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Cowboys News: Six defenders Dallas could target early in the draft

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Plus, more news on the NFL Draft tonight.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pick 6: These Players Can Improve Defense Now - Ambar Garcia, Dallascowboys.com

Six defenders who Dallas could target to improve their defense.

Xavier McKinney, Safety | Alabama. Qualities -He’s a super smart and versatile player. He has good instincts and knows how to make quick adjustments. Good coverage, although sometimes he allows a little separation between him and the receiver.

He has good feet and has the necessary speed to attack and seal the play. He knows how to anticipate the ball and makes good cuts. He’s strong and does not fear when attacking. McKinney can also make plays against the run (an area the Cowboys had trouble with last season). He’s also a safety who can get interceptions and take it all the way to the end zone.He’s a playmaker, someone who can help change the game and create momentum.

Why He Fits - In recent years, the Cowboys defense has struggled with tackling and creating takeaways. McKinney has the ability and talent to become a starter. He is a player who can help make a difference and contribute right away… something that the team needs at the safety position, despite landing Clinton-Dix in free agency.

Film room: 4 best-case scenarios for the Dallas Cowboys in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL draft - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

A look at four best case scenarios for Dallas on Thursday night.

Most of Dallas’ needs are on defense, but Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is the absolute best-case scenario at pick No. 17 although it’s unlikely to happen (this article is titled best-case scenarios and not most realistic scenarios for a reason). The same can be said about Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Jeudy’s teammate Henry Ruggs III, but Jeudy is the best fit for the Cowboys given their need at slot receiver.

Listed at 6-1, 193 pounds, Jeudy is the best route runner in this class and will step into the NFL with a route-running repertoire that can win against elevated competition. Jeudy is extremely efficient in and out of his breaks, enabling him to create an exorbitant amount of separation against man coverage. On top of that, Jeudy has the football intelligence to read coverage and find soft spots between zones.

The biggest reason Jeudy could fall to Dallas as pick No. 17 is his pedestrian athleticism. He tested into the 21st percentile among NFL receivers at the scouting combine, per Three Sigma Athlete. On top of that, Jeudy has occasional issues with drops, credited with seven in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. The fact of the matter is some teams want their top-15 picks to check every box, so Jeudy’s poor combine could push him down on draft boards. If that’s the case, other teams’ loss is the Cowboys’ gain, as they would be able to provide Dak Prescott with another supremely refined route runner.

Dallas Cowboys: Is the hype around K’Lavon Chaisson real? - Lucas Mascherin, FanSided’s The Landry Hat

Is the Cowboys interest in K’Lavon Chaisson real, or just a smoke screen?

This then looks like an investment for the future. Have someone that can split reps with veteran lineman Tyrone Crawford and ease into the NFL. Considering Chaisson is a raw prospect, it seems he is a higher risk yet higher reward prospect. His speed rush style of play is similar to how former Cowboy Robert Quinn plays, so that may be a good fit. The 20-year-old has the advantage of being very young and athletic with a good football IQ.

If the Cowboys were to draft Chaisson, I would look at it as a long-term investment. The players to start now are there, and he can sit back and learn from them while getting some opportunities here and there.

What I hope wouldn’t happen is that the Cowboys coaching staff chose to stash Chaisson on the bench for a bit and they don’t give him a real opportunity. This would be a similar situation to that of their 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton, who’s no longer on the team. Let’s pray this does not happen again.

Calvin Watkins’ 2020 NFL mock draft: Here’s who the Dallas Cowboys select at No. 17 - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News

One final mock draft with a familiar face at pick 17.

K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU

The Cowboys are waiting to find out if rush ends Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith will be reinstated from suspensions, so drafting Chaisson makes some sense. The Cowboys did have a virtual conference call with Chaisson. He had only nine sacks in three seasons, but says “watch the film, watch the film.” “Don’t let sacks fool you,” he said. “Every game and I will pull it up for you. Every game, I’m making production. My impact is being felt.”

Dallas Cowboys have to hope all is well with Jaylon and LVE - Mac Engel, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If the Cowboys want their defense at it’s best in 2020, they need Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch at their best.

Now we are in 2020, and while Lee remains with the team his best days are gone. He has been a good player, and it was never his fault his body didn’t always cooperated. It’s 2020, and the Cowboys’ best young linebackers are a point of concern when one year ago when they were the foundation of the entire defense. They are two promising young players who came to the Cowboys after injury issues in their collegiate careers, Smith at Notre Dame and LVE at Boise State.

In 2018, Smith looked fully healed from the torn ACL he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl in January of 2016. The gamble the Cowboys took to select him in the second round of the ‘16 draft hit. Coming out of Boise State, LVE’s injury was a constant source of speculation, and that some teams said they would not draft him because of concerns about his future. In 2016, Vander Esch missed half of the season with a neck injury. He played all of the ‘17 season, and the Cowboys followed their history and took the risk by using their first-round pick on LVE in the 2018 draft. In 2018, it all worked. LVE was one of the NFL’s top rookie defensive players.

And Smith, after he played in all 16 games in 2017, made a visible difference with the 2018 squad. He was dynamic. He made plays at the line, and in space. He played like a guy who was expected to be a top 10 pick. In that 2018 season, the Cowboys’ ranked sixth in the NFL in points allowed, and 16th in turnovers forced. The team won the NFC East, and advanced to the NFC divisional round. But in 2019 something changed.

Cowboys Draft: Will 2020 Be A 2013 Rerun? - Kevin Brady, Inside The Star

Could Dallas mirror their strategy in the 2013 draft this year?

In a world where CJ Henderson and the top wide receivers are gone by the time Dallas is on the clock, trading back makes a ton of sense. Move back, acquire more draft capital, and go snag your guy later on in the first.

Grabbing an extra pick or two could also allow the Cowboys to find their 2013 first round pick’s replacement. Frederick has now retired, opening up a hole at center which Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz has been rumored to fill over the last few weeks.

Ruiz would work excellently in the Cowboys blocking schemes, as a fluid and powerful center that can both get to the second level and work in space as well as reach 1-techniques upfront.

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