You're going to hear a lot of talk about "big boards" over the next five-and-a-half weeks until the NFL Draft. In case you don't know, someone's big board is their ranking of the eligible college players. Whether it's the national pundits like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay or each individual team, everyone has their own list of players ranked by their perceived quality and pro potential.
With the Cowboys having the fourth-overall pick you can narrow the field somewhat among the draft's elite prospects. Even if they trade down I can't imagine Dallas dropping lower than tenth, still needing some significant talent upgrades at several positions. So, with the assumption that they will select somewhere in the draft's first ten picks, here are my Top 10 prospects for the Cowboys.
1. Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida St.
Regardless of who else is available I think the Cowboys have to take Ramsey if they get the chance. Not only does he have the look of an elite player but plays a position that Dallas needs help with now and especially next year.
Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox could all be free agents next year. Not only does Ramsey help you with future roster needs but he may be immediately better than at least a few of these players, if not all of them. His versatility to play corner or safety pairs wonderfully with Byron Jones, allowing Dallas to play them at whatever position suits them best and not be forced by need.
Dallas fans may be nervous about taking a defensive back early given recent history with Claiborne and even going back to Terence Newman. Claiborne has been very disappointing and Newman, while a solid longtime veteran, never lived up to being a fifth-overall pick. However, other highly-drafted secondary players such as Patrick Peterson, Eric Berry, and Joe Haden have all proven true to their hype.
2. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio St.
The Cowboys are going to need help at defensive end and Bosa is the best prospect of the class. I don't think he's the next J.J. Watt as some do but I think he'd be a Day One starter and a stalwart on your defensive line for ten years.
Sometimes you can't get too caught up in where you're drafting. I don't love Bosa as a top-five pick but I would be more than happy if the Cowboys were taking him in the 10-12 range. They likely couldn't trade down to there and still get him, so at a certain point you just have to suck it up and take the guy when you're on the clock.
While you never want to reach on a player out of need, many would argue that Bosa going fourth overall is no reach. He is currently Scout Inc's top-rated prospect at any position and is in the top five on most boards. He has his doubters, but at this stage in the game many of the top prospects start getting picked apart after months of scrutiny.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio St.
I am on the record as saying I don't like the idea of spending such a high pick on a running back. We got a 1,000-yard season out of a scrap heap free agent in Darren McFadden last year and saw DeMarco Murray, a former third-round pick, break Emmitt Smith's single-season record in 2014. Dallas has built an offensive line that get production out of just anyone that isn't mentally disturbed.
That said, Elliott looks like a truly special player. He has dominated his position both on the field and at the combine. You could take him now and, conceivably, not worry about running back for at least the next four years. Some say he's the best overall talent in the entire draft.
4. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Some will say this is too low for Jack but I'm considering team need in this ranking. Dallas has their top two linebackers set with Sean Lee and Rolando McClain. Remember, the Cowboys play a lot of nickel so they tend to have just two linebackers on the field more often than three.
The case for taking Jack would be mostly his potential to replace McClain next year and the health concerns with both McClain and Lee. Jack would be an immediate upgrade over Dallas' other players at the position. Jack is especially attractive for our defense given his abilities in pass coverage, which Rod Marinelli asks plenty of from his linebackers.
Though not the most immediate need, Jack's talent is considerable and he could become a superstar in this scheme. There is the red flag of his knee injury last year but that hasn't stopped anyone from projecting him as a top-five prospect.
5. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
I wrote a full article about what Dallas should consider if Tunsil were to fall them at number four. To summarize, I think the Cowboys could take him and not feel bad about loading up their offensive line. He should be an immediate upgrade over Doug Free and would give them total stability on the offensive line for at least the next four or five years.
In all likelihood, Dallas would use Tunsil's availability as a lure to find a trade partner and get some extra picks. However, if they ultimately chose to take him, there are plenty of good reasons to do so. Check out the full article for more.
6. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
While some wouldn't like Hargreaves as a top-five pick I think he fits our defense very well. His detractors tend to focus on his size but he's not any smaller than Ronde Barber was, who might have been the best corner to ever play in this Cover 2 scheme. Hargreaves is also much quicker than Barber was, giving him potential to get a break on balls when playing out of the zone.
There is still high potential that Dallas will cut Brandon Carr after the draft for cap savings, which would leave them with just Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick as proven players if they decide to keep Byron Jones at safety. That creates a clear need for a corner and Hargreaves should be able to contribute immediately.
7. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St.
The consensus on the draft's top two quarterbacks is that Wentz has the most upside but that Jared Goff is more ready to play right now. Since the Cowboys still have at least a year or two of Tony Romo then they should obviously go with the upside pick.
