Six Cowboys UDFA prospects that are sure to push for a roster spot



It’s difficult for UDFA talents to make it in the NFL but the Cowboys have guys that will challenge that.

If any organization knows about undrafted talents, it’s the Dallas Cowboys. After all, this organization found a multi-time Pro Bowl quarterback in Tony Romo, they turned Miles Austin into a star receiver as well. There are plenty of UDFA talents that somehow find a way to rise to the challenge and carve out good careers in the NFL.

The 2019 Cowboys have a tough roster to crack. Though the odds are slim for UDFA’s to secure spots on any of the 32 rosters in the league, some of these Cowboys signees have a chance. It’s kind of incredible when you see the draft value that wound up undrafted this year. The Cowboys were certainly working the phones for the guys they liked, here’s a look at the complete list:

NAME/ POS. SCHOOL PROJ. RD POS. RK 40-YD COLLEGIATE CAREER STATS
DANIEL WISE, DT KANSAS 4 11 5.11 42 STARTS, 151 TCKL, 44 TFL, 18.5 SCK, 3PD, FF
MITCH HYATT, OT CLEMSON 5 15 5.29 57 STARTS @ LT, ALL-AMERICAN, 2X 1ST-TM ALL-ACC
CHRIS WESTRY, CB KENTUCKY 6-7 32 4.35 34 STARTS, 134 TCKL, 3.5 TFL, 2 SCK, 18 PD, 3 INT, FF
JON’VEA JOHNSON, WR TOLEDO 6-7 34 4.39 53 GP, 123 REC, 2,224 REC YD, 24 TD, 18.1 Y/REC
RICKY WALKER, DT VA TECH 6-7 26 4.98 30 STARTS, 127 TCKL, 30.5 TFL, 8 SCK, 6 PD, 2 FF
JALEN GUYTON, WR N. TEXAS PFA 42 4.35 26 GP, 103 REC, 1,580 REC YD, 15 TD, 15.3 Y/REC
LARRY ALLEN JR., OL HARVARD PFA 65 5.26 20 STARTS, 3X ALL-IVY LG, 2X 1ST-TM ALL-ECAC
BRANDON KNIGHT, OL INDIANA PFA 21 5.04 41 GP, 26 RT STARTS, HON. MEN ALL-BIG 10
JUSTIN PHILLIPS, LB OKLAHOMA ST. PFA 60 4.7 43 GP, 146 TCKL, 23 TFL, 6.5 SCK, 6 PD, 3 INT, 6 FF
LUKE GIFFORD, LB NEBRASKA PFA 34 4.67 29 GP, 109 TCKL, 19 TFL, 7 SCK, 4PD, FF
DERRICK PUNI, OL C. MISSOURI PFA 32 5.36 37 GP, 22 STARTS LT/RT, 1ST-TM ALL-MIAA
ANDREW DOWELL, LB MICHIGAN ST. PFA 125 4.7 46 GP, 103 TCKL, 16 TFL, 6 SCK, 16 PD, INT, 2 FF
NATE HALL, LB NORTHWESTERN PFA 54 4.85 45 GP, 151 TCKL, 31 TFL, 5 SCK, 10 PD, 5 INT

On this list, there are guys that have obvious name value but there are six real contenders among this crop of rookie free agent Cowboys. Let’s take a look at some snapshot scouting reports of the heavyweights.

DT DANIEL WISE, KANSAS

DT DANIEL WISE

SR-KANSAS 6’3 290 LBS PROJ RD:4

Strengths

Weaknesses

Solid movement out of stance, above avg bend, flashes good hand usage, very crafty, good leverage in run defense, strong sturdy lower body to keep driving in pass rush & catches run counters well

Struggles w/ power moves, strength needs improvement but frame is maxed, gets grabbed, hand fights, struggles to unlatch, needs to work on balance

Had the Cowboys not taken Trysten Hill, it’s possible that Wise would have been the target in a later round. The Cowboys are fond of the Kansas development program for defensive lineman. Daniel Wise is another interior lineman that shows the burst off the ball and has great bend. Wise has developed his lower body well and understands the importance of leverage in trench warfare.

The issues that Wise seems to have is mainly with balance, he gets knocked down easily. Wise, much like current Cowboy Tyrone Crawford, plays with intensity and craftsmanship. Also, like Crawford in his early days, Wise has issues with hand fighting and detaching. Still, to be able to find this type of value in free agency is a major plus for the Cowboys.

