(Editor's Note: With less than a month until the start of the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, the staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of possible Cowboys draft picks – from the top of the first round to the bottom of the talent pool. Today's featured player is Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard.)
Name: Xavien Howard
Honors: Made the All-Big 12 Team in two of his three seasons at Baylor, including first-team honors as a junior in 2015.
Key Stat: Howard led the Bears in interceptions in each of the last two seasons, and his 10 career picks ranked 10th all-time in school history.
Where He's Projected: Most mock projections view Howard as a Day 2 selection (second to third round) – possibly as early as the top half of the second round. Howard might have improved his draft standing with a solid Pro Day in late March, trimming his Combine 40-yard dash time down to 4.45 seconds.
How He Helps the Cowboys: Last year the defense saw first-hand the importance of cornerback depth. With Orlando Scandrick (knee) on injured reserve and Morris Claiborne (hamstring) missing time down the stretch, the Cowboys finished the season with two former practice squad corners (Terrance Mitchell and Deji Olatoye) playing major snaps alongside veteran Brandon Carr. Re-signing Claiborne was significant, but the team could still look to draft a corner who can play right away and potentially develop into a starter. Howard has an ideal frame to play press coverage and compete against the league's bigger, more physical receivers.[embeddedad0]
Scout's Take:Plays in press. Uses his hands. Wrap up tackle. Aware. Comes off man to help. Will turn and run with his man. Able to play the ball at the high point. Will shuffle his feet to cut off route. Likes to bang receiver in route. Nice reactions to screen. Assignment aware. Good feet and movement. See some separation inside. Smooth moving. Doesn't over commit, stays in position to make plays. Can line up and handle both sides of the field. Can change directions. Will pedal, turn and burst. Will work under the route. Has the length and the movement skills to take his man out of the game. Better 40 time at his Pro Day than while at the Combine. More positive than negative traits.* – Bryan Broaddus*