Top Candidates That Could Fall To Cowboys at 28

Ryan Ramczyk

Every year there are a few guys who are “guaranteed” top ten picks that end up falling to the end of round one and sometimes beyond it. Last year Laremy Tunsil was looked at as a lock top five player in the 2016 NFL Draft, he ended up going #13 overall to the Miami Dolphins. Laquan Treadwell was mocked as high as #4 overall but ended up going to the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd overall pick. Then we have guys like Noah Spence, A’Shawn Robinson, and Jarran Reed who weren’t supposed to fall out of the first round but all three ended up getting drafted in the middle of round two. All these players (excluding Laquan Treadwell) had very good rookie seasons. Some of these guys listed fell due to obvious off the field issues or injury concerns but a few of these guys fell for reasons that left many people scratching their heads.

Today, we’re going to look into a few players who have the potential to fall to the Cowboys at pick #28 who have no reason being there. No names like Myles Garrett, Marshon Lattimore, or Jonathan Allen will not be on this list. But a couple of guys who I think have elite skill sets will be.

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

The three-technique position in Dallas is currently filled by second year player Maliek Collins. Collins had a impressive rookie season and has earned the right to be the starter at that position. With three-technique being McDowell’s ideal position fit in a 4-3 defense you would have to find a place for him to play. That is a task I’m willing to take on to land a player like Malik McDowell. McDowell has the strength of a player that is 320 plus pounds but moves like a player that is 260 pounds. His rare combination of size and speed and flexibility to play the three-tech, either defensive end spot and even slide in and play the five-technique on passing downs would have Rod Marinelli drooling at the mouth. Now McDowell’s talent is in no question, but his motor and love for the game is. Multiple sources/scouts have came out and said that McDowell hasn’t proven in any interviews that he really eats, sleeps, and breaths football and that even shows up on his game tape. McDowell consistently shows that he takes plays off, sometimes even games off. But when the former Michigan State Spartan is on his A game you see flashes of plays being made that remind you of Aaron Donald and JJ Watt. If there is a guy in the NFL who can motivate and push a player with elite traits to meet their potential 9 out of 10 people would point to Rod Marinelli to be that guy. The Cowboys currently have plenty of guys on their roster who would play a similar role as McDowell (David Irving, Tyron Crawford) but none of the have the skill set and potential that Malik McDowell’s has.

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Derek Barnett is another guy who has no business being around when the Cowboys are on the clock, but crazier things have happened. Barnett didn’t set the world on fire at the combine and has been dealing with a few injuries and sicknesses that have kept him limited in his pre-draft testing. Barnett had about as productive college career as you could wish for. Breaking Reggie White’s sack record is just one of many impressive things Barnett did on the football field over his last three years at Tennessee. Barnett doesn’t have any off the field issues, and really stayed healthy his entire career at Tennessee but his disappointing combine and his lack of pass rush moves may push Barnett down the board right into the Cowboys lap. Barnett’s ability to bend, his explosive first step, awareness, and great hand usage makes for a consensus top 20 pick, but in today’s NFL teams really like when a players combine numbers match their production and for Barnett that is not the case.

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

IF and I repeat IF Corey Davis is still available when the Cowboys are on the clock that pick would be a no-brainer for me. Wide Receiver isn’t a position of need but isn’t a position that should be ignored if the opportunity presents itself to EXTREMELY upgrade it. Corey Davis is a top 10 talent in this years draft class, but his inability to provide any kind of testing numbers will push him down the board for some teams. Corey Davis has elite traits and I think has the potential to be a top wide receiver in the NFL even in his rookie year. If the Cowboys are on the clock at 28 and Davis is still available along with a CB3-4 or a DE5-6 drafting many analysis’s WR1 would be great value for the already productive Dallas offense. Some people may think drafting a receiver here would be silly with all the holes on defense, but I disagree. Terrance Williams has been a productive WR2 his entire career but has never shown the ability to take pressure off of Dez Bryant, Corey Davis has the ability to draw attention away from Dez, Zeke, and Dak and be a huge difference maker in the process.

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

If fully healthy I’m not sure Ramczyk makes it out of the top 10 much less to 28, but unfortunately for Ryan Ramczyk and fortunately for the Cowboys that is not the case. The Cowboys have options at right tackle after Doug Free’s retirement but by no means have a consensus starter. Ramczyk when fully recovered would be the walk in starter for the start of the season. Ramczyk is currently my 11th ranked player in this years draft even with his hip injury, but with him likely to be ready by training camp the risk is worth the potential reward. With the the inevitable extension coming for Zack Martin and IF the Cowboys luckily land Ramczyk that would lock up 4 of the 5 starting offensive lineman until 2023 if Martins extension is similar to Travis Fredrick’s or Tyron Smith’s.

