(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Tennessee's Rashaan Gaulden.)
- Name: Rashaan Gaulden
- Position: Defensive Back
- Height/Weight:6-1 / 197
- Honors:An early-entry junior, Gaulden was one of nearly 60 defensive backs who earned an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in late February/early March.
- Key Stat: Gaulden accounted for the Vols' only points in a 45-7 loss to Alabama last season when he returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown.
Where He's Projected:
Most draft observers believe Gaulden could land somewhere in the third or fourth round. After missing his entire sophomore season with a foot injury, he emerged as a versatile starter in his final two years at Tennessee. In 2017, Gaulden posted 65 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Safety definitely could be an option for Dallas at some point in the draft. To this point in free agency they haven't shown interest in safeties because of scheme fit. But Gaulden's ability to cover – he played some slot for the Vols – could fill a need for the Cowboys in the secondary, especially if Byron Jones indeed moves back to corner. Some observers believe Gaulden could also play corner for some teams.
- Nice job playing off blocks. Will drive to get to the ball.
- Comes forward in a hurry. Can cover some ground. Tackles well.
- Quick reactions. Plays in the slot. Can stay with his man.
- Can be too aggressive. Not afraid to tackle large ball carriers. Has a habit of knocking the ball loose.
- Plays well around the line of scrimmage. His uniform is the dirtiest one on the field.
- Nose for ball. Can really run from the backside. Physical player.
- Can line him up at a couple of different spots and be comfortable in the way he plays.