Even in the offseason, I still have a reason to be nervous about my beloved Dallas Cowboys. Recently, I've had these nightmares about the upcoming NFL Draft that are so startling, they wake me up in the middle of the night.
They start off very routine: Laremy Tunsil first, Jared Goff or Carson Wentz second, San Diego takes Jalen Ramsey or Joey Bosa third, and America’s Team takes either DeForest Buckner or Ramsey, whoever is available, at fourth.
Then the Eagles pick Ezekiel Elliott.
Then the Giants pick Laquon Treadwell.
AGHHH! I wake up covered in sweat and realize it was just a nightmare mock draft.
Elliott or Treadwell in the NFC East is a nightmare indeed but it could be a reality that the Cowboys have to deal with in the 2016 season.
Which reality would be easier to deal with? Let's imagine that it's the 2016 NFL season.
Ezekiel Elliott on the Philadelphia Eagles
It’s 2016 and Ezekiel Elliott is receiving the hand-off from Sam Bradford.
Elliott is a three-down back who has the potential to excel in all parts of the game. His size, athleticism, pass-catching and blocking skills are a rare and scary combination if you’re on the other side of the ball. He should be one of the more productive backs in the league.
The Eagles are going to be looking into kick starting their running game after the failed DeMarco Murray experiment. While they may have some potential in running backs Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews, they aren’t enough to persuade the Eagles’ front men to not pick a running back in the draft, especially if Elliott is there at 8.
Elliott is regarded as the most complete back in the draft and could really do some damage in the league, especially in the NFC East. Obviously, I don't want the Eagles to land a running back of Elliott’s caliber.
Ezekiel Elliott on the New York Giants
Let's imagine it's 2016 and Elliot is receiving the hand-off from Eli Manning.
Elliott said himself in an interview that if he were teamed up with Odell Beckham Jr. and Manning it would be a “three headed monster.” I think it would be more like a real life version of “Two and A Half Men.”
The Giants currently carry four running backs: Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa. GM Jerry Reese has focused most of his free-agent attention at bolstering last year’s underwhelming defense. While I would think it would be in their best interest to address the offensive line, I can see them picking Elliott if he is there at 10. Drafting Elliott would likely signal the end of Rashad Jennings's time in New York. He would be a huge improvement over the aging and relatively pricey Jennings.
In 2015 the Cowboys held the Giants to just 108 rushing yards through both games. If that’s because New York’s run game is broken then Elliott is a player who can fix it.
Laquon Treadwell on the Philadelphia Eagles
Let's imagine Laquon Treadwell is catching passes for the Eagles.
Treadwell is comparable to DeAndre Hopkins. Both players are defined by their talent. He is best when he has a clean two-way go off the line of scrimmage and he could be a challenging size match up from the slot.
Although I do think there are other glaring needs for the Eagles I would not be surprised if Treadwell is their guy. Their wide receivers dropped 41 passes, a league high. When it comes to touchdowns, the Eagles ranked 21st with 23 touchdowns, 8 of those coming from their top wide receiver Jordan Matthews. More so, the Eagles have invested three draft choices in the top three rounds on WR including a first round pick on Nelson Agholor.
The Eagles could really use a lights out wide receiver to help Sam Bradford so Laquon Treadwell could be the guy. Lucky for us, if there isn’t much of a threat at running back or a true WR2 for the Eagles, then the Cowboys defense can defend the pass and double cover Treadwell.
Laquon Treadwell on the New York Giants
Let’s imagine Treadwell is catching passes for the Giants.
Odell Beckham Jr. excels because he can separate from coverage giving himself a good opportunity to catch the ball thrown in his direction. Many times the ball is basically chucked in his general direction anyway so he has no choice but to make a miraculous catch.
Although Treadwell is arguably the best wide receiver in the draft he is not anywhere near the type of prospect Beckham was when he came out in 2014. He doesn't have the explosion to be that type of player and he's never going to be their No. 1 receiver.
While the Cowboys have double covered Beckham successfully in the past, it would be a taller order with a Hopkins-like receiver on the other side. Giants could take Treadwell for exactly this reason, because they need a WR2 and they're not willing to bet on Victor Cruz.
Pick Your Poison
The league is morphing into a predominantly passing game. While Elliott’s run game would certainly help anyone’s passing game, I think the Cowboys would be able to handle it, especially if we take a defensive lineman or a linebacker in the draft. And with a healthy Orlando Scandrick, a determined Morris Claiborne, an established Byron Jones and a stud rookie, the Cowboys would match up well against a team with Treadwell.
Pick Your Poison: Elliott or Treadwell? NYG or PHI? Read at https://t.co/h2tOoByj84 and vote, Would you rather...
So I put it on you, Cowboys Nation, would you rather have Ezekiel Elliott or Laquon Treadwell on the Giants or the Eagles?
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.
Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions
"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.
It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."
The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.
For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.
Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington
"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."
The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.
Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.
An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.
Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia
"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."
This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.
Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.
Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.
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