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NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can Finally Find RDE in Boston College’s Harold Landry

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can Fix RDE Problems with BC's Harold Landry

While the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles were busy on Wednesday improving their teams through aggressive trades, the Dallas Cowboys' first move of the 2018 offseason was the release of DE Benson Mayowa.

Mayowa' release is not a surprise, but it does leave a need at the RDE position in Dallas once again. Unable to find a long-term starter here while Mayowa was under contract, this Cowboys defense does have their "alpha" pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Pairing Tank Lawrence with another premier defensive end should be a priority for the Cowboys, enough so to consider Boston College's Harold Landry in the first round.

Here's why.

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"At his best, Landry fires off of the ball with an elite first step, snapping back to the quarterback with equally impressive bend."

This film clip and quote comes from my full scouting report on Harold Landry at Slant Sports. Despite him getting to the quarterback as a LDE here, you can see the traits that make him an ideal talent for the speed-rushing right end spot with the Cowboys.

Landry is at his best using this speed to run the arc, but he also has more than enough power throughout his lean frame to beat blockers in a variety of ways.

"This is a square player with better-than-expected power in his hands and upper body."

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Drafting Harold Landry at 19th overall would mean the Cowboys double up on defensive ends in consecutive drafts, with Taco Charlton being their pick at 28th overall a year ago. Projecting as a left end all the way, Charlton was finally able to earn some snaps on the strong side near the end of his rookie season, looking much better than he ever did previously at RDE.

This doesn't mean that Taco shouldn't remain a rotational player at both positions. A strong run defender that lacks speed and bend, Harold Landry could be the perfect match up piece to add to this Cowboys' front - rushing with fresh legs that should allow him to run the arc consistently.

"Harold Landry should play primarily RDE in the NFL, where his speed and bend can be used most effectively."

The term "starter" is a very loose one when it comes to Rod Marinelli's defensive line, and Landry absolutely showed starter's potential over his final two seasons at BC. A concerning dip in production from 2016 to 2017 has scared some scouts away from Landry, but his refined collection of NFL-ready traits is more than enough to warrant a first round pick.

Add in the immediate need that Harold Landry fills in Dallas, along with the Cowboys' ability to protect Landry from wearing down as an every-down DE, and you have a nearly perfect fit.

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"Landry rushes with a plan to beat the man across from him on every snap, which may very well be his best NFL-ready trait. Lined up above at RDE, the left tackle is able to sit on Landry’s inside shoulder and – despite being completely off-balanced – seal off the edge."

Despite his initial quickness not allowing Landry to snap the corner on the play above, he finds a way to power back to the quarterback and attack the football. This tipped pass was intercepted, showing off the difference making ability that Harold Landry has as my second-highest graded EDGE defender.

It is easy to get blown away by Landry's flash plays on obvious pass rushing sets, but this is a player with a full range of ways to win, including above average upper body strength and consistent hands-above-eyes technique.

"College EDGE rushers do not often come out with the level of polish Landry has, particularly when it comes to bending the corner for pressures and sacks."

The truth is, the Dallas Cowboys deserve some slack when it comes to their inability at finding another top talent at RDE post DeMarcus Ware. This is one of the hardest positions to fill without commitment to a proven - and overly expensive - free agent.

Developing EDGE rushers takes time and patience. These are both things that Harold Landry could capitalize on as one of the biggest potential draft steals of this 2018 class. Landry did more than enough this season to prove he can make an instant impact at the next level - also deserving to be drafted based on his elite potential.

If the Cowboys feel as good about the ceiling for Harold Landry as a prospect, there is no reason they should pass on him if given the chance come April.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can Finally Find RDE in Boston College’s Harold Landry" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Nick Russo

    March 8, 2018 at 8:42 am

    While I think that Landry will be a good player in the NFL, I’m not sold as this as our first round choice. The truth of the matter is that mayowa wasn’t getting much playing time as it was so us releasing him was strictly a cap move. You have Taco, Charles Tapper, and then potentially a return of Randy Gregory giving you some really good options at RE. Then you add in Tyrone Crawford’s ability to play snaps there and potentially David Irving if needed and I think our DE depth is pretty good. Can it always get better, yes. Not at the expense of a first round pick though. We have legitimate holes at WR and LG and would be much better off spending our first round pick there. Charles Tapper flashed great potential before getting hurt last year and taco played exponentially better in the second half of the year. I think Landry is a good player and will be a good pro. I just think we have other needs to address first.

    • Sean Martin

      Sean Martin

      March 10, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Thank you for your thoughts Nick. It is hard to call a RDE depth chart of Charlton, Tapper, and Gregory “really good”, but the numbers are there for them to address other positions at the top of this draft.

      • Nick Russo

        March 12, 2018 at 9:55 am

        Agreed. I think I’m high on the potential of Tapper and seeing what taco did at the end of last year. Might have been premature to use “really good” but I still believe that we have other areas that are higher priority than DE. A lot of which will depend on where we decide to use David Irving. He’s shown ability to wreak havoc from both the 3-tech and DE. I personally like Collins at the 3-Tech and wouldn’t mind seeing Irving and tank on the ends.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Kevin Brady

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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.

The Player

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.

The Fit

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.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Oklahoma Sooners RB Rodney Anderson

NAME: Rodney Anderson

SCHOOL: Oklahoma

CONFERENCE: Big 12

POSITION: Running Back

CLASS: RS Junior

JERSEY: No. 24

RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star

HT: 6'1"

WT: 219

D.O.B.: 9/12/96

Highlights:

Rodney Anderson || 2017-18 Highlights ᴴᴰ || Oklahoma

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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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.

Cowboys Fit:

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.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel

Kevin Brady

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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.

The Player

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.

The Fit

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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