Cowboys Go Defense Even with Dez Bryant Departure
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did everything he could to derail the 2017 season for the Dallas Cowboys with the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. The questions marks surrounding Elliott on a weekly basis hurt the consistency of this offense. It’s hard to put in a gameplan not knowing if your best offensive weapon will be playing that week or not. But even with the uncertainty and missing six games, Elliott finished just shy of 1,000 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Now with a full slate on tap again for 2018, Elliott will undoubtedly be one of the top three running backs off the board early in Round 1.
Dak Prescott had somewhat of a sophomore slump mainly due to the increase of turnovers he accounted for. His passing attempts were up, but his yardage dipped. The 28 touchdowns he had was on par with his 2016 totals, as well. There were just boneheaded mistakes made on the field that killed drives, costing him the potential for more points last year. If he can put a handle on the turnovers, expect for Prescott to provide value closer to his 2016 form this year, making him a candidate as a low-end QB1 in Fantasy drafts.
Looking forward to the draft, the Cowboys are in a spot where the need to find depth at key positions to take the next step in contention. The team could use another weapon at receiver, another offensive lineman to step in in case of injury, and also some depth in the defensive front seven. If they can find a playmaker at each spot in this draft, we could see a Cowboys team ready to make some noise in the NFC this season.
Team Needs: DT, LB, WR
Projected Top Three Picks
First Round: Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama
Second Round: Maurice Hurst, DT Michigan
Third Round: Braden Smith, OG Auburn
The Cowboys draft starts off on a high note with the selection of Rashaan Evans in the first-round. Evans has that sideline-to-sideline speed that could make him an immediate impact from his first day on the field. He is very quick to diagnose plays as they happen and can get around blockers with his plus-athletic ability. His skilled tackling also prevents from busted plays that can go for long gains. He should come in and start from the jump on this defense, filling the void left by the departure of Anthony Hitchens.
If Maurice Hurst happens to fall to the Cowboys pick in Round 2, call that a major win. Plugging in a player the caliber of Hurst into the middle of the defensive line can solve so many problems for this team. He comes off of blocks fast, allowing him to get into the backfield and disrupt plays. If he can prove to overpower redirect blocks, then Hurst could develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber player for many years.
With the Cowboys offensive line running into injury problems for much of 2017, finding a player to add depth could be considered a must. Braden Smith provides an NFL-ready frame that passes the eyeball test. He has the power to matchup against even the strongest linemen in the game, but he must fine-tune his technique at this level. He has to become more mentally tough as he tends to play to the competition in front of him. He tends to look better against players that are less talented than he is, while sometimes getting overworked by higher-caliber defensive linemen. He projects out to be a solid starter in the NFL, but playing behind some of the linemen in Dallas, his ceiling could prove to be higher.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth
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