How do you drown out the sadness of hearing about your Hall of Fame tight end calling it quits? Just draft like a boss and everything will be better again.
Instead of panicking - or bailing out of the round by trading back as too often had been their history - the Cowboys trusted their draft board and took the values staring them in the face.
Connor Williams was a sliding talent. A consensus All-America tackle at Texas in 2016, he missed eight games in 2017 with a knee injury. Still, he carried late first-round grades into the 2018 draft. But a mini-run on interior blockers and running backs in the second pushed the Coppell product down into the middle of the round, where the Cowboys claimed him.
When the Cowboys went back on the clock at 81 in the third round, despite eight wide receivers already having cleared the board, the Cowboys found one of the most productive receivers in college football. Michael Gallup caught a Colorado State-record 100 passes for 1,413 yards and seven touchdowns last season and was one of three Biletnikoff Award finalists as the top wide receiver in college football.
Gallup is not a burner, not with 4.51 speed. He beats defenders with his route-running and feel for the passing game. Prescott’s strength is the underneath passing game, which is why Witten would be such a loss. The all-time leading receiver in Cowboys’ history and fourth all-time receiver in NFL history was a security blanket for Prescott, just as he had been for Tony Romo. When in doubt, throw it to 82. Gallup would be able to provide dependable hands in the short-to-intermediate range to pick up some of that slack.
The Cowboys offensive line is something worth talking about, and Twitter was talking about it.
How do you make the offense more Dak-friendly after losing Dez Bryant and Jason Witten? Draft another offensive lineman and run Ezekiel Elliott 35 times a game— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 28, 2018
Three things derailed Cowboys in 2017: Elliott suspension, Tyron Smith injury, Sean Lee injury. First pick of LVE creates depth at LB, second pick of Williams does same at OT. https://t.co/tzx1PwkDXE— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) April 28, 2018
The Cowboys current offensive line & how long they are under contract in Dallas:— Pat Doney (@PatDoneyNBC5) April 28, 2018
LT Tyron Smith (2023)
LG Connor Williams (2021)
C Travis Frederick (2023)
RG Zack Martin (long deal coming)
RT La’el Collins (2019)
Potential for dominance for years.@NBCDFW
The Cowboys kept their cool and landed two strong prospects.
Day 2 of the NFL draft started with a gut-punch for the Cowboys with 11-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten leaning toward retirement but planning to take the weekend to make a final decision.
But that didn’t send the Cowboys rushing to the phone to draft Witten’s replacement Friday.
Instead, the Cowboys didn’t panic and used both picks to bolster their already-strong offensive line and add a receiver who compares favorably to recently released No. 1 target Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys were committed to improving their offense in order to help their young quarterback. After acquiring a key defensive piece on Day 1, the team responded loudly with two strong offensive players.
Williams, a first-round talent who slid to the Cowboys with the 50th overall pick, will certainly bolster an offensive line that is looking to replace left guard Jonathan Cooper, who joined the San Francisco 49ers in free agency.
Gallup is physical pass catcher who will be part of a committee to help replace the departed Dez Bryant.
Combine them with the selection of Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with the 19th overall pick in the first round on Thursday, and it's been a solid first three selections for a Cowboys team in transition.
Jerry Jones: Cowboys 'weren't fazed' when Eagles jumped them in second round - Drew Davidson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Cowboys weren't concerned when the Eagles jumped ahead of them in the second round on Friday. Jerry Jones says the Cowboys still landed the player they wanted.
The Cowboys were pleased to land Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams with the 50th overall pick, and said Goedert wasn’t in the conversation for them at that point. Instead, the decision came down between Williams and a defensive player with similar grades.
"Let’s put it like this – we weren’t even fazed," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of the Eagles’ move.
Being able to grab a talent like Gallup in round three was a big plus for a team looking to bolster their receiving group.
ESPN's Mel Kiper: "I like the pick. Michael Gallup's a good football player. ... I don't even care about the measurables, look at the production. I don't worry about the Nevada game or the Hawaii game where he went wild, he had over 200 yards receiving. I go to the Alabama game, best team in the country, five catches, average 16 yards a catch against the Crimson Tide. He led the nation in receptions with 10 yards or more with 60. Good hands, the strength he displays running the ball after the catch is, I think, very good.... No problem dealing with traffic. He's physical, he's competitive. This is one of my favorite picks in Round 3."
What do you like more - a player who can step up and play now or a player with huge upside? How about both?