I will be releasing my final 7 Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft next Wednesday keep an eye out as I try and take a swing at what I think the Cowboys might do come April 27th-29th.

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Looking At Dallas Past Tells Cowboys Future

Cowboy Chilling

The bane of a classical education. You are taught early the reason we study history is so we can understand our decisions from the past in order to make better ones in the future. For as human beings, we are doomed to repeat ourselves. This tool can also be used as a predictor for behavior. Here we are going to look at the Cowboys recent past in order to get a better feel for what types of pre-draft moves may still be coming out of the confines of the Star in Frisco.

So far this offseason the Dallas Cowboys have been …. deliberate. This new-norm has recent roots and can be directly correlated to improved regular season performance. In the not so distant past the blog-o-sphere would be ablaze right about now with the latest big Free Agency signing and now (because of the signing) the Cowboys are serious contenders for next season’s Super Bowl. Jerry Jones would be at his carnival-barker best whipping the media into an off-season frenzy and have the masses thoroughly convinced the recent signing and consequent over-payment of suspect talent was the missing ingredient from the previous seasons failure. I can get one time, but Jerry was able to do this groundhog day reboot for 20 years. Say what you will about Jerry the GM, Jerry the owner is sick-slick at what he does.

But that behavior is sooooo 2010.

So far this season Jason Garrett has (again) had the Cowboys taking a deliberate approach before the draft making sensible signings of second-wave, free agency players to short term contracts. If at all possible the team will sign “known” quantities, i.e. their own players or players someone on the club has personal experience with. Seems there are less surprises that way. And with the league being (very much) a cap driven one NOT making errors in free agency is critical to a clubs competitive chances. Ergo Garrett approaches March/April with a keen eye towards the draft and getting the team as flush as possible across the boards so as to not be totally driven by need come draft day.

As we see, so far this season the new Cowboys measured approach is in full bloom. Below is a table from the NFL transactions list that details the Cowboys official signings since the beginning of the month for 2017.

Dallas Cowboys 2017 Pre-Draft Free Agent Signings

3/20 Kellen Moore Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/16 Darren McFadden Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
Jonathan Cooper Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/14 Stephen Paea Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
Damontre Moore Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
Nolan Carroll Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/11 Terrance Williams Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/24 Byron Bell Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signings).

Unlike the NFL Draft, free agency is all about need. QB Moore fills a critical need with Josh McCown choosing the Jets. RB McFadden is the preferred RB2 over Alfred Morris and Cooper is the fail-safe for the offensive line that could end up starting at LG. DT Paea got started in the league under Rod Marinelli and should be a solid rotational addition. They have been trying to sign CB Nolan Carroll for years. Terrance Williams may not get the fans love, but he is a solid WR2 who excels in the run game. That’s kind of important to the Cowboys scheme. Bell is (of course) insurance for the probable retirement of Doug Free.

The Cowboys haven’t had many free agents come though The Star this offseason. By waiting till the first-wave of players have signed the team enjoys a more receptive negotiation and the process is optimized. It’s a solid approach that has produced measurable results. However it’s still early in the process and weeks before the draft. What other moves might the team make before now and then? Let’s look back at the previous offseason to try and get a feel for what other moves the Cowboys may make before the NFL Draft, this season.

Dallas Cowboys 2016 Pre-Draft Free Agent Signings

4/28 Ronald Leary Asked to Re-Sign (asked to re-sign).
4/13 Jeff Heath No Offer Sheet Executed (no offer sheet executed).
4/5 Jack Crawford Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/31 Matt Wile Free Agent Signing (free agent signing).
3/30 Joe Looney Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/24 Benson Mayowa Acquired via First Refusal (acquired via first refusal).
3/22 Alfred Morris Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/18 Lance Dunbar Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/15 Rolando McClain Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/14 James Hanna Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/12 Morris Claiborne Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/11 Kyle Wilber Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
Cedric Thornton Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).
3/10 Josh Thomas Unrestricted Free Agent Signing (unrestricted free agent signing).

Not many. That’s the quick answer to the question in regards to future free agent signings the team may make this offseason. Last year the front office signed OL Joe Looney at this juncture of the offseason to solidify their rotation for that unit. After that the team spent the rest of April getting their own free agents (restricted and otherwise) to put pen to paper. Boring, effective.

In 2016 by the end of March the team was basically done in free agency and in 2017, you can expect more of the same. Cowboys Nation may pine to hear about a big signing before the NFL Draft, however my old history professor would be proud. Instead of blindly guessing we can look back and read the tea leaves. Regardless of perceived needs, the Cowboys are pretty much done in free agency for 2017. The players on the team now are your 2017 Dallas Cowboys. The next influx of talent for the organization will be through the draft and if history serves (it does) this is a good thing.

It’s going to be mighty crowded on the defensive side of the roster pretty soon.

Ed Note: Click here for the latest Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart

What say you Sports Nation?

Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over