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NFL draft series: Why there’s a good chance the Cowboys pick a safety at No. 58 – Jon Machota, SportsDay
While it’s anyone’s guess as to who the Cowboys will pick at 58, the odds look favorable that it could be a safety.
The current depth chart consists of Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, George Iloka, Kavon Frazier, Darian Thompson and Jameill Showers. Heath has started 31 games over the last two seasons at strong safety. Woods, a sixth round pick in 2017, was Dallas’ starting free safety last season. Although the Cowboys added Iloka in free agency, they are far from set at the position.
And the team has loaded up on pre-draft visitors at the safety position.
Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram, Washington’s Taylor Rapp, Virginia’s Juan Thornhill and Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson each visited the Cowboys this month. All four are among the top six or seven safeties in this draft class. At least one should be there for the taking at No. 58. Dallas also brought in Boston College’s Will Harris and Michigan State’s Khari Willis in case they go in another direction early and are looking for a safety in the later rounds.
Dallas Cowboys mock draft 2019: Seven rounds, picks, big board, team needs, multiple options for every selection – R.J. White, CBS Sports
The staff over at CBS Sports provides their own mocks on who the Cowboys will pick, including R.J. White’s selections:
No moving around in this mock for the Cowboys, who should be looking to trade back if the right prospects aren’t available on Day 2. Fortunately for them, an awful showing at Taylor Rapp’s pro day allows the star safety prospect to slide down to them at No. 58. He should shine as a down safety for the Cowboys but can also bring some versatility to the position, much like free-agent acquisition George Iloka.
In Round 3, the team addresses perhaps its biggest weakness by selecting Hill, who has the ability to be a quality starter at defensive tackle if he matures. It wouldn’t be the first time the Cowboys took a chance on a prospect in that mold.
The Cowboys start Day 3 by improving the depth chart behind the returning Jason Witten with Raymond, an older prospect but one who should have a role in the NFL, then come back and grab Bryant to add more depth on the edge and someone who can work into the rotation immediately while trying to develop into a starter. Hurd is still learning the receiver position but offers a high ceiling as a downfield target who can even play some running back, giving the offense the versatility it sought with the Tavon Austin acquisition last year. Pollard is a more traditional backup for Zeke Elliott but one that could also offer some versatility in the offense.
John Williams provides his latest seven-round mock and he’s got that familiar name we keep hearing showing up in the second round.
58 – Juan Thornhill, Safety, Virginia
Juan Thornhill has been a guy I’ve hyped up for much of the last two weeks. Until I watched his tape, I was all about Maryland Safety Darnell Savage. In Thornhill, I saw a similar player to Savage, but a better overall athlete that is bigger as well. Thornhill is in that group of safeties along with Taylor Rapp, Jonathan Abram, and Savage, who could be there for the Dallas Cowboys at pick 58.
While each in that group are capable of making a day one impact for the Cowboys, Thornhill is the guy that I think has the best potential. He’s smooth in coverage and willing as a tackler. He plays the ball well in the air and is excellent with the ball in his hands. He has the ability to play corner if needed. At Virginia, he lined up all over the secondary.
In case you missed it…
2019 Cowboys Draft: Juan Thornhill might be the exact safety that Dallas is looking for – RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The love for Thornhill is real over at the BTB base camp as we try to dial in what they Cowboys front office is feeling.
Listening to either Jones member discuss things it’s easy to come away thinking that the Cowboys have a serious focus on the safety position. Stephen has said several times recently that it’s one of the spots on the team that they’ve devoted the fewest amount of resources to. Just look at the Cowboys defense and you’ll see first-rounders that have been spent at defensive end (not to mention a huge contract), linebacker, and cornerback. Safety has been tough even with the drafting of Byron Jones that they were able to salvage.
What exactly are the Cowboys even looking for at safety, though? What type of player do they want? While he was keeping things ambiguous Stephen did drop some information on it, and what’s even more interesting is how one player in this draft class fits that mold almost to a t… Virginia safety Juan Thornhill.
K.D. offers up his final mock and has the Cowboys going safety at 58, but it’s not the player one might expect.
No. 58: Deionte Thompson, Safety, Alabama
It wasn’t too long ago that Thompson was considered the consensus top safety in the draft. The Cowboys didn’t bring him in for a 30 visit and he’s been surpassed in the eyes of many by several safety prospects. That is to Dallas’ gain. Thompson fits the size profile Kris Richard looks for in defensive backs. He fits the big-school pedigree that Jason Garrett loves and he fits the plug-and-play edict from the Cowboys’ front office. Oh yeah, and the kid can absolutely ball.
