The 2018 NFL draft is quickly approaching. Starting April 26 and ending on the 28, 253 players will hear their names called. Ten of those players will become Cowboys (barring trades).
Today we’re breaking down where all ten picks land and give two possibilities for each pick except for picks 192 and 193 in the sixth round as there is no need to list two players for each pick. I will provide a brief description of the player, why it makes sense for the Cowboys to draft him and highlights if available.
Round 1, Pick 19.
Orlando Brown, tackle, University of Oklahoma.
Brown is a massive man standing at 6’7 and weighing in at 340lbs. That being said, Brown is surprisingly nimble and has the length and size that scouts drool over. He has a mean streak which shows in the run game. Has great football IQ and dominates at the point of attack. Where Brown can struggle is a speed rush especially on an island likely making him a right tackle or even a guard at the next level. With Brown’s size and versatility, he has the ability to come in and make an impact from day one.
Rashaan Evans, inside linebacker, University of Alabama
Evans is next in a long line of Alabama defenders to come from Nick Saben. Evans possesses all the physical tools standing 6’3 weighing 235lbs and has to ability to read and react quickly. Is a violent tackler who sheds blocks well and is more than capable blitzer. He has the speed to cover tight ends and rush the passer from the outside. Can be aggressive to a fault sometimes overrunning plays and going for the big hit instead of making the sure tackle. Still with Sean Lee’s injury problems bringing Evans into the fold can only help.
Round 2, Pick 50.
Simmie Cobbs Jr., wide receiver, University of Indiana
With the departure of Dez Bryant, the need for a big physical receiver skyrocketed. Cobbs fills that role. At 6’3 220lbs he has the size you want and is great in jump ball situations. He has a large catch radius and uses his size to his advantage. Is tough to bring down and had a nice showing against Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, one of the best corners in the draft. While he doesn’t possess blazing speed, Cobbs has the potential to fill the huge void left by Bryant.
Dallas Goedert, tight end, South Dakota State
Goedert is great for the Cowboys. His name is Dallas after all. All lame jokes aside Goedert could be the replacement for future Hall-of-Famer Jason Witten who doesn’t have too many years left. The 6’4 255lbs Goedert posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons totaling 18 touchdowns. Possesses receiver skills getting open with ease against linebackers and has strong hands and body control. Solid blocker who will have to overcome jump in competition. Overal Goedert is one of the best tight ends in the draft and would be a great pick up here.
Round 3, Pick 81.
Rashaad Penny, running back, San Diego State
We all saw how much the run game suffered with Ezikel Elliott out and the effect it had on the offense. It is imperative that the Cowboys invest in a second back. Penny fits that role. At 5’11 220lbs Penny has the size to wear down a defense and has surprising speed and hands for his size and can also return kicks and punts. However, he lacks initial explosiveness and runs high and his high volume of carries last year (289) is concerning when it comes to wear and tear on his body. Still, Penny can come in and give the Cowboys a nice one-two punch from day one.
Auden Tate, wide receiver, Florida State
I know the Cowboys just signed two receivers and I know I have them drafting Cobbs but it won’t hurt to have two physical receivers especially with both unproven at the pro level. Tate is a big physical receiver at 6’5 225lbs. Drew comparisons to former Florida State and current Buffalo Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Is a contested-catch specialist who knows how to use his frame. Has a large catch radius and a physical blocker. Not a deep threat by any means and can stand to improve his route running but possesses a physicality that the Cowboys need.
Round 4, Pick 116.
Breeland Speaks, defensive tackle, Ole Miss
The 6’3 305lbs Speaks could fill the need for another tackle to go with Maliek Collins. Speaks is versatile playing both end and tackle and has a good blend of size and strength. He locates the ball well and has great upside as a pass rusher which the Cowboys need from the inside. Technique needs work and is still raw but should be able to come in and contribute in the rotation. Notched seven sacks this season, more than any tackle on the Cowboys roster. Good value here in the fourth round.
Anthony Averett, cornerback, University of Alabama.
With the recent departure of starting cornerback Orlando Scandrick to the Washington Redskins, cornerback has become more of a pressing need. One option to fill it is Averett. Averett possesses track speed and even played some receiver during his career. Has great closing speed and is strong in both press and off coverage. Is willing to play the run. Little on the small side at 5’11 185lbs and his one career interception are concerning to some. To me, Averett is a fast corner who can play effectively in press and off giving the Cowboys options. Another strong value pick.
Round 4, Pick 137.
Marcell Frazier, defensive end, Missouri
Another need, Frazier possesses good length and a high motor. Has an effective swim move and able to set up blockers and shed them well. Notched 14.5 sacks his last two years. A little undersized at 260lbs and has to improve his leverage in the run game. Still, as an effective pass rusher, Frazier possesses the ability to earn a spot in the rotation off the bat.
Lorenzo Carter, outside linebacker, University of Georgia
At 6’5 240lbs, Carter possesses the size and length that scouts desire. Has strong instincts. Strong against the run closing fast on the ball and has a good motor. The length allows him to make an impact in the passing game and has good timing on his blitzes. Not a great edge rusher and is still trying to put all his skills to use. With coaching, I think Carter can unlock his true potential and with the size that he has could be a starter a few years down the road.
Round 5, Pick 171.
Micah Kiser, inside linebacker, University of Virginia.
We know the Cowboys are a different defense without middle linebacker Sean Lee on the field. In Kiser the Cowboys get a linebacker with great instincts and football IQ. He is a tackling machine notching three straight 100+ tackle seasons including 145 this season. He is a sure tackler who is solid and run defense and forced eight fumbles in his career. His speed may limit him some in man coverage if asked to cover anybody besides a tight end but the instincts and production are enough for him to contribute early.
Hercules Mata’afa, defensive end, Washington State.
Mata’afa is an intriguing prospect. At 6’2 255lbs he is too small to be a defensive end full time but might be too stiff to play linebacker. What isn’t a question is his ability to get to the quarterback as he notched 10.5 sacks last season from the defensive tackle spot. Is quick and excels at shooting the gaps and has good closing speed. High motor who never quits on a play. May only be a pass rush specialist but can be effective. With his versatility expect defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to get the most out of him.
Round 6, Pick 192.
Leon Jacobs, outside linebacker, University of Wisconsin.
Jacobs has the size (6’1 245lbs) to play both linebacker spots. Has long arms which allows him to play bigger than his listed size. Has decent man coverage skills and has good burst off the edge. Is raw due to the fact that he has moved around a lot during his career. Once his set at a position the sky is the limit for Jacobs and with the ability to play up to three positions the value and upside is too much to pass up.
Jessie Bates, safety, Wake Forest
At 6’1 190lbs Bates has the size and length that you want in a modern safety. Reads the quarterback well as he notched six interceptions the past two seasons. Has good ball skills and speed and with his size can cover tight ends. Has to get stronger and develop a willingness to play against the run. There is no doubt Bates is raw and will need time to develop but all the tools are there. This late in the draft this is a pick that may pay dividends down the road.
Round 6, Pick 208.
Lowell Lotulelei, defensive tackle, Utah
Lotulelei is the younger brother of Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Is a massive man at 6’1 325lbs who is stout against the run. Is a mauler who has good quickness for a man his size. Had a down senior year only registering 16 tackles. However, many think he was playing injured. Regardless of that fact or not, his down senior season could be the Cowboys gain. Lotulelei can spell Collins at the nose guard spot and provide a stout plug in the middle. Another low-risk-high-reward player here.
Poona Ford, defensive tackle, University of Texas
Ford is another player I watched extensively throughout his career. At 5’11 310lbs he is the quindecennial undersized nose guard. Ford faced double teams throughout his last two years at Texas especially last season and even played some end which baffled me. Ford wins with leverage and his low center of gravity and has good off the snap speed. Doesn’t have a variety of moves to disengage from blockers but when he does he possesses good enough closing speed to make the tackle. Could stand to get in better shape as he looked gassed early in games. It might be tough for Ford to make the roster but his ability to stop the run may at least earn him a spot on the practice squad.
Round 7, Pick 236.
Larry Rose III, running back, New Mexico State
Rose, in my opinion, was one of the most underrated players in the country the past four years. Despite playing behind a below average line for most of his career he managed to finish his career with 4,558 yards, second-most in school history, and 37 touchdowns on the ground while adding 1,157 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Rose burst onto the scene as a true freshman rushing for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns earning Sun Belt offensive player of the year and followed that up with a 1,657 yard 14 touchdown season that earned him third-team All-America. Rose battled injuries his last two years and had the benefit of a passing offense. At 5’11 195lbs he has the size and skills to make it in the league. He reminds me of former Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar.
Shaun Dion Hamilton, inside linebacker, University of Alabama
Hamilton is a smart player who plays with an edge. At 6’0 235lbs he is undersized and does have prior injury issues including an ACL in 2016. Hamilton is a solid tackler who takes good angles and packs a pop. Has good enough coverage skills to be effective. He will likely have to grind his teeth on special teams for a few years before seeing meaningful snaps but has the IQ and edge to make it. Great value pick here.