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Dallas Aims to Hit on Picks in NFL Draft to Emerge as a Title Contender in 2023 17

Posted on April 26, 2023 by Chris Kent

With a solid offense and a top level defense that has produced back-to-back 12-5 playoff seasons and one NFC East Division Championship, the Dallas Cowboys have been a better than average team each of the last two seasons. Getting to the NFC Championship game and winning the Super Bowl, both of which they have not done since the 1995 season, is the burning issue for Dallas owner Jerry Jones and his franchise. So what do the Cowboys need to do to bolster their team to make either of those things happen? While the answer to that question won’t fully reveal itself until we reach training camp and the start of the 2023 regular season, a big resource for it is this week’s NFL Draft. The annual event will help determine in large part their hopes and expectations for the upcoming season. The draft will take place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, MO in the Plaza outside of Union Station. A prime time start of 8 pm EST is slated for the opening night on Thursday April 27 when only the first round will be conducted. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday April 28 starting at 7 pm EST. The draft will conclude on Saturday April 29 with rounds 4-7 starting at Noon EST.

Dallas is clearly at a crossroads with its’ current team. The nucleous of Dak Prescott, CeDee Lamb, Tony Pollard, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Demarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jayron Kearse gives the Cowboys veteran players with experience, many of who have prime years ahead of them. Adding some quality pieces for youth, speed, and depth could turn Dallas into a Super Bowl contender.

Dallas Owner Jerry Jones has used trades before to get the best value out of the NFL Draft.

The waroom at THE STAR – the Cowboys’ headquarters in Frisco, TX – will no doubt be busy this week. Both the offense and defense need help with the offense a little more of a pressing need to create better efficiency and protection for Prescott, their franchise quarterback who has two years left on his four-year $160 million contract that he signed in the 2021 offseason. Prescott has taken much criticism from media members for throwing too many interceptions, many of which have turned the tide in the team’s losses whether they have come late in close games or just been poor decisions. Including his two playoff starts last season, Prescott tied for the league high with 17 interceptions while starting 14 of 19 games. To avoid these mistakes the team has to protect Prescott better and add to his supporting cast with a prime running back, wide receiver, or tight end. Retooling the offensive line would help as well. Although injuries have limited the availability of perennial pro bowlers in Smith and Martin over recent years, both have been mainstays on the line for most of the last decade. While both Smith and Martin can still play, getting younger on the offensive line would help and provide depth.

The offense will look different in 2023 behind new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who replaces Kellen Moore. Schottenheimer will look to retool an offense that lost two key starters in veteran running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Dalton Schultz. Elliott had four 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was a three-time pro bowl selection during his seven seasons in Dallas. Although his production slipped over the last three seasons, Elliott will be missed for his veteran leadership in the locker room and his steady short-yardage and goal line scoring ability. The Cowboys will need Pollard to replace some of Elliott’s production. The same will be needed at tight end as Schultz was a top target of Prescott, totaling no less than 57 catches each of the last three seasons during which he accumulated 17 touchdown catches.

Michael Mayer excelled at Notre Dame and would fill a need at tight end for Dallas.

With these holes on offense, Dallas could draft one of the top tight ends with their first round pick at No. 26 overall such as Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Georgia’s Darnell Washington, or Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave. Mayer is highly rated as a very polished player and could provide both receiving and blocking at 6-4 and 249 pounds. Mayer piled up 2,099 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in his college career. Pass catchers could also be available at wide receiver who the Cowboys might look to select as well. Although Dallas signed nine-year veteran Brandin Cooks from the Houston Texans to upgrade the spot, receivers like Zay Flowers of Boston College, Quentin Johnston of TCU, or either one of the Tennessee products in Jaylin Hyatt or Cedric Tillman could be available when the Cowboys pick in the first round. Tillman is a big target at 6-3, 215 pounds and caught 109 passes for 1,622 yards and 17 touchdowns during his college career. Hyatt was the Biletnikoff Award Winner in 2022 when he was a cosensus first team All-American by the Associated Press. Hyatt was also a first team All-SEC selection in 2022 when he set a school record with five touchdown catches in a wild 52-49 home win over Alabama which also tied for the SEC record.

Bijan Robinson uses a stiff arm to shed an opposing defender to gain more yards.

