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Cowboys news: Who gets drafted at 19? James Hanna retires, Jason Witten understands if they draft a TE

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cowboys want to draft an elite WR in Round 1, they're going to have to trade up to get him - Staff, SportsDay
NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis shares his support for Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley as a first-round target.

Wide receivers. Who could the Cowboys target at No. 19? How would you evaluate this year's receiver class?

Charles Davis: I don't think its as strong as its been in the past even though colleges continue to throw the ball around. It's one of those years where you have some solid guys at the top, but not the same depth that we've had. And you'll also have a league that will be a little bit gun shy about receivers after what we did last year. When I say we, I mean all of us that enjoy the NFL.

Think about the number of receivers that tumbled off the board early last year, and what value did you get? You actually got your value deeper in the draft with the Cooper Kupps of the world. I think that people may be a little more hesitant. I still think that three to four receivers could still go in the first round--Calvin Ridley is one of them. But if Dallas really has one guy targeted, whether its Ridley or its D.J. Moore, you may want to move and try to get him. You may want to move in front of someone, and right now I'm looking at Arizona at 15. Baltimore at 16. You may want to talk to them about the potential of getting into that spot to make sure you definitely get that guy, because those are places that need receivers and could easily target receivers.

2018 NFC East draft preview: Dallas Cowboys need to replace Dez Bryant - Dan Pizzuta, Big Blue View
The release of Dez Bryant has shaken up the wide receiver group in Dallas. How big of a need is it and when will the Cowboys address it in the draft remains to be seen. Our New York Giants sister-site, Big Blue View, offers their thoughts.

Roster weaknesses

Wide receiver was going to be weak with Dez Bryant on the team, now it might be the worst group of pass catchers in the league — and this is from someone who believes Allen Hurns to be quite good. Even if there’s a lack of No. 1 receivers in this year’s draft class, almost anything would help a group that will continue to rely on Terrance Williams to play a big part.

Potential draft targets

Since there’s no consensus of a true No. 1-type receiver in this class, Dallas could go many ways with that position if that’s the target in the first round. SMU’s Courtland Sutton, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, and Maryland’s D.J. Moore all bring different skill sets to the table and all could be in play at pick 19.

D.J. Moore is the most Dak-Friendly receiver prospect - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat
The Cowboys have receiver options all across the draft, but if they address on Day 1, D.J. Moore could be a player they go after.

I believe Moore is a great fit for Dallas. And more specifically, perfectly complements third-year quarterback Dak Prescott. Here’s why …

First, Moore is one of those coveted “right kind of guys” head coach Jason Garrett often raves about. He’s a high character prospect with an impeccable work ethic. Moore is also thick-bodied and durable. He’s not afraid to make the tough catches in the middle of the field and possess the physical abilities to play anywhere you need him (X, Y, and Z).

Secondly, Moore is electric when it comes to yards after catch (YAC). Because of his excellent short-area quickness, he can take a short pass and turn it into a big gain. And this, above all the other wonderful attributes he brings to the table, makes him very Dak-Friendly.

Wide receiver isn’t the only offensive position that is high on the wish list for round one as many are hoping to snag one of the top guards in the draft.

Dallas Cowboys have needs on O-line, likely won't address it at No. 19 Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys still have a need for a starting left guard, but will they address it in the draft, and if so - when? Todd Archer from ESPN doesn't expect it to be with the 19th overall pick.

Is it possible to rule out the Cowboys taking a fourth offensive lineman with a first-round pick, joining Smith, Frederick and Martin? No, but Jerry Jones has said that it would be too much financial allocation at the position, especially with Martin likely cashing in on a new deal before the season.

Prediction: The Cowboys won’t take an offensive lineman at No. 19. If they are stuck with that proposition, the bet is they would look to trade down and acquire picks, but that would require a team being willing to move up. But the Cowboys will draft at least one offensive lineman. They have gone two straight drafts without taking.

Can’t decide between a top WR or a top G? How about both?

John's 7 Round Cowboys Mock Draft, with Trades - John Williams, Inside The Star
John Williams from Inside the Star offers up a full seven-rock mock with some wheeling and dealing. Many fans will be pleased with at least his first four picks as they fill needs and are some of the better players at their respective positions.

