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Star-Studded Draft: Could Dallas’ 2016 Class Be All-Time Great?

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Cowboys Headlines - Star Studded Draft: Could Dallas' 2016 Class Be All-Time Great?

After the dust settled on the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys received mixed reactions from fans and critics alike.

Many detractors pointed to the obvious right away -- the team's largest flaws didn't seem to be addressed. Rather than select defensive play makers in the early rounds who could provide an immediate impact, the team's first two picks were spent on a running back and a luxury pick of Jaylon Smith, who will miss all of 2016 due to a severe knee injury.

Then came the rest of the offseason from hell.

Suspensions and injuries plagued the team, crippling what was already presumed to be an underwhelming defensive unit. The backup quarterback position wasn't directly addressed with a veteran free agent until Kellen Moore went down with an injury, and many didn't seem to view Dak Prescott as a franchise guy. His fourth round draft selection indicated that.

Many began to view the Dallas offseason as one of the team's worst in recent memory. When Tony Romo went down with another significant injury, all hope seemed to be lost.

Fast forward to week six of the NFL season and things couldn't be better.

The Cowboys are 4-1, and all of a sudden a serious early contender in the NFC. The team is much more than just an early surprise.

It may be premature, but the 2016 draft class deserves much of the credit. Just how great is this draft group, and where can they potentially rank in the franchise's history? As of now, this class has the potential to be near the top when all is said and done.

Whenever a team lands a potential franchise quarterback, their draft class immediately gains significant credibility. Just look at both the 1964 and 1989 drafts for the Cowboys, both of which are easily the best in franchise history. Roger Staubach was selected in the 10th round and Troy Aikman was selected with the first overall pick in their respective years.

It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as the franchise quarterback is taken at some point.Cowboys Headlines - Star Studded Draft: Could Dallas' 2016 Class Be All-Time Great? 2

In a QB driven league, landing a franchise guy is something that needs to be celebrated and heralded. Landing him in the fourth round is an even greater franchise achievement. Through five games, Dak Prescott appears to be an absolute steal, and the real deal.

Ezekiel Elliott is playing like the slam dunk that NFL scouts thought he would be. Offensive Rookie of The Year looks even more realistic than it did in the offseason as Zeke leads the league in rushing through five weeks. The Cowboys couldn't miss on a guy like Elliott, and even his high pick of fourth overall doesn't have many second guessing anymore.

But it doesn't just start and end with the two young offensive stars. Alone, landing both Prescott and Elliott make this draft class elite, but it has potential to go much further than that. The second round selection of Jaylon Smith could pan out down the stretch, and turn out to be a great defensive steal. He was graded by some as literally the
number one overall talent in the draft.

Cowboys Headlines - Star Studded Draft: Could Dallas' 2016 Class Be All-Time Great? 1The thought of Dallas landing three first round talents in a single draft (Elliott, Prescott, Smith) gives me chills. But Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown cannot be overlooked either.

Brown has filled in formidably right away for an injured Orlando Scandrick, which is incredible considering his 6th round selection. Collins appears to be contributing on a very unknown defensive line as well. Add a healthy Charles Tapper into the mix down the stretch, and you could be looking at one of the most special draft classes to come through Dallas in a very long time.

Is it too early to call the 2016 Dallas Cowboys draft class one of the franchise's best? Where will this class of players be in a few years? Let us know by commenting below.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler

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Cowboys Draft Target: Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler

The 2019 NFL Draft is light on a lot of the offensive skill position players at the top of the draft. There are a couple of wide receivers that are making noise in the first round, but I'm surprised to see that Iowa State Cyclones Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler isn't one of them.

Is he a perfect NFL prospect coming out of the Big 12? No. But this year, there isn't a perfect NFL wide receiver prospect, in my opinion.

Hakeem Butler measured in at 6-5, 225 with 35 1/4 inch wingspan, and 10 3/4 inch hands. He's a big receiver and generally, the type of wide receiver that the NFL looks for when they're attempting to build their receiver corp.

Here are his measurements, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com.

And here is his Spider Graph, if you're into that sort of thing.

As you can see, Butler moves the needle on the spider graph in the strength and athletic testing. He didn't run the short shuttle or the 3-cone drill at the NFL combine, which isn't surprising as those would be lesser traits to his game.

For his size, Butler runs an excellent 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds. That puts him at the same time as Carolina Panthers Running Back Christian McCaffrey. Former Dallas Cowboys great, Dez Bryant ran a 4.52. The 40-yard dash helps measure straight line speed and it's helpful, it just isn't the be all-end all. Sure, you'd like a receiver to be faster, but Butler's size-speed combination makes up for being a touch slower than the guys running in the 4.3's.

Film Review

In order to get a handle on Hakeem Butler, I watched his games against Iowa, Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Baylor, and Washington State. Believe me, watching the Iowa State offense was no small task. Quarterback much?

Here's what I saw from Hakeem Butler.

