The small-school prospect has been a staple of Dallas Cowboys teams and drafts in the past. Defensive Tackle Jethro Pugh out of Elizabeth (N.C.) City State was the first in 1964, but you're probably more familiar with Hall of Famer's OT Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State) and OG Larry Allen (Sonoma State).
Even still today small-school prospects are a part of the Dallas Cowboys roster. Jeff Heath (Saginaw Valley State) and Chris Jones (Carson-Newman) suited up for the Cowboys just last season. Here recently though all of these small-school prospects have joined the team either through free agency or as undrafted free agents. It's been a while since they've actually drafted a player from a small school.
Cornerback B.W. Webb (William & Mary) and J.J. Wilcox (Georgia Southern) were drafted in 2013, but that's the last time the Dallas Cowboys have used any draft capital on small-school prospects. It might be time for that draft strategy or way of thinking to change. The 2020 draft class have a few small-school prospects who could change that way of thinking.
Let's take a look…
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
HT: 6006 | WT: 217 | Hand: 10 1/8″ | Arm: 32 3/4″ | Wingspan: 78″
I don't know about you, but I had never heard of Lenoir-Rhyne University up until a couple weeks ago when Kyle Dugger first started making waves around the scouting community. Dugger is looking to shed his small-school tag and prove it's not where you come from, it's what you do with what you have.
Surprisingly, Dugger has been able to do just that. He was able to improve his draft stock quite a bit with his play throughout Senior Bowl week and in the game, and now is thought to be one of the top safeties in this year's draft class. It just so happens to be a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys, which is why he's almost a household name around Cowboys Nation right now.
Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
HT: 6031 | WT: 219 | Hand: 9 1/2″ | Arm: 32″ | Wingspan: 77″
Safety Jeremy Chinn is someone I happened to stumble upon a few weeks ahead of the Senior Bowl, despite being from a rather unknown small-school to me at the time. I was really intrigued with his size so I researched and watched as much film as I could find in order to learn more about him. But, I was really looking forward to seeing how he performed Senior Bowl week against better competition.
Like Kyle Dugger, Jeremy Chinn improved his draft stock and made himself some money with his play in Mobile, Alabama throughout Senior Bowl week. He definitely passes the eye test due to his sheer size, but he also showed off some impressive coverage skills as well. I like his potential fit with the Dallas Cowboys because I believe he could provide depth at both S and LB, potentially as a starter.
Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
HT: 6050 | WT: 251 | Hand: 9 5/8″ | Arm: 32 1/2″ | Wingspan: 77 7/8″
Adam Trautman has quickly emerged as one of my favorite tight ends in the entire 2020 draft class. He is another Senior Bowl participant who has caught the attention of the scouting community. Due to his play in Mobile, Alabama throughout the week he has emerged as a top-five TE in this year's draft and is definitely somebody who should be on the Dallas Cowboys radar.
I believe Trautman is arguably the most complete TE in the entire draft this year. His ability to play in-line as a blocker or split out in the passing game is equally impressive and is something the Cowboys have coveted in their TEs in the past. It's also something Blake Jarwin doesn't currently provide. I think the small-school TE could come in and challenge for starting job as a rookie.
Ben Bartch, OL, St. John's
HT: 6056 | WT: 308 | Hand: 9 1/8″ | Arm: 33″ | Wingspan: 80 1/8″
The Dallas Cowboys starting five offensive lineman are all but set in stone with maybe the exception of Connor Williams. But, that doesn't mean they couldn't use more depth. Former St. John's Offensive Tackle Ben Bartch could be a player to keep an eye on after the way he emerged from obscurity at the Senior Bowl. He played so well in fact he could end up being drafted in the top 100.
Bartch no doubt has starting potential, but he's still pretty raw with his technique and hand placement. I believe he has position flexibility and is capable of playing both tackle positions and kick inside to guard as well. He will need a little time to develop, but he could emerge as a starter as early as his second year in the league.