Round 1: James Daniels, G/C, Iowa

Five quarterbacks went in the first 18 selections, which is the best case scenario for the Dallas Cowboys at #19. I've been very vocal about the idea that Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson will all go before the Dallas Cowboys pick at 19. There are enough quarterback needy teams in the first half of the first round, and some in the back half, that it just makes sense.

The New England Patriots came 'a callin' with #23 and their third rounder (#95) to move up to 19. It's not as good as adding a second rounder, but I didn't want to fall back too far and miss out on who I eventually picked for the Dallas Cowboys.

Iowa guard James Daniels.

He's a player that will fit what the Cowboys want to do with their zone blocking scheme. He has the mobility to get to the outside and to the second level. He completes the Dallas offensive line and allows them to continue being the physical run-first football team that they've morphed into over the last three or four years.

And with a little trade magic, he’s not done...

Round 2: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

Maryland Wide Receiver DJ Moore slipped to the top of the second round, so I made a move up from 50 to get him. In order to do so, I had to give up pick 50, New England’s pick at the back-end of the third round (95), and pick 192 to equal 534 points. That is about equal to the first of Indianapolis’ two second round picks at pick 36 (540 points).

Moore is a good route runner with quickness and speed to make big plays happen. Was very productive at Maryland and has received comparisons to Minnesota Vikings’ Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs. We still have our third rounder to work with and now have filled the two biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball with players who could be day-one starters.

Newy's 2018 NFL Mock Draft - Newy Scruggs, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Newy Scruggs offers up a complete first-round mock. Who did the Cowboys get? Here is the selection, including a few picks leading up to the Cowboys.

15. Arizona; Calvin Ridley WR Alabama

Larry Fitzgerald is 35-years old and 2018 could be his final year. Ridley is a need.

16. Baltimore; Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina

Joe Flacco loves throwing to the tight end. Hurst is the top rated at the position.

17. L.A. Chargers; Daron Payne DT Alabama

Payne is a power run stuffer who excelled at Alabama.

18. Seattle; Harold Landry DE Boston College

Seattle has to replace Michael Bennett at defensive end.

And for the Cowboys, he selects...

19. Dallas Cowboys; Rashaan Evans LB Alabama

Sean Lee never plays 16 games. Anthony Hitchens left for K.C. Evans fits a need.

It should be noted that Derwin James fell to 13 in that mock. If he starts to slide, will the Cowboys get busy on the phones?

Ex-NFL scout: How Derwin James could affect a potential Cowboys pursuit of Earl Thomas - Bryan Broaddus, SportsDay
Will Derwin James fall within striking distance? Will the Cowboys trade for Earl Thomas? It should be interesting how things shape up at the safety position and Bryan Broaddus reminds us of a name we should keep in mind.

Are we in agreement: We'd rather trade up to draft Derwin James vs. move a pick for Earl Thomas.

Broaddus: "There's no question. There's no question at that. There's no question. The thing about it is, though: Are you so locked in- again, we've tried to tell you there's wide receiver depth in this draft. They might say, 'You know what, we don't like the wide receiver depth. We wanna get a guy -- we wanna get a receiver at 19, the one we like' ... There's a kid named Moore, Tarvarius Moore, from Southern Miss -- I think if he's on the board, if they haven't picked a safety at 50, then at 81, I guarantee you they're gonna take that kid. Moore, Tarvarius Moore from Southern Miss, at 81. Hell, they might hit him at 50, if they don't draft a safety (by then). I think they think that much of the kid."

But the Cowboys may wait until later in the draft to address the safety position.

Top 10 Safeties Cowboys Could Target After the 1st-Round - Brian Martin, Inside The Star
While there have been several different positions brought up as potential first-round picks, safety isn't one of them. If the Cowboys go after some secondary help, it's likely to occur after Day 1. Brian Martin examines some targets, including a safety nobody is talking much about.

Tracy Walker, Louisiana Lafayette

Round Grade: 3rd-4th

Tracy Walker was a four-year starter at Louisiana Lafayette and was primarily used as a boundary safety. He is a former basketball player and as the frame to match. He needs to put in the work in the weight room in order to fill out his frame, but has starting potential.

I believe he could become an interchangeable safety in the NFL with little time to develop. He has the athleticism to become a rangy free safety and has the physicality to play down around the line of scrimmage in the box. He could compete for playing time as a rookie, but he might not be ready for a full-time starting gig.


