Now that defensive end Taco Charlton is the newest Dallas Cowboy via the 28th overall pick, let’s take a look at some of the many intriguing options still on the board going into Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Before getting into the players I’d like to note that just because the team drafted a defensive end in the first round doesn’t mean they should all together avoid the position in round 2 or 3, especially if there is a player with pure speed/explosiveness who represents good value.
First let’s take a look at five guys who, in my opinion, should be the top options for the Cowboys with the 60th pick tomorrow evening, even if it may be unrealistic for them to drop all the way to the end of the round. Then we’ll get into some other options who would be strong choices at 60, as well as at 92. Keep in mind that the order that the players are listed within each tier is not necessarily indicative of my order of preference.
Top 5 Options At Pick 60
Cornerback Kevin King (6-3, 200), Washington: Unbelievable size and length with 32 inch arms. Not the most physical player but he has excellent ball skills and is able to fluidly mirror receivers. Blew up at the Combine running a 4.43 40 and posting a 39.5 inch vertical while testing near the top of the cornerback group in the agility drills. Put up 6 interceptions and 21 PBU’s over the last three seasons.
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (6-0, 202), Colorado: Ideal size, although a bit lacking in length with under 31 inch arms. Extremely physical with excellent versatility, able to play outside, in the slot, and may even play safety in some packages. Excellent production with 25 TFL, 9 sacks and 6 forced fumbles but only 3 interceptions.
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Tyus Bowser (6-3, 247), Houston: Raw and inexperienced, but extremely athletic edge player who would probably have to start off as a SAM linebacker while potentially developing into a full-time defensive end. Excellent explosiveness and burst off the edge but has the fluidity to drop into coverage. Often asked to drop into coverage but still manged 19 TFL and 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
Safety Budda Baker (5-10, 195), Washington: Undersized but plays like he’s 6-2, 220 with a chip on his shoulder. Very physical and is excellent working downhill. Not an ideal single-high safety due to his size but brings versatility as far as blitzing, supporting the run, playing in traditional 2-deep looks and potentially even covering out of the slot.
Safety Obi Melifonwu (6-4, 224), Connecticut: Perhaps the best pure athlete in the draft, posting eye-popping Combine numbers with a 4.40 40, 44 inch vertical and a nearly 12 foot broad jump. Not just a workout warrior though, Melifonwu is an very good form tackler with good range due to his size/length/speed and better ball skills than he’s given credit for. Productive with over 100 tackles and 4 interceptions as a senior.
Other Strong Round 2 Options
Cornerback Quincy Wilson (6-1, 211), Florida: Jumbo outside corner who is extremely physical in press coverage and could potentially move to safety down the line. Only average speed (4.54 40). Totaled 6 interceptions over three seasons. Barely missed my top 5 options at 60.
Safety Josh Jones (6-1, 220), N.C. State: Athletic freak, ran a 4.41, posted a 37.5 inch vertical and 11 foot broad jump. He isn’t just a workout warrior though, he has the ability to play as a deep safety but is also very physical against the run and over the middle. Also very productive over three seasons with 8 interceptions, 17 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles, as well as over 100 tackles during his last season in college.
Defensive End Tarell Basham (6-4, 269), Ohio: Has ideal size with strong hands, length and power to stuff the run, while also providing good enough burst/explosiveness to rush the passer. Very productive with 38.5 TFL, 27 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles over four seasons.
Defensive End Jordan Willis (6-4, 255), Kansas St.: Good size with excellent explosion, first step, and burst off the ball. A bit of a straight-line player but highly productive with 31.5 TFL, 20 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles over the last two seasons. Could be the BPA if available at 60.
Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (6-1, 199), Clemson: Ideal size/speed prospect with excellent physicality and ball skills (20 PBU’s and 9 interceptions over last two seasons). Struggles in space although he would be a nice fit in a scheme that values a pressing, physical style of corner.
Safety Marcus Williams (6-1, 202), Utah: Centerfielder with ball skills and plenty of experience playing as the single-high safety at Utah. Needs work in the run game but he would bring ballhawking ability to the secondary in nickel/dime packages. Impressive production with 11 interceptions in just three seasons.
Cornerback Fabian Moreau (6-0, 206), UCLA: Another athletic freak. Ran a 4.36 and posted a 38 inch vertical and 11+ foot broad jump. Durability (even before the torn pectoral which could keep him out into the regular season) and lack of ball skills are concerns.
Right Tackle/Guard Dion Dawkins (6-4, 314), Temple: One of the few offensive linemen I’d consider in the first three rounds. Has the ability to play either right tackle or shift inside to guard and would be a seamless fit for what the Cowboys need along the offensive line.
Right Tackle/Guard Taylor Moton (6-5, 319), Western Michigan: This is the only other offensive linemen I’d consider in the first three rounds. Similar to Dawkins as far as being able to play either right tackle or shifting inside to guard. Plays with excellent power.
Defensive End Carl Lawson (6-2, 261), Auburn: Explosive presence off the edge who may have been a first-round pick if not for a long history of injuries at Auburn. Played a full 2016 and posted 14 TFL and 9.5 sacks.
Defensive End Derek Rivers (6-4, 248), Youngstown St.: Small-school player with excellent production (56.5 TFL, 37.5 sacks over four seasons). Impressive Combine performance. A bit raw but there are undeniable flashes of explosiveness and bend off the edge.
