The month of April couldn’t have come quicker for most Dallas Cowboys fans. After a disappointing loss in the first round of the playoffs and a less than satisfying start to free agency, Dallas fans can turn their attention to an area where America’s Team has typically excelled over the past decade, as the Dallas Cowboys draft classes have largely been successful.
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and the Cowboys are wrapping up evaluations and hosting potential targets with each of their nine selections in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The pressure will be on Will McClay and the Joneses to put this team in a position to be the first repeat winner the NFC East has seen since the Eagles won four straight from 2001-04.
However, after an offseason that started with more departures than additions, a strong draft haul has never been more crucial. Let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys draft targets at each position, starting at wide receiver in this article.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Targets: Wide Receiver
Without a doubt, Dallas is in the market for another top receiver in their offense. There is no guarantee Michael Gallup will be ready for Week 1, and even if he is, finding Dak Prescott a talented third option is a priority.
When healthy, Gallup is a valuable weapon, and with Amari Cooper gone, CeeDee Lamb is primed to be the top option for the Cowboys moving forward. When he fell to Dallas in the 2020 draft, the term “too good to pass up” was a common reason for selecting him over a defender.
Now it’s time for Lamb to prove why he was too good to pass on. However, behind he and Gallup, there are little proven options. Some are hopeful that a change of scenery will benefit James Washington, but the jury is still out on that one.
Noah Brown is back for another year but he has yet to take that next step beyond being a depth player. Simi Fehoko and several other young options are also looking to establish pivotal roles on the roster.
Where the Cowboys could look to add help
I wouldn’t be shocked if Dallas looked to make several additions at the position after losing Cooper, Cedrick Wilson and Malik Turner. Ideally, the Dallas Cowboys would love to have a group that includes a second receiver that thrives on the perimeter like Gallup, one that works well over the middle of the field, and Lamb, who can do both.
Obviously, taking a receiver in the top 100 to join Gallup and Lamb in the starting lineup is a priority, and Dallas has made no secret that they are considering it at 24. Still, adding a receiver should be a priority on day three as well, regardless of what they do with their first three picks.
The good news is college football is constantly pumping talented receivers into the NFL. It’s the one position that should always be deep in any draft class, and Dallas has proven capable of finding quality pass-catchers on all three days of the event.
First-Round Dallas Cowboys Options
Drake London, USC
Drake London is the highest of the first-round targets the Dallas Cowboys are bringing in on a “Top 30” visit, and to be honest, him getting to 24 is probably wishful thinking. The broken ankle that ended his 2021 season has healed, and while a recent hamstring strain postponed his only pre-draft workout, it won’t hinder his draft stock.
It’s not impossible that London could slip to Dallas’ range, considering wide receiver has become a “pick your flavor” position in the NFL. However, smooth route runners that come in a 6’4” package are a universal flavor.
Drake London has terrific body control, and his history as a basketball player gives him natural focus and strength at the catch-point, as well as the ability to attack the ball at its highest point. Considering Prescott’s ball placement and accuracy can get a little spotty, I can’t imagine a receiver in this draft that is more “Dak Friendly” than London.
If he were to slide out of the top 15, I would expect the Cowboys to be on the phone about trying to move up for his services.
Chris Olave, Ohio State
Chris Olave is probably the most polarizing of the top five receivers. He’s a smooth route-runner with exceptional speed, yet he’s got average size and ability to elevate. Still, he may also be the most polished receiver in the bunch.
His game seems effortless, whether it’s negating the defender’s cushion, separating out of his break, or bringing in the catch. I likened his skill set to Justin Jefferson’s coming out of LSU, though I felt Jefferson offered a slightly bigger catch-radius because of his ability to elevate.
Olave could also stand to get stronger to make him as dangerous after the catch, but the big-play speed is there. Like Jefferson, Olave can attack all three levels of the field from any alignment.
If Olave were to get to 24, having he and Lamb would give Dallas two players that could line up on the perimeter and the slot and have an equal impact on the game. That would make it difficult for defenses to predetermine the early targets in the progression based on alignment. My only issue is I thought the Cowboys would do a similar thing with Lamb and Cooper, and it didn’t happen.
Treylon Burks, Arkansas
While London may be the top receiver in this draft for Prescott, Treylon Burks may be the top target for what this offense needs. Like Olave, he has slot-perimeter versatility, though what he can bring from the slot could really allow Kellen Moore to get creative with this offense.
