The 2018 NFL Draft is just weeks away, and per usual, the takes are heating up. While we had mostly agreed on what the Cowboys should be looking for in the first round of the draft, other positions have begun to enter the conversation.
Among those positions is edge rusher, and despite using their first round pick on a defensive end just one season ago, and franchise tagging another one this offseason, I would love to see the Cowboys bring in another rusher this year.
The question then becomes, however, which first round rusher should they target? Besides the consensus top rusher Bradley Chubb, the most popular first round defensive end targets are Boston College’s Harold Landry and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport.
While these have been considered the top two by big draft media, how should the Cowboys differentiate between the two on their board? To be quite honest, the film answers those questions clearly.
UTSA EDGE Marcus Davenport
At 6’5″ and 264 pounds while running a 4.41 short shuttle, you can clearly see why teams are falling in love with the small school pass rusher. Davenport is incredibly long and athletic, and passes the thresholds you want when taking a pass rusher in the first round.
Davenport has a rather-explosive first step and was a very productive pass rusher at the collegiate level. The problems I have with Davenport, however, are more about how technical a rusher he really is.
Rarely does it look like Davenport has a plan, and his hand use leaves much to be desired. He tends to stand straight up off the line of scrimmage, and I feel as if he relied too much on raw ability to beat lesser-talented players in college.
Despite the top-10 hype he’s received, Marcus Davenport is a long way off from being productive enough to deserve that consideration.
Boston College EDGE Harold Landry
The edge rusher I’d rather see the Cowboys target is Harold Landry. The 6’2″ 252 pound edge rusher is smaller than Davenport, but is a much more polished and NFL-ready pass rusher. Landry possesses an excellent get-off, and shows the ability to bend around the arc and make plays.
Unlike Davenport, Landry is calculated and balanced as a pass rusher and rarely plays out of control. The biggest concern that people have with Landry is his play strength against the run, and while I don’t consider him an elite run defender, I do think he’s better than most give him credit for.
To be honest, if healthy last season, Harold Landry would clearly be a top 10 prospect in this draft class. Due to his lackluster and injury-filled 2017 season, however, there’s a chance that Landry will fall to 19.
If the Cowboys get a chance to grab Harold Landry in round one, they shouldn’t hesitate to do so.