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Cowboys news: Dallas picks up six new players on Day Three, pulls a few trades in the process

Lots of action going on in Cowboys Nation...

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NCAA Football: Kansas State at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

All 32 NFL team's 2018 NFL Draft grades - Cowboys with an "Elite" draft haul -Pro Football Focus
Cowboys grade out with an "elite" draft class. Eagles merely get a "good", Giants stumble to an "above average", and the Redskins get a "good".

Day 1: Dallas made some interesting picks in the draft, and none more than their top pick of Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch. Despite being older than the other top linebackers in this class, Vander Esch is actually younger than all of them in terms of playing time experience, with just one season of significant playing time in college. That season though was spectacular, seeing him lead the nation with 76 defensive stops and showing the kind of flow to the football that teams love. His potential remains high because of that lack of experience, and if he can develop his coverage skills to match his run defense he could quickly become one of the game’s best linebackers.

Day 2: When the Cowboys were at their best, they had the league’s most dominant offensive line, and they’re trying to get back there with the offseason hire of offensive line coach Paul Alexander and now selecting Connor Williams in the second round. Williams was the No. 2 tackle on our draft board and allowed just one sack across three seasons of play for Texas. He has shown excellent pass-blocking and run-blocking skills and looked to have the ability to stay outside at tackle but was seen as a candidate to move in to guard by many. Dallas could use an upgrade at either right tackle or left guard, and they will need to decide how they are going to deploy Williams and La’el Collins to best improve those two positions.

The Cowboys also added a PFF favorite, Michael Gallup, the highest-graded wide receiver in the nation in 2017 and one of the most productive players in college football. Gallup faced press coverage on 64 of his targets in 2017, catching 30 of those passes for 568 yards, and showed well at the Senior Bowl against improved competition.

Day 3: Dallas grabbed QB Mike White in the fifth round to back up Dak Prescott. He posted the sixth-highest grade in the draft class on deep throws. Cedrick Wilson adds nice receiver depth to this group and at 6-foot-3, he gained 4.6 yards per route against Power-5 competition in 2017, leading the FBS. With their last pick, they grabbed Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough, who never quite lived up to his huge frame, breaking 62 tackles on 267 college carries.

Round Player Position College
1 Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State
2 Connor Williams OT Texas
3 Michael Gallup WR Colorado State
4 Dorance Armstrong DE Kansas
4 Dalton Schultz TE Stanford
5 Mike White QB Western Kentucky
6 Chris Covington LB Indiana
6 Cedric Wilson WR Boise State
7 Bo Scarbrough RB Alabama

Favorite 5 teams in 2018 draft - Dane Brugler,
Brugler explains that he doesn't normally do draft grades, but sees five NFL teams that stood out his favorite draft classes, among them the Dallas Cowboys:

The new MIKE linebacker for the Cowboys, Vander Esch is an ascending player who is an ideal fit for the Cowboys' defense and should start from Day 1. Williams had a streaky 2017 season, but he was tremendous value at No. 50 and is the exact medicine needed for the Cowboys' offensive line with his tackle/guard versatility. He is probably the starting left guard in the season opener, but can also kick out to tackle if needed. Gallup is part of the new-look Dallas receiving depth chart and could emerge as the team's best wideout at some point during the 2018 season. At only 21 years old, Schultz could take over the starting tight end duties as a rookie if Jason Witten retires. White, who was my No. 6 rated quarterback ahead of Mason Rudolph and Kyle Lauletta, could easily beat out Cooper Rush for the backup role and strengthens the most important position on the depth chart.

What a crazy Day 3 of the NFL draft. Not only did the Cowboys acquire six new players in the draft, but they made a couple trades to bring in some other players already in the NFL. Let’s meet the new Cowboys, shall we?

Closer Look At How 4th-Rounder Dorance Armstrong Can Help Pass Rush - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
How can the Cowboys new defensive end help the teams pass rush? Rob Phillips from the Mothership explains.

The Rundown:

A Houston area native, Armstrong was a two-time All-Big 12 selection in three years at Kansas. He tallied 15 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 34 tackles for loss in 29 starts for the Jayhawks. Although he doesn’t have a large frame for defending the run, he’s a disruptive rusher off the edge who might fit best as a right defensive end in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.