As for running back, Dallas will be looking to Pollard to fill the void left by Elliott. Pollard will be coming off a lower leg fracture he suffered in the playoff loss at San Francisco last season. To help offset that, the Cowboys signed former Kansas City Chief Ronald Jones, a five-year veteran runner who helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl LV following the 2020 season. While it is not a top year for running backs, keep an eye on Bijan Robinson of Texas, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back last season. Robinson was a unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection last season when he piled up 1,580 yards rushing to go with 18 scoring runs en route to receiving first team All-American honors by the Associated Press. While Philadelphia, New England, Detroit, Buffalo, and the Los Angeles Chargers are other teams interested in Robinson, if he is still on the board by the middle of the first round Dallas could look to trade up to take him. Jones has been known for orchestrating draft day trades and he could pull off another one in pursuit of the draft’s top back.

If not, Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs could be an option. In just one year at Alabama, Gibbs had a 6.6 yards-per-carry average on 96 carries for 632 yards. If the Cowboys look in the later rounds for a running back keep an eye on Deuce Vaughn from Kansas State. Although Vaughn is undersized at 5-6 and 176 pounds, he is elusive and can make people miss in the open field. Vaughn might be best suited for gadget plays and is a threat as a receiver where he runs excellent routes and has great hands for catching the ball.

While these skill position players could add splash on offense, Dallas also could retool their offensive line to help fortify the running game and protect Prescott. Options for this include Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence, tackle Broderick Jones from back-to-back defending national champion Georgia, Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright, or Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr.

Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is imposing at 6-6 and 335 pounds.

A top guard prospect, Torrence was a consensus All-American at Florida a year ago receiving first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, The Sporting News, and the Associated Press. He was also a Walter Camp first team All-American and was a first team all conference performer in the Southeastern Conference, his first in the league after transferring from Louisiana where he was a first team All-Sun Belt Conference performer in 2021. Broderick Jones stands 6-4 and checks in at 310 pounds. He was an AP first team All-SEC selection in 2022 when he started at left tackle in all 15 games for Georgia. Wright is a durable tackle who started all 13 games for the Volunteers each of the last two seasons. At 6-6 and 335 pounds, Wright has size and strength to make an impact which he did as a freshman at Tennessee when he was named to the freshman All-SEC Team in 2019. Wright was selected to play in the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl and was a first team All-SEC selection by the AP, Coaches, and USA Today in 2022. Johnson Jr. was a second team All-Big Ten Selection in 2021 and was also a Rotary Lombardi Award semifinalist in 2022 which goes to the nations most outstanding lineman annually. The former Buckeye adds value as he started all 13 games at guard in 2021 before moving to right tackle last fall.

Olu Oluwatimi won both the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Award last season at Michigan.

If the Cowboys do not get one of these offensive line prospects in the first round, there are value picks in the later rounds such as interior offensive lineman Joe Tippmann of Wisconsin, TCU’s Steve Avila, or Michigan’s Olu Oluwatimi. Other offensive tackles such as Matthew Bergeron of Syracuse, Nick Saldiveri of small school Old Dominion, or Alabama’s Tyler Steen could be options. Bergeron was a second-team All-ACC selection and a Senior Bowl selection while serving as a team captain last season at Syracuse. Bergeron was also recognized with the Ben Schwartzwalder award in recognition of his leadership and on-field production that reflect the hard-nosed style of the program. Saldiveri stands 6-6 and weighs in at 316. He was named a second team All-Sun Belt conference performer and was selected to play in the 2023 Reese’s Senor Bowl after starting 11 games in 2022, one at right guard and 10 and right tackle. Tippmann was an Honorable Mention All-Big 10 selection in 2022 for the Badgers were he made 12 starts at center. Avila brings a burly presence at guard at 330 pounds in his 6-4 frame. He helped power a physical running game that led TCU to the college football national championship game last season. A first team All-Big 12 Selection, Avila did not allow a sack for the second straight season in 2022 and was also selected to the 2023 Reece’s Senior Bowl. Oluwatimi could be a late round find for Dallas. A consensus All American with first team honors by four of five organizations, Oluwatimi won both the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award in 2022. Playing for perennial power Alabama, Steen earned second team All-SEC recognition in 2022 when he started all 13 games at left tackle for the Crimson Tide. Steen helped an offensive front open holes for an average of 5.5 yards per carry, good for fourth nationally. Most impressive, Steen allowed only 4.5 sacks, 12 pressures, 8 quarterback hits and committed just 4 penalties on the season. Prescott could benefit from a pass protector like this.

