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Cowboys 2018 Draft: Five under-the-radar wide receivers that should intrigue

We know about Calvin Ridley, but who else could the Cowboys target at WR this April?

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you live under a rock, you know one of the Cowboys’ main priorties this offseason is building the offense — and the team in general — around quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott had the best rookie season by a signal-caller in NFL history during the 2016 season, but fell off a little bit last year once Ezekiel Elliott served his suspension and Tyron Smith went down with injury. The Cowboys still believe in their young quarterback, as evidenced by the team wanting to shift their offense to a Dak-friendly scheme.

With that said, the Cowboys need to find Dak another playmaker. Whatever your stance on Dez Bryant is, it is clear that the team needs for either him and Dak to get on the same page, or perhaps for the two to move their separate ways. Cole Beasley had a stellar 2016 campaign, but defenses were able to take him way in 2017. Terrance Williams is not the most consistent receiver, and Brice Butler appears to be on his way out of town.

Emmanuel Sanders is said to like the idea of playing in his home state while wearing The Star, but how likely is that to come to fruition? The top receiver in the draft class is thought to be Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, but he could be off the board within the first 15 picks this April. Besides, is drafting a receiver in the first-round a good idea (unless, of course, it’s a can’t-miss like Julio Jones or A.J. Green)?

Other receivers that we have covered here at BTB include Christian Kirk, Anthony Miller, James Washington, Michael Gallup, and D.J. Moore. But, who are some receivers that the Cowboys can target on days two and three in the 2018 NFL Draft? Maybe a talented receiver that played at a big school but was stuck in a bad offense, or a wideout with a freakish ceiling but played at a smaller school?

Daesean Hamilton, Penn State Nittany Lions

Deasean Hamilton has been a prospect that is beginning to catch the eyes of NFL scouts and GMs more and more. The Penn State wideout caught the attention of Bleacher Report’s lead draft analyst, Matt Miller.

DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

The Penn State offense revolved around running back Saquon Barkley, but there was no denying the skill of DaeSean Hamilton when he was given chances this season. That showed up at the Senior Bowl. Hamilton, despite a few early drops, emerged as a clean route-runner with the speed to separate from defenders. He could be looking at a Zay Jones-type rise to the second round following this week.

His impressive week at the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Alabama, forced many to go back and watch his film. Many came away even more impressed than they were before. While he has struggled with drops, Hamilton has star potential due to his route-running and big-play ability.

Miller has Hamilton going off of the board in the fourth-round at pick 100 to the Indianapolis Colts in his latest mock draft. I personally expect Hamilton to climb the draft boards between now and draft time, and the Cowboys need to pay attention.

D.J. Chark, LSU Tigers

Much like Hamilton, D.J. Chark impressed down in Mobile. In fact, the former LSU wideout took home co-MVP honors for his five-catch, 160-yard, and one-touchdown performance in the game that concluded the week’s festivities.

Unlike Hamilton, though, Chark didn’t get the benefit of playing in a wide-open, fun-style of offense during his collegiate career. LSU, both with Les Miles and now with Ed Orgeron leading the charge, has been known for playing a pro-style offensive stack that relies on a strong running game and a mediocre passing offense.

The Senior Bowl was Chark’s opportunity to show scouts what he can do in an offense that gives him opportunities to make plays — and he made the most of it. Chark showed that he can be a deep threat, making plays of 63 and 75 yards.

Chark’s stock instantly increased following his productive week, and he now sits as a day two pick. Miller currently has Chark heading to Dallas with the 50th pick.

Keep an eye on D.J. Chark throughout this draft process.

Jordan Lasley, UCLA Bruins

The headliner of this draft class from UCLA is quarterback Josh Rosen — a likely top-five selection this April. One of his favorite targets isn’t so heralded.

Lasley was a decent receiver for the Bruins during his first two seasons on campus, but he truly broke out as one of the nation’s biggest and most explosive weapons in 2017. In just nine games (Lasley was disciplined and suspended for violating team rules), the 6-foot-1 and 205 pound wide receiver caught 69 passes for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns. He emerged as Rosen’s favorite target, and his 18.3 yards per catch average cemented the UCLA wideout as one of the more electrifying players across the nation.

There’s a catch, though. As mentioned above, Lasley faced disciplinary problems during his time at UCLA, and it cost him some games this past fall. In November, Ben Bolch of the LA Times wrote that Lasley “has some issues, but he’s an explosive receiver”.

Some of Lasley’s indiscretions are known. There was the spring practice scuffle with a defensive back in 2015 that led to Lasley’s dismissal from practice. There was the team bus he missed the day before a game against Arizona last season, leading to his suspension against the Wildcats.

Lasley was also arrested twice in 2016, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. The first arrest was for possession of alcohol as a minor; the second was for presenting a fake ID at a Hollywood club. Lasley satisfied all obligations in the former matter through a diversion program and no charges were filed in the latter incident.

Lasley’s talent makes him a day two pick, but will teams be scared off by his off-the-field question marks? The interviewing process at the combine and during pre-draft meetings will play a big role in when Lasley hears his name called. If the Cowboys are comfortable with the Compton native, he could be a target for America’s Team.

Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State Aggies

One of the more unknown prospects in this year’s draft played his college football at New Mexico State.

Jaleel Scott is a 6-foot-6, 215-pound wide receiver with one of the biggest ceilings in the 2018 draft class. Scott was a late-bloomer, still learning how to use his body and adjust to the game of football. He did not receive any Division-1 offers coming out of high school, so the South Carolina native played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa.

After completing two seasons on the JUCO level, Scott received one offer — from New Mexico State University. Scott played a limited role during his junior season, but he truly emerged as a star during his final collegiate season.

As a senior, Jaleel Scott caught 76 passes for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns. It wasn’t against lousy competition either, as the Iowa native recorded eight catches for 149 yards and two scores against the Arizona State Sun Devils and nine catches, 179 yards, and a touchdown versus the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Scott didn’t have the best week at the Senior Bowl, but his senior campaign and incredible touchdown grab against Arizona State show flashes of what he can become in the right system. He played his best against power-5 competition, and his measurables are freakish.

Jaleel Scott is a very intriguing option for the Cowboys on day 3.

Cedrick Wilson, Boise State Broncos

Cedrick Wilson, like Scott, began his career on the JUCO level — at Coffeyville Community College. The Memphis, Tennessee, native was recruited to Coffeyville as a quarterback after he led his high school football team to the Tennessee 6A state semifinals, but the 6-foot-3 athlete found that receiver was the best position for him to succeed.

In his sophomore season at Coffeyville, Wilson was named an NJCAA All-American as his 116.1 receiving yards per game were good for third nationally in 2015. Wilson signed with Boise State over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2016 recruiting class as a three-star prospect.

In both seasons in Idaho, the Memphis native eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving — 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns on 56 grabs in 2016 and 1,511 yards and seven scores on 83 catches in 2017. He quickly emerged as, along with fellow former JUCO standout Michael Gallup, one of the top playmakers in the Mountain West Conference.

Wilson would be a great value pick in the fourth or fifth round. He has the size, the IQ, and the talent to quickly make an impact as soon as rookie season. B/R’s Miller has Wilson being drafted at pick 160 to ... the Eagles.


Which under-the-radar WR do you have your eye on, BTB?