Evaluating And Grading All Nine Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft Picks

2017 Cowboys Draft

We are coming up on two weeks since the Dallas Cowboys adding nine new faces via the 2017 NFL Draft. As we all noticed the Cowboys front office didn’t shy away from the defensive side of the ball with their draft selections making seven of the nine draft picks being defensive players. Today I will evaluate each selection by round and give you analysis on the player and my overall “Grade” on the pick.

Taco Charlton – Defensive End – Michigan – Round 1, No. 28 Overall

At 6’6 277lbs Taco Charlton fits the prototype for Defensive Ends the Dallas Cowboys love. Charlton is a long and lean end that plays with a tremendous amount of power. Taco looks the part easily in his suit and tie during press conferences and I can’t imagine what he’ll look like in pads. Charlton was only a one year starter at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh and raked up 9.5 sacks and 13.0 tackles for loss in his final season as a Michigan Wolverine. Charlton doesn’t have much bend in his lower half but shows flashes of being able to bend the edge and get to the Quarterback. Not sure if it’s a motor issue or he’s just not sure how to do it yet. You will see some tape of his where he has no problem flexing that ankle getting at a 45 degree angle easily and really win the edge and get the sack or QB hit. Here is an example of a rep where he bends with ease to get the sack:

This is a great rep by Taco Charlton. Explosive off the snap, wins the edge, and finishes the play by bending and dipping underneath the Tackle and getting the sack.

Here is an example of where he wins the edge but could NOT win the angle by bending and dipping under the Tackle, instead he gets turned around, rushes to far up field and past the Quarterback pocket and is a non factor in the play after winning off the line of scrimmage:

Charlton’s physical attributes aren’t the only appealing traits about him. Charlton’s ability to play anywhere along the defensive line is also a big part of his game and the Cowboys defensive scheme. Charlton has the length and show flashes of being explosive and bendy enough to be a starting Right End in the NFL. Chalrton was one of if not the best run defending defensive ends in the draft so that screams starting Left End in Dallas. The former Wolverine also has the ability to slide inside and play 3 technique on money downs, this is where I could see him getting a majority of his sacks and pressures. Taco Charlton is a solid pick for the Cowboys. A high floor low ceiling type of player who will contribute early and often. My knock on the pick is the Cowboys have a roster full of bigger defensive ends that can play left end or inside on passing downs (Crawford, Irving, Lawrence) but lack a true WDE (Right End) that can capture the edge with speed and to me there was multiple players still available that fit that WDE mold. If Marinelli gets Charlton down 10-15lbs and gets him to be even more explosive than he already is this could be a grade I will be eating crow on in a few seasons.

GRADE: C+

 

Chidobe Awuzie – Cornerback – Colorado – Round 2, No. 60 Overall

Awuzie was a home run value pick for me. I had Awuzie in my top 10 Cornerback rankings and had a early second round grade on him. To get him at the end of the second round was an absolute steal in my opinion. Awuzie is as versatile as they come and can play anywhere in the secondary. Awuzie had success as a boundary Corner, a nickle Corner (slot), and even as a Safety at times. Awuzie is a little under sized at right under 6’0 and right at 200lbs. However at times he plays like a 6’4 220 lb Strong Safety. Awuzie is sticky in coverage and has great instincts to break on footballs to consistently disrupt  plays or stop them as soon as they start. Awuzie is a great blitzer out of the slot and finished his College career at Colorado with 9 sacks. “Chido” needs to improve on his tackling but in the coverage aspect of the game I see his flaws as being to aggressive when using his instincts, which make him the great player that he is but also allows him to guess wrong from time to time. If Rod Marinelli and Joe Baker can pull the reigns back on how aggressively he uses those great instincts Chidobe Awuzie could end up being one of the greatest steals in the 2017 Draft.

GRADE: A-

 

Jourdan Lewis – Cornerback – Michigan – Round 3, No. 92 Overall

If not for the Domestic Violence charges that are currently hanging over Jourdan Lewis’s head, Lewis would likely have been a top 50 pick. Instead the Cowboys took a flyer on him at the end of the third round after doing their due diligence on the situation. Lewis is a super talented slot Corner with a very high ceiling. Lewis is a very annoying Cornerback to play against because he doesn’t give receivers any room in coverage and is very physical for his size. Lewis at 5’10 188lbs can handle his own on the outside as well but I think he is a pro-bowl caliber player in the slot. Lewis has very clean feet and insanely good ball skills for a defensive back. He also had a very productive career at Michigan raking up 6 interceptions in his last three years as a Wolverine. Lewis has an “alpha dog” mentality and is a very confident guy no matter who he is lined up against.