How He Fits In:

The Cowboys looked at pass rushers on Day 2 but ultimately settled on offensive lineman Connor Williams and wide receiver Michael Gallup. It’s no secret Rod Marinelli likes as many pass rushers as he can find. The Cowboys use a deep rotation and Armstrong will have a chance to earn snaps in training camp, even with the offseason signing of veteran Kony Ealy.

Not many people saw that coming, but the Cowboys front office insist they are adamant about collecting great players...regardless of where they play. Would the selection of Armstrong set off a run of defensive picks for Dallas after the team used both their Day 2 picks on offense? Well, not so fast...

2018 NFL Draft: Dalton Schultz a steal from Day 3 - Andrew Miller, Saturday Blitz
Stanford players Justin Reid and Harrison Phillips were great value picks on Day 2, but he wasn't the only player from that school that fell into someone's lap.

Schultz brings a unique route running ability to the table and he has great ball skills. He’s also used to playing a key role in the ground game developing through Stanford’s offense with head football coach David Shaw. At this point in the draft, Schultz is a real value pick since he could compete for a starting job, and get some good playing time as a rookie in the league.

With their fourth round selection, the Dallas Cowboys snatched up this talented Stanford kid in Schultz. He’s a solid pickup for a squad that just had the unexpected retirement of All-Pro tight end Jason Witten. Schultz might not be he immediate answer to replace a guy at the level of Witten, but he’s a big body that’ll provide a ton of value to the Cowboys.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled draft to bring you this breaking news:

Tavon Austin traded to Dallas Cowboys - Carl Daley, Sport DFW
The Cowboys added a little speed demon to their newly remodeled Dak-friendly offense.

The Dallas Cowboys have traded a sixth-round pick for Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin. This is a particularly interesting move as there are still several interesting receivers left in the 2018 NFL Draft. But the Cowboys could have other ideas about what to do with the speedy veteran.

The price alone for Austin is interesting as it only cost Dallas a sixth-round pick and has a very team-friendly contract. The Dallas Cowboys had multiple six round picks and giving up one was a luxury most teams did not have. The Rams spent their 8th overall selection on the wide receiver in 2013 so there is no way they can recoup any of that value.

Los Angeles Rams: Tavon Austin posts tweet about trade excitement - Dan Parzych, Ramblin Fan
Austin was selected 8th overall in the 2013 draft and was once thought to be a big part of the Rams offense.

Back in 2016, Los Angeles believed it would be beneficial to reward Austin with a hefty four-year, $42 million extension after the former first-round pick managed to find the end zone 10 times the year before. For years, the Rams had been trying to figure out a way to get the best out of Austin in both offense and special teams, but they clearly jumped the gun by giving him that extension.

Someone appears to be happy about the decision.

Tavon Austin explains why he has always wanted to be a Cowboy - Sam Quinn, 247 Sports
After the Rams acquired Brandin Cooks from the Patriots, Tavon Austin became expendable and the Cowboys were interested. Austin is happy to be in Dallas and explains why he has always wanted to play for Dallas.

"That's the stars," Austin said, "That's where everybody always looks at. That's the main team always on TV. The greats, they always play there. It's an honor. I'm definitely looking forward to it." Cowboys fans are very protective of the team's history, and want their players to have that same reverence for the Cowboys of the past.

While he didn’t openly say it, he’s probably happy to not have to play for a team whose helmet colors don’t match the uniform.

The team would quickly follow that up with another surprising move...

Scouting Report for Dallas Cowboys' Pick Mike White - Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
After all the big name QBs came off the board, many people forgot about some of the other quality pass throwers in the draft. Mike White was at the top of the list of those "other guys" and Matt Miller provides a scouting report for the Cowboys new QB, including a comparison to someone you might recognize.

GRADE: 5.80 (Round 4)

PRO COMPARISON: Cooper Rush, Dallas Cowboys


White is one of our favorite developmental prospects in this draft. He has solid mechanics, good accuracy and enough tools to see the field once he gets into the league.

