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Mock Draft Analysis: Who are Experts Sending to the Cowboys?

John Williams

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Mock Draft Analysis: Who are Experts Sending to the Cowboys?

We are officially in the offseason, which means it is draft and free agency season. Over the next few weeks, there will be a lot of talk and preparation for the start of the NFL's free agency period starting March 13th. Probably the thing that gets people more excited is the NFL draft.

Google mock drafts, and you will find countless reports and attempts at analyzing what could happen when the 32 teams go on the clock come April.

With the Dallas Cowboys not owning a first round pick in this year's draft, the projections get even more complicated as they'll have to see 57 players go off the board before making their choice at number 58. So much can change between now and then that attempting to figure out who the Cowboys will take is a really difficult exercise.

What I want to do, is look at who has recently been mocked to the Dallas Cowboys.

Charles Omenihu, DT, Texas

In Easterling's most recent four round mock draft, he sent the Dallas Cowboys some interior defensive line help. As shown by the Cowboys loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs, they could use the help.

As a senior, Omenihu recorded 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss to go with his 45 total tackles. To be that productive along the interior in the pass happy, spread heavy Big 12 is a huge accomplishment. He looks to have the size that Dallas could slot in as a 3-technique defensive tackle at 6-6 275. His length would cause a lot of problems on the interior.

Gerald Willis, DT, Miami

In this seven round mock draft simulation by Draftek, they find the Dallas Cowboys an interior defensive lineman as well in the form of Gerald Willis of Miami. Here's what their Dallas Cowboys analyst "Long Ball" had to say about Willis.

"Gerald Willis displayed flashes at Miami: explosive first step, utilization of hands and power in swim move, relentless pursuit with straight-line speed to chase plays down from the back side, and physicality in his tackling technique. Areas that need improvement: staying low to play with leverage, consistency with hand placement, and mental recognition of blocking. Off-the-field issues led to a transfer from Florida and he took a year off in 2017 while at Miami. I don't know if this will "Red Flag" him on the Dallas board, but if it does, I know the Cowboys visited with DT's DeMarcus Christmas (Florida State) and Greg Gaines (Washington) during the Senior Bowl."

Long Ball - Draftek

Willis was only a one-year player at Miami, but came up with a nice senior season where he racked up four sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He's likely a raw player that needs some refining, but with Rod Marinelli around he could bring out the best in a player that has the size to be disruptive on the interior.

Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State

Dane Brugler over at The Athletic is also thinking interior defensive line for the Cowboys as he projected Renell Wren from Arizona State University to your Dallas Cowboys. Here's what he had to say:

"With David Irving an afterthought and Maliek Collins entering the final year of his deal, defensive tackle is likely to be high on Dallas’ early round wish list."

Dane Brugler - The Athletic

Like Omenihu, Wren is big at 6-6, but comes in more than 20 pounds heavier than the Texas product. His size makes him more of a run stuffing 1-technique defensive tackle spot for the Cowboys and should help their interior rush and run defense, which would make life easier on Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esh at the second level.

He wasn't nearly as productive as Omenihu, as he never had more than 1.5 sacks in a season at Arizona State.

Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford

Luke Easterling of The Draft Wire put together a three-round mock draft back in the middle of January and sent the Dallas Cowboys a tight end in the form of Stanford product Kaden Smith. Smith caught 47 passes for 637 yards and two touchdowns in 2018 after catching 23 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He averaged 15 yards per reception in his two-year career at Stanford. Those numbers on the surface may not look very impressive, but remember that Stanford is one of the more run-heavy teams in college football, which means fewer opportunities for their pass catchers.

Like former teammate now Dallas Cowboys Tight End Dalton Schultz, Smith will come into the NFL with a more well-rounded game than many other college tight ends. He would have been asked to be a blocker pretty regularly in Stanford's offense, which gives him a leg up in adapting to the NFL game.

Tight end is going to be a popular selection for those doing mock drafts for the Dallas Cowboys as it's a position that has a some potential in Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, but is by no means solidified. It's an excellent draft to take a tight end as there are usable options as late as the fifth round in this year's group.

Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

Another mock draft and another tight end. This time it's Aggie Tight End Jace Sternberger being mocked to the Dallas Cowboys at 58 by Chad Reuter of NFL.com.

Sternberger is becoming one of my favorite tight ends in the class. Sternberger looks strong and able to run good routes, especially down field. He is a big play threat that averaged 17.3 yards per reception this season for the Aggies. He caught 48 passes for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Reuter references the absence of Jason Witten in the Cowboys passing game and that certainly made a difference. However, we saw how much could be improved with the addition of Amari Cooper.