Wide Receiver Chris Godwin (6-1, 209), Penn St.: Ideal size/speed combination with excellent jump-ball ability on contested passes. Posted over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons while averaging over 16 YPC.
Back-Up Round 2/Ideal Round 3 Options
Defensive Tackle Larry Ogunjobi (6-3, 305), North Carolina Charlotte: Small-school defensive tackle who could be just scratching the surface of his potential. Fits the mold of an up-field, athletic penetrator that Rod Marinelli prioritizes. Only played two seasons at Charlotte but put up 29 TFL and 5.5 sacks.
Safety Marcus Maye (6-0, 210), Florida: One of the most well-rounded safeties in the draft as far as being able to cover and support the run, although he struggles at time in deep coverage.
Defensive End/Tackle DeMarcus Walker (6-4, 280), Florida St.: Tweener at 6-4, 280, not quite athletic enough to play as a 4-3 defensive end but lacking in size against the run to play defensive tackle full-time. What makes him special is his ability to pass-rush from the interior with excellent quickness and an advanced swim move. Could play an immediate role in nickel/dime formations while potentially growing into a starter.
Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-1, 215), USC: Poor man’s Dez Bryant, lacks elite deep speed/quickness but he is extremely physical with very strong hands and is a nightmare in jump ball situations.
Wide Receiver Zay Jones (6-2, 201), East Carolina: Ultra-productive receiver with good size, although his natural speed/explosiveness is a question mark despite a very impressive Combine performance. High floor prospect who may never be an elite receiver but will likely have a long career as a “number two” type.
Cornerback/Safety Desmond King (5-10, 201), Iowa: Will likely transition from college cornerback to safety due to limited speed and explosiveness. Very physical tackler with excellent ball skills (33 PBU’s and 14 interceptions over four seasons), could potentially play as a slot corner in some matchups.
Strong Round 3 Options
Cornerback Teez Tabor (6-0, 199), Florida: Limited athlete with excellent ball skills (28 PBU’s and 8 interceptions over three seasons) and good size. Scheme-dependent prospect who is at his best in zone, slow 40 time and possible off field concerns push him down to round 3 in my opinion but talent is undeniable.
Cornerback Damontae Kazee (5-10, 184), San Diego St.: Undersized ballhawk who isn’t afraid to come up and tackle. Lacks ideal size and length with less than 31 inch arms but has a knack for making plays with 17 career interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, and 14.5 TFL. Also a return threat once the ball is in his hands.
Wide Receiver Cooper Kupp (6-2, 204), Eastern Washington: Similar to Jones as far as being a high floor prospect that was ultra-productive in college with size but a lack of natural speed/explosiveness. Over 6,000 receiving yards and 70+ touchdowns.
Wide Receiver Carlos Henderson (5-11, 199), Louisiana Tech: Explosive run after the catch ability. Posted an eye-popping 1,535 yards, averaging over 18 YPC, along with 19 touchdowns. Provides added value as a kick returner and would bring a much needed speed element to the offense.
Defensive Tackle Carlos Watkins (6-3, 309), Clemson: Flashes impressive athleticism/burst off the snap for his size with extremely long arms (34+ inches). Would be a nice pick as a rotational interior lineman who could develop into a starter if he can become more consistent.
Defensive Tackle Montravius Adams (6-4, 304), Auburn: Disruptive interior lineman who flashes explosiveness on occasion but plays too high at times due to his height. Similar to Watkins he would be a nice pick as a rotational interior lineman who could develop into a starter if he can become more consistent.
Defensive Tackle Jaleel Johnson (6-3, 316), Iowa: Another defensive tackle in the mold of Watkins and Adams with good quickness/up field ability for his size, although he will have to become more consistent, especially against the run. Rotational interior lineman who could develop into a starter down the road.
Back-Up Round 3/Ideal Round 4 Options
Cornerback Akhello Witherspoon (6-3, 198), Colorado: Prototype physical profile with 33 inch arms. Ran a 4.45 40 and posted a 40.5 inch vertical. Severe lack of physicality/tackling ability and average production are concerns, although he would be a high upside option at the end of round 3.
Safety Justin Evans (6-0, 199), Texas A&M: Good range, ball skills, and leaping ability. Could potentially handle slot duties against tight ends and some receivers but struggles significantly in the run game.
Safety John Johnson (6-0, 208), Boston College: Similar to Evans as far as being an athletic safety with ball skills who struggles as a tackler. Combine performance was a bit underwhelming but his ability is evident in games. Six interceptions over the last two seasons.
Safety Xavier Woods (5-11, 197), Louisiana Tech: Undersized but ferocious player with excellent ball skills (18 PBU’s and 14 interceptions over four seasons). Relishes the opportunity to lay out receivers over the middle.
Defensive End Dawuane Smoot (6-3, 264), Illinois: Played in a similar scheme to what the Cowboys run under Lovie Smith. Some thought he could be a future first-round pick after a breakout 2015 season but he sort of plateaued in 2016. No truly special attributes that stand out but he has good size, length, burst, and technique, put up 29.5 TFL and 12 sacks over his last two seasons. Could become a starter a year or two down the line.