The 2016 NFL draft is rapidly approaching, therefore it was time to post my 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board. This series consists of the top 5 prospects at each position I feel are a good fit for the Cowboys.
Keep in mind that these are not necessarily the players I have graded as the top prospects at their position for the entire draft. When compiling this 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board, I listed the ones I believe are the best scheme fits for the Cowboys defense. This post covers the cornerbacks.
I designed this 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board based on the immediate needs. I am subsequently listing the positions based on the order of need I’m not discounting the best player available draft formula in any way because the Cowboys have enough needs that they shouldn’t be forced to reach in any of the 6 rounds.
In my first 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board article I covered the right defensive end position. Despite the Cowboys having a glaring need for depth at the CB position, I believe that the secondary is only as good as the pass rush. Football is won in the trenches. I don’t care who you have in coverage, when the QB has enough time and/or a nice pocket to step up in to, someone is going to get open. All of the modern rules favor the QB and the WR.
You wont find Jalen Ramsey on my list because we have him on our board as a free safety. So does CBS. He doesn’t have the hips, instincts or ball skills to be a shut down CB against the much better route runners at the NFL level. In fact, if you do a comparison, he is a Byron Jones clone. I will be the first to admit that Ramsey is an excellent athlete, but you don’t cover the Megatrons of the league in gym shorts. When I heard Jason Garrett compare Ramsey to Deion Sanders it about floored me. He has nowhere near the speed, hips, ball skills or instincts that Sanders had. You are talking about one of the best CB’s to ever play the game. Come on Jason! As I saw Cas say in a tweet to Jerry Jones:
“That’s like comparing Ryan Leaf to Tony Romo. Mark My Words!”
Brandon Carr is in a contract year, we are still waiting for Morris Claiborne to translate and/or stay healthy, and there are no guarantees as to how long it will it take for Orlando Scandrick to return to form. I prefer Scandrick in the slot anyway; which creates a need for depth on the outside. Taking all of this in to consideration led me to list cornerback as the 2nd biggest need on defense. Every team needs a shut-down corner to cover the opposing teams number one receiver.
1: Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is a pure quick twitch athlete with outstanding ball skills. He started as a true freshman, ranking among the top DB’s in the SEC with 14 passes defended, and three interceptions. Hargreaves not only earned first-team All-SEC honors in all three of his seasons in Gainesville, but also lined up multiple All-American honors in 2014 (three interceptions, 13 pass breakups) and 2015 (four interceptions, four pass break-ups) due to his outstanding play-making ability. He has excellent vertical leaping ability (39″) and high points the ball well.
If the Cowboys are set on drafting a CB at 4, he better be able to generate turnovers and have the ability to mirror the NFL’s top receivers. Hargreaves has all of the traits Ramsey is lacking and I would feel better about drafting a true proven shut-down CB at 4 than a prototypical FS.
2: Eli Apple. Apple has an excellent combination of height weight and length for the position. He started 14 of 15 games as a red-shirt freshman and amassed 53 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He not only helped Ohio State get to the National championship, but secured their win by picking off Marcus Mariota’s final college pass. He has smooth hips to turn and mirrors his opponent well. He may be the most physical press corner in this class. His decrease in production in 2015 is indicative of a rapid decrease in targets. Although he will need to get stronger and improve his tackling at the next level, I see him as the 2nd best option for my 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board. However, based on his recently rising stock, he may not make it to the 34th pick in the draft.
3: William Jackson III. Jackson also has excellent height and length for the position combined with blazing speed (4.37 40). Jackson has had some injury issues and I question his physicality vs the big strong WR’s which is why I have him below Apple.. Other than that, he has all the skills coaches covet from a CB.
4: Artie Burns. Burns was on my list for “The Guys No One Is Talking About” series and I never got around to writing my article on him. He has excellent height and length for the position. He got his hands on a lot of balls thrown his direction and amassed six interceptions in 2015 despite playing in a cornerback rotation. He is a master at baiting quarterbacks into trap throws. He has excellent ball skills, an amazing catch radius (33 1/4″ arms), and very soft hands. Marinelli likes guys who create turnovers and Burns is as good as they come. The only reason I don’t have him higher is his lack of upper body/functional strength and he is a raw prospect who needs to improve his overall technique. Either way, I had to find a spot for him on my 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board.
5: Mackenzie Alexander. Alexander is ranked higher on other boards I have seen, but he lacks the physicality I prefer for a CB playing on the outside and he relies too much on his athletic ability. I believe he will get bullied on the outside at the next level. My biggest concern is his lack of turnovers.
In the next edition of my 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board series I will cover the Mike LB position. Rolando McClain is only on a 1 year deal and one hot urine away from a lengthy suspension. Anthony Hitchens is serviceable, but not my idea of the future. Therefore, I feel it is imperative the Cowboys add another QB for the defense. I would have put DT here, but this class is deep enough the Cowboys can find a solid run stuffer like D.J Reader in a later round. I also know they probably wont draft one high after signing Cedric Thrornton in free agency.