The Dallas Cowboys are once again in a crucial offseason for the state of their franchise. After an unbelievable draft in 2016 that brought in multiple quality players, the Cowboys were a force to be reckoned with. They took a step back in 2017, partly because they lost Ezekiel Elliott to six games, and partly for other reasons.
With the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl and Jason Garrett now entering his eighth full season as the head coach of the Cowboys, the time is now, and the pressure is on, for the Cowboys to make a deep playoff run.
The Cowboys are getting up-close looks at drill times and player measurables, as well as formal meetings to understand the character of the prospects the 2018 Combine. Let’s take a look at three offensive prospects who have improved their draft stock, to the point where the Cowboys may not be able to get them where they originally thought.
Will Hernandez, Offensive Guard, UTEP
Original Optimistic Landing Spot: Trade-back towards the end of the first
Offensive guards aren’t typically preferred high in the draft, but there has been discussion about the Cowboys potentially taking a guard early in the draft to shore up their offensive line.
It’s not ideal for the Cowboys to draft yet another first-round pick on an offensive guard, but yet here we are. Hernandez is an absolute freak and a mountain of a man. Don’t let his small-school background fool you either. Hernandez held his own against bigger schools like Oklahoma and Arizona.
At the combine, Hernandez was a stud. At 6-foot-2, 350 pounds, people were curious to see how the UTEP product would perform on the bench and in speed drills. He led all offensive lineman in the bench press with 37 reps of 225 pounds. Despite his size, he also finished eighth in the 40-yard dash with a time of 5.15 and seventh in the three-cone drill.
By drafting Hernandez, the Cowboys would fit him in at left guard, putting him between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. With his combination of power and speed, Hernandez could be quite a player in Dallas. But with his stock now through the roof, Dallas might need to use pick #19 to draft him rather than trading back in the first round and expecting him to be there.
UTEP G Will Hernandez has better feet than I thoughtpic.twitter.com/yJRi2o6wwp— 2018 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 2, 2018
D.J. Moore, Wide Receiver, Maryland
Original Optimistic Landing Spot: Second round
Despite the news of Jerry Jones of wanting Dez Bryant to be a Cowboy in 2018, the Cowboys will be in the market for a receiver who can not only find holes in the defense, but also can provide another element to their offense.
At 6-feet, 210 pounds, Moore has been lauded before his ability to “play tall” to go along with his speed and ball skills. Moore weighed 220 pounds going into the year and it came as quite the surprise when he was measured at 6-feet to go along with how he has slimmed down.
The Cowboys have already set up a meeting with the Maryland product. Dallas has met with quite a few receivers, so there is definitely an interest in the position high at the top of the draft. Out of any offensive player who performed at the combine, no prospect may have boosted his draft stock more than Moore.
If the Cowboys can find a way to add Moore to their offense, they will get an explosive receiver who can turn small gains into big chunk plays. He has the ability with the ball in his hands to score. Dallas truly does not have that type of receiver on their roster. Originally thought of as a potential candidate with the 50th overall pick, Dallas will need to figure out another way if they truly want to draft him.
Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Penn State
Original Optimistic Landing Spot: Third round
While Jason Witten still has four years left on his contract, there is a clear natural decline with Witten. More importantly, his blocking ability has gone down, drawing more holding penalties. With James Hanna entering the last year of his contract, Geoff Swaim likely sticking to a designated run-blocking role, and the future of Rico Gathers up in the air, Dallas may be in the market for a tight end.
Dallas is a run-first team, so while Gesicki may not have the strength to be successful early in his career, he has the play-making ability that NFL offenses are looking for. Gesicki is quite the athletic specimen, so many thought he would blow up to the combine. He did exactly that.
At 6-foot-6, nearly 250 pounds, Gesicki ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, performed a 41.5-inch vertical jump, as well as a 10-foot-9 broad jump. Those numbers are truly explosive for a tight end. With this type of skillset, Gesicki now enters the conversation of potentially a top-50 pick.