Updated: May 9
By Mike Crum
Dallas Cowboys Team Analyst and Co-Host of the Across The Cowboys Podcast
#17 - Ceedee Lamb, WR - Oklahoma: A+
I still don’t understand how this happened. I firmly believed that Isaiah Simmons, C.J. Henderson, and CeeDee Lamb had no chance to get to 17 & I was "Mr. Chaisson" for our pick. I pushed for it all the way until pick 16 where I still assumed the Eagles or the Vikings would move up, and if nothing else the Falcons would just draft Lamb to play next to Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley. When the Falcons pulled a Jason Garrett-style Cowboys pick and reached for need over BPA (best player available), I flipped a switch and begged that I didn’t jinx the team into drafting for need with K'Lavon Chaisson over a top-seven player in Lamb. Luckily, this new regime stuck to that beautiful board of theirs & the Cowboys now have potentially the best set of skill players in the NFL.
What Lamb brings is an instant WR1 that can demand a double team on every play or hold his own in single coverage vs any cornerback he’ll match up with. For the Cowboys specifically, he brings versatility. With Randall Cobb departing in free agency they had some production to fill, and if Lamb just moves right in there he would fill that production from day one. The difference between Lamb and say, bringing in a Devin Duvernay-type, is that Lamb will play a lot on the outside, in turn allowing Amari Cooper to move to the slot. This gives Dallas an edge in that their opponents won't be able to easily predict where each guy will be lined up on any given formation, and thus, won't know how to attack them like they did when Jason Witten and Cole Beasley were on the roster. This also covers up my biggest worry about the Cowboys WR core - injuries. What if Coop or Michael Gallup miss games? While Cedric Wilson might survive in the slot with two studs outside, what if a Gallup misses three weeks with an injury? With Lamb, those questions are covered. To finish off his versatility for this team, he can also be a dangerous weapon as a punt returner.
#51 - Trevon Diggs, CB - Alabama: A
The theme you will see for my analysis of the rest of the Cowboys draft won't focus so much on who they drafted, but when they took him. That started in round two with Trevon Diggs. You can call Diggs a prototype for what most teams look for in CB1 in the draft. Size? He's over 6’1. Weight? He's over 200lbs. How about arm length and speed? He has over 32" arms and runs a 40 in under 4.55. Playing at Alabama on a defense that plays advanced, multiple coverage schemes also adds a mental quality that a rookie typically can’t transition with into the NFL. Specifically for the Cowboys, his zone and press game, added to his inherent measurables, would have put Diggs into consideration at pick 17. Now let’s grade that hypothetical pick.
Selecting Diggs at 17 would likely get a B at best. Taking him that early would have been a little bit of a reach, a claim made clearer now that he stayed on the board until pick 51. He’d be a solid pick at a major position of need. You'd get a future CB1 from a big school, and in three years you’d look back and say that you got a good player there and you'd be happy. But getting him at 51 changes the game. Now you haven’t just landed a future starting CB at a great value, but you have elevated the Lamb pick that much more because the only knock on taking Lamb at 17 is that they needed to get a #1 CB. By nailing that at pick 51 you have elevated both choices.
Diggs is new to the CB position as he is a converted WR, so he will have some cleaning up to do with regards to his technique. He can get beat in man coverage, and he believes in his length and athleticism too much at times, and you certainly don’t want to do that at the NFL level because a lot of the WRs have the same or better athleticism. His work so far picking up Bama’s defense and taking in their coaching makes me believe he will be able to do the same at the NFL level. He will be best the physical zone coverages early on in his career, but he has everything you need to be a complete CB1 for the Cowboys.
