The Dallas Cowboys have done an admirable job of filling positions in free agency to allow themselves the ability to proceed with the best player available approach throughout the NFL Draft. As we close in on next month's extravaganza, we will take a look at prospects that could be sitting there where the Cowboys are slotted to pick.
This draft is shaping up to have excellent depth available through the middle rounds, yet when Dallas picks in the first, they will likely be picking a player with a second-round grade. Anticipation suggests that pass rusher and offensive linemen will be another commodity in this draft. With that said, Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com has stated that cornerback may be the spot where the Cowboys can get a first-round talent.
In this series, we will take a look at five options the Cowboys could be looking at, their measurables and a short synopsis of what the scouts are saying. With all the uncertainty surrounding the Cowboys' current crop of corners, this prospect grouping should be able to be the remedy. We'll look at players who might be available at #27, or in a later round.
1. Kevin Johnson, 6'0 188 lbs , Wake Forest
A three-year starter at Wake Forest, Johnson is a very fluid and athletically built NFL prospect. His lean but muscular frame adds to his impressive coverage skills. Johnson has great foot-quickness and vision to lock onto a receiver and follow him throughout the route. He possesses the skill to turn and run with the downhill burst needed in zone coverage. He never panics and shows the ability to sit and bait quarterbacks into bad decisions. Johnson is very durable and never missed a game in his 41 outings. He can get over-aggressive at times and needs work to not get burned on double-moves by speedy receivers. Johnson will also need some help with technique in run-support but he never backs off or loses the confidence to bounce back. Johnson has the ability to really thrive in the NFL and his physical nature bodes well against the wide-outs of today.
2. Marcus Peters, 6'0 197 lbs, Washington
A physical specimen that often stood out against the top competition. Arguably his best attribute is his play recognition, where it can regularly seem as though he knew the play all along. His speed and burst back to the ball allow for him to cover well throughout the progression of the play. He has a knack for knocking balls down and grabbing interceptions. He's a very aggressive tackler and opposing receivers will feel his presence. He doesn't come without baggage after he was dismissed from the Washington program for often butting heads with the coaching staff. He'll certainly have to answer some of those doubts. He can have trouble at times getting grabby and losing sight of his assignment. However, he has the skill to be a top corner and recover well from his mistakes.
3. P.J. Williams, 6'0 194 lbs, Florida State
Another very feisty and physical corner, he's a very disruptive athlete. He demonstrates an impressive combination of speed, fluidity, and physicality that make him the perfect outside corner. He loves to get himself in the thick of things and will never shy away from delivering a blow. His size and frame is impeccable and he's a great tackler. He's aggressive but sometimes a little too much. He'll be able to excel in the NFL if he can cut out downfield penalties. His man-to-man coverage is outstanding and he has playmaking ability, just needs a little more discipline.
4. Steve Nelson, 5'10 197 lbs, Oregon State
Though he lacks the ideal size, his broad build and never-quit attitude has made him a great player in his college days. He plays a lot bigger than his 5'10 frame would suggest. Nelson has the speed and range to cover and is great at undercutting receivers to bat down balls or pick them off. His closing speed is remarkable and his second-gear is what helped him turn passes into interceptions six times in 2014. Nelson can get a little feisty at times but has shown the ability to help in run support and take on big challengers with ease. Nelson will need assistance in learning to trust his hands in coverage and not fight with receivers. He'll have to carry that competitive spirit with him to the NFL and will often be tasked covering bigger guys.
5. Quinten Rollins, 5'11 195 lbs, Miami (OH)
Rollins possesses a great frame and build with solid fluidity. He plays with great length and very coordinated footwork. Rollins has great flexibility and above-average ball skills, quick reflexes and hand-eye coordination. In only twelve starts, he deflected sixteen passes. He's got great tackling ability though he's fairly inexperienced. His physicality and natural toughness make give him the ability to be a solid pro. Rollins is a highly-confident player and has that short-term memory you must have in the NFL. He also has solid durability and supreme work ethic. He's very raw in his technique and has only played one year in the position. Rollins will need coaching to maintain his body position down the field and needs work with his mechanics. He needs work with his backpedal and often allows too much cushion but stood out during the Senior Bowl as a player worth betting on.
These are just five of many prospects that the Cowboys could be looking at, but these are the five guys that could fit in Marinelli's scheme. As of right now, Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, and Corey White will all be in the mix. Dallas needs to settle contract issues with Carr, and Claiborne is still recovering from injury.
In the next series, we will take a look at the best possible prospects to fill the hole left when DeMarco Murray defected to the Philadelphia Eagles.