With just one more football game remaining in the football season, all eyes turn towards the 2019 NFL Draft. Many of the players that are projected to go in round one have been talked about for months and months; the only question to where their talent will land come draft time. For others, however, the Senior Bowl provides a platform for some overlooked prospects to show NFL scouts what they can do when given the opportunity.
The Cowboys are without their first-round draft pick, thanks to the move for Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper that helped the midseason turnaround, but there are some quality prospects at positions of need that Dallas can pluck in the later rounds.
Prospects such as South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel and Delaware’s Nassir Adderly would be great fits for what the Cowboys would like to do, but there is little to no chance that either one of them slip into the range that Dallas is picking. So, here are a trio of prospects that participated in the Senior Bowl to keep your eye on in April.
Penny Hart, WR, Georgia State Panthers
One of the biggest winners from the week in Mobile was a little-known receiver from Georgia State. Penny Hart, who weighed in at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds with 8 7/8” hands at the beginning of the week, exploded onto the scene. Hart was a late addition to the event in Mobile, but you would have never guessed that had you not have known. BTB’s Connor Livesay wrote on the intriguing slot receiver that could be on the Cowboys’ radar.
Hart has been torturing defensive backs with his short-area quickness, change of direction skills, and lower body explosion in and out of his breaks, which has made him practically unguardable working in 1-on-1’s. Working against some of the better cornerbacks and safety prospects here, Hart has won it seems every single one of his reps no matter who the opposing defender was.
Most questions regarding Penny Hart’s game were around the level of competition he faced at Georgia State, but those questions are being addressed through two days of practice. The other question was if his catch radius, and true athletic ability, would hurt him against that tougher competition but so far he looks to be one of the most athletic/explosive receivers here in and out of his breaks, and has been one of the more consistent receivers catching the football up-and-away from his frame.
Adderley is one of the best DBs in Mobile and WR Penny Hart got him pretty good with that controlled burst.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 24, 2019
Twitchy + Crafty = Hart pic.twitter.com/6P6B9RLINY
Hart’s big week has him climbing up draft boards and garnering a lot of hype. His unique combination of quickness, twitch, and craftiness makes him an ideal prospect for a team looking for a receiver in the slot. Sounds like the Cowboys, doesn’t it? Livesay reports that Hart has met with the Cowboys “multiple times” already.
With the uncertainty surrounding Cole Beasley's future in Dallas, Penny Hart is a prospect that the Cowboys need to consider taking with one of their day two selections. That would certainly make Dak Prescott happy.
Dontavius Russell, IDL, Auburn Tigers
The Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams exposed the Cowboys’ weakness at the interior of the defensive line in a big, big way. C.J. Anderson ran all over the Dallas defense, and Todd Gurley capped things off with a 30-yard touchdown run that all but sealed the game. The need for another body at defensive tackle had been apparent all season long, but a loss like that on a national stage really emphasizes it.
Enter Dontavius Russell.
This year’s draft class is headlined by EDGE defenders and interior defensive lineman. Names such as Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams, and Jeffery Simmons stand out, but all of those prospects will be long gone before the Cowboys are scheduled to come on the clock at pick 58. With that said, the Cowboys can still target some interior defensive line help with the picks that they have available.
Auburn’s Dontavius Russell is a big-bodied defensive tackle, weighing in at 6-foot-3 and 318 pounds. The Draft Network’s Joe Marino believes that the Auburn product is a perfect fit in Dallas.
The defensive identity of the Dallas Cowboys for years to come figures to be its dynamic duo of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith at linebacker. In order for those dudes to continue emerging as stars, making sure they are kept clean by stout defensive lineman will be important. I am not crazy about the current DT situation in Dallas which could be upgraded with a powerful guy like Russell. He may not be the most explosive, but his anchor is among the most stout in the class.
Russell does not show much of anything as a pass rusher, but he is a big body in the middle that can help the Cowboys in that regard. Antwaun Woods had a good season, but the likely loss of David Irving means Dallas needs to find some more depth at that position. Dallas has not yet met with this defensive tackle, but Russell would be a player that the Cowboys can look at when assessing the need for help in the middle of the defensive line.
Great hustle by Auburn DT Dontavius Russell to force the fumble on UCLA TE Caleb Wilson... pic.twitter.com/0AReVqnJfh— Mark (@MHeaneyJr) January 26, 2019
Jacobi Meyers, WR, N.C. State Wolfpack
Yes, the Cowboys now have Amari Cooper. Yes, Michael Gallup had a strong rookie season and appears to have a bright future in this league. However, there is still some uncertainty at the wide receivers position: when will the Cowboys re-sign or extend Cooper and is Cole Beasley going to be in Dallas next season? What happens with Terrance Williams, can Allen Hurns recover, and how will Cedrick Wilson look after a season on IR?
With these questions, combined with the franchise’s loyalty to Dak Prescott, finding a wide receiver in this draft would be a pretty smart idea. We already addressed Penny Hart, an twitchy and quick slot that could add another dimension to this offense. Another option at wideout is NC State’s Jakobi Meyers.
Meyers, a converted quarterback, had a big season in 2018: 92 receptions for 1,047 yards and four scores. That earned him an invite to a week in Mobile for the opportunity to showcase his abilities to scouts. He made the most of it:
Staying flat on a horizontal break after a rocker step isn’t easy, but it keeps the DB’s from immediately driving the in-cut. Great footwork and natural stab by NC State WR Jakobi Meyers pic.twitter.com/Gtxq4BCc4v— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 26, 2019
The Cowboys have met with the receiver and he appears to at least be on the team’s radar. Meyers’ impressive footwork and route-running ability makes him an intriguing fit in the Dallas offense.