive trait, as he is already prepared to take over games at WILL linebacker thanks to freakish athleticism and length.

12: Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Rosen - UCLA

In a dream scenario, the Bills do not have to make another draft night trade to land their franchise quarterback. Looking to build off of their first playoff appearance since 1999, the Bills see arguably the best day one QB prospect in this draft slide to the 12th overall pick.

13: Washington Redskins: S Derwin James - Florida State

Derwin James has a chance to affect the entire first round of the draft should he slide into the early teens. Doing so here, there are bound to be teams looking to trade up for the latest FSU stud to anchor the Seminoles secondary.

Happily staying in and adding James to a secondary that needs James' youth and athleticism, Derwin landing elsewhere in the NFC East is bad news for Cowboys fans.

14: Green Bay Packers: DE Harold Landry - Boston College

The 2018 Draft does not feature a deep class of defensive ends, and Boston College's Harold Landry is expected to slide a few picks because of it. The team that drafts Landry will have to come to terms with why he was a much different player from 2016 to 2017 in college, while still getting an elite EDGE prospect.

The Packers at 14th overall are a great fit for Landry's speed and finesse game off the edge.

15: Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson - Lousiville

The Cardinals are another team that could be aggressively looking to trade up for their quarterback. Their aging roster finally hit a breaking point in 2017, and the energy Lamar Jackson could bring to this team at QB cannot be understated.

The Cardinals should view Jackson as a passer just scratching the surface of what he can be from the pocket, threatening teams with his scramble ability and sprinter speed in the open field as well.

16: Baltimore Ravens: G Isaiah Wynn - Georgia

One of the most valuable players available in the first round, Isaiah Wynn will provide his new team with depth at both guard and tackle. A finished product at guard, Wynn plays to the whistle to finish defenders on every snap, displaying the consistent technique to have NFL teams falls in love with him at Georgia.

17: Los Angeles Chargers: OT Mike McGlinchey - Notre Dame

The Chargers will look to keep Phillip Rivers upright for another season, and doing so with Mike McGlinchey makes a lot of sense. A technically sound player with tenacious run blocking ability, McGlinchey projects best as a starting right tackle early in his NFL career.

18: Seattle Seahawks: DE Marcus Davenport - UTSA

The Seahawks are going through a bit of a retool with their vaunted defense, and don't have the capital in this draft to fully restock. Starting off their draft with a potential top-ten prospect is as good as it gets for Seattle.

The Seahawks are in perfect position to mold Davenport into the player they need rushing opposing quarterbacks - something he excels at thanks to his shear size and strength.

Sean's Scout: Maryland WR D.J. Moore A Big-Play Target for Cowboys

Maryland WR D.J. Moore

19: Dallas Cowboys: WR D.J. Moore - Maryland

Too much has been made of the Dallas Cowboys targeting a true X-receiver to "replace" Dez Bryant. This is a team going in a new direction with their wide receivers, in desperate need of play makers on the outside.

With Calvin Ridley long gone, the Cowboys draft arguably the better fit in Maryland's D.J. Moore. An easy target for Dak Prescott given his burst and acceleration, Moore's trademark toughness with the ball in his hands will make Cowboys Nation fall in love with him.

20: Detroit Lions: DT Vita Vea - Washington

New Head Coach Matt Patricia is looking to turn the Lions' defense around. With some nice pieces to work with in the back end, Detroit would benefit greatly from the presence Vea brings at the 1T spot.

More than just a space eating nose tackle, Vea will disengage with freakish upper body power to make plays down the line and instantly make the defensive linemen around him better.

21: Cincinnati Bengals: CB Mike Hughes - Central Florida

Pairing Mike Hughes with William Jackson III, the Bengals create a solid cornerback tandem for years to come. This year's CB class is all about scheme fit and which traits teams covet, with Hughes getting the nod over other players on the board for the Bengals thanks to his size on the boundary.

22: Buffalo Bills: G/C James Daniels - Iowa

Dealing with the retirement of Center Eric Wood, the Bills draft some insurance for their rookie Quarterback Josh Rosen at 22nd overall. Like Isaiah Wynn, Daniels offers the depth that teams love on the offensive line at both guard and center.

Daniels' hand strength and movement ability make him a valuable starter at any interior position.

23: New England Patriots: LB Leighton Vander Esch - Boise State

I don't think I have ever struggled with a draft prospect more than I did this season with Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch. Testing as an absolutely dominant athlete, Vander Esch clearly struggles on tape when asked to get off of blocks and play physical.

