The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

2013 Cowboys Draft Recap/Analysis

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I wrote a buttload of content throughout the draft. Here are some links. Check ‘em out to read the entire articles.

One thing that worries me about Terrance Williams

I really liked the Cowboys’ third-round selection of Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams. Although wide receiver wasn’t considered a major need, I’ve suggested for a few months that the Cowboys could be in major trouble if Miles Austin or Dez Bryant got injured; until the selection of Williams—6-2, 208 pounds—the Cowboys really didn’t have another option to play on the outside.

In addition to his size, Williams adds 4.52 speed. That size/speed combination helped Williams explode for 97 receptions, 1,832 yards, and 12 touchdowns last year at Baylor. The numbers on Williams are very impressive, and the ‘Boys surely found value on the star receiver.

But there’s one issue to monitor: Williams’ age. When the 2013 season begins, Williams will already be 24. He’ll be older than some receivers who were drafted two years ago. And historically, older players have performed better in college—and subsequently worse in the pros—than younger ones. How many current NFL wideouts could potentially dominate the college ranks if they stayed until age 23?

Again, I really like Williams’ skill set. Examining his closest comps, we see some impressive names. Take a look:

Terrance Williams: 6-2, 208 pounds, 4.52 40-yard dash, 42 percent of Baylor’s receiving yards, 0.92 TD/game

Hakeem Nicks: 6-1, 212 pounds, 4.51 40-yard dash, 49 percent of UNC’s receiving yards, 0.92 TD/game

Jordy Nelson: 6-3, 217 pounds, 4.51 40-yard dash, 48 percent of Kansas State’s receiving yards, 0.92 TD/game

The primary difference is that Nicks and Nelson were 21 and 22 years old, respectively, when drafted. That’s important.

Tight end Gavin Escobar’s fit in Dallas

The biggest positive for Escobar, in my estimation, is that he’s a big-time threat in the red zone. He converted 13.9 percent of his college receptions into touchdowns—a fairly high rate—and that’s a trait the Cowboys covet. Witten has traditionally been subpar inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, and it isn’t as if the running backs are pounding it in for touchdowns.

Escobar is a really talented athlete—not as explosive as you might like with only 4.78 speed—but a player with tremendous ball skills. He can certainly add something as a receiver, but as I mentioned in my immediate reaction of the pick, the Cowboys don’t necessarily need that. They have Miles Austin and Dez Bryant on the outside, and second-year man James Hanna showed some things last year.

The Cowboys obviously think they’ll be able to fix Escobar’s blocking. As it stands now, I see Escobar putting himself in a poor position and frequently lunging at defenders.

Safety J.J. Wilcox’s fit in Dallas

Upside

One of the reasons Wilcox is so intriguing is his upside. People often view a “raw” prospect negatively, but Wilcox’s lack of experience just means he has tons of room to improve on an already impressive 2012 season.

Jjwilcox2_crop_exact

Plus, the third round is a good time to begin seeking upside over safety. Mid-round picks don’t work out as much as people think they do, so it’s often better to swing for the fences than to land a “safe” player who won’t contribute much anyway. While I don’t view Wilcox as a major risk, there was no player on the board with more upside.

Fit in Dallas

It will be interesting to see where Monte Kiffin plays Wilcox—as a free or strong safety. I think he can play either position, continuing the Cowboys’ trend of seeking versatility.

Wilcox will get a fair shot to win a starting job in training camp, and I tentatively expect him to beat out Johnson and Will Allen for that job. If that happens, I think you’ll see Wilcox as a free safety, patrolling the deep half with Barry Church and deep middle when Church plays in the box.

The Cowboys figure to play a whole lot more Cover 3 this year than people anticipate, so whoever plays free safety for them will be in the middle of the field quite often.

Cornerback B.W. Webb’s fit in Dallas

Scouting Report on B.W. Webb

Webb is a 5-10, 184-pound cornerback, so it’s unlikely that he’ll play on the outside. That means he’ll most likely strictly be a nickel back in the NFL, playing in the slot. He certainly has the skill set to thrive in there; he’s one of the quickest players in this draft.

