With the NFL Draft only a few hours away, we take one final look at what we think are the Dallas Cowboys top draft targets.
With the 2017 NFL Draft only hours away the Dallas Cowboys have finally met with all of the players they want to target this year and we can now begin to assess their crop of pre-draft visitors.
While they have met with most of these prospects only once some have had multiple meetings with the team which could be an indicator for selection, that or re-checking a players medical status.
It is interesting to see which positions the Cowboys have valued the most as they scout players during this pre-draft process. Mainly the team brought in defensive backs and pass rushers which also is currently the biggest needs for Dallas.
The number of pass rushers the Cowboys have met with indicate that intend to draft at least one defensive lineman, that is not all that telling. The fact that most of the pass rushers they brought in have first round grades does indicate what the team looks to do with the 28th pick.
Derek Barnett (Tennessee)/Takkarist McKinley (UCLA)/Charles Harris (Missouri)/Taco Charlton (Michigan)/T.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
Right off the bat we notice a common theme, pass rushers who should be available late into the first round. Barnett is likely the highest rated player that they have met with in terms of finding a pure pass rusher. However he does have a lot of similarities with Takk McKinley that seem to make those two players the best pass rushers on the board for the Cowboys.
The main difference is the production levels in college, McKinley did not rack up the stats like Barnett however their skill set is similar. In fact it could be said McKinley is the more versatile player as Barnett is used to playing left end. The question really is will either player be on the board when the Cowboys are on the clock, that remains to be seen.
Houston Texans star pass rusher, JJ Watt’s little brother T.J. is in this draft and bloodline alone seemingly guarantees him a spot in the first round. The main knock on Watt is his injury history, and it is pretty jarring. He has suffered serious injuries to both knees, and only played 22 games when he was at Wisconsin.
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Another issue is the fact that he has only played on the defensive side of the ball for one full season. He technically is a linebacker who would switch to defensive end in the NFL however he is also somewhat undersized. Watt would need to gain weight and muscle before he could see regular production on the NFL field.
While it would be exciting to see Watt on the back of a Cowboys jersey, it does not seem as likely as it is being hyped up to be. Watt is also a top prospect with a lot of hype surrounding his name, I would also be shocked if the Texans were on the board and did not select him just because of the chemistry alone those two would have rushing opposing quarterbacks.
Bottom line he probably will be taken early and the Cowboys may not have a chance to pass on him. The favorite for the Cowboys in most mock drafts is Charles Harris. Sure Jabrill Peppers has also been mentioned as an option for the Cowboys at 28 but with his recent NFL Combine drug test results, he could fall into the second round.
There is also the fact that the Cowboys have yet to meet with Peppers officially and the team is clearly looking to draft a pass rusher in the first round. If Peppers is available mid-way through the second round, the Cowboys could look to trade up but even that seems unlikely.
With all of that out of the way, Harris is monstrous pass rusher. He would be a terrific fit in Rod Marinelli’s defense and could make an impact early. He has the size and speed to really test NFL offensive linemen and a complete tool kit of pass rushing techniques.
Most importantly he would fit as the starting right defensive end and seemingly looks like the missing piece the Cowboys need. He is a pure edge rusher who cannot play inside but is an immediate upgrade on the edge.
The odd man out here is Charlton and that is not a surprise. He would be a great fit for most of the teams past 15 as he is a capable and productive edge rusher but he is not exactly a “War Daddy”.
In fact there have been questions about his work ethic on the field and on the NFL level it is only going to get harder. He struggles to shed blocks consistently and has limited pass rushing techniques. It is hard to see Charlton landing with Dallas at 28.