The long-awaited event is almost upon us. Thursday night the 2018 NFL Draft will finally get underway and we can end all of the speculation and draft talk as to who the Dallas Cowboys will select with their first-round draft pick.
I don't know about you, but Thursday night can't get here soon enough. I can't tell you how excited I am to finally learn which first-round prospect will be wearing a star on their helmet in 2018.
I know we have been discussing and analyzing which prospects the Dallas Cowboys could target with their first-round selection pretty much since the end of the 2017 season, but I thought I would provide you with a little recap in case you forgot.
Below I've reviewed several of the Cowboys potential first-round prospects who they've shown an interest in throughout the pre-draft process and also shared with you who I would personally draft at each position.
Calvin Ridley (Alabama), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Courtland Sutton (SMU)
With the release of Dez Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys will without a doubt draft another receiver and could do it as early as the first-round. I personally only see three wide receivers worthy of being selected that early, and the Cowboys have met with each one of them already.
Personally, I would be happy with any one of the three WRs mentioned above. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but each one of them would likely be an upgrade over what the Cowboys currently have on the roster.
✭ My pick: D.J. Moore ✭
I personally have D.J. Moore ranked as the highest WR in the 2018 draft class. He may not be as polished as a route runner as Calvin Ridley, but he's no slouch either. What I think separates him from the other two is his physicality and ability to pick up yards after the catch.
Isaiah Wynn (Georgia), James Daniels (Iowa), Will Hernandez (UTEP)
Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper played the left guard position for the Dallas Cowboys last season, but that won't be the case in 2018. It's really the only position along the entire offensive line without a starter right now, which could make it a first-round priority for the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys want to get back to their run first mentality, then taking a LG in the first-round makes sense. They have already shown an interest in all three players mentioned above and each one of them would step in and be an immediate plug-and-play starter.
✭ My pick: Isaiah Wynn ✭
Isaiah Wynn held his own against some of the best pass rushers in the SEC while playing left tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs over the past several seasons. He will be asked to kick inside to guard in the NFL because of his lack of length, but I believe he possesses Pro Bowl potential as a rookie. He would make the Cowboys offensive line dominant once again.
Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame), Connor Williams (Texas), Kolton Miller (UCLA)
With Tyron Smith's continued back problems and La'el Collins ability to move back inside to left guard, the Dallas Cowboys could use their first-round pick on another starting caliber tackle. Their lack of depth at the position really hurt them last season when Tyron Smith was out of the starting lineup, and that can't happen again.
The 2018 tackle draft class isn't very deep, which could mean we see quite a few of them drafted earlier than expected. If the Cowboys believe Tyron Smith's back will continue to give him problems, then we could see one of the three players mentioned above taken.
✭ My pick: Connor Williams ✭
Connor Williams is a bit of an enigma because of his conflicting game film in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, he looked like a surefire first-round draft pick, but he looked like a completely different player last season. I believe he is still capable of playing like he did in 2016 and could play either tackle position in the NFL or be kicked inside to guard.
Rashaan Evans (Alabama), Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
Ideally, either Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith fall to the Dallas Cowboys and become their first-round draft pick. But, I wouldn't hold my breath on that happening. Both players should be long gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock at 19, leaving him to choose from either of the two players mentioned above.
The Cowboys definitely need to come away with at least one, possibly two linebackers in this draft. Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith can't be completely relied on, and the depth behind them doesn't inspire much confidence either. That is why linebacker could be the top priority for the Cowboys.
✭ My pick: Rashaan Evans ✭
I know everybody will have their own preference, but I prefer Rashaan Evans over Vander Esch. I think Evans is the more physical player of the two and has shown the ability to rush the passer off the edge during his time in Alabama. I think he is capable of playing all three LB positions.
Harold Landry (Boston College), Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
The Dallas Cowboys have the numbers in order to get by with their current stable of defensive ends, but that shouldn't exclude them from looking for an upgrade. They could use someone who can start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, and I'm not sure that player is on the roster.
They used their first-round draft pick on Taco Charlton last year, but they knew he was a project when they selected him. The return of Randy Gregory or Charles Tapper could be the solution, but there is no way either player can be relied upon right now. Maybe the two DEs above provides the answer.
✭ My pick: Harold Landry ✭
Harold Landry played through injuries last season that really limited his effectiveness as a pass rusher, but in 2016 he looked like an elite prospect. I believe he could be the right defensive end the Dallas Cowboys have been looking for and would turn their defensive line into a dominant force playing opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
Vita Vea (Washington), Da'Ron Payne (Alabama), Taven Bryan (Florida)
If there is one position the Dallas Cowboys have neglected for several years now, it's the nose tackle or 1-technique. That's why it's kind of hard to envision them taking one with their first-round selection, but it is definitely a position that could stand to be upgraded.
This could be a good year for the Cowboys to change their draft strategy and take a defensive tackle in first-round, especially considering their lack of depth at the position. They have shown some interest in all three DT prospects mentioned above, and each one of them could still be available when they are on the clock at 19.
✭ My pick: Vita Vea ✭
I don't know if there is another player the Dallas Cowboys could take with their first-round draft pick who would be an immediate upgrade and make everyone around him better than Vita Vea. He would not only upgrade the run defense due to his mere size and athletic ability, but he would help keep the linebackers clean behind him to make plays.
Who do you want the Dallas Cowboys to draft in the first-round?
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
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