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 defensive ends.
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.
#1: Defensive End.
The Dallas Cowboys opted not to resign either Greg Hardy or Jeremy Mincey. They didn’t sign a proven free agent defensive end either. I have seen nothing from Benson Mayowa to convince me that he is starter material at RDE or anywhere for that matter.. Prior to the potential DeMarcus Lawrence suspension, the Cowboys were pretty much set at LDE, but because of their lack of planning and/or depth they have pigeon-holed themselves in to a situation where they need to make RDE their top priority. Currently they don’t have one to start week one.
We can’t trust Randy Gregory to leave the drugs alone and he finished the 2015 season sackless. None of us saw his lack of production coming. Some will use the injury excuse, but when you consider Shaq Lawson had two sacks and some TFL in the championship while playing with a sprained MCL, I am not buying it. What we saw on his college tape hasn’t translated yet. I am very disappointed because I was impressed by Gregory coming out of college. Fortunately, this draft is loaded with defensive line talent.
1: Shaq Lawson, Clemson. Lawson is the highest ranked defensive end on our top 25 board and currently resides at #2. Joey Bosa has the highest floor among the top prospects, but I don’t believe he has the highest ceiling. He isn’t a good fit in a Rod Marinelli system that covets some quick twitch ability.
I like Lawson because he brings a rare combination of speed, athletic ability and size. Things you can’t coach up. He also brings versatility. You can plug him in at either DE spot and he has proven to be reliable against the run or the pass. Randy Gregory is undersized and lacks the skills to be reliable vs the run: making him a situational pass rusher and not a 3 down player.
2: Matt Judon, Grand Valley State. Many draft pundits see Noah Spence as the best pure pass rusher in this class and the small school knock has followed Judon. What many fail to realize, is that some of the best pass rushers in the history of the Cowboys came from small schools. DeMarcus Ware tops the list coming from Troy. Judon brings the same combination of size speed and athletic ability as Lawson, but I believe he has a better first step. It is our belief he will develop in to the best pure pass rusher in this class. If the Cowboys don’t address the position in round 1, Judon tops my list as a second choice.
After seeing 26 NFL teams show up for his Pro Day when he was the only one working out, combined with his outstanding showing there, I don’t see him getting out of round 2, despite where he is projected. I have no reservations about putting him near the top of my 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board. We felt the same way about Justin Houston who fell to the 3rd round. At the end of the day, you can’t overlook 20 sacks at any level. No one seems to care about Carson Wentz coming from a DII school, and the transition for a QB is much more difficult. In my humble opinion, Judon is more NFL ready. He doesn’t bring the character issues that come with Spence either.
3: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State. Ogbah brings the same traits I mentioned above. I don’t have him ranked higher because there were times he disappeared in games. I am concerned about his lack of consistency. He will need to prove that he is not just a great athlete at the next level.
4: Carl Nassib, Penn State. Nassib is a good old fashioned success story. He had never been a starter and shocked the football world entering his career as a walk-on and then leading the DI nation in 2015 with 15 sacks. Nassib is a hard worker and plays with an excellent motor. The only reason I don’t have him higher is his lack of experience.
5: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma. Like Judon, Tapper was one of the prospects we featured in our 2016 “The Guys No One Is Talking About” series. He also has all of the traits Rod Marinelli likes in a pass rusher. However, I ranked him 5th because I believe he is better suited to play LDE at the NFL level.
The next position I believe tops the list of the Cowboys needs is a shut down CB. There are no guarantees on how long it will take Orlando Scandrick to return to form, Brandon Carr is in a contract year, and Morris Claiborne has proven to be inconsistent and unable to stay healthy. My next post in the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Big Board series will feature the top 5 prospects at that position.