Will Harris’ physicality would improve Cowboys secondary but at a cost – John Crumpler, Cowboys Wire
If the Cowboys don’t get a safety at 58, keep a watch out for the kid from Boston College.
Harris was a great safety for Boston College and could certainly contribute to the Cowboys’ in 2019. His sound tackling presence would only contribute to the difficult of making it past Dallas’ second level of defense in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch. As a chess piece for Marinelli’s defense, he could be lined up all over the field and given a variety of coverage responsibilities, all while being far from a liability in the run-game. Harris’ biggest flaw is that he’s simply not dynamic. He will not transform your defense, at least not for 2019, and the staff would want to be careful on when/where they utilize his talents. Despite that, Richard has a history of getting the most out of larger defensive backs and Harris certainly fits the profile. In a team devoid of great talent in the secondary outside of Byron Jones, taking a flier on the hard-hitting 200-pounder from Boston College could be well worth the risk.
The Cowboys already have made a big splash by trading away their first-round pick to get Amari Cooper, but the team makes this list with another great first-round trade.
At the midpoint of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys elected to trade down from pick number 18 to pick number 31, which raised eyebrows at the time, both because the team badly needed secondary help and because they only got a third-round pick in return. However, the trade back turned out well in the end, as the Cowboys eventually drafted Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who would turn out to be a key cog in one of the league’s most dominant offensive lines.
From 2013 to 2017, the Cowboys’ offensive line produced the league’s fourth-best pass-blocking grade (87.6) and the league’s second-best run-blocking grade (90.9) — they were the only team to record top-five marks in both disciplines — and Frederick’s work in the middle of that line was a huge reason why. Over that span, Frederick allowed only 69 pressures (and just five sacks) from his 2827 pass-blocking snaps, while he earned a run-blocking grade of 93.2 that was second to only Jason Kelce. He played over 1000 snaps in each season from 2013 to 2017, graded above 85.0 in each, and received a downgrade on just 6.6% of his snaps, cementing his place as arguably the league’s most dependable center.
Despite not having a first-round pick, the Cowboys have a lot of work to do. Spags over at the mothership explains why the upcoming draft is so crucial.
Great they have re-signed DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal. But still to go over the next two years or so would include Cooper, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones, which figure to be big-ticket items, creating a serious drain on the salary cap.
But you can’t play ball with just eight guys on what must be considered the greatest _team_ sport in the world. You need to continue to stock your 53-man roster with the likes of Maliek Collins and Chidobe Awuzie and Michael Gallup and Tyrone Crawford and Xavier Woods. You know, the worker bees, high quality at relatively bottom-basement prices.
That is precisely why the Cowboys must continue re-stocking their shelves next week as they’ve been doing over the past several years. That prevents bankrupting their salary cap by signing their star players, along with having to fill in the blanks with expensive free agents.
The Cowboys will be looking for great value guys, but would they dare take a gamble on another high-risk/high-upside pass rusher?
Polite already weighs 258 pounds, which means that within 18 months he could be playing at close to 270 while also standing 6-3. Polite doesn’t quite have the length Lawrence has, but I’m not sure he’s not quicker off the snap and this is a quality that always translates well to the NFL. His technique will need work, which is a given. But Jachai Polite could fall in the coming draft – I wouldn’t rule out a slide into the third round, or further.
Yes, Polite comes with some serious concerns, which include his willingness to be coached and certainly his maturity. But that video above has got to make you salivate just a little. The explosion is pretty strong, he can go inside and out and remember he’s going to get bigger – but only if he grows up well enough to forge a career in pro football. No, Polite is no Lawrence, but he’s got the skill set to be a very similar player one day.
2019 NFL Free Agents: Which Available Players Can Still Be Key Contributors? – Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report
If the Cowboys don’t address the running back position in the draft, they could still find quality backups in free agency.
RB T.J. Yeldon
Yeldon looks to be a role player in a rotation. But he fits a very specific role as a third-down back. In four seasons, the 2015 second-round pick has pulled in 171 passes. He finished second in receptions on the Jaguars last season, behind Dede Westbrook’s 66, with a career-high 55 grabs. As the game becomes more specialized, a back with Yeldon’s skill set is a necessity even if he is not viewed as a starter. The latter point is a primary reason why he hasn’t drawn much free-agent interest. The Jaguars drafted Yeldon to feature in their offense. He never developed into a lead back, though. As a result, the team drafted Leonard Fournette two years later. Other teams never had the same expectations. Yeldon is a 25-year-old back who, even in crowded backfields, can carve out a defined role.
Tweet of the Day
DeMarcus Lawrence has embraced the nickname that Jerry Jones coined long ago.
— DeMarcus Lawrence (@TankLawrence) April 20, 2019