Reuter's three round mock provides another pass catching option in the third round to the Cowboys, though this one is less exciting.

Oshane Ximenes, DE, Old Dominion

In his two round mock draft released earlier in the week, Ben Standig of NBC Sports had the Cowboys selecting Defensive End Oshane Ximenes from Old Dominion. Standig cites the looming free agency of DeMarcus Lawrence and likely departure of David Irving -- though we know Irving to be more of a tackle -- as his reasons for using the 58th pick in the draft on an edge rusher.

We know that DeMarcus Lawrence is going to be back. Combine that with the emergence of Randy Gregory in the 2019 season and it makes defensive end much less of a priority in the draft.

It's an interesting use of the Cowboys first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft with DeMarcus Lawrence set to return and the emergence of Randy Gregory.

Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

Over at SB Nation, they continued the trend with the Dallas Cowboys selecting defense first in the second round in the form of Mississippi State Safety Johnathan Abram. Here's what Dan Kadar had to say about the player.

"The Cowboys might not have a first-round pick this year, but Abram has the traits of one. He loves to crack receivers coming over the middle and is aggressive coming up to play the run."

Dan Kadar - SB Nation

Safety is certainly an area where the Dallas Cowboys could improve. Despite some playmaking and otherwise solid play from Jeff Heath, they need to look to upgrade that position. They'll have a chance to do so in free agency with names like Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Tre Boston, and Tyrann Mathieu available, but if they don't go that route, Abram sounds like a good fit to play with Xavier Woods who is more the free safety type.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With this NFL Draft being so loaded with defensive lineman and tight end, it's very likely that is where the Cowboys will look to allocate one of their first couple of picks. Depending on what happens with Wide Receiver Cole Beasley in free agency, you could see wide receiver move up the position needs rankings. If they're able to get him to return, it would become unlikely that the Cowboys would use pick number 58 on a wide receiver.

We still have nearly three months till the NFL Draft and it's already shaping up to be another nice April for the Dallas Cowboys.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft Target: Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler

The 2019 NFL Draft is light on a lot of the offensive skill position players at the top of the draft. There are a couple of wide receivers that are making noise in the first round, but I'm surprised to see that Iowa State Cyclones Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler isn't one of them.

Is he a perfect NFL prospect coming out of the Big 12? No. But this year, there isn't a perfect NFL wide receiver prospect, in my opinion.

Hakeem Butler measured in at 6-5, 225 with 35 1/4 inch wingspan, and 10 3/4 inch hands. He's a big receiver and generally, the type of wide receiver that the NFL looks for when they're attempting to build their receiver corp.

Here are his measurements, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com.

And here is his Spider Graph, if you're into that sort of thing.

As you can see, Butler moves the needle on the spider graph in the strength and athletic testing. He didn't run the short shuttle or the 3-cone drill at the NFL combine, which isn't surprising as those would be lesser traits to his game.

For his size, Butler runs an excellent 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds. That puts him at the same time as Carolina Panthers Running Back Christian McCaffrey. Former Dallas Cowboys great, Dez Bryant ran a 4.52. The 40-yard dash helps measure straight line speed and it's helpful, it just isn't the be all-end all. Sure, you'd like a receiver to be faster, but Butler's size-speed combination makes up for being a touch slower than the guys running in the 4.3's.

Film Review

In order to get a handle on Hakeem Butler, I watched his games against Iowa, Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Baylor, and Washington State. Believe me, watching the Iowa State offense was no small task. Quarterback much?

Here's what I saw from Hakeem Butler.

  • Is able to create separation on a variety of routes and against press coverage. Ran posts, slants, ins, outs, curls (both in and out breaking), double moves off of slants (sluggo and hitch and go), and nine or go routes.
  • Moves well for size, could use some more quickness.
  • Hakeem Butler is at his best when thrown back-shoulder fade routes. He's an excellent ball tracker and shows great anticipation for the ball being thrown under the route for him to come back to the ball.
  • Quarterback play at Iowa State was an issue. I counted three, maybe four different quarterbacks that he had to work with throughout the 2018 season. Though Butler was able to bail them out at times, he and the rest of the Cyclones receiving corp dealt with poor ball placement.
  • Butler is a physical blocker at the point of attack and away from the ball. He uses route feints to set up the defender so he can get square on them and uses good technique to secure his man and plays till the whistle.
  • Was lined up all over the field in the games watched including the slot, the middle receiver in bunch formations, and in tight sets as a single receiver to one side.
  • Is very physical against press coverage and fights to get free throughout the route.
  • The two games he struggled the most were against TCU and Iowa where they used more zone coverage than Iowa State's other opponents. Those teams kept him bracketed, which left him little room to work in the zone and forced him into more contested catch situations.
  • He had bad drops in both the Iowa and TCU games, but also came up with excellent catches.
  • Butler is very physical after the catch and uses his size and agility to break tackles and create yards after the catch. Against the Sooners, he broke three or four tackles after the catch to take one the distance for the touchdown.

