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Like the Eagles, the Cowboys' draft is full of risks and upside

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing sucks more than the Cowboys .... besides Washington, actually. And certainly nothing sucks more than seeing good football players go to the Cowboys, an experience I had to endure this weekend during the draft. For the second year in a row, Dallas accumulated some very talented players throughout the draft. However, it was not without risk. Though Dallas landed *the* blue chip player of the class, a lot of their picks are banking on great coaching and luck with health to pay off.

  • Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, OSU: My love for Ezekiel Elliott is well known throughout this draft process. Regardless of who you talk to, Elliott is widely considered to be a top tier running prospect and among the best players in the class. I expect Elliott's impact to be immediate in Dallas. His complete game makes him an every down offensive weapon and behind Dallas' talented offensive line, Elliott will have lots of room to run. Much is said about the value of a running back, but Elliott is the type of player to maximize every touch he gets and that is a scary dynamic that the NFL will have to deal with for years to come.

  • Jaylon Smith, Linebacker, Notre Dame: I'm going to be a bit cheesy here, but regardless of what team you root for, it was really awesome seeing Jaylon Smith get drafted. Smith was an outstanding player at Notre Dame and likely would have been a top ten selection if not for a horrific injury suffered after a play in a bowl game. It sucks seeing talented guys lose money over injuries they suffered while playing for free, so I was happy to see Smith get some of it back. However, that doesn't change the fact that drafting Smith with a top 35 pick (and ahead of Myles Jack, mind you) is a massive gamble by the Cowboys. Jaylon was outstanding in college, but a lot of his game was predicated on his explosiveness at linebacker. If his knee injury hurt his athletic ability, it compromises what is so special about him. If, and it is a big if, Smith can fully rebound, he is a playmaking linebacker who can cover, blitz and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. As a fan of football (and being a decent person), it would be outstanding to see Smith make a full recovery, but this is a major risk that the Cowboys are taking and it would be a big waste of recourses if Smith doesn't pan out.

  • Maliek Collins, DL, Nebraska: With their third round pick, the Cowboys bet on Maliek Collins' athletic ability. The Nebraska tackle has very good burst at the line of scrimmage to function as a penetrating three technique. His awareness is inconsistent and Collins can get washed out against the run at times, but his flashes of athletic ability, especially as a pass rusher, are very impressive. Collins likely makes an impact as a sub package rusher initially, but if the Cowboys staff can harness his ability, he could be an impact starter down the road.

  • Charles Tapper, DL, Oklahoma: The Cowboys went *Drake voice* back to back (not sorry) with athletic defensive lineman. Charles Tapper absolutely blew up the combine a few months ago and Dallas was obviously enamored with his skill set. Tapper's role and usage at Oklahoma really mitigated his athletic ability, but there were definitely moments where his insane burst was evident. Tapper has a long way to go technically, but his ceiling is incredibly high.

  • Dak Prescott, QB, Mississipi State: After the Eagles drafted the Cowboys top quarterback and Dallas missed out on trading back into the first round for Paxton Lynch, Dallas *finally* addressed the lack of youth at quarterback by drafting Dak Prescott. Dak has been highly productive in his career at Mississippi State, using his athletic ability and savvy to put up big numbers for the Bulldogs. Prescott is best working the intermediate parts of the field and though he has goo d arm strength, he needs to improve his ability to throw deep. Prescott has a nice skill set as a pure passer with functional mobility to heighten his game, so the Cowboys taking a gamble on him as a developmental QB here is good value.

  • Anthony Brown, Cornerback, Purdue: Another combine star, the Cowboys drafted the fastest cornerback from Indy this year. Brown has decent size and arm length that could allow him to play outside cornerback in the NFL. Brown also plays a very physical brand of football and can lay the hit on receivers and in the running game. However, Brown is very raw in terms of instincts and technique and got burned a lot in college. Most likely, Brown is making an impact on special teams and not on defense.

  • Kavon Frazier, Safety, CMU: Their fifth defensive pick of the draft, the Cowboys went with productive safety, Kavon Frazier. The 217 pound safety has very good athletic ability for his size and is decent in coverage, but his best asset is his run defense. Frazier has no problem diagnosing in the run game and coming downhill to make a play. He is a dependable and sometimes violent tackler who can thrive in the box. Frazier has the upside to be effective in deep coverage, but he can make an almost immediate impact as a pure strong safety.

  • Darius Jackson, Running Back, EMU: After signing Alfred Morris this offseason, it seems a bit strange of the Cowboys to double dip at running back in the draft, especially considering they spent a top five pick on the other back. However, Jackson is an absolute freak of an athlete and that is hard to pass up in the sixth round. Jackson has insane burst, especially for his size and once he hits the second level of a defense he is gone. He needs to improve his patience and vision behind the line of scrimmage, but Jackson can be a complimentary back and potential home run hitter in the Cowboys running game.

  • Rico Gathers, Tight End/Basketball Player, Baylor: I really have no comment on this pick. Gathers hasn't played football in a long time, but he is humongous and from my very elementary understanding of basketball, he was pretty good at Baylor. He is a massive project, considering he hasn't played football in a long time, so the chances of this pick working out are... Probably as good as any 6th round pick working out.

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