A lot of the talk this offseason has been Dak and Dez’s on-field chemistry. Former Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg claims the issues are “all on Dez”.
When you look at the issues with the Dez Bryant-Dak Prescott connection last season, how much of it falls on Dez and how much falls on Dak?
”All of them play a role in it, I think, but it’s all on Dez. I can show you a play from the Seattle game. Dez has just a little hook route over the ball at five yards. Seattle plays zone, so as soon as they run out in zone, you read that, you see that, you set it down, you just show the quarterback your numbers, you give him both 8’s, he puts it between them, and off you go. He kind of goes in, and it was the worst pass pattern I’ve seen. And the ball goes off his hands because Dak doesn’t know where he’s going to settle down. It’s an easy throw, it’s the most simple throw you could ever make; I could’ve made it. But I wouldn’t have known where Dez was sitting it down.
“So that’s just a little microcosm of what I think happened with the season. And you talk about route running, it’s simple: They play zone, you come, you hook over the ball, you stay there, you get the ball, you go upfield. That interception goes on Dak, but it was all on Dez, all Dez. Dez has to improve, Dez has to buckle down. And I don’t know if he’s emotionally capable of being that guy. I don’t know. At the end of the season he said he let things get to him, he made that confession. Dez is always going to be a bit of a mystery man for you, let’s just say that.”
The Cowboys looked at Kony Ealy hard in the 2014 NFL Draft when Ealy was coming out of Missouri, but Dallas decided to trade up for DeMarcus Lawrence in the second-round. Now that the Ealy-to-Dallas pairing has finally happened, coach Jason Garrett is excited.
“We’re excited about Kony,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We spent a lot of time on him coming out in the draft. We visited him a lot, we worked him out.
“He’s one of those players we had targeted.”
“One of the things we try to do with our team is promote competition at every position,” Garrett said. “That really is the reason for the decisions we make in the offseason, to create a competitive environment at every position across the board. We feel that brings out the best in everybody.
”He’s a young, developing player and we feel like he has a lot of football left in front of him.”
Dave took a look at Ealy’s career thus far to project what he could do in the Big D.
If Kony Ealy puts together 12 sacks for the Cowboys, this will be one of the best deals ever. That’s unlikely of course, as Ealy has struggled in his four-year career. He only has 15 sacks in that time, with most of those coming when playing as a hand-down defensive end for the Carolina Panthers who drafted him the second round of the 2014 draft. As has been noted, the Cowboys were interested in Ealy then but worked a trade to get DeMarcus Lawrence instead. They also put in a claim last year when the Patriots cut him but the Jets were the team that got him.
Why was Ealy a second-round pick and why did the Cowboys want to draft him? OCC provided me with a little information about his college days. The Cool One recently ran a post about SPARQ scores and production ratio for edge rushers in the upcoming draft. I asked him to send me what he could on Ealy when he was coming out of college.
Along the same lines, the great OCC took a look at SPARQ ratings to determine the best defensive tackle prospects in this class. Definitely worth the read.
The A quadrant (top right) shows the players that have a strong track record of production and have the prerequisite athleticism that should allow them to compete at the NFL level.
This class has only four players in this quadrant (but barely). Two of them, Nathan Shepherd and Bilal Nichols hail from small schools, so there is a question about how their production will translate to the NFL. The other two, Harrison Phillips and Andrew Brown are bona fide A-quadrant players.
Maurice Hurst, who hasn’t shown up much in the DT discussions among Cowboys fans, would likely have been an A-quadrant player had he performed in the drills at the Combine or his Pro Day.
Dane Brugler continues to be high on Leighton Vander Esch. LVE looks like a legit option for pick 19.
SUMMARY: A one-year starter at Boise State, Vander Esch had a breakthrough 2017 season as the WILL linebacker in the Broncos’ hybrid 3-3-5 scheme, becoming the first player in school history to win Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was a big fish in a small pond in high school and needed time to fill out his frame and adjust to major college football when he arrived in Boise, blossoming as a junior. Vander Esch competes with the athleticism, instincts and toughness that translate well to the NFL level, making plays vs. the run and in coverage. He finds himself out of control at times, leading to finishing issues, and needs to properly use his length when taking on blocks, but these flaws can be improved with more reps. Overall, Vander Esch needs to clean up his angles and breakdown skills to be more consistent, but he is an ascending player both mentally and physically, displaying the skill set to be a three-down NFL starter.
GRADE: 1st-2nd round (No. 26 overall)
While Brugler currently has LVE being the pick at 19, B/R’s Gagnon sees Dallas picking up Da’Ron Payne.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne, Defensive Tackle
Ridley is also a prime candidate to go to the Dallas Cowboys in the No. 19 spot, but we’ll keep that slide going because there’s still a good chance Dez Bryant sticks around in Dallas while Allen Hurns is also on board.
Instead, the Cowboys could be unable to resist former Alabama interior defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne, who could team up inside with David Irving right away in order to perfectly complement rushers DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton.
Dallas already has several promising young pieces in the secondary and on the edge, and Payne might also be the best player available here.
What are the odds of Jerry Jones “making a splash” this April since the draft is being held in Arlington?
Does it seem like Jerry Jones is more involved in the pre-draft process this year since the draft is on the big stage of The Star? I am thinking/hoping he is wanting to make a big splash on day 1 of draft.
Scales: Jerry Jones has more ammunition to make a big splash this year because, thanks to a rule change in 2017, teams are allowed to trade their compensatory draft picks. The Cowboys were awarded four compensatory picks this year; that’s in addition to their six picks. So with 10 picks overall, Jones has more bullets in his gun.
The Cowboys had interest in Jeremy Maclin? Apparently so.
Allen Hurns has Jeremy Maclin to thank for his current place of employment.
As it turns out, however, Hurns wasn’t the option behind Door No. 2. In fact, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN, the Cowboys didn’t make a move on Hurns until after they placed a call to Jeremy Maclin to gauge any true interest there. The 29-year-old spent his 2017 season as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, where he was essentially a shell of his former self, statistically speaking -- delivering only 440 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 12 starts. Anderson goes on to note Maclin is “waiting for the right fit” and while it’s unclear which side opted not to move forward, in the end, the Cowboys came out on top. Although undrafted, Hurns registered his first 1,000-yard season in only his second year, a feat that took Maclin -- a former first-round pick -- five years to achieve.
So, is there any chance that the former Eagles star would be interested in coming back to the NFC East. It seems unlikely, but Dawson speculates.
This off-season, the cost of acquiring free-agent pass catchers has been high. But even at age 29, it’s hard to imagine Maclin receiving more than a one-year deal. More important, it’s unlikely he will count more than $2.5 million against the cap.
At present, the Cowboys don’t have a need at wide receiver. But that could change depending on what the organization decides to do about Dez Bryant. Owner Jerry Jones has yet to sit down with his star wide receiver. But a decision could come within the next week.
The longer Maclin “waits” things out, the more possible it becomes that he could revisit talks with the Cowboys.