#82 - Neville Gallimore, DT - Oklahoma: B
Same as Diggs, Neville Gallimore's high grade is mostly about when they managed to get him more than just about the prospect himself. Do this exercise again: had Dallas taken Gallimore at 51, I couldn't give that anything higher than a C. Using basically a top 50 pick on a rotational pass rusher that has some tools but needs more technical work and also to beef up some would be questionable at best. He will likely be of minimal impact in 2020 but could be very impactful in the future as a three-technique (3T) on their team. That’s just an average pick especially considering they signed defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to multiple-year contracts, and also drafted DT Trysten Hill last year. What's more is that the Cowboys need edge rushers & safeties more than a DT with a pick that early. Knowing all that, now how do you feel about their selection at pick 82?
Gallimore is a huge upside 3T who can take some pass rush reps in year one and who they can build into the starter as McCoy continues to age into his mid-thirties. What Gallimore brings is a chance to replace Maliek Collins early. Collins had a great pass rush win-rate and I think Gallimore can do that early with his powerful hands and pass rush counters. These attributes help mask a lack of length, and his quick feet lead to him beating blockers early and getting excellent penetration. This is when the tape gets weird because he simply doesn’t finish as he should. His length - or rather, lack thereof - is part of this but with the amount of quick penetration he gets he should have more tackles for a loss (TFL) and sacks.
Gallimore is going to need a year or two before he is ready to be consistent vs the run. Currently, he doesn’t take on double teams well, is not a great anchor, and the lack of length makes it hard for him to detach and get runners down. I think Dallas is the perfect spot for him, playing a similar pass-rush-only-role that Aldon Smith played when he was a rookie with the 49ers. Poe & Antwuan Woods are going to be there to play the run, but on 3rd and eight, McCoy & Gallimore could be a lethal combo inside next to Tank. Come in, rush the QB, hit the weight room, and build to become a complete 3T in 2021 & on. Getting that type of player at pick 82 is excellent.
#123 - Reggie Robinson, CB - Tulsa: A-
This was my favorite pick of the Cowboys draft. Like Diggs, Reggie Robinson has prototypical size, runs a 4.4, has a 36-inch vertical, and pumped out 22 reps on the bench press. Has the versatility of playing safety early in his college career and then taking that safety mentality to the CB position as a senior. He has no fear in the run game, no fear of press coverage, great ball skills, understands zones and therefore is at his best in zone coverages. So what’s the reason he fell to the 4th round? The fact that he played at Tulsa doesn’t help, not to mention that he also needs to be coached-up a bit. He’s a willing press man guy but misses plenty, can have sloppy footwork, and he gets a little too handsy at the top of routes. As a safety he is much more acclimated to zone, meaning his man coverage skills need work. There has been talk of surrounding Robinson and playing safety, but I believe that would only occur as an end-of-the-world, no-other-choice scenario. He definitely can do it, but he is too much of a prototype for what they want at CB and with the position so thin after 2020, they are going to need to groom Robinson for that position and avoid having him moving around as much as possible.
#146 - Tyler Biadasz, C - Wisconsin: B-
Why the lower grade, you ask? Don’t freak out, this isn’t about the player. I had a 3rd-round grade on him and I projected him as a starting C. The grade is because the team had to move up to get him, and the extra draft capital given up is factored in. Additionally, the position wasn’t a big need in my opinion due to Joe Looney and Connor McGovern. I think people believe “Tyler Badass,” as he was known at Wisconsin, is gonna walk in and start and I'm here to say, whoa, hold on a sec. Looney was a 16-game starter, had only five penalties and was attributed only a single sack in 2018. Add to that a 2nd-round graded McGovern that was a 3rd-round pick at C/G last year, and Biadasz looks more like an emergency sub early on.
Now for the good stuff. Not only did Tyler go to Wisconsin - the offensive-line factory - but he walked in, and other than his redshirt season as a freshman in college, he started every game of his career. He was the leader of the offensive line that helped Jonathan Taylor rush for 2,194 yards, and even became the first Wisconsin center to win the Rimington Award, given each year to the nation's best center. If not for an AC joint injury, I believe Biadasz would have gone on day two easily. He is strong and will move people in the run game. Standing in with big nose tackle types won’t bother him and if the offense stays in that lane he will hang with anybody. The limitations are with his movement skills and length. On screens and outside runs he is a slow starter, which means he’s hard to count on consistently. With regards to his lack of length, it will be an issue when some longer armed defensive tackles will give him trouble.