The Patriots excel at using players like this better than any team can, so I'll trust their ability to get the most out of Vander Esch.

24: Carolina Panthers: CB Jaire Alexander - Louisiville

Finding the right players in the secondary has been a massive struggle for the Panthers, in desperate need of the skills that an alpha like Jaire Alexander could bring.

Alexander plays with a patented "my ball" mentality whenever tested, disrupting routes and recovering quickly in man coverage.

25: Tennessee Titans: DT Da'Ron Payne - Alabama

Another team looking to take the next step, with plenty of promise on offense, the Titans satisfy new HC Mike Vrabel with this 25th overall pick.

Da'Ron Payne is just the latest Alabama defensive tackle to wreak havoc at both interior positions, bringing above average play strength and power as an up field player.

26: Atlanta Falcons: LB Rashaan Evans - Alabama

Keeping another SEC prospect close, the Falcons scheme on defense fits what Rashaan Evans does best (which is nearly everything). Evans has no problem running to the football as a WILL linebacker, arriving with balance and textbook positioning to bring down nearly every ball carrier he faced.

Evans should be one of the most noticeable rookie defenders on the field this season.

27: New Orleans Saints: OT Connor Williams - Texas

Adding a versatile offensive line prospect at the end of the first round is always a safe move for a team without any glaring needs. The Saints would come away as winners of the first round if they get 2016's level of play out of Connor Williams.

A star that year for the Longhorns, Williams was hindered by injuries in 2017 but did everything he could to help Texas. In taking the next step to the NFL, Williams may start for some team at guard (where the Saints could use him initially) before transitioning back out to tackle.

Martin's Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks 1

South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert

28: Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Dallas Goedert - South Dakota State

With the board washed out at positions of need on defense, the Steelers can't resist the opportunity to add a dynamic TE to their elite passing game. Goedert's tape out of South Dakota State is an absolute joy to watch, as the 6045 (6' 4 5/8") pass catcher was smooth to all levels of the field with the ability to play through contact.

29: Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Courtland Sutton - Southern Methodist

If the Jaguars are going to return to the AFC Championship Game with Blake Bortles as their starting QB, they need to provide him help through this draft. Luckily for them, a deep draft at WR allows the Jaguars to stay home at 29th overall to take Courtland Sutton.

One of the only true X-receiver prospects in this draft, Sutton will take some time getting acclimated to the NFL, but has enough raw ability to go with his prototypical size to contribute right away.

30: Minnesota Vikings: G Will Hernandez - UTEP

The Vikings have remained relevant through a shuffle of quarterbacks that's landed them with Kirk Cousins for 2018 and beyond. This year's prized FA acquisition is clearly the best QB they've had in recent memory, and the Vikings should be looking to content with Cousins under center.

Giving the pocket passer more time to operate while adding a player with as much nastiness as Will Hernandez is how the Vikings can establish their dominance in the NFC North for a long while.

31: New England Patriots: DT Harrison Phillips - Stanford

You don't see many nose tackles from the PAC-12 be as productive as Harrison Phillips, who has all of the traits to be a force for any defensive front in the NFL. The Stanford product feels like a perfect New England Patriot - the complete package of versatility, toughness, and rare play making ability.

32: Philadelphia Eagles: RB Derrius Guice - LSU

The defending Super Bowl champions were given a significant boost on offense following a trade for RB Jay Ajayi, who returns for the 2018 season along with Corey Clement.

Both backs are better as change of place players behind a more bruising back, which Derrius Guice would be for the Eagles' Carson Wentz led offense.

Remaining Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft Picks:

Round 2, 50th Overall: S Ronnie Harrison - Alabama

If any secondary coach is going to maximize Ronnie Harrison's potential, it is former Seahawks "Legion of Boom" architect Kris Richard. Already a major voice on the Cowboys' coaching staff, the team should be looking to solidify their secondary with the right priority pick.

Ronnie Harrison at 50th overall is the perfect value to bring Dallas a punishing defender with range and unteachable instincts when playing downhill.

Sean's Scout: Iowa LB Josey Jewell A Hard-Hitting Option for Depth

Iowa LB Josey Jewell

Round 3, 81st Overall: LB Josey Jewell - Iowa

Depending on who you ask, the Cowboys biggest need is at linebacker. I believe there will be enough talent left at this position later in the draft for the Cowboys to wait and find their backup plan to both Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee.