I like Hakeem Butler as a pro prospect. He has some nuanced route running to him and is more than just a jump-ball specialist, red zone threat. He has the skills to be a lead receiver for a team in the NFL and could even be used as a big-slot receiver much like the New Orleans Saints use Michael Thomas. Despite some drops, I think he has really good hands and with his size and physicality would be an excellent addition for the Dallas Cowboys.

I'd be surprised if he was available for the Cowboys at pick 58 of the second round, but if for some reason he was there, I wouldn't hesitate to select him. You can use him on the outside and move Amari Cooper to the slot or put Butler in the slot and use Cooper on the outside. His ability to run routes from all over the formation is an asset that a smart team will take advantage of.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill

NAME: Trysten Hill

POSITION: Defensive Tackle

SCHOOL: Central Florida

CONFERENCE: American

CLASS: Junior

JERSEY: No. 9

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'3"

WT: 308

D.O.B.: 3/25/1998

Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2016 UCF American FR DL 9 11 4 15 5.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
*2017 UCF American SO DL 12 9 11 20 4.5 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2018 UCF American JR DL 12 20 16 36 10.5 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career UCF 40 31 71 20.0 6.0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Highlights:

Trysten Hill UCF Highlight

Uploaded by Micah Wade on 2019-02-22.

Pros:

The first thing that jumps off the tape when studying Trysten Hill is his first step quickness at the snap of the ball and his burst to get upfield. He is scheme diverse, but projects better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Can play the one-technique or the three-technique in a 4-3 defense, but is at his best as a one-gapper.

Hill plays with a nonstop motor and high energy down after down. Doesn't take any plays off. Shows the ability to fight off blocks. Always working his hands and feet to free himself. Is equally disruptive harassing the quarterback as a gap penetrator and in the running game playing sideline to sideline.

Shows good agility and flexibility to bend and finish tackles behind line of scrimmage and in the open field. Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to improve his overall play strength. Uses a twitchy arm over and spin counter move to penetrate the gap as both a pass rusher and run defender.

Cons:

There are questions about Trysten Hill's maturity, work ethic, and coach ability. He found himself in the doghouse last year at Central Florida and only started one game. Was he demoted because of the new coaching staff or are the character concerns about him factual? This is something teams will have to dive deeper into.

Needs to do a better job of playing under control. Will run himself out of gaps at times, which causes him to lose his gap responsibility. Can get washed out of the play by down blocks. Needs to develop a better feel and response to keep that from happening.

Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to add functional strength in order to become more consistent. Drops his head at times on his initial punch. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. Relies too much on arm over and spin move.

Cowboys Fit:

Trysten Hill is a versatile defensive tackle capable playing the one-technique or the three-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. Due to his first step quickness and high motor, he is likely better suited to play the three-technique. He has starting potential, but would likely be a rotational piece on the DL as a rookie behind Maliek Collins. His ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and sidelined the sideline would be a welcomed addition along the Cowboys defensive front. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick, and that's exactly where the Dallas Cowboys would likely have to target him to acquire his services.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.

POSITION: Wide Receiver

SCHOOL: Nebraska

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 8

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'0"

WT: 202

D.O.B.: 9/7/1996

Receiving Receiving Receiving Receiving Rushing Rushing Rushing Rushing Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Nebraska Big Ten FR WR 11 25 304 12.2 3 0 0 0 25 304 12.2 3
*2016 Nebraska Big Ten SO WR 13 33 453 13.7 2 1 0 0.0 0 34 453 13.3 2
2017 Nebraska Big Ten JR WR 11 61 986 16.2 10 1 2 2.0 0 62 988 15.9 10
2018 Nebraska Big Ten SR WR 12 70 1004 14.3 7 1 4 4.0 0 71 1008 14.2 7
Career Nebraska 189 2747 14.5 22 3 6 2.0 0 192 2753 14.3 22

Highlights:

Stanley Morgan Jr Nebraska WR ULTIMATE 2018 Season Highlights!!

"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."

Pros:

Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.

There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.

Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.

Cons:

Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.

Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.

Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.

Cowboys Fit:

Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.

Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.



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