What experts said about Cowboys' Day 3 draft picks, including the guy ESPN's Mel Kiper loves - Selby Lopez, SportsDay
Experts weigh in on the Cowboys Day picks, including how one analysis really likes the decision to take quarterback Mike White.

Mel Kiper: Love him... He can reset and deliver the football, Todd [McShay], that's what I like about him. Usually guys that can really throw the ball at that 95 mph fastball don't have touch, he does. Now, the issue is that eternal clock in the pocket. That's where he needs to speed it up, holds the ball a little too long, puts a lot of pressure on the offensive line, decision making at times leaves a little bit to be desired, but he's smart, high-character kid. I'll tell you, there's a lot to work with with Mike White in terms of his ability in the pocket to make any throw and he will work hard in his craft.

Cowboys draft Indiana LB Chris Covington in sixth round - Staff, SportsDay
With the 193rd overall pick, the Cowboys selected Chris Covington. Who? Chris Covington. A lot of people didn't know much about him...well, except for draft guru Dane Brugler.

A summary of Covington from SportsDay contributor Dane Brugler's draft guide: A one-year starter at Indiana, Covington lined up inside in the Hoosiers' dual-linebacker scheme, playing next to Tegray Scales.

He moved between several positions his first two seasons in Bloomington and entered 2017 with one career defensive start, but quickly adapted and played like a veteran. While very average from a size/speed perspective, Covington competes with a physical appetite and fills with power. With his lack of experience at the position, he needs to continue and develop his awareness, but he rarely took himself out of plays on tape, including in coverage.

Overall, Covington might not have a high ceiling in the NFL, but he flashes the competitive chops and enough speed to see the field on special teams.

Cowboys select Boise St. WR Cedrick Wilson, teammate of Leighton Vander Esch, in sixth round - Staff, SportsDay
Just when you thought the Cowboys were done adding wide receivers, they were at it again. Brugler gives another scouting report of the Cowboys new wideout.

A summary of Wilson from SportsDay contributor Dane Brugler's draft guide: A two-year starter at Boise State, Wilson was the starting "X" receiver in the Broncos' offense and lined up on both sides of the formation, running mostly verticals, underneath crossers and outs/digs. He became just the third Boise State receiver to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and is a quick study, especially considering he didn't start playing the position until his first year at the JUCO level.

Wilson has natural pass-catching skills and is very efficient from catcher to runner, but he isn't physically impressive or much of a YAC threat. Overall, Wilson isn't going to fool anyone with his current route tree, but is one of the best vertical threats in this draft class with his ability to stack-and-track downfield.

With Vander Esch and now Wilson, that’s two new Boise State boys drafted by the Cowboys. The current Boise State boys shared their excitement for these picks.

Of course, if you are keeping score at home, that’s a lot of wide receivers on this roster. How are the Cowboys going to find spots for all them? Answer: They’re not. Another surprise was on the way...

Cowboys trade WR Ryan Switzer to Oakland Raiders for DT Jihad Ward; Dallas players react to the move -Staff, SportsDay
The Cowboys entered the weekend needing wide receivers, but after acquiring three new ones, they suddenly had too many. They solved that problem by trading away their young slot receiver.

Moving Switzer, last year's fourth-round selection out of North Carolina, comes the same day the Cowboys traded for former Rams wideout Tavon Austin and drafted Boise State's Cedrick Wilson in the sixth round.

Switzer's biggest contributions last season came as a kick and punt returner. On offense, he caught just six passes for 31 yards. He also rushed four times for five yards.

The Switzer trade reunites him with Rich Bisaccia, the Cowboys' special teams coordinator last year who left Dallas to join Jon Gruden's staff in Oakland earlier this offseason.

Raiders trade for Ryan Switzer from Cowboys as they continue to reshape WR room - Sean Wagner-McGough, CBS Sports
The Cowboys WR position group got crowded in a hurry after the acquisition of Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, and Cedrick Wilson. This opened the door for the Switzer trade, who will now join a Raiders group that has added some new players themselves this offseason.

