Analyzing the Cowboys 2023 draft class and their possible roles
7th Round (244th) Jalen Brooks, WR, South Carolina ADP: Undrafted
The seventh round is one of the most intriguing rounds to me, simply because it's where a team drafts a player they see as an athlete they want to turn into a player or a player that needs to become more of an athlete.
The Cowboys lost some depth pieces on offence and need to reload. Grabbing a wideout late helps with the departure of Noah Brown. South Carolina's Jalen Brooks fills that style well.
The six-foot-one-inch tall wideout dealt with some off-field issues in his college career. He played two years at Wingate University, transferred to Tarleton State, then immediately to South Carolina before playing a snap at Tarleton. The NCAA didn't make him eligible until the fifth game of 2020.
He left the team mid-season the following year but returned during the summer to have a productive 2022 season. Over his last two seasons, he played in 17 games, catching 47 passes for 685 yards and two touchdowns.
PLUS: Brooks has great hands and ball-tracking abilities. If the ball is within reach, he will have a good shot at coming down with it. He fights, has strong hands on the ball, and has great hand-eye coordination, which leads to highlight catches like the one above.
His skills as a ball carrier are underrated. He won't break ankles like Vaughn or truck over guys, but he changes his angles and breaks through tackles. South Carolina utilized him a lot on crossing routes, screens, and reverse runs, which allowed him to show off his shiftiness.
MINUS: He is not a great athlete, relying on finding open space against zones or making the most of specific plays designed to get him open. The Harrisburg native was never eye-grabbing on tape. Don't expect him to take your breath away.
He will have a hard time getting open at the NFL level. It's hard to see how the Cowboys will use him on the offence unless he cleans that up.
ROLE: The obvious route is to start on special teams while Brooks works on his craft. He doesn't need to be the best route-runner, but if he can specialize in being that physical red zone threat, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy would be very happy. Throw the ball up, and come down with it.
If Brooks does that, he can be a WR4/WR5. I don't see the potential to become an impact player, but he can be a reliable depth piece that makes a big play occasionally. Unfortunately, those once-in-a-while plays could get some in over their head thinking he is better than he is.
None of the mock drafts projected him getting his name called. He is not a flashy player, isn't fast, and doesn't run routes great, but he gets the job done. That's about it. A meh pick. I would've preferred picking him up as a UDFA and using the pick on someone with more upside.