Rated by Pro Football Focus as the TOP RATED receiver in draft, Gallup, the polished route runner, gets open easy and often. He’s a player who should be able to contribute right away at both the X and the Z. He has reliable hands, only dropping 12 of 191 catchable passes over the past two seasons (PFF).
The well-polished pass-catcher pulled in a staggering 100 receptions last year and will be competing for a starting spot on Day 1 in Dallas. It’s safe to say Michael Gallup is Dak Prescott friendly.
Not only is Michael Gallup a great receiver, he's also a great story.
1. He's adopted
He told 9News.com that he was adopted when he was just 10 months old by his mother, Jenny. She had two kids of her own at the time she adopted Michael. He was one of six additions to the family through adoption: two kids were were from India, three from Africa, and Michael, he told the news station.
Michael told the AP that he was given up for adoption by his mom because she "wanted me to have a better life." He also said he's received letters from his birth mom but has never met her.
"That would be amazing to find her, talk to her," he told the AP.
Remember that game when Dak Prescott got sacked eight times? Yeah, so did the Cowboys.
Atlanta’s a big reason the Cowboys selected Connor Williams, the standout offensive lineman from the University of Texas, with their second-round draft pick Friday night.
“What reminded me the most to go the way we went was the Atlanta game,” Jones said, pausing for effect. “That’s influenced this coaching staff, and that has influenced really this selection. We don’t want to have that happen (again). That took a lot of air out of us.”
Williams might not be the primary backup to Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smiththis season. The Cowboys view Williams as a guard prospect over tackle, where he started three years at Texas, partly due to less-than-ideal arm length.
But Williams further restores depth where the franchise has been strongest in recent years when healthy: the offensive line
10 things to know about new Cowboys OL Connor Williams, from his bullying story to his homecoming - Staff, SportsDay
Let's get to know the Cowboys new offensive linemen...
He's pretty smart, too
William's was talented on the football field and in the classroom. He attended the McCombs School of Business while at Texas. He was named to the Big 12's All Academic second team last year and was on the Academic All Big 12 rookie team in 2015.
From Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman:
"But Williams did all of that while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average for a year and a half, thus earning a ticket into UT's prestigious McCombs School of Business. Last anyone checked, they do not allow slouches into those hallowed halls.
How Cowboys experts graded the Connor Williams, Michael Gallup picks on Day 2 of NFL draft - Staff, SportsDay
How did the Cowboys do on Day 2. Some of the Cowboys insiders provide their grades for the team's second- and third-round picks.
Jon Machota: A-minus
Connor Williams and Michael Gallup were both great values where the Cowboys got them. You could make the argument that both went a round later than expected. Williams could step in immediately and start at left guard, solidifying the offensive line. Gallup provides good competition and depth at outside wide receiver. Through the first three rounds, I'd give Dallas a B-plus.
2018 NFL Draft Big Board: Matt Miller's Best Remaining Players After Day 2 - Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
The Cowboys have addressed a lot of needs already, but they still need a defensive tackle. Matt Miller provides his "best available" list, including some intriguing DTs still on the board.
4. Maurice Hurst, Michigan
6. Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
11. Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama`
13. Foley Fatukasi, Connecticut
14. RJ McIntosh, Miami
15. Andrew Brown, Virginia
16. Trenton Thompson, Georgia
18. Kendrick Norton, Miami
20. Bilal Nichols, Delaware
It’s not 100% settled yet, but the signs point to Jason Witten retiring.
All signs point to the tight end ending his 15-year NFL career to become the lead analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast, multiple sources said. Club officials hold out hope that Witten will decide to stay but recognize this is a rare opportunity and a difficult decision.
The multi-year offer from ESPN would pay Witten in the neighborhood of $4 to $4.5 million a year, two sources with an understanding of the offer said. While the Pro Bowl tight end didn’t have his sights set on a career change when the season ended four months ago, the status of the job and magnitude of the offer is something he can’t ignore.
With Witten pondering possible retirement, could the Cowboys find a good tight end as late as Day 3? Here are some candidates as well as good targets at other positions.
Round Four - No. 116
Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
Josey Jewel, LB, Iowa
Kyrzir White, S, West Virginia
Round Five: -No. 171
Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
Dalton Schultz, TE Stanford,
Davin Bellamy, LB, Georgia
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on tomorrow's final day of the draft: "We all know where Dak Prescott came from. This might be the most important day of our draft."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 28, 2018