That same quality in the trenches is what Dallas could use on defense to improve its’ rush defense which was leaky at times late last season. The Cowboys ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing defense last season, yielding 124.4 yards per game. Although Dallas re-signed defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins this offseason, more help is needed in the middle of the defensive line. Young defensive tackles Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna need to tighten up their play and more is needed from rotational players in fourth-year defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and third-year defensive end Chauncey Golston. The Cowboys did sign six-year veteran linebacker Takk McKinley who starred at UCLA and played for the Rams last season. McKinley brings athleticism and has totaled 98 tackles and 20 sacks thus far in his career. McKinley should team nicely with Vander Esch, the middle linebacker who Dallas resigned in the offseason.
Defensive players of interest for the Cowboys on the line are Lukas Van Ness of Iowa, Mazi Smith of Michigan, the Clemson duo of Myles Murphy or Bryan Bresee, and Calijah Kancey of Pittsburgh. A sleeper pick in the later rounds could be K.J. Henry of Clemson as the Tigers continue to roll out prime NFL prospects.

Lukas Van Ness brings athleticism to the defensive line where he can play inside or outside.

Van Ness is a very versatile player who spent most of the 2022 spring practice season converting from defensive tackle to defensive end. At 6-5 and 240 pounds, he possesses good size and athleticism to make an impact inside or outside and could give Dallas a lethal combination with Micah Parsons to provide a one-two punch. Van Ness was a second team All-Big Ten selection last season and has the smarts to go with it with his two straight Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Van Ness has totaled 71 total tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 19.5 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons. Smith brings power and leverage to play nose tackle with his 6-3 337-pound frame. He garnered first team All-Big 10 accolades in 2022 when he was also named Defensive Player-of-the-Year by the team.

Bresee, Murphy, and Henry are all top players coming out of Clemson which has been an elite program for the last decade. Bresee was a second team All-ACC selection last season when he had 15 total tackles and 3.5 sacks. Murphy garnered first team All-ACC recognition last season when he had 40 tackles (22 solo) and 6.5 sacks. Over his three year college career, Murphy totaled 119 total tackles, 17.5 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, Henry can cause problems for offenses with his size and strength. A third team All-American selection by Pro Football Focus in 2022, Henry was also voted by his teammates as the team captain, a reflection of his leadership qualities. Henry started all 14 games in 2022 during which he had 59 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 6 pass breakups. He also led Clemson with 24 quarterback pressures, the most by a Tigers’ player since Clelin Ferrell’s 24 in 2016.

Drew Sanders makes an interception for Arkansas.

Some other intriguing players that could help the Cowboys are linebackers such as Arkansas’s Drew Sanders, Clemson’s Trenton Simpson, Iowa’s Jack Campbell, or DeMarvion Overshown of Texas. Sanders, who played his first two years at Alabama, was a unanimous All-America selection last season at Arkansas receiving first-team recognition from the Associated Press and second team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, the Sporting News, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. A first team All-SEC selection in 2022, Sanders was also one of three finalists – and the school’s first – for the prestigious Butkus Award given to the nation’s outstanding linebacker. Sanders started all 12 games he played in a season ago and lead the team with 103 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and 9.5 sacks. Jones has a strong connection to Arkansas having been a co-captain on the school’s 1964 national championship team making Sanders an intriguing prospect for the Cowboys. Simpson was a third team All-ACC selection at Clemson in 2022 when he had 72 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Iowa’s Campbell had a productive college career at Iowa where he totaled 305 total tackles (140 solo) and five interceptions over his four-year career. The recipient of the 2022 Butkus Award, Campbell was also recognized as a first team All-American by Walter Camp, The Sporting News, the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, and Phil Steele. Campbell was also named the Nagurski-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Player-of-the-Year a season ago. A first team All-Big Ten selection as a senior, Campbell was also named the Butkus-Fitzgerald Big Ten Linebacker of the Year last season. Campbell could be a good late round addition to the Dallas defense. If not, the Cowboys could look to Overshown. At 6-4 and 220 pounds. Overshown relies on speed over size to chase down ball carriers which would go well with Parsons and the newly acquired McKinley. Named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award each of the last two seasons, Overshown also was recognized as a first team All-Big 12 selection in 2022. An active player with his 6-4 frame, Overshown set career highs last fall when he had 96 total tackles (49 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, and 5 passes defensed.