Josey Jewell is this player out of Iowa, consistently reacting to plays as a MIKE and WILL linebacker to finish at the football. A tad undersized, Jewell plays as if he's the biggest defender on the field and rarely struggles to get off blocks.

Round 4, 116th Overall: DT Deadrin Senat - South Florida

Just like the LB position with their last pick, the Cowboys can wait on filling their perceived need at 1T DT. Maliek Collins did a nice job in this role last season, but still projects best as this team's 3T.

Deadrin Senat is a square player that flashed above average play strength and upper body leverage at South Florida to give opposing guards all they could handle. In Rod Marinelli's rotation of defensive lineman, there is no doubt that Senat could help the Cowboys rushing defense in 2018 while developing into an NFL nose tackle.

Round 4, 137th Overall: G Braden Smith - Auburn

Not addressing their need at guard until the fourth round is certainly not ideal for the Dallas Cowboys, but it's just how the board fell in this last mock. A player like Braden Smith should easily outplay this draft position, especially if starting between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.

Smith will stand his ground against the toughest rushers, using his strong hands to control through blocks. Smith will reset with his hands and create movement that makes up for some lower body issues. This is a skilled offensive line prospect with an NFL body and experience at multiple positions - all of which is music to the Cowboys ears.

Round 5, 171st Overall: WR Marcell Ateman - Oklahoma State

Creating competition for the lower depth in their crowded WR room, the Cowboys could be landing a steal in Oklahoma State's Marcell Ateman. As mentioned while discussing the first round prospects, there are not many dominant X-receiver types in this draft.

Marcell Ateman may not ever be a dominant player in the NFL, but he does possess the size and leaping ability to play as an X and create big plays. Ateman's best use early in his career will be in the red zone, where he tracks the ball with ease to secure it at its highest point with soft hands.

Round 6, 192nd Overall: CB Nick Nelson - Wisconsin

A competitor on every snap for Wisconsin, Nick Nelson made up for his lack of stature and polished technique with the balance and motor that the Cowboys would love to add to their secondary. If all goes well for second year players like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, Nelson wouldn't see the field much early in his Dallas career.

This suits him well, as Nelson can refine his technique and develop into a valuable man coverage asset.

Round 6, 193rd Overall: DE Joe Ostman - Central Michigan

Joe Ostman is the perfect hard-working edge rusher for Rod Marinelli to pound the table for in the later rounds of this draft. Out of Central Michigan, Ostman will never be a dynamic rusher, but does consistently get to the level of the QB with the stopping power to push off the edge.

Martin's Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks 3

Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Round 6, 208th Overall: TE Troy Fumagalli - Wisconsin

With the retirement of James Hanna, the Cowboys may feel inclined to add a TE to at least have through training camp. Troy Fumagalli should be much more than a camp body if he figures himself out at the next level.

At his best, Fumagalli was a consistent threat in Wisconsin's offense thanks to his smooth route running ability. Also serving as a viable blocker on the edge, the Cowboys could easily find a role for Fumagalli if he slides to them in the right spot.

Round 7, 236th Overall: OT Jaryd Jones-Smith - Pittsburgh

The later rounds of the NFL Draft are all about finding players with workable traits. As a completely raw OT prospect, Jones-Smith was the only player at the Combine to measure above a 36-inch arm length. There are things to like about his game out of Pittsburgh, which is all the Cowboys need to see in adding further depth to their best unit.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This is the last article I'll be writing from my home state of New Jersey. Tomorrow morning, I'll be arriving in Dallas with Slant Sports Draft Analyst Nick Flaherty to bring Cowboys Nation four great days of 2018 NFL Draft coverage.

I greatly look forward to connecting with the fans and players that make this event so special every year, and hope you'll be along for the ride right here at Inside The Star.

Tell us what you think about "Martin’s Mock: Final 1st Round Projection with All 10 Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Will

    April 24, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Love this mock. My only objection is I believe we can trade back from 19 and get Moore at the back end of the first while picking up some extra picks

  2. SCCowboy

    April 24, 2018 at 10:25 am

    If Vea is there at 19 and we pass, I will throw up.

    • David carter

      April 24, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      No way we pass on vea. We can trade up in the second round for a receiver. Horrible mock draft!

    • Justin T Johnston

      April 24, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Haha! Was thinking the same thing. There’s n
      NO WAY if hes there we pass on him.