Cowboys place TE James Hanna on reserve/retired list - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
The Cowboys backup tight end/blocking specialist will call it quits as he is unable to overcome a knee injury he suffered a couple years ago. What does this mean for Dallas? Patrik Walker explains:

The move to the reserve/retired list on Hanna frees up a much-needed $2.75 million with only $750,000 in dead money, which should put the Cowboys at approximately $13 million in salary cap room after releasing wide receiver Dez Bryant. They'll land additional space once June 1 passes and they'll recoup $3 million in additional savings from showing Orlando Scandrick the door earlier this offseason.

The Cowboys will maintain the rights on Hanna unless they choose to relinquish them going forward but for all intents and purposes, it looks like he's done in the NFL.

A former sixth-round pick in 2012, Hanna grew valuable to the Cowboys for both his prowess on special teams and his ability to block offensively. The latter being one of his biggest strengths, he became a stalwart behind Witten. He was awarded a three-year, $8.25 million extension just ahead of the 2016 season, but went on to miss the entire season with the aforementioned knee injury.

Here is a full collection of all Hanna’s career touchdowns in the NFL, courtesy of R.J., but whatever you do - don’t blink.

Jason Witten understands if Cowboys use an early pick on TE – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
With Hanna retiring, Rico Gathers a mystery, and Jason Witten turning 36 next month, the Cowboys need to find their tight end for the future. Will it happen this draft? Not sure, but if the Cowboys give it try, Witten offers up his full support.

Witten insists he’s on board with whatever the Cowboys decide to do in the draft, including taking a player at his position.

“I mean, I understand it,” Witten said of the Cowboys potentially drafting a tight end early, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s happened a few times, three to be exact. That’s part of the business. They’re always going to bring in competition. That’s what this program, that’s what this franchise is all about and what this coaching staff tries to create.

“I’ll help them and embrace them and moving them along as quickly as I can. That doesn’t really affect what I’m trying to do as a whole.”

Classic Witten.

Tough November might define season - Clarence Hill Jr. Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The 2018 NFL schedule has been released and now it's time to dissect it. Clarence Hill points out five things about it, including one of the more challenging parts of the season.

2. Tough November stretch

The Cowboys fate might be decided between Nov. 5 and Dec. 9 when they face four playoff teams, including the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles twice. The stretch starts with a Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans. They then play at the Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons, two teams that beat them by the combined score of 64-16 on back-to-back weeks last year. They host the Redskins on Thanksgiving followed by a Thursday night home game against the New Orleans Saints. The stretch ends with a home game against the Eagles.

10 things you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys' 2018 schedule - David Moore, SportsDay
David Moore provides his observations of the Cowboys schedule, including some reasons to get your popcorn ready.

Let's start with the broad strokes. The Cowboys have seven games against playoff teams from last season.

Six games will currently be played in front of a national television audience, a number that could grow late in the season based on the team's performance.

Five of those games are at night.

In case you missed it...

Cowboys 2018 draft: Which prospect at 19 is “slam dunk” for Cowboys & which would have you “shaking your head”? - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Make sure you get your votes in as to which player you think is the clear-cut slam dunk pick at 19 and which player you want to avoid at all costs. Each front page writer weighs with their choices with Sir Tom Ryle in the early lead.

Tom Ryle

My slam dunk pick is actually three names: Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, or James Daniels, because all would solve the left guard issue. I still think that is the one issue the Cowboys have to fix first and with as close to a sure fire starter as possible. All other current needs can be met in round two and later. Give me that stud guard prospect and I will do my happy dance.

Shaking my head: WR Calvin Ridley. You can plug any other wide receiver in there, as well. Dallas is moving away from the traditional model for the passing game (I think, and don’t need to sink a major pick into the position). So many mocks and analyses now say that receiver is the top need, and I just don’t agree, especially with what looks like a lot of second round and on talent at the position. Plus, I am not convinced there is a legit Top-20 wide receiver in the 2018 class right now. I really think there are a bunch of great second round talents but not anyone that just screams at us that they will dominate from day one. It’s like the quarterback group. None of the top four or five candidates are really Top-5 or even Top-10 talents but the scarcity in the league is going to make teams overpay for them.