The other day, we posted an article with some Dark Horse candidates that could be on the Cowboys’ radar. We’ve also talked about intriguing candidates like Jabrill Peppers or Haason Reddick in the past too as we try to cover every possibility for this year’s draft class. As diligent as we try to be, we know that the draft will turn out a lot different than we think. There are always some guys that get overlooked because we get caught up in needs and such. That inspired this column as we look at some guys you may or may not know that could be options in each round. Here are a few more dark horse guys to give a bit of your time to:
First Round- Pick 28
LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Now, it was reported that Dallas met with Cunningham at the Combine privately but that could be diligence. Cunningham is a very talented linebacker that relies on his superior instincts to diagnose the play and go. He’s very smart and pretty athletic (124.2 pSPARQ, 62.3 percentile). He’s got the size/speed combination down and is a physical tackler. However, he does whiff sometimes and needs to improve his technique. He could be comfortable in any 4-3 linebacker position and has flexibility.
With that said, he moved from a second-round selection to the bottom of the first. It could still be too rich a spot for the Cowboys to think linebacker if they’re confident in Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Damien Wilson.
OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
Admittedly, Robinson is not coming off the best season but he was reportedly playing hurt last season. Our resident O-line guru, McCoolBTB, believes that he’ll turn into a solid starting tackle in the NFL:
This is not the strongest tackle class but we know that if anyone knows how to find the best offensive linemen, it’s the Cowboys. Dallas is losing Doug Free to retirement and their O-Line is the heartbeat of the team. Robinson is tough, strong, and athletic too but will need the right situation. He’s a massive man who rarely loses his leverage. Robinson has a very strong grip that allows him to make up for not having the quickest feet. He’s certainly got room to grow both on and off the field but he could be a solid contingency play at right tackle with Chaz Green always ailing.
Second Round- Pick 60
SS Josh Jones, NC State
We mocked him once and he’s been a steady climber since starting this whole draft process. He gets lost in the shuffle of guys like Obi Melifonwu, Malik Hooker, and of course, Budda Baker. Jones is a dependable defender that deserves some more praise. He’s got a ton of things to like and very few to not. He’s speedy, explosive, physical and is an aggressive tackler. He started at both free and strong but looks the part of a strong safety. Jones is a finisher which is something the Cowboys will need to replace Barry Church.
Jones started all 13 games in 2016 as the free safety; he led the team with 109 tackles, 11 PBU’s, and three interceptions. In the end, he was still overlooked for All-ACC honors.
OT Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
I know what you’re thinking; isn’t this the guy that wrote the column about not trusting this year’s tackle class? Yes but Moton is someone that is starting to make a little headway in conversations. He’s powerful and fluid in his movement. Moton can hook defenders with ease and is an impressive downhill blocker in the run game. It’s hard to see him lasting to the second round though he’s firmly a second-round talent. With needs at tackle for so many teams, he may get pushed up in hopes to protect the quarterback’s blindside.
That would be a mistake because he projects better as a right tackle. He’s got athleticism and ranked fifth out of all offensive linemen according to SPARQ. If he does somehow make it to the Cowboys at 60, this would be a solid selection that we wouldn’t argue with.
Third Round- Pick 92
CB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee
Sutton may not be the biggest guy (5’11, 188 lbs) but he’s been a standout player in his time at Tennessee. One thing you notice off the bat is that he plays with a high level of confidence in himself. He does a nice job of recognizing routes by the receiver and disrupting them. Sutton is impressive with the initial jam and has the speed to turn and mirror. He’s got tremendous ball skills and has even helped out as a returner.
There are concerns that his limbs and build are too thin and he could be bruised by the bigger receivers in the NFL. He’s a sound tackler but he doesn’t have the physicality to his game just yet. Even so, he does have the good recovery speed to shield a lot of his potential weaknesses.
DE Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M
He’s a bit of a gamble but has been given the third-fourth round grade. Hall started opposite the great Myles Garrett. He’s tall and long as an athlete who has worked hard to fill out his frame. He’s a tough competitor that uses his length to win off blocks. He’s not as consistent as you would hope. He sometimes over pursues which takes him completely out of the play.
Hall has some development to do as he still could stand to add more bulk and sometimes gets too wide in rush. The quickness off the snap is impressive but he needs to channel that energy to be most effective. Hall is super tough and has played the lunch pail role for all 54 games of his collegiate career. For his decent but not spectacular technique, he finds ways to relentlessly pursue and more often than not, he guesses right.
Fourth Round- Pick 133
WR Noah Brown, Ohio State
Maybe the Cowboys could still look at receiver in the second or third round but it’s hard to believe when both Brice Butler and the WR2 Terrance Williams were retained. Williams accepted a lesser contract due to “loyalty” as he said. It’s been one of the more under-appreciated re-signings across the league considering he had better offers.
With that said, Dallas could still get more talent at the receiver position seeing as Butler, Williams, and Lucky Whitehead have all been inconsistent in their careers. Brown is an interesting guy to think about. He doesn’t come with all the flash that the top wide outs of this draft do. Still, Brown is a physical guy that fits the Cowboys’ view of receiver tendencies. That combination of size and speed is hard to overlook.
Nowhere near the finished product of a Dez Bryant, Brown still shows the fight and will to get open and make contested catches. Raw and inexperienced, Brown impresses with his ability to combat with the tall and long cornerback of today’s NFL. He gives it his all every play despite needing some work with an NFL positional coach.
CB Corn Elder, Miami
Nowadays, NFL teams rarely steer away from their prerequisites of players. There are guys like Nate Newton and Mickey Spagnola who would never touch a cornerback below six feet. However, I’m pleading to given Elder a chance to change that. Even before Will McClay, the Joneses took a shot at Orlando Scandrick, a feisty but smaller DB out of Boise State. Overall, the Scandrick pick showed to be one of the best fifth-round selections ever. Getting a guy like like Elder makes the defense even better.
Lance Zierlein says Elder has the three most important traits of an NFL starting corner; composure, confidence, and competitiveness. Like Scandrick, Elder has instincts that are out of this world. Like the great, Steve Smith Sr., Elder doesn’t know he’s smaller than what most teams want. He most certainly would make the Cowboys’ zone defense a lot more effective. Elder can blitz, he’s supremely reactive, he’s tough and his will power and ability are there; even if his size is not. It’s unfortunate that Elder will drop due to his lack of length and size but some team is going to get a true thoroughbred football player.