The Cowboys have spent an awful lot of time looking at receivers in this draft. They have already been linked to about 20 different prospects. The front office is looking every which way in efforts to rebuild the position entirely. The organization very much understands that their quarterback, Dak Prescott, is an entirely different type of passer than their former leader at the helm. As much flak the front office and coaching staff deserves after how things fell apart in 2017, they seem urgent to fix it.
That means that they have turned the microscopic lens inward and have decided that they need to change the types of players they are looking for. We’ve already heard from leaders in the organization that RPO’s, boots, waggles, and spread formations are what they deem fitting for their quarterback.
It’s certainly not true that Dak Prescott can’t be a prolific passer as he was among the most accurate tight-window and deep passers in his first two seasons. However, at this stage of his career, he still needs a supporting cast that can make him instead of the opposite. So, considering the type of offense the Cowboys want to build around Prescott and their All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott, preferences have changed at the receiver position. When looking at the style of offense the Cowboys are going to run, what are they looking for in a receiver?
- Must be able to manufacture own separation
- Crisp route running ability with smooth footwork
- Speed or at least consistent agility in all passing patterns
- Fluid athleticism
- Dynamic threat after the catch (RAC yards)
- Trustworthy hands
Those are just a few prerequisites to consider among others but no prospect is going to be perfect. We know that this class has quality depth at the receiver position and that the Cowboys like to capitalize on perceived positional strengths much like they did with defensive backs last year. We also know that they have plenty of needs outside of receiver which doesn’t necessarily make it priority number one to address. Still, it’s more likely than not that the Cowboys snag a receiver at least by end of day two and it can’t be ruled out at 19.
Below, we have charted all the receivers that the Cowboys have shown interest in plus a few more that could be on the radar. For this chart, we added each receivers stats for 2017 with exception for Antonio Callaway and Quan Jones, who didn’t play this past season for various reasons. For added reference, we also added some pro comparisons to give a visual of each prospect.
|Name||School||Rec.||Rec. Yards||TDs||40 Yard Dash||Pos. Rank (Brugler)||Proj. Round||Pro Comp|
|Calvin Ridley (6'0, 189 lbs)||Alabama||63||967||5||4.43||1||1||Marvin Harrison|
|D.J. Moore (6'0, 210 lbs)||Maryland||80||1033||8||4.42||2||1-2||Steve Smith Sr.|
|Christian Kirk (5'10, 201 lbs)||Texas A&M||71||919||10||4.45||3||1-2||Sterling Shepard|
|DJ Chark (6'3, 199 lbs)||LSU||40||874||3||4.34||4||1-2||Chris Conley|
|Courtland Sutton (6'3, 218 lbs)||SMU||68||1085||12||4.54||5||2||Randy Moss|
|Anthony Miller (5'11, 201 lbs)||Memphis||96||1462||18||4.54||6||2||Kendall Wright|
|Equanimeous St. Brown (6'5, 214 lbs)||Notre Dame||33||515||4||4.48||7||2||DaVante Parker|
|James Washington (5'11, 213 lbs)||Oklahoma State||74||1549||13||4.54||8||2-3||Corey Coleman|
|Dante Pettis (6'0, 186 lbs)||Washington||63||761||7||4.49||9||2-3||T.J. Houshmadzadeh|
|Deon Cain (6'2, 202 lbs)||Clemson||58||734||6||4.43||10||3||Roddy White|
|Michael Gallup (6'1, 205 lbs)||Colorado State||100||1413||7||4.51||11||3||Nelson Agholor|
|DaeSean Hamilton (6'1, 203 lbs)||Penn State||53||857||9||4.55||12||3||Doug Baldwin|
|TreQuan Smith (6'2, 203 lbs)||Central Florida||59||1171||13||4.49||13||3-4||Allen Robinson|
|Daurice Fountain (6'1, 206 lbs)||Northern Iowa||66||943||12||4.53||17||5-6||Keenan Allen|
|Trey Quinn (5'11, 203 lbs)||SMU||114||1236||13||4.55||19||5-6||Adam Humphries|
|Antonio Callaway (5'11, 200 lbs)||Florida (2 years)||89||1399||7||4.41||34||7-FA (Susp. 2017)||Tyreek Hill|
|Davon Grayson (6'1, 199 lbs)||East Carolina||59||886||6||4.51||54||7-FA||Johnny Holton|
|Chris Lacy (6'3, 205 lbs)||Oklahoma State||20||264||0||4.51||59||7-FA||Andre Holmes|
|John Diarse (5'11, 211 lbs)||TCU||35||575||3||4.62||102||PFA||N/A|
|Vyncint Smith (6'3, 195 lbs)||Limestone||49||849||3||4.36||N/A||7-FA||Laurent Robinson|
|Del'Michael High (6'3, 205 lbs)||Tarleton State||52||764||8||4.41||N/A||PFA||N/A|
|Detrez Newsome (5'10, 210 lbs)||Western Carolina||21||205||0||4.52||N/A||PFA||Ty Montgomery|
|Quan Jones (6'4, 213 lbs)||Baylor (2 years)||11||110||0||4.71||N/A||PFA||N/A|
|Ty Slalina (5'11, 205 lbs)||TCU||10||76||0||4.59||N/A||PFA||N/A|
In order to determine the right type of receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, we put together a Positives versus Negatives profile for these receivers with help from the Lance Zierlein’s and the Dane Brugler’s of the world but also just good old film watching. With the belief that the Cowboys are picking a receiver within the first three rounds, here’s that comprehensive list of the potential guys. That way you can see for yourself all the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly of this receiver’s class.