GRADE: B+

 

Ryan Switzer – Wide Receiver – North Carolina – Round 4, No. 133 Overall

Probably the pick that may have left some people scratching their heads, but not sure I could love it anymore. For years it seems the Cowboys have had a dominant offense, an average defense, and a non existent special teams. That has changed. Ryan Switzer brings an elite style of play as a returner on special teams. Ryan Switzer likely was drafted to fill Lucky Whitehead’s role but he is a major upgrade over Whitehead. Switzer along with being a dynamic returner also will be another weapon for Quarterback Dak Presscott. Switzer is almost a spitting image of Cole Beasley but I actually think he can do more. Switzer route tree is very similar to Beasley’s but also has more of a down the field aspect to his game that we haven’t seen from Cole. Switzer is a mismatch style of player that won’t play on the outside much at all but he is very good at his job as a slot receiver. To give you an idea of what the Dallas Coaches may be scheming up imagine on 3rd & 6 we have Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield with Presscott, Dez Bryant lined up on the right and Terrance Williams lined up on the left. Cole Beasley in one slot and Ryan Switzer on the other. Good luck stopping that NFL defenses.

Double coverage… makes both defenders bite on the head fake… jeeeeeesssshhhhh…

 

Xavier Woods – Safety – Louisiana Tech – Round 6, No. 191 Overall

The Cowboys lost Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in Free Agency and traded a fifth round pick next year to move up and grab Safety Xavier Woods. Woods is a player that is a perfect combination of both of those players. Woods has Church’s nose for the football hauling in 14 interceptions, getting 6 forced fumbles, and 181 tackles over his final three years at Louisiana Tech. Xavier has the capability to play Free Safety or Strong Safety which is exactly what the Cowboys were looking for in a Safety to match with Byron Jones. Woods has very good ball skills, excellent vision to weave through traffic to make tackles, and will knock you out cold if you try to cross him in the middle of the field. Woods is one of those guys who receivers will be keeping their eye on when they run drag routes across the middle. With all that being said Woods can improve on being more of a wrap up tackler instead an all or nothing hitter. Woods, like Awuzie has fantastic instincts and he uses them very aggressively, sometimes to a fault. Trusting what he see’s and pulling back the reigns on guessing is something he will learn soon in the NFL. I wish Xavier Woods was a few inches taller but I also love the way he moves and hits at his size. I see Woods taking over a starting Safety position before the end maybe even before the start of the 2017-2018 NFL season.

Ouch.

GRADE: B

 

Marquez White – Cornerback – Florida State – Round 6, No. 216 Overall

If you didn’t notice the Dallas Cowboys secondary rebuild by now I don’t know what to tell you. Marquez White is more of a project than a sure thing but man I love what I see from White. Like the other three Defensive Backs taken before him White is a very instinctive player who isn’t gifted with the most athletic traits. White stands at 6’0 tall and right at 200 lbs with long arms. The former Seminole has decent size on him to compete on the boundary and is very physical as a run defender. White is a guy who doesn’t play with great technique and is still very raw at the position but with some coaching and learning how to use his long arms at the line of scrimmage makes for a project I would be willing to stash on the 53 Man roster so you don’t lose him.

GRADE: C+

 

Joey Ivie – Defensive Tackle – Florida – Round 7, No. 228 Overall

I’m going to honest I didn’t watch any of Joey Ivie before he was drafted by the Cowboys, but man did I like what I saw once I turned on his film. Ivie is a disruptive Defensive Tackle that will likely play as a 3 Technique in Dallas’s 4-3 Scheme. He has powerful hands and knows how to use them to rip and swim to get around and under Offensive Lineman even with very short arms. Ivie’s game is built on his motor. Once the play starts he doesn’t stop until the next play. Ivie isn’t a flashy player but showed the ability to win one-on-one battles more so than he lost them. I like Ivie as the back up 3 Technique behind Maliek Collins especially if Tyrone Crawford and David Irving are going to primarily play Defensive End.

