Finding 58: Could Cowboys Look Local On D-Line?

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FRISCO, Texas – Somehow, it’s draft season once again.

The offseason is flying by, and the 2019 NFL Draft is set to start in just a few short weeks.

This year is different from other ones, as the Cowboys’ trade for Amari Cooper leaves them without a first-round pick this month. With their first selection coming at pick No. 58, it’s a bit more challenging to identify their targets.

Still, by paying attention to their pre-draft movements, it’s possible to get an idea for what the Cowboys are thinking this year. The goal of this series is to identify their targets at the back end of the second round.

The series continues with TCU defensive end L.J. Collier.

  • Name: L.J. Collier
  • Position: DE
  • College: TCU
  • Height/Weight: 6-2/283
  • Honors: Collier made first-team All-Big 12 last season as a redshirt senior.
  • Key Stat: Collier tallied 14.5 total sacks for TCU despite playing in a rotation for most of his college career.

How’s His Stock: Most mock drafts have Collier pegged somewhere on Day 2 as a likely second-round prospect, but that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily last until the 58th pick. Quality pass rushers are a premium asset, and Collier has impressed outside draft observers with his power and ability to bend and capture the edge against offensive linemen. His combine drill numbers did not rank among the top defensive linemen in Indianapolis, but he progressively got better over five years in Fort Worth, Texas. Collier did not start full time until his final season on campus and posted career highs in sacks (6) and tackles for loss (11.5). Teams might view him as an upside pick given his year-to-year improvement.

How He Could Help: The Cowboys have already addressed defensive line pretty significantly this offseason, trading for veteran end Robert Quinn and signing tackles Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder. DeMarcus Lawrence’s new five-year deal ensures the Pro Bowl end will lead the pass-rushing rotation once again. But with Randy Gregory facing an indefinite suspension, the Cowboys could still look for depth in the draft. A little like Cowboys defensive captain Tyrone Crawford, the 283-pound Collier might offer position flex for a 4-3 defense, able to play the edge or kick inside as a three technique.

Scouting Report: Has the length to take on blockers. Can hold his ground. Will retrace his steps. Does a nice job of avoiding blocks. Initial quickness off the snap. Can close to the ball. Can escape with the inside move. Bends to the quarterback. Will fight off the blocker’s hands. Plays with some start-stop quickness. Closes down the hole well. Brings some snap on the blocker. Has some range to the outside. Can wrap up when he gets in position. Have seen him split double teams. Folds back inside to make the tackle. Can really turn the corner. – Bryan Broaddus

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