While the Dallas defensive front seven could get a major boost from any of these lineman or linebackers, the defensive secondary could also use some help. The Cowboys have some flexibility here because they traded for veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the offseason by sending their fifth round pick in this year’s draft to the Indianapolis Colts. A five-time pro bowler, Gilmore has also been named All-Pro twice and was the NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2019 when he starred for the New England Patriots. Gilmore gives Dallas an experienced cornerback with a Super Bowl ring to his credit having been on the Patriots Super Bowl LIII championship team. Gilmore will team with the ballhawking Diggs giving the Cowboys two of the top corners in the league. With it unknown if Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis will return from their season-ending injuries a year ago, Gilmore is insurance to fill this spot. If Dallas still wants to pick a defensive back they could have a few options pending how the draft unfolds and who other teams pick.

Emmanuel Forbes has 4.35 speed in the 40 and had six pick-sixes in his college career.

Emmanuel Forbes of Mississippi State and Deonte Banks of Maryland could be options at cornerback in the late first round or early second round. Jakorian Bennett, also of Maryland, could help or safety Jordan Battle of Alabama could be a nice addition for the Cowboys. DJ Turner II out of Michigan is another possibility at cornerback. Forbes tied for the third best time in the 40-yard dash at 4.35 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in March. At 6-0 and 180, Forbes relies on his speed and technique to excel in coverage. He appeared in and started 12 of the Bulldogs 13 games in 2022 on his way to earning second team AP All-American honors. His six interceptions, which included three pick-sixes, last season led the SEC and placed him third in the nation. Forbes also led the team with 10 pass breakups. What is most impressive about Forbes is that his play impacts games. During the 2022 season he became the FBS record-holder with six pick-sixes in his career. He also ran his career interception total to 14 during last season making him the active leader in the FBS at the time.

Bennett’s 40 time of 4.30 seconds was the second best time at the scouting combine. The most valuable player of the 2022 Dukes Mayo Bowl, Bennett recorded 69 total tackles (55 solo), 29 passes defensed, and 4 interceptions over his three years with the Terrapins. Battle brings playmaking ability at safety where he excelled for Alabama. Named a third team All-American by the Associated Press in 2022, Battle recorded 71 total tackles (34 solo) en-route to receiving first team All-SEC recognition by the league’s coaches. If none of these defensive backs are available, Dallas might look to Turner II who ran the top time in the 40 at the combine at 4.26 seconds. Turner is a two-time All-Big Ten selection and finished with 69 total tackles (53 solo), 3 interceptions, and 20 passes defensed during his time at Michigan which all came over the last two seasons.

With so many good and versatile players in this draft, the Cowboys could go a handful of different ways with their picks. Plenty of other prospects lie in the draft as some 200-plus players are set to be drafted out of 350 or more prospects. Like so many other teams, Dallas is hoping to get who they want based on the countless hours of research and scouting that their front office staff has done headed up by Jones. Significant input from the likes of Cowboys’ Chief Executive Officer Stephen Jones, Vice President of Player Personnel Will McClay, and head coach Mike McCarthy along with the assistant coaches has all been part of the work. Time will tell if Dallas lands an impact player. Hope is in the air and Americas Team is soon to be on the clock. All of Cowboys Nation is holding their breath in anticipation of a bright light to be shinning at the end of the tunnel.

Security at the Super Bowl 1

Posted on January 08, 2019 by Martin Banks

The Super Bowl is one of the largest, most high-profile events held in the U.S. every year. Teams work toward the big game all year, and fans — at least those of the teams that do well — spend the whole season looking forward to it. Tens of thousands of fans attend the game, while millions more watch it at home or their local sports bar.

Planning security for such a large-scale event is no small matter. Law enforcement spent two years planning security for last year’s Super Bowl, which was held at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This season’s Super Bowl, which will be held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, will require a similar level of preparedness.

super-bowl-halftime-e1517505746645

Policing the Party

Last year, the Minneapolis Police Department was the lead agency in charge of security for the Super Bowl. It certainly did not do it alone though. The department’s approximately 840 officers worked together with various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen helped provide security. In total, nearly 2,000 federal agents played in a role in security for last year’s Super Bowl, including members of the FBI, which heads up the counterterrorism efforts surrounding the big game each year. Read the rest of this entry →

Best 10 and Worst 3 NFL Stadiums 2

Posted on May 17, 2018 by Martin Banks

Going to an NFL game is an adventure. It’s exciting to see a professional sports team play live in front of you. The only downside is you pay lots of money for the tickets and parking — and then you get gouged on food prices. But it’s all worth it because you enjoy the atmosphere, the energy and the stadium where the game is played.

