As the old adage says, when one door closes, another door opens. This is so true when it comes to the NFL offseason and the ongoing carousel of a professional roster.
With the beginning of free agency always comes the potential to see even some of your favorite players depart your beloved team. We've seen that with Jason Witten, Byron Jones, Robert Quinn and receiver Randall Cobb, who agreed to terms with the Houston Texans who offered a deal well above his league value.
A reliable target on the field, and a veteran presence in the locker room, Cobb is certainly not an easy piece to replace. However, with a 2020 NFL Draft class that is absolutely stocked with professional talent at slot receiver, Dallas has multiple opportunities to find a plug-and-play rookie that can make an impact this season. I have five options for the Dallas Cowboys, at different parts of the draft that could do just that.
- First Round: Jalen Reagor, TCU - A textbook burner that ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine and torched defenses in the Big 12 for over 1,200 yards and 22 touchdowns during his three seasons in Fort Worth. Some may think that his value lies more in the early-second round, and I don't disagree. Reagor would be an extremely tough get for the Cowboys at pick 51, and there are better receivers that will go before him. Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma), Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), and Henry Ruggs III (Alabama) are all anything but a lock to be there when Dallas picks at 17. Reagor deserves to be in the conversation as a reliable receiver with a magnificent catch-radius, exceptional agility, and a reliability that an offense could rely on.
- Second Round: K.J. Hamler, Penn State -Much like Reagor, Hamler is a speedster that can burn a defense over the top and demand respect from opposing coordinators. The only things keeping a talent of Hamler's caliber out of the first round is that he is little unpolished with his hands, and a tad bit undersized at 5-foot-9. A couple times on film he has shown a tendency to be a body-catcher and does not have a catch radius anywhere near some of the top receivers in the class. What Hamler does, is immediately add a different wrinkle to an offense with the speed that he brings to the table. Just imagine the playbook Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore could scheme up with the ability to throw screens to a worthy and talented receiver, along with have a deep threat alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Exactly. That would be incredible.
- Third Round: Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky - It's not just the Kentucky blue and racing checkers that remind me of Randall Cobb. In watching his 2019 film, Bowden is a converted quarterback who can be a consistent ball carrier, reliable receiver, and threat with his arm. It's not as lazy of a comparison as you'd think. He is just one of those athletes that can do it all, much like Cobb has done throughout his career in the NFL. Both are former Wildcats, both had been relatively overlooked as college prospects, and each had more rushing touchdowns than receiving by the time their career in Lexington was concluded. An individual that has room to grow as a receiver but is as consistent and reliable as they come, Bowden wouldn't just be a replacement for Cobb in Dallas but a mini-Cobb.
- Early Day 3: Devin Duvernay, Texas - One of the darlings of the Senior Bowl and the Combine, Duvernay has done nothing but improve his draft stock since the end of the Longhorns' season. Despite his efforts, the Sachse, Texas native may not have done enough to get him into Day Two solely based on how loaded the class of wide receivers' class is. Which means one thing for the Cowboys if they were to run into him in the fourth round…value. Duvernay has some of the best hands in the draft with just one drop in his career at Texas and straight-line speed that he showcased at the NFL Combine when he posted a 4.39 40-yard dash. One thing that may hold teams back from taking him earlier would be the lack of separation he gets off the line of scrimmage and out of the slot. That, paired with some poor route running on film, could see a talented prospect like Duvernay lose head-to-head battles with other middle round receivers like Michael Pittman Jr., Chase Claypool, and K.J. Hill.
- Late Day 3: James Proche, SMU - There have been plenty of late-round receivers that have made a name for themselves out of SMU, and Proche is the next to put his name on that list. A firecracker of a receiver, Proche took over games his whole career, catching passes from Shane Buechele and Ben Hicks. There were multiple times when Proche made overthrows look like dimes with an impressive catch-radius for his 5-foot-11 size. He's not a player that is going to jump out of the building or blow right past a defender, but he's a baller. Just a guy you can rely on in big situations or even in a check down. With Cooper and Gallup on the roster, there needs to be a fallback more than a game-changer, which is what Proche projects to be at the next level. But with the tape he put up in his final season on the hilltop, he shows that he could be whatever a team needs him to be.
This topic dominated the last segment of this week's Draft Show as the draft experts of Dallascowboys.com debated which one of these options make the most sense for the Cowboys. Also, there were some other prospects floated into the conversation as David Helman, Jeff Cavanaugh, and Kevin Turner each game their input.
The show also touched on the ever-changing free agent market and how the current moves could affect the Cowboys draft strategy. With players like Byron Jones and Jeff Heath leaving for other organizations, the need for secondary players is elevated even more than thought previously.
The draft plans for each team aren't the only plans up in the air. With the turmoil of COVID-19 surrounding the entire draft process, the guys reflect on what the 2020 NFL Draft could look like now that it has been pulled from Las Vegas.
Watch the full Draft Show here: