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Cowboys: Final Thoughts On The Team's 2016 NFL Draft Class

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What can the Cowboys get out of this rookie class that they haven't gotten out of past years?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Each year, my anticipation for the NFL Draft hits its peak when April comes around. Being a college student, working other jobs and doing loads of work, my draft analysis never hit full gear this year, nevertheless, I got around to watching over 150 prospects, a number that will hopefully in the coming years.

After every Dallas Cowboys' pick, I loaded up film from DraftBreakdown.com on the corresponding player to give out my best thoughts and opinions for each player. With the 2016 NFL Draft about a week in the books, it's now time to close out the draft with final thoughts.

First Round, 4th Overall: Ezekiel Elliott

In 2014, the Cowboys thrived off their running game. With a successful running game, the Cowboys' defense stayed off the field for longer periods of time and Tony Romo was able to have the most accurate season of his career in the process. By drafting Elliott, the Cowboys are going to have to live by the saying, "our best defense is our best offense." For the rest of Zeke's career, people will continue to say that "you don't use a top-5 pick, or a high pick for that matter" on a running back.

However, the Cowboys realize the talent Elliott is and the potential he can provide. He's a complete back that can simply do it all on the football field. If health stays on his side, the combination of Tony Romo, Zeke, and Dez Bryant is without question one of the best trios in the business. Yes, maybe it's true that anyone can run behind this offensive line, but no one can do what Elliott can do behind it.

To view the the film study on Elliott, click here.

Second Round, 34th Overall: Jaylon Smith

The idea of Jaylon in Dallas wasn't on a lot of people's radar. Sure the Cowboys have targeted the linebacker position in recent years, but most never would've expected them to use such a premium draft pick on such a risk. Pass-rusher was the bigger need, but when their two top options got selected to start the second round, the best player on the Cowboys' board was Smith.

There seems to be more to the story than what we're hearing. Dr. Dan Cooper preformed the surgery on Jaylon's knee and maybe the Cowboys' doctors know something that the general public doesn't know about the knee. If the knee can regenerate, the long-term tandem of Jaylon and Sean Lee is going to be incredible. In this defense, Jaylon will have the ability to do whatever he wants. We're simply going to be in awe over his athleticism if he can get on the field.

To view the the film study on Smith, click here.

Third Round, 67th Overall: Maliek Collins

The Cowboys have done a nice job re-building the interior part of their defensive line. A healthy bundle of Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, David Irving, and Cedric Thornton is going to be awesome. From the film study on Collins, it's easy to see why Rod Marinelli loves the kid. He's got the quickness, jump, and athleticism that Marinelli loves out of his defensive lineman. There are some inconsistencies, but that could easily be due to his workload.

To view the the film study on Collins, click here.

Fourth Round, 101st Overall: Charles Tapper

It's no secret that the Cowboys love their SPARQ guys. Basically every player they drafted tested well within this set of analytics. One guy that popped off the charts in this regard is Tapper, an athletic freak off the edge who can be a real difference-maker in the NFL if he is molded correctly. He needs to improve the use of his hands and use them consistently and he needs to develop more natural pass-rushing moves, outside of just a spin move, but the potential is there for the Cowboys to get a real dominant edge player.

To view the the film study on Tapper, click here.

Fourth Round, 135th Overall: Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott has a huge ceiling and he can potentially develop into a starter in this league. However, that doesn't mean that the Cowboys' long-term situation at the quarterback position is solved and all hopes rest on Dak's right arm. That's an unfair assessment to Dak.

Coming from the offense he was in at Mississippi State, Prescott will have a lot to learn before he can become a finished product. But the Cowboys were the team that liked him the most. Their liking of Dak has gone back to the East-West Shrine Game. Prescott will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but the Cowboys' quarterback-coaching trio of Jason Garrett, Wade Wilson, and Scott Linehan will need to be there for assistance.

To view the the film study on Prescott, click here.

Sixth Round, 189th Overall: Anthony Brown

Brown is an interesting player. There is concern about his size, but he's a guy that can play both inside and outside. He has excellent recovery speed and he has a great nose for the football. He gave up a ton of touchdowns at Purdue, but that was more due to his technique and change-of-direction. Brown can be a nice player for the Cowboys, but he will need to round out some facets of his game.

To view the the film study on Brown, click here.

Sixth Round, 212th Overall: Kavon Frazier

With Byron Jones making the transition to free safety, the Cowboys finally have a capable center-fielder back there. They will need to have a physical presence next to him to play the strong safety position and while he won't be ready to start there right away, that's going to be the long-term role for Frazier.

Frazier is built like a truck. But the Cowboys may need to reign in his physical nature and make him more conservative. Sometimes, his physical nature makes him get overzealous and run past running backs and take awkward angles to the football.

To view the the film study on Frazier, click here.

Sixth Round, 216th Overall: Darius Jackson

After the Elliott pick picking Jackson was a head-scratcher, but it should be said that the Cowboys are getting a real special back that can be huge on special teams. Jackson is the biggest SPARQ freak in this class. He's got the makings of a real nice complementary back in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of both David Johnson and Jerick McKinnon when they came out of college.

To view the the film study on Jackson, click here.

Sixth Round, 217th Overall: Rico Gathers

And finally, the project pick of the draft. The throw-a-dart-at-the-board-and-see-what-happens pick of the draft. Gathers last played football at the age of 13, but his frame and athleticism still provide for an intriguing talent. With Jason Witten's window closing, Gathers will have all the opportunity to sit back and develop until his name is called upon. And what better of a coach to develop him than tight ends coach Mike Pope.

To view the the film study on Gathers, click here.

Closing Thoughts

  • Undrafted wide receiver Chris Brown will make this final roster.
  • Collins will start at defensive tackle come Week 1, but that's more due to the suspensions at defensive end.
  • Jackson will be this team's special teams stud, playing the role of a gunner and returning kicks.
  • Tony Romo will love having Elliott in front of him as a pass-protector.
  • The progression of Dak will be extremely slow.
  • Frazier will start at strong safety in 2017.
  • Brown will begin in the slot, but move to the outside eventually.
  • Jaylon will play in at least one game this season.
  • Tapper will become a nice addition to Marinelli's "Rushmen".
  • We will look back at this draft and give it a satisfactory grade.
Follow me on Twitter: RyanRattyNFL