Only the Cowboys know how much longer they really expect Romo to last. Jerry Jones says one thing but that's all about public relations. Hoping that Romo can play another three or four years is great but so far his body doesn't appear able to hold up to that. I think two more years of Romo is more likely as he can be released in 2018 for $16 million in cap savings.
I'm not in love with spending this pick on a player who isn't sure to help you immediately, given that Dallas is trying to win now with Romo and their other veteran leaders. However, you can't deny that this is a rare opportunity to snag a quiarterback with Wentz's potential. Like I said with Bosa, sometimes you just have to take the hand you've been dealt in terms of draft positioning and focus on talent acquisition. Wentz solves your backup quarterback issues immediately and takes quarterback out of your scouting process for the next several years. That kind of security is not a bad thing.
8. DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
Dallas could take Buckner and leave themselves with options for next year. He would likely start at defensive end but they could move him inside and play Tyrone Crawford outside. If they can't get Joey Bosa then the Cowboys may have to make this move just to cover their bases at defensive line next year.
Listed at 291 pounds, Buckner may sound more like a tackle. You have to keep in mind that he's 6'7" and is leaner than that weight normally indicates. You might compare him to Julius Peppers and Mario Williams, similarly tall and large players who've played as outside rushers. Buckner didn't run as fast a 40-yard dash as them but top speed isn't as important as the ability to get off blocks, which Buckner does very well for his size.
He's considered more of a 3-4 outside linebacker but is an exceptional enough pass rusher to work in any scheme. Floyd's talent and potential are very comparable to Randy Gregory's last year, just without the personal baggage that pushed Gregory to the second round.
If taken, Floyd could potentially play as the Sam linebacker in the base defense and then move down to be an edge rusher in the nickel scheme. Like Gregory, he will need to focus on adding weight and developing his body to become a full-time defensive end. One of the fast risers in terms of draft stock right now, Floyd is emerging as a consensus top-ten talent and would help the Cowboys with their biggest need.
10. Jared Goff, QB, California
Let's pretend the Cowboys traded down and then didn't land any of the aforementioned players. If Goff's available then they might trade down again, but you could apply everything I said about Wentz here. Goff is still a top prospect and a worthy option as Romo's future replacement.
Cowboys Land CB in Matt Miller’s way-too-early 2020 NFL Mock Draft
What better way to kick off the 2019 NFL regular-season and the start of college football then a way-too-early 2020 mock draft? Well, you're in luck. Matt Miller, one of my favorite draft analysts, just released his latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft for Bleacherreport.com and you may be surprised as to who he selected for the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the reasons I enjoy Matt Miller's work above many other so-called "draft analysts" is because he has his ear to the ground and has a pretty good connection with scouts around the league. That kind of information is pretty invaluable, but he also has a solid understanding of team "needs". Add all of that up and you get a really solid guesstimate of who could be on a certain teams radar, in this case the Dallas Cowboys.
Let's take a look at who Matt Miller predicted the Dallas Cowboys could draft in the 2020 NFL Draft with their first-round selection. Miller set this particular mock draft according to current Super Bowl odds from Caesar's Palace.
25. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
Matt Miller predicting the Dallas Cowboys select Cornerback Bryce Hall with there first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft definitely seems like a plausible possibility. He knows the Cowboys can't afford to pay everyone and he even said as much. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering a contract year in 2019 and with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis having expiring contracts after 2020, Dallas' secondary could definitely need addressing.
The Cowboys know this as well which is why they probably attempted to add some developmental depth to the CB position through the 2019 NFL Draft when they took Mike Jackson in the fifth-round. Jackson has the attributes they look for in their corners, but in no way has he looked like he'd be ready for a starting role next season. That makes Miller's Bryce Hall selection a definite possibility.
According to Miller's 2020 mock draft Bryce Hall is the fourth secondary player to come off the board. There were three cornerbacks selected ahead of him and one safety. He does fit the mold Kris Richard prefers in his CBs (6'1", 200) and also has the physical playing style in press coverage Richard likes as well. All in all, this is a very solid prediction for the Dallas Cowboys.
Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys would choose to select a CB this early is unknown at this point. But, it certainly seems like a high possibility considering all the corners with expiring contracts in a year or two. I think the Cowboys could look into taking a tight end or a safety with their first-round pick as well, but again it's way too early to have any kind of clue as to how their draft board will look like when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around.
I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping a closer eye on Bryce Hall this season just in case Matt Miller is correct. I'd like to get a head start to see just how well he would fit, or not, with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you like the Bryce Hall selection for the Dallas Cowboys?
2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott
The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.
Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.
This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.
Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:
The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.
Let's take a look…
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.
Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.
D'Andre Swift, Georgia
D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.
Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.
Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.
Travis Etienne, Clemson
The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.
Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.
Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.
The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.
- Cam Akers, Florida State
- Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
- Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
- Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
- Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.
Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
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