What about the stadiums themselves, though? Some stadiums are brand new, and others have been open for decades. You may love or hate a certain stadium for reasons that are hard to describe. Some just have that certain atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else. Others are architectural masterpieces and full of high-tech inventions.

Some stadiums are clearly better than others, however. Here’s a look at 10 of the best and three of the worst you’ll find.

The Best

These are 10 of the best stadiums you’ll find:

Read the rest of this entry →

5 Best Football Receiver Gloves 2

Posted on July 05, 2017 by Sivaram Sundarasamy

glovesFootball, being a very popular sport, does need its players to make an investment in the attires that they show up on the field in. Receiver gloves are one of these attires for the field. Both adults and kids require these gloves for the sport in order to lay like pros and make the games interesting.

  • When looking for receiver gloves, it is best to consider three major qualities that our chosen fit should pass in order for you to give your wallet a green light to let go of money from your wallet.
  • The range of sizes of the gloves. A proper receiver glove company should be I a position to provide for a wide range of sizes that fit very nice and snug. Both adults and kids have the size to age difference in size of the football gloves and they should be catered for by the company in question.
  • In addition to this, the gloves should also be of a high-quality material, capable of withstanding many games or rounds of games without looking like slippery eels on balls. The best gloves provide as much grip in their first game as well as they do five games later, still giving that wonderful grip that gives a receiver satisfaction every time the ball comes their way.
  • Other than that, the gloves should no doubt give the receiver good extra protection for his hands so that they are able to grip the ball as firmly from the beginning to the end of the game. Without this, they do not serve the receiver too well.
  • The ratings are given by customers for football gloves and brand of the company. The former customer is the most honest person while looking for information on how good pair of gloves is. Many good reviews and demand for a certain brand should automatically tell you that they help the job get done and efficiently at that.
  • The gloves should be light in weight and easy to work with. Such gloves are good because they help the receiver to remain at a steady state as the ball lands in their hands when it forcefully lands into their hands. Heavy gloves work as a disadvantage for the receiver.
  • Cost. Other than the good qualities and other praises people have for these gloves, it is your wallet that will decide which gloves you will select according to your budget. You should, however, be in a position to get good value for your money. Read the rest of this entry →

Unexpected Dangers of Sports Tailgating 0

Posted on May 12, 2017 by Martin Banks

Sports tailgating can be a thrilling way to experience a sports team’s culture. The act of tailgating — where fans celebrate in the vicinity of a sports stadium before and after a game with drinks and food — often involves a variety of dedicated fans. In many cases, it can be a fun way to immerse yourself in the excitement of sports, though there are also a number of unexpected dangers associated with sports tailgating.

Tailgating can be fun and accident-free, and, being aware of potential mishaps, you can better avoid the potential of them occurring:

Rowdy Tailgaters

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Even if you’re of sound mind, there’s always the potential of being confronted by intoxicated tailgaters in your vicinity. In fact, a study found one in 12 are people drunk at sporting events — that doesn’t include those sitting with a buzz. The research from the University of Minnesota found those who tailgate, specifically, were 14 times more likely to depart the game intoxicated.

Considering that drunkenness can lead to poor judgment and irrationality, fights and unnecessary confrontation may arise.

Expect some people tailgating near you to be intoxicated, and stick to a group of people you know can handle their alcohol. If confronted by another group who are intoxicated, do your best to avoid them or tailgate elsewhere. Even though it can be a nuisance, moving your tailgating elsewhere can be a better alternative than serious injury. Read the rest of this entry →

Johnny Manziel Going Back to … College? 3

Posted on September 08, 2016 by Martin Banks

johnny-manziel-31-2000x1314

The latest twist on the Johnny Manziel rollercoaster is probably the least-expected one to date. The Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick quickly flamed out of the NFL due to substance abuse problems, but he’s now in the news for a more positive reason. Instead of generating another worrying headline about his personal demons, Johnny Football is reportedly re-enrolled at Texas A&M as a student.

Regardless of how you feel as Manziel as a player or a person, this is good news for the 23-year-old, who won the Heisman Trophy as Texas A&M’s quarterback in 2012. There were serious fears about Manziel’s health — so bad that his own father told ESPN that, “Hopefully he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses.” Going back to the school could be the best thing for him.

The Downward Spiral

Manziel left Texas A&M before finishing his degree, as he was seen as a promising draft pick who would likely go in the first round. That came true with his selection by the Cleveland Browns. The 2014 draft was the peak of Manziel’s career, and it was all downhill for the next two seasons. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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