Welcome to Hypothetical City.
I'm the Mayor, Governor, and President of this land and I've come up with quite the hypothetical situation for you to sink your teeth into. I hope that you're ready.
Pretend that you're the General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys. Congratulations on the promotion!
You have the exact same needs that the Dallas Cowboys do on today - January 13th, 2016. You're coming off of a 4-12 season where Tony Romo broke his clavicle twice, Matt Cassel had an intentional grounding call on an interception, and Byron Jones captured our hearts. All of this heartbreak earned you the 4th Overall Pick in the upcoming Draft.
The reason the name on the sign when you drive into town reads "Hypothetical City" is because the pool of players that you're selecting from is the 2014 NFL Draft Class... and you know everything about them that you do today. Oh AND you already have Zack Martin on your team. Talk about an advantage!
In case you want a list of how that Draft went down, I'm setting this up for you to slam dunk, you can refresh your memory by clicking here.
Shall we begin?
The first three picks are Jadeveon Clowney, Greg Robinson, and Blake Bortles... just like they were in the actual 2014 NFL Draft. You are, with the 2016 Dallas Cowboys needs and knowledge of how this class has performed over the last two seasons, now on the clock. What do you do?
Are you going to take Odell Beckham Jr.? You could pair him nicely with Dez Bryant and have what would easily be the best wide receiver duo on this planet. If you're worried about him handling the big media market that is Dallas you could always go Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans if you really want a receiver. Don't forget that Allen Robinson is an option at this position, too!
How about you go with Khalil Mack? We're talking about the first player to ever be named All-Pro at two positions now! He would immediately provide a big-time pass rush. I mean, the guy sacked Brock Osweiler five times in a game a few weeks ago. You could use that, right?
Of course you could anchor the interior of your defensive line with Aaron Donald. He's been to two Pro Bowls, was a First-Team All-Pro in 2015, and is the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year with a solid shot at the Defensive Player of the Year. He immediately makes your team better.
Ryan Shazier just announced himself to the world with his fine play against the Cincinnati Bengals in last week's Wild Card Round of the Playoffs. How about him? If Rolando McClain leaves via free agency you could put him in the middle and keep Sean Lee at the weakside spot. And holy moly if McClain sticks around you've got a trio of linebackers that puts some serious fear in anyone running into them.
The same argument can be made for C.J. Mosley or Anthony Barr. Linebackers are always welcome in Rod Marinelli's defense and maybe Shazier isn't as fun to say out loud as Mosley or you want a shirt that says "Barr-barian" so you go one of these routes. Maybe?
If you're still not satisfied, you better hurry though the clock is ticking, there's always Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. You've been trying to find that lockdown safety ever since Darren Woodson retired and surely one of these two along with Byron Jones could put together quite the collection of interceptions for your defense.
This is a lot to think about. Take your time.
...oh wait there's one more position group to consider! My bad!
Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Derek Carr are on the board. Remember now that Tony Romo broke his clavicle twice last season so you really, really, really need a quarterback.
You should probably get one of these guys because that's what's going to help you the most this season, right?
You mean to tell me that you're not so sure that Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, OR Derek Carr are better than any of the guys that I just named? Are you positive?! They were all thought to be the number one overall pick at one point or another! Teddy's a game manager, Johnny can scramble, and Derek has a big arm!
You wouldn't rather have one of those quarterbacks in a limited capacity than literally anyone that I told you about before for the whole season? Remember, remember... Tony Romo broke his clavicle twice. He's coming off of injury.
YOU NEED TO TAKE A QUARTERBACK WITH YOUR FIRST PICK!
Knowing what you know now... that seems like a silly decision, doesn't it?
Imagine if that situation had really played out and you, the show-runner for the Dallas Cowboys, took one of those quarterbacks at #4. You were coming off of a season where your worst nightmare became a reality and you caught a glimpse of quarterback purgatory. It was terrible so you took one of the top signal callers. You also left these guys on the board:
Is it perhaps possible that any single one of these guys could have been of more use to you than the backup quarterback that you took? Literally any single one?
That's the situation that the actual 2016 Dallas Cowboys could potentially find themselves in with the 2016 Draft Class.
There are plenty of members of Cowboys Nation who are advocating for the 4th Overall Pick to be used on one of the top quarterbacks in this Draft Class - my fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin wrote about that here if you're in that club.
If you're in my club, we have jackets mind you, then you are against taking a quarterback with the 4th Overall Pick. You can read my argument right here.
Why am I so adamantly against a quarterback, you ask? Because the 4th Overall Pick is the biggest resource at our disposal this offseason. I don't want to regret it in two years. I want the 2016 version of one of these guys:
They're out there. Let's put a Star on one of them.
If you were facing this hypothetical situation, who would you take? One of the rising stars in today's NFL or a quarterback for the sake of taking one? Let me know! Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!
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.
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.
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.
Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson
NAME: Rodney Anderson
CONFERENCE: Big 12
POSITION: Running Back
CLASS: RS Junior
JERSEY: No. 24
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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