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Cowboys 2020 Draft: Texas receiver Devin Duvernay would bring speed, playmaking ability to Dallas

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The Cowboys have a need in the slot. Could they take a Texas native to fill it?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Randall Cobb’s departure leaves a hole in the slot for the Cowboys offense. Cobb had a productive season with Dallas, but there was no way the team was going to match Houston’s three-year, $27 million deal that he inked early in free agency.

The Cowboys reportedly flirted with Emmanuel Sanders, but he signed with the New Orleans Saints. Other potential options, such as Phillip Dorsett (Seahawks) and Robby Anderson (Panthers) inked with different teams. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup form a very formidable duo, but what else is there behind them? A ton of uncertainty.

Therefore, Mike McCarthy and company will likely to add a slot through the draft. There are more than enough slot receivers to choose from in this draft class should Dallas be interested in going that route.

Texas receiver Devin Duvernay should be a name in consideration.

It is hard to not like speed — especially in today’s NFL. We are seeing playmakers with speed impacting the game in a number of ways, like changing a five-yard gain into a 20-yard play, or by stretching the defense vertically.

Devin Duvernay is a player that has the potential to do just that on the next level.

The cousin of Arizona Cardinals young stud quarterback Kyler Murray is an electrifying athlete that showcased his elite 10.27 100m and 4.39 40-yard dash speed every Saturday for the Texas Longhorns. Averaging exactly 14 yards per reception over his collegiate career, Duvernay truly came on strong and became a focal point of the Texas offense during his final season in Austin.

Duvernay set career-highs in catches, yards, and touchdowns in 2019 with 106 grabs for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. The versatile weapon also added another score on the ground for Tom Herman’s squad.

You can say what you want about Big 12 defenses and the style of play within the conference, but the Sachse native showed up in the games that mattered the most. In a very competitive game against the eventual national champion LSU Tigers, Duvernay burned the Tigers defense to the tune of 12 catches for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

LSU’s secondary, of course, includes potential Dallas Cowboys draftees Kristian Fulton and Grant Delpit, and a freshman phenom in Derek Stingley, Jr. You also have fellow potential first-rounders in linebacker Patrick Queen and, the hot name linked to the Cowboys, K’Lavon Chaisson in the front-seven. Duvernay, however, had his way with the defense in a very fun game.

The Texas speedster hurt the Oklahoma State defense with 12 catches, 108 yards, and a score, while putting up at least 107 yards receiving in a four-game stretch versus Kansas (8-110-2), TCU (8-173-1), Kansas State (9-110), and Iowa State (9-107).

To finish things off, Duvernay went out on a bang. The track star scorched the Texas Tech defense by grabbing six catches for 199 yards (33.2 ypc!) and a score. Then in the bowl game versus an elite Utah defense that will have more than a handful of defenders drafted, Duvernay recorded three catches for 92 yards (30.2 ypc) and a touchdown.

Why it makes sense

The Cowboys have a glaring need in the slot. Having the pair of Gallup and Cooper is very nice to have on the offense, but there is a whole lot of uncertainty behind them.

Why not add an elite speed guy to the slot to stretch the field and potentially take attention away from the outside duo? Duvernay would fit the bill. Dane Brugler’s draft guide is a must get for football fans. In “The Beast”, Brugler notes Duvernay’s acceleration, track background, and reliable hands as some of the strengths that the Texas wideout brings to the table.

Accelerates away from pursuit with strong strides (state-champion sprinter in high school)…owns a rocked-up build…physical tackle-breaker with the toughness to lower his pads and bounce off defenders (see vs. LSU’s Grant Delpit)…short-area agility to be a dangerous catch-and-run weapon…strong to the football and comfortable with targets away from his body…only three drops on 128 targets in 2019…crisp footwork on in- and out-breaking routes to get defenders offbalance…plays with a competitive edge to him (Texas assistant coach: “He cares more about winning than making friends”)…named a team captain midway through the 2019 season (only the second time Tom Herman did that)…excellent production as the Longhorns’ go-to target in 2019, finishing third in the FBS in catches.

The Cowboys were among the league leaders in dropped balls in 2019, so adding a dynamic playmaker with elite speed seems to make a ton of sense. Duvernay showed off impressive hands and ball skills throughout his final season on the 40 Acres. His games versus loaded defenses such as LSU and Utah say a lot about his talent and ability.

Why it wouldn’t make sense

I am a big fan of Duvernay’s game and believe that he has what it takes to become an impact player in the slot in the NFL, especially if he does not have to be the go-to receiver. With the Cowboys already having established WR1 and WR2, Dallas would appear to be an ideal situation for him to flourish.

He does not come without risk, though. Prior to his final season in Austin, Duvernay had very little production. Duvernay produced a strong freshman campaign (20-412-3 in 10 games), but it fell of as a sophomore (9-124-0 in eight games). His junior season saw a big rise — 41 catches, 456 yards, four scores — before a gigantic leap in 2019.

Texas loved to get the ball in Duvernay’s hands — and rightfully so. He is a dangerous after the catch player, showing explosiveness and natural playmaking ability with the ball in his hands; therefore, he was not asked to do a ton route-running wise. Herman and company utilized Duvernay more-so on screens and quick routes rather than developing his route-tree.

A smaller concern is that he is a slot-only prospect, as he lacks the size and route-running ability to make an impact on the outside. But with the need at slot, maybe that is not a big deal for the Cowboys.

Overall, Duvernay could add an element to the Cowboys passing attack

The Cowboys’ offense — namely the passing attack — took a giant leap in 2019 during Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore’s first season together as quarterback and playcaller. Amari Cooper has looked tremendous for the most part since arriving in Dallas, while Michael Gallup turned in a breakout season.

Randall Cobb was a nice player in the slot, but it is not unreasonable to expect Dallas to want to get more explosive at that position than what the 29-year-old brought.

Duvernay has world-class speed, reliable hands, and is extremely dangerous after the catch. He had the third most receptions in all of college football as a senior, was a focal point of the Texas offense, and produced against elite defenses and secondaries.

Devin Duvernay would be a very exciting pick for the Dallas Cowboys draft after the first couple of rounds.