Each round of the draft should offer up options at the wide receiver position, but when is the best time to strike?
The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Allen Hurns, and Tavon Austin should be ready to go for the 2019 season. It’s quite a different cast of characters as none of these players were on the team prior to last season. The team has overhauled the entire position group in just one year, but is the remodeling project complete? The Cowboys may choose to add more talent through the draft if the right guy falls to them. Collecting talent is the name of the game and wide receiver shouldn’t be off the table even if they feel good about their current players. Last year, the team got an excellent deal on Michael Gallup when he was still available in the third round, and they also got great value later in the draft with Cedrick Wilson when he was selected 208th overall.
The wide receiver position should offer up several options during each round the Cowboys pick, but the team would be wise to wait it out for a falling star. Great value can be found and there is no reason to get antsy. Instead, the Cowboys should only look to pull the trigger if someone on their board falls significantly. It may happen early, or it may happen late, but there’s a great chance of it happening at some point. For this experiment we are getting greedy and only looking for fantastic value picks. Many of these players will go a round earlier than what is outlined in this approach, but that’s the whole point – we are looking for flat out steals. Let’s get real picky and identify players in each round that would be outstanding value picks at that point int the draft.
Both these receivers are first-round guys on my board and I’m not expecting them to last to 58, but if talent elsewhere is washed out, I’m not losing any sleep by taking one of these potential future stars with the second-round pick.
The Sun Devil product doesn’t blow you away with athleticism, but on tape Harry just looks like he wants it more than anyone else. His production speaks for itself, but the way he uses his body and hauls down contested catches will make him a valued asset at the next level. His make up is just what the team looks for as he brings a lot of physicality to his play and despite being a big playmaking pass-catcher, he’s a willing blocker in the run game. The work ethic, the competitiveness, the leadership – they all scream “RKG” and open the door for huge upside at the next level.
Having a 6’5” guy who runs 4.48 is an appealing trait on paper, but when you watch Butler snare passes from defenders and turn them into big scores, you really start to appreciate how great he is. Over the last two years, he’s had eight touchdowns of 40+ yards. His length and physical play make him a ball-hawking red zone threat, but those long strides means he could take it to the house on any given play.
The interesting thing about this wide receiver class is that it’s anyone’s guess where WR# 2 through 10 are going to fall. Both these guys may very easily be gone by pick 58, but some of these top guys are going to slide to 90. It’s just a matter of who they will be. I’m holding out for one of my higher ranked guys even though they have no business still being on the board, however, we thought the same thing about Gallup in last year’s draft.
The NC State star isn’t a blazer and will struggle to maintain separation against faster corners and that could cause him to be overlooked a bit. Regardless of lackluster combine numbers, the tape is outstanding and he always seems to find open space. He will use his size to his advantage and does an excellent job tracking the ball. Harmon comes away on the winning end of many contested battles and would be an absolute steal in the third round.
Samuel is already a big pet cat of many as he’s one of the few receivers that met with the Cowboys as an official 30 visit. He’s a route-running ace who brings with him a lot of toughness so it’s no wonder the Cowboys have shown interest. He doesn’t have big production, but that is attributed to an unimpressive passing attack at South Carolina. Team’s will look past those results and see real value in what Samuel offers.
While the top receivers will all trickle off the board on Day 2, the third day of the draft is where teams start looking for specific skills. Maybe they want a speedy vertical threat. Maybe they want a slot guy. Players like Keke Coutee and Antonio Callaway were selected in the fourth round last year as they fit into roles that complemented other pieces of their respective offenses. What players would be a good fit for Dallas?
The Bulldogs receiver is one of the top slot receiving value picks in this draft. He’s shifty, but he also has 4.33 breakaway speed to leave defenders in the dust. He tracks the ball well and has springy feet to go up and get the ball. Hardman also brings toughness to his game and when you couple that with his elusiveness, that makes for an appealing return man option. He’s not as polished as some of these other receivers and that could make this 5’10” receiver slide a bit, but he would be a nice fit with the Cowboys.
Stanley Morgan Jr.
There is nothing about Stanley Morgan’s athleticism that will jump out at you. If you go through the list of his traits, it’s pretty mundane. But what the Cornhuskers receiver lacks in upside, he fills out in the collective goodness. He’s a route-running ace, can dig balls out of the dirt, and has enough wiggle to be a factor after the catch. Morgan Jr. is strong competitor who is a consummate professional. He will find ways to contribute at the NFL level.
While it gets harder to make the roster with the talent pool this late in the draft, there are still a few players who offer good upside. We’re going big here with a couple of tall prospects that might find a role within the Cowboys receiving group.
One of my favorite pet cat receivers is Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley. After only catching 10 passes his first two years of college, Wesley burst on the scene last season with 88 catches for over 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns. Sure, he’s just a one-year wonder, but who knows the potential of this 6’4” beast? He’s a good route-runner and has outstanding ball skills so it’s hard not to be intrigued by the upside. His speed leaves something to be discovered as he didn’t run the 40 at the combine, but he has too many tools not to be nice fixture on some team’s receiving group. Personally, I’m looking at him a round earlier, but staying true to this draft strategy – he falls into the fifth round group.
If you had a chance to get the guy who was responsible for making Alvin Kamara a backup running back at Tennessee, you’d be stoked right? Well, that’s exactly what Jalen Hurd did in his time as a running back. In 2015, Kamara played second fiddle to Jalen Hurd, who had 1,285 yards rushing. But then Hurd transferred to Baylor and transitioned to a wide receiver. He’s still raw as a receiver, but has great athleticism. His length will win him some battles and he has the raw ability to be a dynamic playmaker. He’s worth taking a gamble on late in the draft.
In the seventh round, teams are essentially taking flyers on players. The Cowboys could still find a couple receivers who have a fighting chance to make the roster.
The Toledo Rockets have three receiver prospects that could go pro this year with Johnson earning his money by turning into one of the supreme deep threats in the nation last year. He only had 32 catches for 660 yards last season, but 10 of them went for 380 yards and seven of his nine touchdowns. He’s a blazer who really only projects as a vertical threat, but that’s okay as the Cowboys can use players who can stretch the field. His route-running is vanilla, but he still does a great job separating with elite quickness. Should he be able to improve his fundamentals, he could end up being a sneaky good steal this late in the draft.
The Georgia State receiving star has been a fan favorite to fill the slot ever since people started to come to terms with the idea that Cole Beasley wasn’t coming back. After two-straight 1,000+ yard seasons, he fell off last season and appeared to be just an afterthought. The Senior Bowl reminded people how good he can be as he’s very polished as a route-running and has the toughness to gain yards after the catch. Unfortunately, he’s small and offers very little speed. That’s a combo that makes if hard to sustain success at the next level.
What round do you think the Cowboys should target a wide receiver and who would you like to see them select?