clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cowboys Draft 2016: Finding Some Hidden Late-Round Gems (Part 1)

New, comments

The Dallas Cowboys need to do a better job at drafting in the middle-to-later rounds. Here are five players that could potentially make an impact on the 53-man roster.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In just the past few years, the Dallas Cowboys have added franchise-type players in Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, La'el Collins, Byron Jones, and Sean Lee. While the team has done a better job of drafting as of lately, proof be told by the aforementioned names, the Cowboys still struggle with drafting players towards the back-ends of the draft.

Danny Coale, B.W. Webb, Matt Johnson, Will Smith, and Ahmad Dixon are just a few names that have made basically made no impact whatsoever for the team. Then there are also guys like Ken Bishop, Devin Street, and Mark Nzeocha who have basically done nothing, despite being given the chance to have more snaps. All of this proves one thing and one thing only, the Cowboys need to find more immediate-impact type players in the back-ends of the draft.

In the draft, a common trend that happens is some players see their stocks fall because of character concerns. This has been the exact case with Vontaze Burfict, Karlos Williams, and Frank Clark in recent seasons. Because Jason Garrett and company look for RKGs, also known as "Right Kinda Guys", this limits the Cowboys' chances of getting talented, yet character-questionable guys later in the draft.

However, the Cowboys wouldn't have won three Super Bowls in the 90s if it weren't for Charles Haley. Sometimes, adding a guy like that makes sense as the on-field impact outweighs the off-field concerns. That wasn't the case with Greg Hardy. And bad free agency signings just make winning in the draft that much more important.

As if the above statements haven't proved it yet, the Cowboys need to find more immediate-impact guys in the later rounds. Fortunately for Dallas, this draft is extremely deep at the positions they need: cornerback, defensive tackle, defensive end, and wide receiver just being a few of them. In this article, I'll name five players who can be in the later rounds, but can also make somewhat of an impact from the get-go.

Rashard Higgins, Wide Receiver, Colorado State

When Garrett Grayson and Jim McElwain were still at Colorado State, Higgins was one of the most talked-about prospects in the nation. Higgins' drop in production has hurt his draft stock a little bit, but that doesn't discount his 2014 tape. Higgins is one of the elite wide receivers in this class and while it does only take one team to pull the trigger, it happens every year where receivers see their stocks fall because there are just so many talented ones at the position.

At 6'2, 190 pounds, Higgins doesn't have perfect size. He's a little slow, as is the case by his 4.62 40-yard dash at the combine. However, Higgins is a guy that still impressed at the combine. He showed out in the combine in the gauntlet drill. Higgins is a guy that has gotten some attention as well.

Currently being mocked as a fourth-round pick by DraftTek.

Eric Striker, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma

Because of the defensive scheme Oklahoma used, they poorly utilized Eric Striker. However, Striker is a guy that reminds me of Ryan Shazier a bit, in the way of their vision and how fluid they are at finding the ball-carrier. Regardless of what the team does with Rolando McClain, bringing in another  linebacker will make sense at some point in the draft and Striker is a guy that should intrigue the Cowboys' coaching staff for his versatility and his mental makeup.

Currently being mocked as a fourth-round pick by DraftTek.

Deiondre' Hall, Cornerback, Northern Iowa

The new wave of cornerbacks in the NFL asks for cornerbacks who have long arms and play with a ton of swagger. The perfect mold of that guy in this year's cornerback class is little-known Deiondre' Hall. With 34-inch arms, and his 6'1, 200-pound frame, Hall is going to be an interesting project for a defensive back's coach. The Cowboys will face some questions at the cornerback position, but if the team is trying to bring in the mold of a Richard Sherman in this year's draft, Hall will be the name guy to get. The problem is that other teams will have their eye on him as well.

Currently being mocked as a fourth-round pick by DraftTek.

Hassan Ridgeway, Defensive Tackle, Texas

The upgrade over Nick Hayden in the interior part of the defensive line is something the Cowboys must address in the coming weeks. Dallas has skipped the need over the past couple of seasons, but if the Cowboys wait to hit the need in the middle rounds, Texas' Hassan Ridgeway is someone that could fit the bill. At 6'5, 325 pounds, Ridgeway is one of the bigger bodies in this draft class. The Cowboys will only need him for two downs on a given drive and as long as he's active at taking on double teams, Ridgeway's frame in itself will take care of the rest. I've briefly watched Ridgeway and he is a bit of a poor man's Andrew Billings.

Currently being mocked as a fifth-round pick by DraftTek.

Jonathan Williams, Running Back, Arkansas

When people think about running backs from Arkansas, the first player people think of is Alex Collins. After all, Collins' game fits better for the NFL than Williams, but the Cowboys will inevitably look at both Collins and Jonathan Williams for the simple fact that it's Jerry Jones' alma mater. The Cowboys have made it clear that they're in the market for a running back and Williams is a guy that could fit the bill.

Currently being mocked as a sixth-round pick by DraftTek.

Follow me on Twitter: RyanRattyNFL