  3. Anthony Camp

    April 24, 2018 at 11:57 am

    I agree with both of you. I don’t think we we need to chase a WR @ 19. If we can’t trade back then it should be Vea, Hernandez, or LVE and in that order

  4. EverybodyTalks

    April 24, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    You have Vita and DaRon still there @19…just stop. DJ is a great fit for Dak. Vita and DaRon are immediate game changers. That is what you want in the 1st..plug-n-play. Plus they are Dak friendly because there will be a lot more 3-n-outs produced by an improved defense.

  5. winstar

    April 24, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    NO Brian NO…..Stop it. Don’t give Jerral and his Clan any ideas. WR is not a need in the first or second round which is where I have seen many predict where Moore will go. VEA is the player we want and NEED. See you on boards.insidethestar.com so we can argue/debate this.

  6. dallas4life65

    April 24, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    no way Dallas should pass on vita!!! missing piece of new doomsday defense

  7. Not your goat

    April 24, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    I’m not sure I’ve ever disagreed with a mock draft more than this one, ever. I honestly would not be surprised if this list went 0-32.

  8. Dominique Lewis

    April 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Best mock I’ve seen recently

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Since Kris Richard has taken over the back-end of the Dallas Cowboys defense, they have clearly shown a bias towards a "type" of cornerback. Richard, looking to build this Dallas unit in a similar form to his Seattle teams, has prioritized long corners both in height and arm length.

As his responsibilities within the organization increase, it's only fair to expect Kris Richard to have more say in who the Cowboys' defense acquires in terms of talent. This means we should anticipate more defensive backs who fit his type, such as Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Player

So why does Lonnie Johnson fit the mold of what Kris Richard tends to look for? Well, for starters, he is 6'3" and 206 lbs with 32 1/4" arms. He's a long corner with excellent size and the trait profile which indicates he could be the perfect candidate to play cornerback in Dallas.

But while he might look great on paper, the tape is always the most important factor for evaluating and projecting talent. And, for Johnson, the tape isn't all-that great. Despite his length, Johnson struggled mightily in press-man coverage at Kentucky. Too often he is late or ineffective with his hands, leaving him susceptible to being blown by by the opposing receiver. He often loses balance due to poor footwork, and is rather average with his hips and quick change of direction.

Where Johnson was his best in college was in zone coverage, playing his deep third of Kentucky's cover-three look. Rarely did he allow receivers behind him in zone coverage, and displayed good instincts when deciding whether to jump routes or play more conservatively when playing in that deep third. He was not nearly as comfortable underneath, and Kentucky didn't ask him to play in that role too often. Because of how big he is, Johnson is able to contest at the catch point regularly, yet he only deflected 9 passes in 2 years.

What gives me the most hope for Lonnie Johnson as a prospect (besides his length) is his Senior Bowl performance. Johnson impressed daily at the Senior Bowl, looking more comfortable in man coverage and playing much better in his press technique.

Was this Johnson becoming more comfortable over time and a sign of things to come at the next level, or was it an anomaly that we shouldn't read too much into? The answer to that question is up to the individual teams, but his combine performance will play a huge role in how those teams answer.

The Fit

As I've discussed already, Lonnie Johnson Jr. fits what Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks. He is long, tall, and relatively athletic, making him a clay piece for a coach like Richard to develop.

The question is, however, how much development can really occur? The highs for Johnson are rather high when he maximizes his natural abilities on the field. But too often he is sloppy in technique, or looks lost in man coverage. Whether or not Richard can "fix" Johnson completely may never be seen, but teams (especially this one) could fall in love with him as a prospect for what he can become if it all comes together.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma Like, Comment, and Subscribe for More! Follow my Instagram: @szhighlights Songs: - "Don't Know Me" by Trae Tha Truth - "Better Days" by Trae Tha Truth I do not own any of these highlights or music clips.

Before we get into the player, we should really try to get to know Rodney Anderson the person. He attended Katy High School in Katy, Texas, one of the powerhouse HS football programs in the state. He was a four-star recruit who received offers from Auburn, Baylor, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma. He originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind and decided to go to Oklahoma instead. He had an up-and-down career on the football field at Oklahoma because of injuries, but did graduate with a degree in Arts and Sciences in May 2018 and is pursuing his Master's in Human Relations.