Biadasz, if I’m a betting man, is the starter in 2021, as he is a powerful mover who is limited in some instances, but isn’t a liability anywhere. I'll say that Looney gets 2020 while the Cowboys let Tyler Badass get himself acclimated to the NFL level, let him see how to make protection calls, and then maybe he & McGovern take over inside and bring some movement power to the inside run game.
#179 - Bradley Anae, DE - Utah: B+
This is the type of guy you dream of selecting with the last pick of the 5th round. Bradley Anae is a guy with a day-two grade because his college production says round one, but his measurables say he could be an undrafted free agent. Look, I’m going to start by not sugar-coating this: Anae may not be able to play anything beyond special teams in the NFL. Running a 4.90 40 is poor, but couple that with short arms and you are left with a less-than-ideal prospect, meaning that he is the opposite of what you look for in a project at the edge-rusher position in the NFL. It’s possible that his good get-off, powerful hands, and all-out motor was enough to overwhelm lesser quality OTs in college, and that running into Tyron Smith and other NFL OTs daily is a different animal with which Anae may not be able to deal. In the NFL though, some guys just play above their combine measurables.
The reason this is such a great pick is if all that negative stuff pans out and Anae can't survive as an edge rusher, you still got a hard-nosed, all out special teams player at 179 and that’s not bad. But what if his production does translate? As I previously mentioned, Anae has a good get-off. His anticipation, initial first-step quickness, and burst regularly had opposing OTs on their heels. Add in his solid handwork and he can win some pass rush reps. If that can lead him to recording a few sacks his effort will get him some more all on its own. Anae will walk in and rival Tank in all-out effort because the guy plays almost every down, and he gives 100% effort on every play. Want to have some fun? Go watch him play against USC last season.
With pick 179, the Cowboys at worst got a guy you want in your practices and on your special teams unit. Even if he never plays a single defensive snap he would still improve the roster and Cowboy fans should be happy. But looking through the glass-half-full lens, they might have a future starting edge rusher who sets the tone effort-wise, can get to the QB, and holds up vs the run, and he was selected in the 179th draft slot. Home run pick.
#231 - Ben DiNucci, QB - James Madison: C
This is a generic grade because I’ve seen a game and a half of this young QB. I read up on him and I know he was a dual athlete, playing basketball & football, so he definitely has athleticism. He was the leader at James Madison, and I don't mean the "default" leader just because he was their QB. He has the arm to make NFL throws, and this is a very limited comparison, but throwing on the run in broken plays reminds me of Tony Romo.
How does he fit with the Cowboys? In a few ways. First, he has a relationship with head coach Mike McCarthy, and we know how much Coach McCarthy likes taking and developing young QBs. Second, his mobility makes him helpful in practice when the Cowboys defense has to game-plan vs teams that have those types of mobile QBs or gadget-play QBs, like Taysom Hill from the Saints. It gives their defense a chance to gain an advantage in preparation. Lastly, the backup QB situation isn't stable going into 2021, where it's unlikely that Andy Dalton stays, because he may be using this year to develop and land a starting job for the 2021 season. This gives Dallas a new developmental QB that's under contract for the next few seasons.
How can this not be an A+? The quality of the players taken, the value of where each player was drafted, and the fact that they were all at positions of need contributes to this perfect grade. Not many teams get potential year-two starters at six different positions, but that is absolutely not a stretch to see happen with this draft class. When you are paying positions like QB, RB, DE, WR, and multiple OL big contracts, you need to supplement them with good bargain free agents and hit on some cheap, talented draft picks to sustain success in the league. The Cowboys hope they have done that with this 2020 draft class. And that is just about as perfect as you can get.
Across the Board Sports