After some blockbuster picks the first couple of days, the third and final day of the 2016 NFL Draft was much quieter for the Dallas Cowboys. But they made up for it with volume, as they had six total picks, two in the fourth round and four in the sixth. At the end of things, the team looks to have improved at some important positions and avoided any real mistakes. It's early, of course, but this looks like a draft that we should be able to look back on with a good degree of satisfaction in a few years.
Things started off with the third pick of the day, number 101 overall. Reports on Twitter were that the Cowboys were targeting Michigan State QB Connor Cook, but the Raiders jumped ahead of Dallas and took him at 100. Instead, the Cowboys selected DE Charles Tapper out of Oklahoma. He filled a definite need for more pass rush options, and fits the recent Dallas trend of going for athletic players with a high SPARQ score. DannyPhantom has our detailed look at him. There is no guarantee, of course, but he looks like a fourth-round pick with a serious chance to make a contribution this season, something that has been rather rare of late for the Cowboys.
With their compensaory pick at 135 in the fourth round, Dallas drafted QB Dak Prescott of Mississippi State. He was the third option for Dallas after Paxton Lynch and Cook, but with those two taken by other teams before Dallas could get them, he wound up being in a perfect spot for them. Comp picks are like found money, and given that Prescott will likely be contending for the QB2 position rather than being a serious option to be the heir to Tony Romo, this was a far more cost-effective spot to get him than at the top of the fourth or the very expensive trade (their second- and third-rounders) that Dallas was offering to go back into the first for Lynch. He does have some good tools and intangibles. It will be worth watching to see how much he can develop. The camp battle between him and Kellen Moore is going to be a hot topic in camp. After years of neglecting the position in the draft, he is a very good pick-up for the team with some nice potential upside and true developmental value. The full scouting report, again by Danny Phantom, will give you more.
Dallas didn't have a pick in the fifth round (or the seventh), but had four total in the sixth. These are player that have an uphill climb in winning a roster spot, but should be excellent candidates for the practice squad. And sometimes those sixth rounders surprise you and stick.
With the 189th selection, the Cowboys chose CB Anthony Brown from Purdue. Another athletic standout, he combines strength and speed. The fourth defensive pick for Dallas, he has a chance to help out in the secondary and will likely be competing for the last cornerback spot on the 53-man roster. He may have been taken with an eye to the future given the number of current corners whose contracts are up after the 2016 season. DannyPhantom has the goods on him.
Dallas also had three comp picks at the end of the sixth round thanks to the free agents who left the team in 2015. With pick 212, they got more secondary help in SS Kavon Frazier out of Central Michigan. He looks like a potential replacement down the road for Barry Church. He is a hard hitter whose best shot at breaking into the roster is likely to be special teams. Jim Scott jumps into the action with his scouting report.
Having leaned heavily towards defense with five of the first seven picks going to that side of the ball, the Cowboys spent the last two comp picks on offense. Darius Jackson of Eastern Michigan was a bit of a surprise at 216 as the second running back taken this year. After getting the best RB in the draft in Ezekiel Elliott, it might seem somewhat redundant to take another, but he is a very good ZBS runner that has some power in his game. And he is another one of those high SPARQ type guys with outstanding numbers in the broad jump, vertical jump, and 40. Explosiveness is always a good trait for the Cowboys. He may put some real pressure on Darren McFadden, who, despite his productive season in 2015, is not really a good fit for the Dallas scheme and who also does not get much yardage at all after contact. Check what DannyPhantom had to say in his Jack Nicholson-themed profile.
The final pick was a, shall we say, creative choice. The Cowboys took Baylor power forward Rico Gathers. The big (6-8, 290 lb) basketball player has not participated in football since he was 13, but declared for the draft as a tight end prospect. Dallas liked what they saw in his workouts enough to invest their last pick, number 217 overall, in him. Needless to say there is absolutely nothing in the way of scouting on him (unless you can glean something from blocked shots and crashing the boards), but Jim Scott took a look at the possibilities he represents anyway.
The rest of the NFC East teams were somewhat hampered on day 3 of the draft. The Giants only had three picks in all, but did get RB Paul Perkins of UCLA at 145. He was a possible option for the Cowboys had they not gone with Elliott in the first, and should be a nice addition to their backfield. Philadelphia used trading back to add numbers after throwing so much of their draft capital into the Carson Wentz deal. Their best pickup may be FS Jalen Mills out of LSU, drafted with 233. Mills is good, but has some significant off field history that pushed him down. They also may have gotten some help at running back with Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia. Washington had four total picks on day 3, and the best pick was likely DT Matthew Ionnidis from Temple. They also got QB Nate Sudfield of Indiana, a player that is not likely to have much of a future beyond competing for the backup job.
For the Cowboys, it looks like a good haul in the later rounds. Not spectacular, but some very serious needs were addressed with players that fit the high character and highly athletic molds Dallas has favored of late. (Did you know Prescott already has his master's degree at 22? Prescott also had a DUI incident, but that appears to have been investigated and did not raise a serious flag for Dallas.) It is a good group of players with some promise, plus the interesting selection of Gathers. We will find out more about them all in the rookie mini-camp next week.
The Cowboys have also signed a group of UDFA players who will be on hand. For the list (up to 17 at last count), check out the tracker put up by OCC.