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Cowboys news: Examining all kinds of possibilities in the draft for Dallas

The Cowboys news is always a hot topic.

Reese’s Senior Bowl
Richie Grant is one name that is often mentioned for Dallas.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys draft debate between Richie Grant and Jamar Johnson - Mike Crum, Cowboys Wire
It looks like the Cowboys might finally be putting some emphasis on safety, and there are a couple of names to watch on Day 2 of the draft.

Going over tape on Jamar Johnson and Richie Grant feels like deja vu. Both players project best at FS, but have versatility to play in the slot occasionally in the right match ups, they both have the size to be in the box at times. They both offer excellent ball production and have weaknesses tackling. Even production wise Grant in his first two years as a starter had four forced fumbles, seven tackles for a loss and seven interceptions. Johnson in his first two years as a started had two forced fumbles,7.5 tackles for a loss and six interceptions. The two prospects are very similar, the difference is Johnson will start the season at 21 years old, and projects into the third round of the draft. Grant will be 24 years old and projects as a late first to early second round pick.

Cowboys Draft Target: Can CB Mark Gilbert Live up to his NFL Bloodline? - Brian Martin, Inside the Star
Terrible luck with injuries ruined Mark Gilbert's chance at being a high draft pick. But if you know of a team that likes to take fliers on players like that, you might want to keep his name in mind.

Because of his concerning injury history he might not hear his name called at any point in the 2021 NFL Draft. That doesn’t mean he’s not talented though, because he is. In his lone full season as a starter in 2017 he accumulated 35 tackles, three tackles for a loss, 21 passes defensed, and an impressive six interceptions. It’s that kind of talent a team will be willing to gamble on.

If I’m the Dallas Cowboys this is exactly the kind of late-round or undrafted free agent I’d be targeting. He fits Dan Quinn’s prototypical mold for an outside CB at 6’1″, 185 pounds and has some intriguing talent worth gambling on. If he can somehow learn to stay healthy he could be the steal of the draft in my opinion.

Mailbag: What if Best Player Available at 10 is WR? - David Helman and Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com
Funny things happen in the draft, so here is a what-if to consider.

Do you think if Ja’Marr Chase falls to No. 10 that the Cowboys would draft him? — NICK SEPULVADO / DALLAS, TX

David: It’s a heck of an interesting hypothetical, and it’s why I always say “best available player at a position of need.” I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a wide receiver. The only way it’d make sense is if they were able to immediately turn around and try to trade Michael Gallup for another asset – and I think that’s pretty unlikely. They drafted CeeDee Lamb last spring, but let’s not forget that they needed a slot receiver. Without an obvious need at the position, I think they’d go in another direction, even if Chase was their highest remaining grade.

Rob: The Cowboys did need a slot receiver last year, but it was far from their top need. They (understandably) just couldn't pass up the sixth-rated prospect on their board with the 17th pick. I'd apply the same approach to this hypothetical. If Ja'Marr Chase was by far the best prospect available at 10 – by far – then maybe you'd have to strongly consider it. But at some point you have to think about your top needs for this particular year, and wide receiver – by far – isn't one of them.

A tackle prospect for Cowboys to consider drafting in all 7 rounds - Tim Lettiero, Cowboys Wire
Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater are often mentioned as OT candidates for the Cowboys in the first round, but there are other big bodies that might wind up in Dallas later in the draft.

Round 3: Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

A fellow FCS man, Brown may not have the upside of (second round option Dillon) Radunz but boasts a frame few have in the league. Standing at 6-foot-8, 314 pounds, Brown towers over many of his opponents and manages to keep his anchor. He plays with a nasty streak in the run game and showcases great football IQ in pass sets. While he can play both tackle spots, he is ideally built for the right tackle position but has shown the versatility to toggle at both tackle spots as well as at the guard spots.

RUMOR: Washington Football Team Would Trade Up ‘All Its NFL Draft Picks’ For QB Trey Lance? - Chris Russell, Sports Illustrated
It’s rumor szn all over the NFL. This one is of interest because it involves a division rival, and because the trade partner involved is the Atlanta Falcons at 4 - which means another quarterback could push a player down to Dallas.

Former NFL GM Michael Lombardi recently spoke on WFT’s draft situation. If there was a quarterback in line for them to take, Lombardi suggests they’d be willing ‘unload all their picks’ to snag him.

The gunslinger? NDSU’s Trey Lance.

Pre-draft position series: Cowboys missed TE Blake Jarwin last season, but his absence paid off in the long run - Michael Gehlkin, DMN

With all the tight end talk about Kyle Pitts, it’s good to remember what the Cowboys already have.

The Cowboys missed Blake Jarwin in 2020, his ACL tear in the season opener ripping the vertical route tree from their tight end position. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore impressively adjusted by reimagining certain pages of his playbook.

Today, they are better for it.

Jarwin’s absence led to the rise of Dalton Schultz, a 2018 fourth-round pick who became a rock on offense. Both are in the fold now with Jarwin expected to be a full participant by training camp.

In 2019, stuck behind Jason Witten and Jarwin, Schultz was all but forgotten, catching one pass for 6 yards. He played 117 offensive snaps and 95 on special teams.

In 2020, there were only 174 offensive snaps when Schultz wasn’t on the field. His offensive snap count increased eight-fold to 973, and he caught 63 of 89 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns.

Dallas enters this draft more comfortable in its “12” personnel grouping (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) than it did a year ago.

2020 Offensive Line Continuity Scores | Football Outsiders - Vincent Verhei, Football Outsiders
This is an interesting read, because not only did the Cowboys lose so many starters, they also were just one of many teams facing more churn on the offensive line all year - something that is extremely disruptive there.

With COVID-19 protocols wreaking havoc on NFL rosters throughout the year, it's no surprise that offensive line continuity throughout the NFL nose-dived. The average NFL team in 2020 used 8.6 starters and made 7.5 line changes throughout the year, never going more than 4.6 weeks between line changes, adding up to a continuity score of 25.5; all of those numbers are the worst in our books. (The previous records—8.4 starters, 6.2 changes, 5.4 weeks without a change, 27.9 continuity score—were all set in 2017.)

The decline was extensive. Only nine teams fared better in continuity score than they had in 2019, while 21 declined … one to a historic degree. Two teams were tied for first place at just 36, making 2020 the first season in our books with no teams at 40 or more. In fact, only four teams had a score of 30 or better; every other season we have analyzed had at least twice as many teams at 30-plus. Meanwhile, 15 teams had a score below 25; no other year had more than seven such teams.

Oh, and remember all the stuff about the new numbers for some players? It looks like that isn’t over yet.

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