Calvin Ridley, Alabama
|4.4 Speed||Thin build|
|Seamless Route Runner||Play strength needs work|
|Lethal after catch||20 drops in three seasons|
|Possesses elite separation abilities||Needs bulk to beat initial contact|
|Works well with scrambling QBs|
|Natural, smooth athleticism|
Fit for Cowboys: There is no receiver that is better at creating his own separation with the abilities of Ridley. He does have questions about his play strength as well as scouts believe he’s a really high-end Z receiver. For the Cowboys, Allen Hurns can play the X and Ridley is the type of receiver that NFL teams are fawning over these days.
D.J. Moore, Maryland
|4.4 Speed||Simple route concepts|
|Productive despite multiple QB injuries||Not a great 50-50 catcher|
|Quick feet, short area quickness||Inconsistent on vertical patterns|
|Elite after catch abilities||Explosivity not always apparent|
|Can disguise bad throws, bail out QB|
|Slippery runner, creates missed tackles|
|Works back to the quarterback|
Fit for Cowboys: Not quite the route-running specialist like Ridley but Moore has made a career of disguising poor quarterback play. He will be there where you need him to be, when you need him to be there. Moore is an electric playmaker with good play strength and elite after catch abilities.
Courtland Sutton, SMU
|Big and durable athlete ready for NFL punishment||Speed isn't threatening|
|Unfazed by traffic and will work the entire field||Fast corners contest his catches|
|Great at keeping defender on hip away from ball||Relies on size instead of technique at times|
|Huge catch radius with impressive body positioning||Struggled with quality competition|
|WR1 confidence that will work back to QB||Stop-start footwork is questionable|
|Creates separation early and late|
Fit for Cowboys: Sutton has tremendous WR1 upside and would fit the role best left open by the Dez Bryant departure. He’s a better route runner than he gets credit for and is able to create the necessary separation early and late in the quarterback's progressions.
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
|4.4 Speed||More quick than fast|
|Great suddeness in his game||Needs to improve catch radius|
|Very quick in and out of breaks||Allows defenders to crowd him|
|Decisive receiver that protects catches||So-so burst that hurts separation abilities|
|Optimal release in press situtations||Lacks ideal length|
|Deadly in space|
Fit for Cowboys: He gets pigeon-holed into a player that can only play the slot and special teams but that’s a bit unfair. He’s a very sudden player that if given the ball with space, he’s absolutely able to torch a defense. One of the best things about Kirk is that he’s a decisive player that doesn’t hesitate to beat you.
DJ Chark, LSU
|Great size/speed combination||Too skinny for big NFL corners|
|Blazing 4.3 speed, effortless separation||Tendency to play upright in his routes|
|Sells fakes and double moves well||Upper body strength needs work|
|10 scores on 86 career touches shows explosiveness||Inconsistent playmaker, takes plays off|
|Good body control with solid adjustments|
|Works all sides of the field, unafraid of hitters|
|Willing and above average blocker|
Fit for Cowboys: If you’re looking for explosion in the offense, Chark is your guy. He’s got multiple gears of speed and agility that make him hard to deal with. He’s a solid, willing blocker in the run game and has the body awareness to not let his leaner frame get exposed. It will take a coaching staff that can keep him engaged though to see his full potential as his consistency is a problem.
Anthony Miller, Memphis
|Play speed faster than 4.54||Lacks straight-line speed|
|Great salesman on head fakes||Loses interest on short throws at times|
|Grade A ball tracking skills||Ball security (five career fumbles)|
|Top notch route specialist||Unnecessary arm and upper body motion|
|Works the entire field with ease||Tends to double catch due to lack of focus|
|Slick footwork creates yards after catch|
|QB's best friend when plays break down|
|Very strong (22 reps on the bench)|
Fit for Cowboys: Miller is one of my pet cats as he has the play-speed for the position but also is one of the crispiest route runners in this draft. He not only creates his own separation but can easily become the quarterback’s best friend when the play breaks down.
Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
|Incredible length||Needs strength in hands|
|Can play both inside and out||Can lose competitive drive at times|
|Smooth and easy movements through routes||Not a great route salesman|
|Great footwork, can change direction without slowing||Doesn't create as much separation as he can|
|Buildup speed to overtake DB's on vertical routes||Can let corners crowd and harass him|
|Very few drops|
Fit for Cowboys: St. Brown is another plus playmaker that has intimidating speed to bust up a defense with ease. He’s very light on his feet and that confuses cornerbacks on how to cover this guy because he can overtake them with multiple gears to his game. He made a ton of backbreaking plays for the Irish.
James Washington, Oklahoma State
|Good Initial quickness to escape press man||Exposure to route tree is limited|
|Vertical explosiveness (avg. 20 yards per catch)||Looks more like a running back|
|Tricks corners with awkward first steps||Frame is top-heavy that doesn't allow sharpness in breaks|
|Explodes into his routes with powerful footwork||Lacks short area quickness against tight coverage|
|Buildup speed stuns cornerbacks||Has issues finishing the contested catches|
|Creates consistent open deep looks||Footwork can get clunky at times|
|Tracks ball like a centerfielder in baseball||Not the smoothest pass catcher|
|Adjusts speed to match the flight of the ball|
|Plus player after the catch with physicality|
|Creates cushion for comebacks and out routes|
Fit for Cowboys: He’s got a ways to go in learning the route tree in the NFL but if you want a guy who can take a ball and house it, that’s Washington. He’s built stout like a running back much like D.J. Moore is but Washington has explosion that few can match. He averaged 20 yards per catch so if Dak Prescott is looking for a deep ball target, it’s likely that Washington will fit the bill.
Dante Pettis, Washington
|Great athlete that shows the explosion||Inconsistent production|
|Finely-tuned route runner, runs entire route tree||Six of his seven TDs came against lesser competition|
|Good acceleration and ability to sink hips||May need to alter route speed at pro level|
|Frightening short area quickness||Tendency to give hints, needs to sell better|
|Can sell routes and fake out corners||Needs more bulk|
|Can scramble with QB and bail him out||Doesn't have the lead dog mentality|
|Works back to throws|
|Natural hands catcher|
|Has slant and fade quickness with deep ball adjustments|
|Elusive as pass catcher, punt returner, reaches top gear in a blink|
Fit for Cowboys: Pettis is not the type of guy like a Dez Bryant, who has that leader of the pack mentality. However, Pettis is another finely-tuned route runner that is always there for the play when he’s needed. Pettis does a nice job of working back to his quarterback and being available when the QB has to scramble. He’s a reliable pass catcher that trusts his hands to make the play.
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
|Extremely light feet||Needs to turn head a lot sooner|
|Good height-weight-speed combo||Needs adjustments to poorly thrown balls|
|Consistently drives corners off their backpedal||When plays are off schedule, needs to scramble with QB|
|Really strong burst and brakes||Tendency to coast on balls not coming his way|
|Improved route running with elite separation||More effort needed as a run blocker|
|Very competitive after the catch|
|Thrives on back shoulder throws|
Fit for Cowboys: His footwork and technique are what get him to the dance as he’s able to drive the corners off their backpedal, making them look silly in the process. He does have some little things to correct and can’t take plays off just because he’s not getting the ball. However, Gallup improved his route running and shows the ability to rack up yards after the catch.
TreQuan Smith, Central Florida
|Smooth acceleration||Needs improved strength at the top of routes|
|Creates immediate separation in quick routes||Routes need consistent speed and better salesmanship|
|78% of his catches were first downs||Despite length catch radius could improve|
|Rare arm length for receiver||Needs to finish catches outside his frame|
|Has definite plus ball skills||Allowed too many catchable balls get away|
|Great wingspan and leaping ability||Needs to improve concentration on contested balls|
|Stacks defenders and never lets them out|
|Effective blocker and impact blocker in run game|
|Can track poorly thrown balls and work back|
Fit for Cowboys: Smith isn’t a name that we’ve discussed all that often but he’s someone that should be talked about. He had incredible production with 13 touchdowns last season. Smith has speed but he also has an eye on the sticks with 78% of his catches being first downs. Some of his best attributes are his abilities to track the poorly thrown balls and be a contributor in a run-first offense.
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
|Good size||Needs to improve physicality as blocker|
|Very astute route runner including nuances||Catch radius is questionable|
|Sharp out of his breaks||Has some focus drops that need correcting|
|Is strong enough to catch through contact||Initial burst is somewhat dull|
|Can track ball well and win contested matchups||Plays at a single speed|
|Focus sharpens on third downs and goal line plays||Doesn't have the second gear|
|Almost 80% of catches were first downs|
|Adds yards after catch with ease|
|Very unselfish player, coaches call him special, team captain|
Fit for Cowboys: Hamilton just seems like the type of receiver that the Cowboys will be looking for if they don’t get one early. He’s a solid route runner that creates his own separation and was an overachiever. He doesn’t have game-breaking speed but he’s a great ball tracker and can win the contested catch battle.
There you have it, folks. A comprehensive pros and cons sheet for all the receivers in the first few rounds. Which receivers do you think the Cowboys will be interested in?