The Dallas Cowboys love players with versatility. Whether it’s the ability to slide over and fill another position or just offer extra skills within the position, this team loves players who possess a multitude of skill sets. Having those abilities keep players on the field for extra downs and helps the coaching staff round out their special teams unit, a unit that has finished top 10 in DVOA in each of the last three seasons despite being third-worst in 2019.
So, it should be no surprise to see a lot of players on the Cowboys' 30-visit list who offer a lot of versatility. With that in mind, here are five players who could be sneaky-good Day 3 picks for the Cowboys this Saturday.
RB/ST ace, Roschon Johnson, Texas
It might not seem too exciting to take a college backup running back, but the Cowboys are no strangers to doing just that. They drafted Memphis backup Tony Pollard (behind Darrell Henderson) and Florida backup Malik Davis (behind Dameon Pierce). Talent is talent, and Roschon has it. Just from a running back perspective, Johnson is a utility knife. He’s a physical runner who can power through contact, he shows good agility to make guys miss, and he exhibits awareness to make something out of nothing. He’s also a good third-down back as he can make plays as a receiver as well as holding his own in pass protection. He’s just an all-around good running back.
But, the fun doesn’t stop there. Johnson is a selfless do-whatever-his-team-needs type of player. He was a special teams ace for the Longhorns leading the team in tackles last season as he played all four coverages. Adding a player like Johnson gives Pollard a perfect back to share some of the workload, handle the short yardage/goalline work, and still have enough juice left to contribute on special teams.
S/LB Marte Mapu. Sacramento State
One of the great things about Jayron Kearse is that he plays like a true linebacker at the line of scrimmage, but offers the coverage ability of a safety. He’s got good length to be disruptive as a pass defender, but enough pop to stop runners in their tracks upon contact.
Sacramento State’s Marte Mapu offers a similar skill set as he’s spent the last two seasons in a hybrid role. He’s got the smarts, he’s got the tenacity, and he maneuvers through traffic well with a nice burst to finish off the play. A pectoral injury will hurt his draft stock, but the Cowboys can afford to take their time with him as a potential replacement for Kearse who will become an unrestricted free agent in 2024.
CB/S Jay Ward, LSU
From one hybrid player to the next, Ward has been one of the Tigers' most versatile defenders as he’s logged time at safety, outside corner, and in the slot. He possesses the length the Cowboys covet in a defensive back and he covers a lot of ground. Ward plays with good instincts and has a nice résumé of jumping routes and coming away with the pick as he likes to lay low and prey on unsuspecting quarterbacks. He closes fast and has good ball skills.
Ward won’t go early in the draft because he has a lot to clean up as he allows too much cushion at times, exhibits poor tackling fundamentals, and plays with reckless abandon. There’s still enough raw ability there to develop him into a viable outside corner and provide depth for a Cowboys cornerback group that will see Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis become free agents next year.
DE/EDGE, Junior Fehoko, San Jose State
One of the more interesting players in this draft is pass rusher Villiami Fehoko. From an athletic standpoint, he doesn’t offer much. He doesn’t get off the line fast, he lunges more than bends and doesn’t have the length to fend off larger offensive tackles. His over-aggressiveness has led to a lot of laundry on the field, and he comes from a small school.
But despite all that, Fehoko is a good football player who makes plays. He’s a relentless fighter who attacks aggressively with his hands and has happy feet to continue pushing forward. He plays with a purpose and that purpose puts him in the backfield quite frequently. He’s a 3-4 defensive end, so he doesn’t really fit with Dan Quinn’s base 4-3 defense, but Q likes to mix it up with an assortment of arrangements, and considering Fehoko is an official 30 visit, he’s clearly on their radar.
TE/FB/ST ace, Brayden Willis, Oklahoma
“All the small things” was a song by Blink-182 in the late ‘90s, but it’s also a good way to describe Sooners’ tight end Brayden Willis. This blocking ace was used in a multitude of ways in Oklahoma’s offense as he possesses great body control and strong hands to seal any deal. Willis embraces contact both with and without the ball in his hands, and is a big part of special teams.
Willis won’t come close to offering the receiving game that the recently departed Dalton Schultz provided, but his inline blocking will give the team the extra edge they want when they go heavy tight ends or even a quicker fullback rather than relying on backup offensive linemen.