The Cowboys get their receiver.
The Rundown: The Cowboys were delighted to see Tolbert still on the board at No. 88. He was in consideration with their second-round pick, which went to Ole Miss pass rusher Sam Williams instead. A two-time All-Sun Belt selection, Tolbert had 22 touchdowns in four years and became South Alabama’s all-time leading receiver by the end of his senior season.
How He Fits In: A potential big-play receiver immediately. Tolbert averaged 17.8 yards per catch in his final three seasons in college and showed 4.4 speed at the NFL Combine. The Cowboys have an obvious need for receiver depth after trading Amari Cooper to the Browns and losing key reserve Cedrick Wilson to the Dolphins in free agency a month ago. They did re-sign Noah Brown and sign four-year veteran James Washington. But starter Michael Gallup could miss the start of the season after having successful ACL surgery in February. That’s a lot of production to replace on top of Gallup’s uncertain timetable, though the Cowboys sound optimistic he won’t miss much regular-season time. Tolbert should compete for snaps right away in the Cowboys’ three-receiver package and showed in college he can play the slot or outside.
NFL draft grade: Cowboys third-round grade after selecting WR Jalen Tolbert South Alabama - Brian Martin, Blogging the Boys
Grade the Jalen Tolbert selection.
For the third consecutive pick in a row the Dallas Cowboys resist a trade. At pick No. 88 in the third round, after going defense in the second round, they flip back to the offensive side of the ball and selected a wide receiver to add some much-needed depth to the position.
With the 88th overall pick in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Jalen Tolbert, wide receiver, South Alabama.
Dane Brugler’s thoughts on Jalen Tolbert:
A three-year starter at South Alabama, Tolbert was the X receiver in offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s offense and lined up across the formation (unlike his underclassman tape). After bypassing scholarship offers from Power 5 programs to stay close to home, he became the most prolific receiver in South Alabama history, including the first player in school history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season (he did it twice). Aside from the occasional focus drop, Tolbert shows impressive catch-point timing and adjustment skills. Although he doesn’t have elite top-end speed, he has fluid footwork and uses slight hesitation in his route breaks so he can mash the gas and create pockets of separation. Overall, Tolbert needs to tighten up a few areas of his game, but he has NFL starting traits with his ability to track deep or sink and work back to the football.
Pass rushers are always in style.
The Rundown: He’s extremely athletic for a pass-rusher, including his 4.46 time in the 40 and a 36-inch vertical leap. On the field, he had 12.5 sacks for Ole Miss in 2021, breaking a 31-year-old school record for a single season.
The downside with Williams is some off-the-field issues that led to a 2020 suspension from Ole Miss after an arrest for sexual battery, though the charges were dropped and he was later reinstated. But that alone likely scared off many teams and pushed him into the second round. Just like a year ago when the Cowboys drafted a player like Josh Ball, they’ve done extensive homework and obviously feel comfortable with his character to take him in the second round.
How He Fits In: Any time you can land a player with edge-rush ability, it’s a win. And that’s how the Cowboys must feel about adding Williams, even though they signed Dante Fowler Jr. and Dorance Armstrong in free agency. They did lose Randy Gregory and who knows who much Micah Parsons will rush off the edge. But Williams gives them yet another player who can do that. He wouldn’t have to start right away but would find his way into different packages.
Reactions from The Cowboys Drafting Ole Miss DE Sam Williams With The 56th Pick - Rocky Garza, Inside the Star
Are you a fan of Sam Williams at 56?
After addressing the Offensive Line with the 24th Pick in this year’s NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys shifted to the other side of the ball and selected Ole Miss Defensive End Sam Williams with the 56th Pick.
Once the pick was announced, fans and analysts were upset the franchise didn’t go after prospects such as UConn Defensive Tackle Travis Jones, Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto, and Georgia Linebacker Nakobe Dean, who were arguably rated higher than Williams and surprisingly fell.
Nonetheless, Williams gives the Cowboys Defense a uber-athletic edge rusher and there could be a chance he sees early playing time. With all of that in mind, here are some reactions we saw from people on the Cowboys selection of Williams:
A little more on the Cowboys second day of the draft.
My take: Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn attended Ole Miss’ pro day to see Williams, who was also among the Cowboys’ top-30 visitors at The Star. He had 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss last season and was a first-team All-SEC pick. He had some off-field issues, including a sexual battery charge that was eventually dropped but had him suspended from the program. With Randy Gregory gone, the Cowboys can put Williams in the pass-rush mix with DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. as a rookie and hope he can be a bigger part as he gets more experienced. It’s the second straight year the Cowboys have used their second-round pick on a player with off-field issues, doing so with cornerback Kelvin Joseph a year ago.
My take: Tolbert was under consideration at the No. 56 pick when they took Sam Williams, so to get him at No. 88 is a bonus. With the trade of Amari Cooper and the loss of Cedrick Wilson, the Cowboys needed to add a receiver — especially with Michael Gallup coming off knee surgery. Tolbert had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at South Alabama, including 1,474 yards and 82 catches with eight touchdowns in 2021. While he is from a small school, he had seven 100-yard receiving games last season, including 143 yards against Tennessee. He is considered a polished route runner for a younger player and he can go up to get the ball. The Cowboys have veered off their Power 5 path with two non-Power 5 school picks among their first three selections.
NFL Draft grades 2022: Complete results & analysis for every pick in Rounds 1-3 - Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
How are the Cowboys doing in relation to the rest of the NFL?
56. Dallas Cowboys: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
The Cowboys needed to improve their speed and burst in getting to the QB minus Randy Gregory and this is an ideal pick with solid value. Williams is also strong, athletic and smart, using a variety of power and finesse pass-rush moves to get to the quarterback.
88. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
The Cowboys get back some wide receiver depth after trading Amari Cooper and not bringing back Cedrick Wilson behind CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Tolbert is another intriguing big-play threat with his size-speed combination and could start in time in 11 personnel outside.
What does the Cowboys OL look like heading into 2022?
It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Dallas Cowboys were going to select an offensive lineman early in the draft. In fact, most thought it was going to be in the first round. The issue? The two players who were most often linked to Dallas, Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green and Boston College’s Zion Johnson, both went in the top 20. Sitting at No. 24, Dallas didn’t have to scramble though.
According to owner Jerry Jones, Tyler Smith out of Tulsa was actually higher ranked on the team’s draft board than either, so when they turned down a trade-down offer from Tennessee, turning the card was easy. So what does adding the 23-game starter mean for the rest of the offensive line group? Here’s how Smith’s selection impacts the roster.
The elder Smith now has an understudy. Tyler Smith will start out at left guard but the Jones family made it clear they see the first rounder eventually taking over for the eight-time Pro Bowler. A myriad of players have been the backup for Smith, but the club hasn’t drafted a tackle to stay at tackle since 2015. Will the younger Smith ever make like the club intends?
The elder Smith is signed to a very reasonable deal through the 2023 season. His injury situation over that span will determine when Tyler Smith takes over, if ever.
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