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Mock Draft Monday: Who are the Experts Giving to the Cowboys?

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft Target: Stanford TE Kaden Smith 1

We are 16 days from the start of NFL free agency and 59 days away from the first round of the NFL Draft and the Dallas Cowboys will hope to continue their recent track record of success. They've been able to find players on each day of the draft over the last few years. No longer armed with a first round pick after sending it to Oakland for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys will have to continue to that kind of success throughout the draft.

Mocking players is a difficult exercise, even when attempting to place a player with a team that has a first round pick. Trying to project players in the second round and later is dang near impossible. These mock drafts do serve a purpose, even this early, in that they give us an indication of the players that could be available to the Dallas Cowboys around the time they'll be drafting.

There's a nice variety of players and positions being mocked to the Dallas Cowboys in the last week, so let's take a look.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

Last week Ric Serritella of Football Maven released a two round mock draft and sent the Dallas Cowboys Florida Safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and had this to say, "The safety spot may be the position in biggest need of an upgrade on the Cowboys roster."

That's certainly debatable as the Dallas Cowboys could also use a pass rushing 3-technique defensive tackle, a tight end, and a slot receiver, but safety is a position the Dallas Cowboys will be actively pursuing, but more than likely in free agency.

Gardner-Johnson recorded nine interceptions, four sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss in 33 games for the Gators. He'd certainly fill a need and this a deep draft at safety, so it's not unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys could use the 58th pick in the draft to go this direction.

Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

Last time we did this piece, Ben Standig from NBC Sports sent the Dallas Cowboys Old Dominion Defensive End Oshane Ximenes and he keeps the EDGE theme going this week with the Cowboys selecting Clemson Defensive End Austin Bryant in his latest two-round mock draft.

The rationale didn't change much as he cites the impending free agency of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, but it's an absolute certainty that Lawrence comes back. It's not improbable that the Dallas Cowboys take an EDGE rusher at 58, but at the moment it seems unlikely with the return of Lawrence and the on and off-field development of Randy Gregory.

Bryant would be a good get though as he recorded 8.5 sacks for the Clemson Tigers on a defense with several standout players. 2018 was the second season in a row that Bryant recorded 8.5 sacks, so he has the production and pedigree to potentially be a productive player in the NFL.

Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

Mike Tagliere from FantasyPros.com keeps the defensive line theme top of mind as he sends the Dallas Cowboys Defensive Lineman Dre'Mont Jones from Ohio State University. It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys need to add defensive line help along the interior, but there's not telling where they'll get those reinforcements from. In the Rod Marinelli era at defensive coordinator, the Dallas Cowboys have opted not to spend a draft pick on a defensive tackle in the first two round and generally hunt the bargain bin. Could this be the year that the Cowboys allocate a premium pick for defensive tackle. Tagliere, thinks so. Here's what he had to say on Jones.

"After overlooking the tackle position last year, the Cowboys must find one in this year’s draft now that David Irving is headed to free agency. Jones is thin for a defensive tackle, but he has a good motor because of it. He’s a much better pass-rusher than run-stuffer, as his swim move to get inside the offensive linemen is rather impressive. He will need to add weight for the next level."

Mike Tagliere - FantasyPros.com

2018 was by far his most productive season for the Buckeyes when he recorded 8.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 43 tackles. Sounds like the type of player that Marinelli likes on the inside; long and lean. At 6-3 286, he could be the penetrating 3T that the Cowboys have been looking for.

Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford

Luke Easterling, over at The Draft Wire, put together a four round mock draft with trades that you'll want to check out. Just like last time we did this piece, Easterling continues to give the Dallas Cowboys Stanford Tight End Kaden Smith.

It's certainly a selection that meets a need with the Cowboys heading into free agency with only Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz at the position, but does it make the most sense to select a tight end at 58. The Cowboys have liked Jarwin for the last couple of years and he started to show out toward the end of the season and with as deep as group as 2019 provides at the tight end position, solidifying tight end could be something the Dallas Cowboys could wait to do.

Easterling's not the only one to like Smith to the Cowboys at 58, as Eddie Brown of The San Diego Tribune also sent Smith to Dallas at 58.

Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama

A new name to pop up this time around is Alabama Defensive Tackle Isaiah Buggs, who is being mocked to the Dallas Cowboys in Fansided.com Draft Anaylyst Randy Gurzi's latest mock draft.

"Alabama players are found all over the league and another gets selected here as the Dallas Cowboys take Isaiah Buggs. A potential three-technique, Dallas needs someone who can replace David Irving, who simply can’t get on the field. He doesn’t get the hype that some of his teammates do, but Buggs had 9.5 sacks this past year and should continue to provide interior pressure at the next level."

While Jason Garrett seems to have an affinity for Nick Saban, the Dallas Cowboys haven't drafted an Alabama player during Garrett's nine drafts with the Dallas Cowboys. Buggs fits a need for reinforcements on the Cowboys interior, but as we discussed earlier, will the Cowboys use a premium pick on a defensive tackle? It would certainly be a departure from the norm.

Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

InsideTheStar.com's very own Brian Martin released a 7-round mock draft using Fan Speak's On the Clock Simulator and selected Jace Sternberger with the Cowboys first selection at number 58.

Here's what Martin had to say:

"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."

Brian Martin, InsideTheStar.com

Sternberger averaged 17.3 yards per reception for the Aggies while hauling in 48 passes for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are explosive numbers for a Tight End in college football. In Mark Andrews final season at the University of Oklahoma, he caught 62 passes for 952 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 15.3 yards per reception. In a better offense with a better quarterback, it's certainly possible Sternberger puts up Andrews like production last season.

Make sure you check out the rest of his mock to see who the Dallas Cowboys could take with their other five picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

It will be interesting to see if these mock projections hold up over the next couple of months with pro days and the NFL Scouting Combine coming soon. How the Dallas Cowboys allocate pick number 58 is anyone's guess at this point and will remain so until we get into the 50's of the NFL Draft. Get to know these players, because they'll likely be in the range of where the Cowboys will be picking come draft day.



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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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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