When you watch tape of Webb, that suddenness stands out, and it’s confirmed in hismeasurables. He recorded a 4.46 40-yard dash, but more impressive were his 40.5-inch vertical, 11-0 broad jump and insane 3.84 short shuttle.

Actually, that short shuttle time was the fastest for any single player at the 2013 Scouting Combine. The vertical and broad jump both ranked him third.

Webb was a play-maker at William & Mary, picking off eight passes and returning two for touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Webb also displayed big-time return ability, which is where he’ll be able to immediately make an impact.

Webb excels in man coverage. He won’t be able to consistently press—especially with his 30-inch arms—but he actually plays well from a press position where he can mirror receivers. He’s got some of the quickest feet in this draft.

Despite his small stature, Webb isn’t afraid to help out against the run. That’s a primary weakness for current nickel back Orlando Scandrick.

Running back Joseph Randle’s fit in Dallas

Is He Explosive?

Randle isn’t explosive from a straight-line speed standpoint, but oddly, he measured pretty well in the vertical jump (35 inches) and broad jump (10-3)—two measurables that are strongly correlated with the 40. He also recorded a 4.25 short shuttle, which has to make you at least wonder if his 40 time was an aberration.

Late-Round Backs

Even though I would have drafted a different running back at this point, I love the idea of waiting to secure a runner. Since 2000, first- and second-round backs have totaled 4.23 YPC. Compare that to 4.25 YPC for backs drafted in the third, fourth or fifth round. There’s actually no correlation between draft spot and NFL efficiency for running backs, meaning there’s also little reason to draft one early.

2013 Projection

Like I said, Randle will step in as Murray’s backup. The way things have gone with Murray, there’s a good chance that Randle could take over as the starter at some point in 2013 if Murray gets hurt. Assuming Murray stays healthy, though, I’d expect Randle to eat up about 30 percent of the carries and take over the majority of third-down work. That works out to 107 carries, and, say, 30 receptions.

A look back at my original Randle scouting report

Randle is a natural pass-catcher. When combined with his willingness to protect the quarterback, you have the makings of a potentially successful third-down back.

Despite all of his success in college, you have to wonder if Randle can overcome his lack of long speed. He ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine and then followed that up with times between 4.54 and 4.63 at his Pro Day. Simply put, he’s not a burner.

We can discuss the importance of lateral quickness all day, but you can’t overlook the fact that running backs who have clocked in around Randle’s time have recorded about one-sixth the NFL production of those who ran as fast as Murray (4.41). That doesn’t mean Randle can’t possible succeed in the NFL, but the odds are against him. If the job of NFL teams is to maximize their chances of hitting on any given pick, it’s hard to justify using a mid-round selection on a lean running back with sub-par speed.

Linebacker DeVonte Holloman’s fit in Dallas

Safety Valve

It’s worth noting that Holloman actually played the first three years of his South Carolina career as a safety. He was a highly recruited prep player who started for the Gamecocks as a freshman. That sort of hybrid player is exactly what you’d expect new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to target at the outside linebacker position.

College Production

Holloman never totaled more than 69 tackles in any season, and that came in 2010 as a sophomore. When Holloman moved to outside linebacker as a senior, he recorded 59 tackles, but he also added eight tackles-for-loss—a career-high—and two sacks. Holloman ended his South Carolina career with seven interceptions.

Measurables

At 6’2″, 243 pounds, Holloman is a prototypical 4-3 outside linebacker. He’s limited in what he can do; he’ll probably be best suited playing as a weak-side backer, although I have a feeling the Cowboys will give him a shot at the Sam spot to start. For the most part, Holloman turned in subpar measurables: a 4.71 40-yard dash, 33-inch vertical and 9’5″ broad jump. However, he also interestingly recorded a 4.26 short shuttle; that’s a really fast time for someone his size and could indicate some short-area quickness.

Grades for some of the notable second-round picks

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