  • Is able to create separation on a variety of routes and against press coverage. Ran posts, slants, ins, outs, curls (both in and out breaking), double moves off of slants (sluggo and hitch and go), and nine or go routes.
  • Moves well for size, could use some more quickness.
  • Hakeem Butler is at his best when thrown back-shoulder fade routes. He's an excellent ball tracker and shows great anticipation for the ball being thrown under the route for him to come back to the ball.
  • Quarterback play at Iowa State was an issue. I counted three, maybe four different quarterbacks that he had to work with throughout the 2018 season. Though Butler was able to bail them out at times, he and the rest of the Cyclones receiving corp dealt with poor ball placement.
  • Butler is a physical blocker at the point of attack and away from the ball. He uses route feints to set up the defender so he can get square on them and uses good technique to secure his man and plays till the whistle.
  • Was lined up all over the field in the games watched including the slot, the middle receiver in bunch formations, and in tight sets as a single receiver to one side.
  • Is very physical against press coverage and fights to get free throughout the route.
  • The two games he struggled the most were against TCU and Iowa where they used more zone coverage than Iowa State's other opponents. Those teams kept him bracketed, which left him little room to work in the zone and forced him into more contested catch situations.
  • He had bad drops in both the Iowa and TCU games, but also came up with excellent catches.
  • Butler is very physical after the catch and uses his size and agility to break tackles and create yards after the catch. Against the Sooners, he broke three or four tackles after the catch to take one the distance for the touchdown.

I like Hakeem Butler as a pro prospect. He has some nuanced route running to him and is more than just a jump-ball specialist, red zone threat. He has the skills to be a lead receiver for a team in the NFL and could even be used as a big-slot receiver much like the New Orleans Saints use Michael Thomas. Despite some drops, I think he has really good hands and with his size and physicality would be an excellent addition for the Dallas Cowboys.

I'd be surprised if he was available for the Cowboys at pick 58 of the second round, but if for some reason he was there, I wouldn't hesitate to select him. You can use him on the outside and move Amari Cooper to the slot or put Butler in the slot and use Cooper on the outside. His ability to run routes from all over the formation is an asset that a smart team will take advantage of.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill

NAME: Trysten Hill

POSITION: Defensive Tackle

SCHOOL: Central Florida

CONFERENCE: American

CLASS: Junior

JERSEY: No. 9

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'3"

WT: 308

D.O.B.: 3/25/1998

Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Tackles Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Def Int Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2016 UCF American FR DL 9 11 4 15 5.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
*2017 UCF American SO DL 12 9 11 20 4.5 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2018 UCF American JR DL 12 20 16 36 10.5 3.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career UCF 40 31 71 20.0 6.0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Highlights:

Trysten Hill UCF Highlight

Uploaded by Micah Wade on 2019-02-22.

Pros:

The first thing that jumps off the tape when studying Trysten Hill is his first step quickness at the snap of the ball and his burst to get upfield. He is scheme diverse, but projects better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Can play the one-technique or the three-technique in a 4-3 defense, but is at his best as a one-gapper.

Hill plays with a nonstop motor and high energy down after down. Doesn't take any plays off. Shows the ability to fight off blocks. Always working his hands and feet to free himself. Is equally disruptive harassing the quarterback as a gap penetrator and in the running game playing sideline to sideline.

Shows good agility and flexibility to bend and finish tackles behind line of scrimmage and in the open field. Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to improve his overall play strength. Uses a twitchy arm over and spin counter move to penetrate the gap as both a pass rusher and run defender.

Cons:

There are questions about Trysten Hill's maturity, work ethic, and coach ability. He found himself in the doghouse last year at Central Florida and only started one game. Was he demoted because of the new coaching staff or are the character concerns about him factual? This is something teams will have to dive deeper into.

Needs to do a better job of playing under control. Will run himself out of gaps at times, which causes him to lose his gap responsibility. Can get washed out of the play by down blocks. Needs to develop a better feel and response to keep that from happening.

Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to add functional strength in order to become more consistent. Drops his head at times on his initial punch. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. Relies too much on arm over and spin move.

Cowboys Fit:

Trysten Hill is a versatile defensive tackle capable playing the one-technique or the three-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. Due to his first step quickness and high motor, he is likely better suited to play the three-technique. He has starting potential, but would likely be a rotational piece on the DL as a rookie behind Maliek Collins. His ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and sidelined the sideline would be a welcomed addition along the Cowboys defensive front. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick, and that's exactly where the Dallas Cowboys would likely have to target him to acquire his services.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.

NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.

POSITION: Wide Receiver

SCHOOL: Nebraska

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

CLASS: Senior

JERSEY: No. 8

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6'0"

WT: 202

D.O.B.: 9/7/1996

Receiving Receiving Receiving Receiving Rushing Rushing Rushing Rushing Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2015 Nebraska Big Ten FR WR 11 25 304 12.2 3 0 0 0 25 304 12.2 3
*2016 Nebraska Big Ten SO WR 13 33 453 13.7 2 1 0 0.0 0 34 453 13.3 2
2017 Nebraska Big Ten JR WR 11 61 986 16.2 10 1 2 2.0 0 62 988 15.9 10
2018 Nebraska Big Ten SR WR 12 70 1004 14.3 7 1 4 4.0 0 71 1008 14.2 7
Career Nebraska 189 2747 14.5 22 3 6 2.0 0 192 2753 14.3 22

Highlights:

Stanley Morgan Jr Nebraska WR ULTIMATE 2018 Season Highlights!!

"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."

Pros:

Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.

There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.

Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.

Cons:

Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.

Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.

Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.

Cowboys Fit:

Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.

Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.



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