GRADE: C
Noah Brown – Wide Receiver – Ohio State – Round 7, No. 239 Overall

Another great value pick here for Dallas in the seventh round. Brown isn’t a burner and isn’t a great route runner but he uses his big frame to shield defenders and consistently bring in footballs with ease. Brown has a huge catch radius thanks to his long frame. At 6’2 222 lbs Brown looks and plays a lot like Dez Bryant. Brown is a red zone threat due to his size and has very sticky hands. The former Buckeye didn’t always have the easiest balls to catch due to the below average QB play at Ohio State but seemed to make highlight reel catches on a consistent basis. Brown loves to block which is something the Cowboys look for in their Wide Receivers. Brown is still learning the position and was supposed to be “the man” at Ohio State this year but with the spotty QB play and good running game not many footballs were thrown his way. Brown is a lot like Marquez White. The ceiling here is too high for me to cut or try and stash on the practice squad. If Brown pushes Brice Butler in training camp even after re-signing him in the offseason Noah Brown may be the new Brice Butler for the Dallas Cowboys.

Look familiar?

GRADE: B-

 

Jordan Carrell – Defensive Tackle – Colorado – Round 7, No. 248 Overall

Was a bit surprised to see another Defensive Tackle drafted after drafting Joey Ivie earlier in the seventh round. Carrell is a big Defensive Tackle that would play the 1 Technique position in Dallas. Carrell reminds me of Nick Hayden. He offers little pass rush but is a tough man to move in the run game. Carrell is likely a practice squad candidate with both Cedric Thornton and Stephen Paea locked in at the 1 Technique position in Dallas for a few more years to come. Carrell looks like an Offensive Lineman and plays with the same amount of power as a Center or Guard. I like Carrell’s potential as a developmental Nose Tackle.

GRADE: C

 

As you can see the Cowboys are in complete rebuild mode on the Defense. I totally believe that the secondary will be improved from last year and look a lot different. Matching Awuzie, Woods, Lewis, and White with Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown, and Orlando Scandrick makes for a very talented, crowded, and competitive secondary room. Competition brings out the best in people and we will have plenty of competition when Training-Camp rolls around. Defensive Line battles, Cornerback battles, Safety battles, and Wide Receiver battles all stemming from what happened in the 2017 NFL Draft.

 

Exciting times.

 

Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147

Early 53 Man Roster Prediction – Pre-Training Camp

We are just a few days removed from the 2017 NFL Draft and the Cowboys will have plenty of new faces around The Star when OTA’s and Training Camp roll around. When you look at all the guys the Cowboys lost in Free- Agency then the players they brought in in Free Agency, all the guys the Cowboys drafted, and all the Undrafted Free-Agents the Cowboys signed after the draft this 53-Man roster will look a lot different than it did this time last year.

  1. QB – Dak Prescott
  2. QB – Kellen Moore
  3. QB – Cooper Rush
  4. RB – Ezekiel Elliott
  5. RB – Darren McFadden
  6. RB – Alfred Morris
  7. WR – Dez Bryant
  8. WR- Terrance Williams
  9. WR – Cole Beasley
  10. WR – Ryan Switzer
  11. WR – Brice Butler
  12. WR – Noah Brown
  13. TE – Jason Witten
  14. TE – Geoff Swaim
  15. TE – Rico Gathers
  16. OT – Tyron Smith
  17. OT – Emmett Cleary
  18. OG – Zack Martin
  19. OG – La’el Collins
  20. OC – Travis Fredrick
  21. OG – Jonathan Cooper
  22. OT – Chaz Green
  23. OT – Byron Bell
  24. FB – Keith Smith
  25. DL – David Irving
  26. DL – Tyrone Crawford
  27. DE – Charles Tapper
  28. DT – Cedric Thornton
  29. DT – Stephen Paea
  30. DT – Maliek Collins
  31. DT – Joey Ivie
  32. DE – Demarcus Lawrence
  33. DE – Taco Charlton
  34. DE – Benson Mayowa
  35. LB – Damien Wilson
  36. LB – Kyle Wilber
  37. LB – Jaylon Smith
  38. LB – Anthony Hitchens
  39. LB – Sean Lee
  40. LB – Mark Nzeocha
  41. S – Byron Jones
  42. S – Xavier Woods
  43. S – Jeff Heath
  44. S – Kavon Fraizer
  45. CB – Anthony Brown
  46. CB – Orlando Scandrick
  47. CB – Chidobe Awuzie
  48. CB – Jourdan Lewis
  49. CB – Nolan Carroll
  50. CB – Marquez White
  51. K – Dan Bailey
  52. P – Chris Jones
  53. LS – L.P. Ladouceur

