The 2018 NFL Draft is over, but we are not done reviewing the draft just yet! BTB will release film reviews on each player drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. This article features sixth-rounder Cedrick Wilson from the Boise State Broncos.
Following a season in which All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension, Tyron Smith battled injuries, and the offense as a whole struggled, one of the biggest priorities for the Cowboys this offseason has been to find ways to upgrade the offensive side of the ball. That began with signing former New England Patriots offensive lineman Cameron Fleming as a swing tackle and Marcus Martin from the 49ers for insurance at the guard position.
But the Cowboys were not done reshaping the offense around quarterback Dak Prescott and their star running back.
After shooting for — but missing out on — Sammy Watkins, Dallas made the move for former Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns. Hurns, 6-foot-3 and a hair over 200 pounds, had a breakout season in 2015; the Cowboys are hoping that Hurns can grow into a reliable target in their offense. Dallas also added speedster Deonte Thompson in free agency — a wide receiver that has history with Sanjay Lal — before drafting Michael Gallup with the 81st selection this past April.
The Cowboys were not done adding help to the wide receivers room. In addition to shipping out 2017 fourth-rounder Ryan Switzer to the Raiders and trading for Tavon Austin, Dallas selected Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson with pick number 208.
Wilson, like Gallup, began his college ball on the JUCO level in the state of Kansas. The 6-foot-2 and 197-pounder played quarterback in high school before transitioning to wide receiver at Coffeyville Community College.
One of the most attractive aspects about Wilson’s game is his route-running. Whether it is a deep route, a stop-and-go, or just a simple out-route, Wilson has the ability and the football IQ needed to create separation against defensive backs.
Come along Cedrick.. Wilson's route tree is beautiful pic.twitter.com/W2nd9fJNmA— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 23, 2018
The first clip shows Wilson running a ten-yard stop-route on the bottom of the screen against the Baylor Bears in the 2016 Cactus Bowl. Per Pro Football Focus, the hitch and comeback routes are among the best in Wilson’s route tree. Here, he makes the needed separation to allow a window for his quarterback to deliver the pass in. Then, he picks up some YAC.
In this next clip below, Wilson is lined up on the left side of the formation in the slot. The defensive back gives him a cushion which helps, but Wilson also makes sure to not waste any steps in his route, which is an underrated trait in reliable targets.
It’s not a play that is going to be shown on SportsCenter or anything, but we saw Scott Linehan call several plays that are very similar to this for Cole Beasley. Wilson was used in a lot of out and in-route concepts during his time in Boise.
One of the best routes in Wilson’s arsenal is the go-route.
Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson hauled in his fair share of deep passes this past season pic.twitter.com/xlPcLevRd0— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 7, 2018
The Boise State burned defenses deep all season long as Wilson recorded the second-most “deep pass receiving yards” (passes 20-yards or more). Here is one example of how good Wilson is in this specific area.
And another — you know, if that wasn’t impressive enough.
One more look. Look at those hands!
Furthermore, it is nice to be a solid route-runner, but it is even better to be a sure-handed target; that is what Wilson is (as you just saw above). He doesn’t have burner speed and is not the most athletic wideout in the world, but the Memphis native was as reliable as they come during his career in the Gem State. In fact, PFF graded him as having as the second-best drop-rate in the red-zone — second only to the Cowboys’ third-round selection:
Lowest drop rate in the red zone among the 2018 NFL Draft class at WR?— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 26, 2018
Of course that belongs to Michael Gallup! pic.twitter.com/HVW7uGF7h2
Yet another clip against the Oregon Ducks; here, Wilson is lined up in the slot and he runs a five-yard underneath route. He sits in between the linebacker and defensive back, giving the quarterback a clean area to make an easy throw. Wilson hauls the pass in and cuts a 2nd-and-long to a 3rd-and-manageable.
Versus Virginia, Wilson is lined up out wide on the top of the screen. The pass is a little behind Wilson, but the All-Mountain West performer adjusts and brings the ball in before picking up the first down — and much, much more.
And then, I mean, a receiver’s hands cannot be much more reliable than this:
Quarterback Brett Rypien throws it deep on third-and-21, trusting his star receiver to come down with it. What. A. Catch.
The last clip showing Wilson’s always-reliable hands might be the most impressive grab that I watched. Wilson runs a go-route to the end zone against Baylor and he comes down with the lob against the Bear’s double-team.
Finally, Ezekiel Elliott is the workhorse in this offense, but it is no secret that Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett want to get more creative on offense — the addition of Tavon Austin is just one example of how the Cowboys’ can be more versatile in 2018.
Wilson, like Austin, can work all over the field. While he may not be as shifty as the former top-10 selection — not many are — Boise State’s staff was creative in getting the ball in Wilson’s hands. Such as this play below, where the Cowboys’ sixth-round selection is used on a jet-sweep and picks up the first down.
In this next play, Wilson — lined up at the top — is brought across the middle on a short, quick route. The defense gets lost and Wilson hits paydirt.
Here is another look at the design of the play that freed Wilson up for a big score:
How Cedrick Wilson lasted until the 200’s, I am not sure. The 6-foot-3 target was the go-to weapon for coach Bryan Harsin during Wilson’s time with the Broncos. The former JUCO All-American grabbed 83 passes for 1,511 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior in 2017 — just a season after catching 56 throws for 1,129 yards and 11 scores in 2016. Wilson has reliable hands, can make plays with the ball in his hands, and averaged 19 yards per reception on the D1 level.
Our own RJ Ochoa is high on Wilson — picking him as his “pet cat”:
The Cowboys have undergone a massive change at the wide receiver spot. Cedrick Wilson is a great pet cat in his own right in terms of his skillset, but he’s also the pet cat that’s got arguably the easiest path to making the team. Ced’s got an ability to work in the middle of the field that’s going to make Dak Prescott look great, and that makes the Dallas Cowboys look great. Purr purr, Ced.
If you read our Michael Gallup film review, you would know that we definitely believe that the Cowboys may have drafted a huge steal at 81. I feel the same way about Wilson. The son of former 49ers and Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Sr., Wilson is a versatile receiver that can play all over the field, has a history of being a kickoff and punt return man, and has shown that his route-running and solid hands can make him a solid possession receiver for any offense.
PFF graded Wilson as one of the five best receivers in the draft class, and the Cowboys got him in the sixth-round. That is potentially great value.
Games watched: Baylor (2016), Oregon (2017), Virginia (2017), Washington State (2017)