The 2018 NFL Draft was pretty much a home game for the Cowboys, as Jerry’s World became the first actual stadium to host the League’s Draft. They even tried to soften the annual boo-fest that fans have been unleashing on Commissioner Roger Goodell the past few years but to no avail. Even sending ex-Cowboys greats STAUBACH-AIKMAN-WITTEN out on the stage with him to open the event could not stop loud booing from fans inside the Dome. Overall, the Cowboys did more than a few things during the proceedings to fire up and excite their fans.
Overall the team pulled off a nice blend of drafting for need without sacrificing quality at the pick in the process of using their 9 selections.
The ‘Boys found themselves in desperate need of some LB quality and quantity, and they used 3 Draft Picks to address the situation. Though some team doctors around the League were concerned about a cervical health issue there is little doubt that their choice of LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH in Round 1 provides the likelihood of immediate help for the LB group as a starter. THat’s assuming he’s a quick learner since he had only one full season starting at Boise State. But his game tape from 2017 seems to indicate he’s a natural. He recorded 141 Tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 3 INT and 4 FF. Speculation seems to indicate the team will use him on the Outside, to tap into what many feel is some innate pass-rush ability on his part.
In Round 4 the team snapped up DORANCE ARMSTRONG/Kansas. He’s the poster child for being a really good player on a really bad team, and he paid the price by being double-team blocked constantly last season. At 6’4/257 he’s a duel role candidate ala KYLE WILBER, who never quite panned out. Expect ROD MARINELLI to use him at DE and OLB, with an emphasis on his pass rush skills. His 10″ hands and 34 3/4″ arms are tantalizing for coaches. In Round 6 the team grabbed CHRIS COVINGTON/Temple who will earn his spurs initially on Special Teams coverage units. He was the only player they selected who was not in my Top 250 prospect rankings.
CONNOR WILLIAMS/OL/Texas was their lone OL Pick, in Round 2. WILLIAMS will likely battle for a starting job right away with he and LA’EL COLLINS eventually manning the LG and RT slots. The only question is which one, where? But after struggling last year following the retirement of DOUG FREE at RT both those players need to establish themselves as quality starters. WILLIAMS is aTexas boy through and through and was clearly overcome with emotion at his home team selecting him. If he doesn’t work out it won’t be from a lack of effort, I assure you.
Many folks perceived that the Cowboys needed to replace DEZ BRYANT at WR, and most of us found out after the Draft that JASON WITTEN needed a replacement as well, as he has retired and is moving into the broadcast booth. They acted in both cases in a relatively quiet fashion. They drafted MICHAEL GALLUP/WR/Colorado State in Round 3, DALTON SCHULTZ/TE/Stanford in Round 4 and CEDRICK WILSON/WR/Boise State in Round 6. Nicely done on all three selections even though none of the 3 is terribly sexy to fans! WILSON could be the nicest surprise IMO. They got him with Pick 208 and I had him in Round 4, Prospect 109. He’s a long and slender (6’3/188) deep threat who plays faster than his 4.56/40-time. He caught 83 passes last season at Boise, averaging 18.2 ypc. GALLUP has that RB body build that we are seeing more and more often in receivers these days. He has good, strong hands and is a master at run-after-catch and will run routes over the middle of the field. He was a good value Pick at 81; I had him ranked at 75. SCHULTZ can block, like all Stanford TE in the Harbaugh/Shaw program. At 6’5/244 he reminds me a bit of Witten coming out of Tennessee, who just got better and better at his craft. He’s not going to make anyone forget Witten, but he may surprise, and emerge as one of the top 2 TE on the current roster.
The team had a couple of interesting Picks who come under the category of “too good to pass up” even though neither would be considered as a strong need Pick. QB/MIKE WHITE/WKY, at Pick 171 was in my Top 100 based in part on his solid work in Mobile at the Senior Bowl venue. He’s a good sized guy (6’5/224) with a good arm and a high FBI. Though I think the team will still sign a VFA QB to back up DAK sometime soon, WHITE could be a solid back-up option in the near future.
Word is that their last selection at Pick 236, was influenced by a phone conversation between Alabama HC Nick Saban and the Jones Boys. RB/BO SCARBROUGH, 6’1/232, spent too much time trying to live up to the Derrick Henry legend at ‘Bama, and missed too much playing time because of nagging injuries. But SABAN supposedly put in a strong word or two for BO and he’s now a Cowboy. Expect him to make a fine backup for ZEKE ELLIOTT, especially if he can ratchet up his pass-pro work just a bit. He can run and catch the ball with authority and effectiveness, and if he can push himself to help on Special Teams a roster spot should be his.
Let’s also roll in the trade acquisition of TAVON AUSTIN from the Rams during the Draft proceedings. He’s a multi-talented water bug who never really emerged as a major weapon. Maybe he can find a supporting role in Big D. Expect him to show up on return units and gadget plays right away in Big D.
This was a nice piece of work for the Jones Boys. Their drafting has improved in recent years as Jerry has allowed son Stephen to coordinate most of the scouting work with their personnel/scouting people. IMO, they took advantage of a solid and deep Draft Class and harvested some serious help for their depleted roster.