The Draft Picks:

 Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Switzer, and Xavier Woods will all be walk in contributors right away and I wouldn’t rule out all of the defensive players being starters or battling for a starting position right away. Charlton is likely the starting Right Defensive End, Chidobe Awuzie may be the starting Nickle Corner and play the boundary as well, and Jourdan Lewis will see a large workload right away in the Nickle and on the outside. Xavier Woods has competition but has the potential to let Byron Jones slide into the Strong Safety role and really allow him to play in coverage on tight ends and chase the football closer to the line of scrimmage. Ryan Switzer the Cowboys 4th round pick will unseat  Lucky Whitehead as the teams returner and I can see him having a big role on offense as a rookie.

In addition to these five guys I currently have Joey Ivie, Noah Brown, and Marquez White making the 53 man roster. Ivie is a penetrating defensive tackle that made more plays on film than you would expect from a 7th round pick. Ivie won’t be the most athletic guy in the meeting rooms but has a high  motor and uses his hands and arms to win with swims, swats, and bull rushes. Ivie is actually one of my favorite players the Cowboys drafted after diving in to more of his film. Noah Brown is a high ceiling receiver that really shouldn’t have been available in the 7th round. Brown is a big boy at 6’2 222lbs and style of play is a lot like Dez Bryant. Brown isn’t going to out run you and isn’t the most crisp route runner but he his a red zone nightmare with his physical style of play and blocks extremely well for a receiver. Marquez White will be in a training camp battle for the 6th Cornerback spot on the roster with Leon McFadden. White does not have the ideal size or athletic ability but has very good instincts and has an eye for the football. White is more so of a project than anything but has more than enough redeeming traits and is competitive enough to win that 6th Cornerback job in Training Camp.

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 The Free Agents:

Nolan Carroll, Damontre Moore, Byron Bell and Stephen Paea were the big name Free Agents that were brought in to bolster this Cowboys roster. Nolan Carroll will likely be a day one starting Corner but has a lot of competition behind him that will push him early. Damontre Moore is another guy who was brought in that isn’t guaranteed a roster spot. Moore has a lot of potential and has shown inconsistent flashes throughout his NFL career. If he does happen to put it all together Moore may be in the running for a roster spot, if not I have a hard time seeing him make the roster in a already crowded defensive line room. Byron Bell and Stephen Paea will likely be in Training Camp battles to win a starting spot. Bell will be looking to win the starting Right Tackle spot from Chaz Green and Stephen Paea and Cedric Thornton will slug it out to win the starting One-Technique Defensive Tackle job. None of the Free Agents brought in are game changing type of players but a few of them will win starting roles and a few of them will provide quality depth at their positions.

The Undrafted:

I see one guy who sticks out to me in this Undrafted Free Agent Class that I could see making a case for the 53 Man Roster. That guy is Quarterback Cooper Rush out of Central Michigan. Rush has a lot of developing to do but I could see him being a very good back up Quarterback in the NFL. Rush lacks athletic ability and arm strength to be anything more than a backup in the NFL but does make up for that by being very smart on the field with reading defenses and making good decisions. The Cowboys currently only have Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore as their Quarterbacks on the roster so adding a third guy is something I think they will look to do. Rush is young and has traits in his game that leads me to believe he could win that job.

The Summary:

When you look at the additions the Cowboys made in this off season you notice a completely rebuilt secondary. Time will tell whether they are improved from last years group but in my mind that position upgraded the talent level tremendously between bringing in Nolan Carroll via Free Agency and spending almost half of their draft picks on Defensive Backs. The Defensive Line in my opinion is still average at best. We still have yet to see what Charles Tapper, Damontre Moore, or Taco Charlton can add to the pass rush but I don’t see it being game changing. To me this Defensive Line will continue to be stout against the run and struggle to pressure opposing QB’s. Time will tell, and with Training Camp and OTA’s right around the corner we will find out sooner rather than later. Either way it looks to be very exciting time for Cowboys Nation as the youth movement has officially taken over.

Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147

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.

Got a Lot to Say From RVA – Follow me on Twitter- @connorx147