On Monday, we released an article regarding three offensive prospects who may have improved their draft stock, making it more difficult for the Cowboys to get them at certain points of the draft. Today we do the same with three defensive prospects, but this time sticking with the first round.
In the month of December of the 2017 season, the Cowboys defense gave up an average of just under ten points per game. With DeMarcus Lawrence back in the fold, the Cowboys have their “war daddy”, at least for the year of 2018, at defensive end. After the injection of youth in the secondary last year, the Cowboys could shore up their defense by adding some more young pieces.
In terms of the holes on the Cowboys’ defense, there is a role to be filled at the 1-technique defensive tackle spot. Dallas would also be wise to add a piece in the secondary like a rangy a safety.
Whether or not Anthony Hitchens leaves in free agency could decide if Dallas will address the linebacker position as well. Let’s take a look at three defensive prospects whose performances at the combine may have changed the equation for the Cowboys.
Derwin James, Safety, Florida State
It was up in the air whether James would be available for the Cowboys with the No. 19 pick. However, after the performance James put on at the combine, the reality is that if the Cowboys want to draft James, they may just have to trade up and get him. That is the reality that James even spoke about regarding the prospects of Dallas drafting him:
Florida State safety Derwin James hasn’t met with the Cowboys yet. Doesn’t think he’ll still be around at 19. Says Dallas will have to trade up if they want him pic.twitter.com/glo2beHMuV— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) March 4, 2018
At the combine, James was an absolute star, running a 4.47 40-yard dash while also showing off a 40-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. Keep in mind that Byron Jones put up a record 12’3” broad jump.
With his frame at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, combined with his combine performance and tape, James is likely going to be drafted out of the Cowboys’ reach. If the Cowboys want James, they may have to give up a high Day 2 pick to move up to get him.
Trumaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech
It was somewhat of a foregone conclusion that Edmunds was going to put up freakish numbers at the combine. The tape on Edmunds proved that he is the type of linebacker whose measurables will translate extremely well to the NFL.
At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Edmunds proved his athleticism by clocking in a 4.54 40-yard dash. With his 34.5-inch arms, Edmunds truly looks the part and fits the mold of an NFL linebacker. Think of guys in the NFL like Deion Jones and Telvin Smith who are truly re-defining the linebacker position. That is exactly what Edmunds can bring to an NFL defense.
The idea of drafting Edmunds was a thought if Hitchens decides to cash in during the free agency period and sign elsewhere, creating a hole at one of the linebacker spots in the process. Edmunds seems to be all but gone out of possibility for Dallas.
Mayock raved about Va Tech's Tremaine Edmunds (6-5, 250) and sees him as ILB in 3-4 defense in NFL. He's only 19. "He'd be great there. I see an off the ball LB right now. He has a skill set -- I don’t use this word often -- that's unique."— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 26, 2018
Vita Vea, Defensive Tackle, Washington
Imagine a player who stands at 6-foot-5, 350 pounds and can keep pace with players that come from skill positions. That is the exact case with Vea. Similar to Edmunds, people expected Vea to absolutely blow up the combine. He did not shy away from doing so in one bit.
At his size, Vea ran an unbelievable time in the 40-yard dash running a 5.10. In terms of his measurables, Vea has drawn comparisons from Mockdraftable to Dontari Poe and Haloti Ngata. Regardless of his speed, Vea showed off sheer, brute strength in the bench press event, putting up 41 reps of 225 pounds. That number giving him the most bench press reps out of any player in the combine.
Even before the combine, the idea of drafting a defensive tackle may not have even crossed the Cowboys’ mind. With what they are looking for in a defensive tackle, Dallas may not put a huge priority on the position, leaving their opinions towards the draft elsewhere. However, Vea’s quickness, strength, and position flex may have altered the Cowboys’ opinion. But his combine performance assured NFL personnel that he belongs near the top 10.
Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) spoke with one team outside the top 20 in the draft, asked if they talked to Vita Vea.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 4, 2018
Response "Why? to wish him good luck?"