Potential Draft Picks: Mardy Gilyard, WR/Returner, Cincinnati
It is no secret that we see acquiring a playmaking returner as the Cowboys’ primary team need. An effective kick returner is an especially large need, as Felix Jones has proved to be hesitant when back deep.
The offensive/defensive position of such a player is a moot point, as his main responsibility would be returns. The Cowboys signed Allen Rossum last season, showing that they are not afraid to dedicate a roster spot solely to a return man. It also proved their lack of confidence in Jones, Ogletree, and Crayton on returns. It remains to be seen whether they regained trust in Crayon after his two punt return touchdowns.
We have made it clear that, should Reggie Bush become a free agent, he would be a perfect fit in Big D. If this possibility does not become a reality, a player like Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard would be a great selection. The fact that he would be primarily a return man means Dallas should have no problem keeping six wide receivers on the roster.
Gilyard would be an immediate upgrade at both return spots, and his ability to play WR would simply be a bonus. His skills there are quite underrated, in our opinion, and he could challenge and be the eventual successor to Patrick Crayton in the slot.
Gilyard is an incredible athlete– we would go as far as to say he is top three in the entire draft. His speed and quickness can be devastating, particularly on returns. He has great body control and is a natural pass-catcher. His run-after-catch ability is second-to-none in this year’s draft.
Gilyard cooled any talks of his lack of experience in a pro-style offense by dominating at the Senior Bowl. His skills are perfectly suited to be a Wes Welker-type slot guy in the NFL. There are questions about his size (just 179 pounds at 6’0”), but receivers such as DeSean Jackson have shown this can be overcome.
His vision and acceleration on returns is uncanny. He shows no hesitation or fear, averaging 12.6 yards on punt returns last season.
Despite his abilities, Gilyard may be a longshot for Dallas because of the type of WR they generally value– the average size of their current receivers is 6’2”, 205 pounds. Further, he has moved up draft boards from a late second/early third-rounder to an early to mid-second round pick, with some projecting him to go as high as the first round. It is unlikely the Cowboys would use their first on Gilyard, so they would probably have to move up in the second to acquire him.