The draft is almost upon us, but before it gets started let’s take one more lap around the water cooler and see what’s buzzing around Cowboys Nation social media. Special thanks to Facebook groups like True Blue Nation, Dallas Cowboys War Room, Boys Will Be Boys, and Shango Live who submitted their questions. Also, don’t forget to join the Blogging the Boys page to get all the latest Cowboys stories right to your news feed.
Let’s get to your questions...
Next to something miraculous like Derwin James or Roquan Smith being available, Vita Vea is still the highest-ranked player on my board when it comes to all the usual suspects of names being thrown in the discussion as potential first-round picks. I see him being gone before pick 19 rolls around, but if he’s still there, I’d be ecstatic if the Cowboys selected him.
When you have a big boy like Vea with outstanding physical traits who has the ability to bust through double-teams, it’s very exciting, especially for a team like Dallas that could use a big upgrade at the 1-tech DT spot. Vea still needs to be coached up to improve his technique, but that only makes him more appealing in my eyes. The potential to be something special is there, and in the meantime - he’s still a beast in the middle chewing up blocks. Plus, there’s that whole trickle-down effect of making players like Maliek Collins, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Sean Lee better. Sign me up.
My board for the guards in this draft look like this for the first few rounds:
(Note: Connor Williams is included in this because he can shift inside to guard)
Now, clearly Quenton Nelson isn’t going to be there at 19 so he should be disregarded, but everyone else is fair game. There are some great guards available in the first round that would immediately help this team. The Cowboys can land a starter after round one, but it gets harder. They only have a couple options each of the next two rounds and it’s possible those respective players won’t make it to them. Anyone after this group isn’t someone I would feel good about as a starter. Players available later in the draft like like Cole Madison from Washington State and Patrick Morris from Texas Christian are solid pickups, but they will need some development time before being ready to contribute on a regular basis.
There are a lot of “Dak-friendly” wide receivers in this draft. The team wants a strong route-runner who can do some damage with the ball in his hands. The good news is that the top three WRs in this draft are exceptional at just that. Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, and Christian Kirk would all be fantastic targets for Prescott, but they would require an early-round investment.
I like some of the guys later in the draft as well and have taken a greater interest in those who are better at running routes. Anthony Miller would be a great one to get, but they’d probably have to take him at 50. D.J. Chark is a flat-out blazer who could really do some damage stretching the field.
If they miss out on a WR after the first two rounds, I still like DaeSean Hamilton as a good target later.
For a complete breakdown of receivers, check out this piece by my colleague Michael Sisemore.
My linebacker board looks like this:
As you can see, the linebackers don’t line up very well in the areas the Cowboys pick. Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds will long be gone at 19 and Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans are reaches there. Josey Jewell and Malik Jefferson are both in the round two vicinity, but there will probably be higher-rated players available at 50. The team should be able to wait until round four and get someone like Darius Leonard or Fred Warner.
It’s tough to say if that is too long to wait for a starting caliber LB. I didn’t think Anthony Hitchens was starter material when he first came out, but he’s given the Chiefs front office 45 million reasons to think otherwise.
Sisemore has you covered for linebackers too if you want to see how each of them fit for the Cowboys.
If the team hadn’t signed Allen Hurns, I’d lean towards wide receiver because it’s such a deep class and they can find good players all throughout the draft. And it’s possible they still might do that.
If the Cowboys wait too long for a LB, don’t be surprised if they double-dip at that position to hedge their bets. There are some dice-roll candidates that because of health concerns or non-ideal size requirements, could be worth gambling on. I’m a fan of targeting linebacker Jack Cichy of Wisconsin late in the draft.
I also wouldn’t rule out offensive tackle as a position the team throws a couple late-round darts at. They signed Cameron Fleming in free agency to handle the swing tackle duties, but he’s on a one-year rental. They need to get a guy in here they can develop who can be trusted in 2019. Joel Noteboom, Desmond Harrison, and Matt Pryor are a few tackles I like late in the draft.
If you are in the business of collecting as many great players in the draft as possible, then it’s business as usual for the Cowboys. While the team doesn’t have to have the best WR available at 19, they need to come away with a good one at some point. The front office must feel strongly they can do that and based on the deep draft class of receivers, I think they’re right.
Just take the best player at 19 and if it happens to be a wide receiver, so be it.
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