I don't know about you, but I like to look at way too early mock drafts throughout the season to see who the so-called "draft analysts" predict for each team. Matt Miller happens to be one of my favorite draft analysts and fortunately he just released his latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
Matt Miller has his ear to the ground and has a pretty good connection with NFL scouts around the league. He uses those connections for these mock drafts and bases each selection on what he's hearing from those teams instead of who he would personally choose. That's why I put a little bit more credibility in his mock drafts than others.
Let's take a look at who Matt Miller predicts the Dallas Cowboys will select with their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Miller set the draft order according to each teams current record and the strength of schedule for the rest of the 2017 season.
19. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)
Holton Hill, CB, University of Texas
Surprisingly enough, draft analyst Matt Miller predicts the Dallas Cowboys will select a cornerback in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft despite using their second and third round selections in 2017 on CBs (Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis). Miller of course does state that this isn't necessarily the direction he would go. The selections are based on what he's hearing from teams around the league.
Here is what Matt Miller says about Holton Hill:
"The 6'3", 200-pound junior cornerback has eye-popping tools and traits. Hill's arm length, toughness as a tackler and 4.5 speed might just remind you of a young Richard Sherman. On the year, Hill has two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. He continues to impress with five passes defensed despite offenses staying away from his side of the field."
Holton Hill is the first cornerback off the board in Matt Miller's 2018 NFL mock draft and certainly sounds like a player the Dallas Cowboys could use. He would add much-needed size to the position and could be the #1 CB they are currently lacking. The only concern I would have is his lack of straight-line speed. But, Miller using Richard Sherman as a comparison lessens the concern just a little.
I've personally watched Holton Hill play a few games this season, and I have to say I've liked what I've seen from him. He is exactly the type of CB Rod Marinelli likes in his system. Hill is equally as good in man-to-man coverage or zone, and prides himself on his physical tackling ability against the run.
Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys draft another CB early is still up in the air, but I certainly think it's possible. Orlando Scandrick might be playing his last year in Dallas and Anthony Brown has seemed to regress this season. Jourdan Lewis certainly looks like a keeper as does Xavier Woods, but Chidobe Awuzie's health issues make him an unknown at this point.
Given all the unknowns and youth at the cornerback position for the Dallas Cowboys, I believe Holton Hill will certainly be in play for them in the first round if available. Unfortunately, we have to wait until April to find out if this is true or not.
Do you like the Holton Hill selection for the Dallas Cowboys?
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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