In Oakland, Switzer joins a receiving crew that includes WR1 Amari Cooper, WR2 Jordy Nelson, and WR3 Martavis Bryant and rookie Marcell Ateman, so he shouldn't expect to become a focal point Jon Gruden's offense. Nelson and Bryant are also newcomers, with Nelson signing in free agency and Bryant landing in Oakland via trade on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys just acquired a defensive tackle who was drafted in the second round two years ago. In his two years with the Raiders, Ward notched one sack and 17 tackles. He became more expendable when the Raiders used a fifth-round pick on Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst earlier on Saturday. Hurst, who fell in the draft due to a heart condition, might just be the Raiders' best defensive tackle.

Who is this Jihad Ward fella?

Jihad Ward NFL Draft 2016: Scouting Report, Grade for Raiders Rookie - Staff, Bleacher Report
While Ward is a former second-round pick from a couple years ago, his career is not off to a good start. He's hasn't fit in with the Raiders and will be looking for a fresh start in Dallas. While his draft price creates the illusion the Cowboys got a good deal, it's important to remember he's still a project. Here is his scouting report coming out of college.


A former wide receiver, Jihad Ward transitioned from a skill player to a space-eater in junior college before joining Illinois. A senior entry, Ward was among the most impressive athletes on the field for the 2016 Senior Bowl practices.

An athletic big man with the strength to step right into a 3-4 defense as a 5-technique, Ward flashes with hip quickness and hand strength. Ward’s frame is one scouts fall in love with, given his bulk and length (33 ⅞-inch arms).

Ward can play double duty on the end of the defensive line. He’s stout enough to stack up blockers in the run game but explosive enough to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield against the run and the pass.

He’s aware and instinctive, which makes him dangerous on the fly. College offensive tackles could rarely keep pace with Ward’s first-step speed when he got loose, and even Taylor Decker struggled at times to match his power toe-to-toe.

Considered an upside prospect, Ward beat up Big Ten competition with his athleticism. If he can learn fundamentals, he could be dangerous.

Okay, back to the draft. There is still one more pick left...

You think wrong.

Cowboys draft Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough in seventh round - Staff, SportsDay
The Cowboys 2017 season suffered immensely when they were without Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, and Ezekiel Elliott for several games. The team addressed their LB and OL depth with their first two picks and finally got themselves a Zeke backup on Day 3.

A summary of Scarbrough from SportsDay contributor Dane Brugler's draft guide: A part-time player at Alabama, Scarbrough was always the bridesmaid and never the bride for the Tide, serving as the back-up behind Damien Harris the past two seasons.

He is a different breed of running back due to his body type and long legs, which are a double-edged sword because they create a stout run base, making him tough to tackle, but it can be a challenge for him to unfurl and make controlled moves in short-areas. With his body control and toughness, Scarbrough can pick up important inches with his run power. However, injuries (despite only 288 touches at Alabama) have been a consistent issue and each team's medical staff will have a strong say on his draft grade.

Jeremiah Johnson offers up his approval of the selection.

All in all, it was a very productive day for the Dallas Cowboys, but hey - it’s not over. It’s never over. Don’t forget to keep tabs on the UDFA list...

2018 Dallas Cowboys undrafted free agent signings tracker - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Here's an overview of the 15 UDFAs signed. Hit the link for a short profile on each of the 15 players.

Rank Player POS School Height Weight
202 David Wells* TE San Diego State 6-5 256
329 Kameron Kelly S San Diego State 6-2 204
330 Joel Lanning LB Iowa State 6-1 232
354 DeQuinton Osborne DT Oklahoma State 6-0 300
357 Donovan Olumba CB Portland State 6-2 192
417 Charvarius Ward CB Middle Tennessee St. 6-1 198
430 Jake Campos OL Iowa State 6-7 300
438 Jashon Robertson OL Tennessee 6-2 292
-- Dalton Sturm QB UTSA 6-1 206
-- Marchie Murdock WR Iowa State 6-0 201
-- Malik Earl* WR Missouri State 6-2 216
-- Jordan Chunn RB Troy 6-0 239
-- Bryce Johnson OL St. Cloud State 6-6 321
-- Kyle Queiro S/CB Northwestern 6-2 215
-- Ed Shockley LB Villanova 5-11 235

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