OT MITCH HYATT, CLEMSON

OT MITCH HYATT

SR-CLEMSON 6’5 305 LBS PROJ RD:5

Strengths

Weaknesses

Great length, Power at point of attack, accurate hand placement, powerful snatch, good short yardage blocker, high football IQ, Competitive, tough, controlled aggression

Feet get clunky, troubled by speed, not very flexible, anchor needs major work, needs work in pass pro sets, balance is a problem

The Cowboys have a type when it comes to offensive linemen, they go after lunch pail guys from big programs with a ton of experience. Mitch Hyatt is the type of player that is on the fast track to competing at the swing tackle position. Hyatt has 57 starts at left tackle and he’s as tough as they come. When he’s out there, you’re getting a blocker with a mean-streak in him, but he keeps control of that aggression and uses it to his advantage.

There are technical aspects that he needs to develop, especially footwork. At the very least, Hyatt is a guy that can help immediately upgrade the short-yardage redzone rushing attack. He excels in short-yardage situations, an area where the Cowboys had mixed results.

CB CHRIS WESTRY, KENTUCKY

CB CHRIS WESTRY

SR-KENTUCKY 6’4 190 LBS PROJ RD:6-7

Strengths

Weaknesses

Physically-gifted, great athleticism, outstanding size, amazing closing burst, gives effort in run defense, can physically beat down WR, good job of keeping action in front, wrap up tackler, great length

Underdeveloped, very grabby, messy angles, regressed in college, never seized opportunity to start, needs ton of technique work

Westry has all the physical gifts that you want in an NFL cornerback. He’s long and has tremendous athleticism. Westry does a nice job of staying physical with receivers and has a tendency to wear the opponent down. He is a solid tackler, he wraps guys up but sometimes his physicality becomes overaggressive. He’ll need to lose that habit he has to grab receivers to make it in the NFL and he’s likely to hear his name called quite a bit in preseason.

The traits mixed with his physical makeup make him a great candidate for Kris Richard’s development program.

DT RICKY WALKER, VIRGINIA TECH

DT RICKY WALKER

SR-VA TECH 6’2 284 LBS PROJ RD: 6-7

Strengths

Weaknesses

Explosive first step, projects well at 3T, fires off the snap, uses proper pad level, consistent leverage, solid balance, easy COD, agile player, unrelenting motor

Needs power, easily washed, average pass rush production, need clear line to the ball-carrier, must improve play strength

Rod Marinelli loves explosive three-tech prospects and Ricky Walker makes a trifecta of rookie under-tackles joining the roster. Much like Trysten Hill, Walker has a lightning-quick first-step and burst. Where he separates himself is in his change of direction abilities, he’s very agile and athletic.

The problem with Ricky Walker is that he doesn’t have much power and gets washed out of the play far too quickly. If Walker sees a a wide lane to the ball-carrier, he’s on point but he needs to develop a better pass rushing plan for the NFL when Plan A breaks down.

WR JON’VEA JOHNSON, TOLEDO

WR JON’VEA JOHNSON

SR-TOLEDO 6’0 188 LBS PROJ RD:6-7

Strengths

Weaknesses

Great athleticism, terrific production, very physical player, sacrifices body to secure ball, quick release, works way back to the ball, can adjust and extend well, plucks ball out of the air, vertical threat, bad ball catcher

Issue with drops, only limited quickness, struggles to consistently separate, needs to catch cleanly, relies on body catching at times

It’s going to be easy for these offensive coaches to fall for Jon’Vea Johnson because there’s a lot of physical traits that he shares with former Cowboy Dez Bryant. Johnson has big-bodied frame and he does a great job of using it to his advantage. He seems to always work his way back to the quarterback and that’s something that every passer loves. Johnson has made his bread as a vertical threat and doesn’t need the most accurate passer to produce.

Where he struggles is with keeping focus which can lead to drops and he’s not much of a burner. Johnson has a quick release but he doesn’t consistently separate which is something he’s going to need ample work on.

WR JALEN GUYTON, NORTH TEXAS

WR JALEN GUYTON

JR-N. TEXAS 6’1 194 LBS PROJ RD: PFA

Strengths

Weaknesses

Great size, nice speed (4.39), smooth athlete, polish in routes, fights for more, breaks tackles, physicality creates separation, balance is great, really does a nice job adjusting to QB, proven producer

Inconsistent, suspended & left Notre Dame program, timing is a little late, awareness is a problem, route tree is underdeveloped, body-catcher

Jalen Guyton is likely to be a lot of people’s pet cat because there aren’t many weaknesses to his game that can’t be fixed. He’s got elite size, above-average speed, creates consistent separation, and plays with physicality. Guyton has got the contortion/adjustment game down. Sure, he struggles with some body catching and needs to develop his route tree but the blueprint is there to mold into a viable NFL weapon.



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