Pros:

Rodney Anderson has the ideal size and athleticism to become a featured back in the NFL. He shows good patience and vision on film to allow his offensive lineman to secure their blocks before sticking his foot in the ground and exploding through the hole. He runs behind his pads and shows good strength, loose hips, and balance to run through arm tackles. More than capable of picking up those "dirty yards" and is surprisingly slippery as a runner in the open field.

Anderson is capable of playing in a power scheme or a zone heavy scheme like the Dallas Cowboys deploy. He has been featured in a number of rushing concepts including gap/power, read action, and power sweeps. His talent also carries over to the passing game. He possesses soft hands and looks natural catching the ball both out of the backfield and down the field as a receiver. Solid in pass protection, but this is an area of his game where he can improve.

Cons:

The biggest negative about Rodney Anderson is his injury history at Oklahoma. He is basically a one-year wonder because of three separate season-ending injuries, but bad things happen in three so maybe that's behind him. Durability will be a question mark entering the NFL though.

His vision is sometimes questionable, especially on inside and outside zone reads. Has a tendency to to try to bounce runs to the outside too often or cut back too quickly. Shows good explosiveness, but only average burst through the hole. Seems to have adequate long speed on tape, but is 40 yard dash time will be heavily scrutinized if he's able to run at the NFL Scouting Combine.

In the passing game he needs to improve his route running and pass protection if he wants to be a three-down back in the NFL. The talent is there, just not the production and consistency. Will also have to prove he can be productive against stacked boxes at the next level since he rarely saw any in college due to Oklahoma's spread offense.

Cowboys Fit:

If the Dallas Cowboys are looking for a running back capable of being a featured back in the NFL, while also spelling Ezekiel Elliott from time to time, then Rodney Anderson is there guy. His combination of power, balance, explosiveness, and scheme diversity could come in handy as their RB2. Not only would he provide a good insurance policy if the unthinkable were to happen to Zeke, but he could take over if they decide not to give No. 21 a contract extension.

There is a lot to like about Rodney Anderson's game and his ability to contribute in the running and passing game, but he is not by any means a clean prospect. Despite his immense talent, his injury history and lack of consistency in college is bothersome. But, as a mid-round pick the reward far outweighs the risks. Paired with Elliott, the Cowboys could have a formidable one-two punch in their backfield and could pound opposing defenses into submission.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Our search for a new pass catcher for the Cowboys in this years' draft class continues, this time with a wide receiver.

South Carolina's Deebo Samuel put himself on the map with a strong Sophomore season, but fell off a bit due to a severe leg injury early in 2017. After a strong 2018 campaign, and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Samuel has played himself back into early Day Two draft discussions.

The Player

I don't know that anyone "won" Senior Bowl week more than Deebo Samuel did this January. Samuel, who had to deal with some poor quarterback play throughout his college career, didn't get much of a break in that department either at the Senior Bowl. But, he did show out every day at practice, and seemed to go viral on Twitter at least once a day.

During his actual collegiate season, Samuel finished with 882 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 catches, solid production especially coming off an injury and playing in a limited offense. Initially in the NFL, Samuel is going to make his money in the slot. He's a shifty yet explosive receiver type than can quickly beat defenders with his speed. He's not the speedster than someone like Marquise Brown is, but he is explosive enough in his own right, especially in terms of short-area quickness.

Samuel isn't someone who will go up and grab the ball consistently, or even make up for inaccurate throws as often as some others might be able to. But he does have reliable hands, and his ability to get open quickly and create separation should give someone like Dak Prescott easy windows to find him in for completions.

What makes Deebo Samuel so fun for me to watch, though, is his ability after the catch. Despite his lack of size, Samuel is tough as nails, and rarely defers out of bounds or avoids contact. He's built well enough to withstand that contact as well, and when he gets free, he's hard to catch and bring down.

The Fit

Drafting Deebo Samuel 58th overall would be a heck of a haul for the Dallas Cowboys. In need of another playmaker in the passing game, the Cowboys could make immediate use of Samuel's talents in 2019, specifically as a slot receiver.

As has been mentioned ad nauseam, it seems unlikely that Cole Beasley will be returning to the team this season, which makes the need for a slot wide-out that much greater. Samuel has big play ability from the slot already, and has traits which project him to potentially work outside as well. If he tests well enough at the combine, reps on the outside could very well be in his future.

Samuel should be on every Cowboys fans' shortlist of draft targets in the second round this year.



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