We saw Moore play Lamb in a Deebo Samuel-type role on several occasions last season, whether running gadget plays or lining him up in the backfield to get him the ball. Still, Burks would flourish in that role far more than Lamb. Like Samuel has done in San Francisco, Burks would bring big-play ability out of the backfield, as he would on screens, reverses, and shallow-crossers. Adding Burks would give Dallas a great balance in their starting three, with Lamb at Z, Gallup at X, and the former Razorback in the slot.
Still, even he isn’t guaranteed to get to 24, and if he does slide, teams picking behind the Cowboys will identify Dallas as the spot to get ahead of for his services.
Day 2 Dallas Cowboys Draft Options
George Pickens, Georgia
It’s possible that George Pickens, or several other day-two options I’m mentioning, could slide into the end of the first round, but only time will tell. The former Bulldog was on pace to be my top receiver prospect returning to college football a year ago when he tore his ACL in the spring.
Without the injury and another year of reasonable development, I think we are talking about him as a lock for the top ten of this draft. Instead, he missed most of the season and will need to prove he can get back to the player he was in 2020.
Still, the guy I see has a lot of similarities to A.J. Green in a slightly smaller package with better hip sink and footwork in his routes. That’s his potential upside, and if he gets to 56, the Cowboys should not hesitate to pull the trigger. However, another issue the front office will need to consider are some maturity issues that have popped up more than once.
Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Like London and Pickens, Christian Watson is another Dak-friendly target that could grow into a stud as he continues to polish his route-running skills. He absolutely nailed the pre-draft process, including an impressive showing in Mobile that proved that the flashes we saw on tape were not an admiration.
The guy is a diligent worker and a fierce competitor, lending many to believe that the jump from FCS to NFL will not be too much for him to handle. He would be an ideal partner across from Gallup as a perimeter target, with terrific size and deceptive speed as a long-strider.
Not only does he possess the skill set that Dallas is looking for in a third receiver, but he also brings an underdog mentality that would be a refreshing addition to this offense.
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
There are a lot of similarities between Jalen Tolbert and Gallup, which I’m sure the Cowboys have discussed. Both have a skill set that makes them play bigger than their measurements, and they are terrific in 50-50 situations.
Adding Tolbert to a group that includes Gallup and Lamb would be a nightmare for defenses with undersized corners. It would seemingly help the Cowboys in the red zone, which has been an issue of theirs for some time.
Tolbert didn’t play a ton against FBS opponents, but his tape against Tennessee exemplified how talented he is and how much South Alabama relied on him to make that offense function.
Day 3 Dallas Cowboys Draft Options
Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech
While Texas Tech’s passing game is nowhere near what it used to be, Ezukanma led the Red Raiders in receiving each of the last three seasons. That includes two years in which current Cowboys’ practice squad receiver T.J. Vasher was on the roster, so it’s no surprise Dallas is interested.
Though not as big a target as Vasher, Ezukanma still provides the big catch-radius that the Cowboys covet on the perimeter. He is still a work in progress as a route-runner, but his play strength is impressive, as is his body control.
Dallas already has a similar project in Fehoko, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they added another with Ezukanma. They did get a chance to see him work out at their annual Dallas Day.
Christian Rambo, Miami
It’s crazy that a guy who put up terrific seasons at Oklahoma and Miami can be an under-the-radar prospect, but that is what Rambo is heading into the draft. He’s a silky-smooth athlete that will be a reliable pass-catcher at the next level, thanks to his polish at the position.
His initial burst and quickness get him easy releases off the line, and he sinks his hips with ease. I see a lot of Allen Hurns in his game, and though Hurns was slightly bigger. Still, Rambo could fill Cedrick Wilson’s old role as a reliable fourth receiver for this offense.
Rambo grew up in the Dallas area, and the Cowboys got to see him work out in Miami and at their Dallas Day. If he gets into the late-fifth round, I wouldn’t be shocked to see America’s Team bring him home.
Britain Covey, Utah
I am admittedly higher on Covey than most and believe he would be a top-100 candidate if his age (25) weren’t a factor. Covey went on a church mission to Chile after being a Freshman All-American in 2015.
He returned to Utah in 2018 and essentially picked up where he left off as one of the more dangerous slot receivers and return men in the country. My other knock on him is his size.
It’s already tough playing in the NFL at under 5’10”, but many who do make up for it with above-average arm length and elevation skills to give themselves a bigger catch-radius. Covey is just average in both those areas, which will turn some teams away from his services.
Still, his three-cone time of 6.73 is elite, and his ability to change direction on tape backs up that time. If the Cowboys want a more traditional slot, I wouldn’t overlook Covey, who can also ensure that Lamb never has to take another snap as a punt returner.