The Dallas Cowboys' 2019 NFL Draft class got an advance deposit at the NFL trade deadline when the team shipped away their upcoming first round pick for Raiders WR Amari Cooper. As things currently stand, Dallas' first pick will be the 44th selection of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Here's the good news, Dallas. There will be plenty of good football players available, even that late. This class is not short on talent, although it lacks the headline star power at the skill positions that create buzz in a pool of talent.
Considering Jerry Jones has already given an up and down Dak Prescott a vote of confidence as the team's franchise quarterback going forward, it's unlikely that lack of talent will impact Dallas' draft plans.
Instead, now is a good time to start looking at some candidates who can step onto the roster and potentially be difference makers with that second round selection.
Track Record of 44th Pick
Before looking at the talent pool, consider some of the players drafted in the 44th place in the Draft order in recent years.
2018 - WR Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers
2017 - TE Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
2016 - DL Jihad Ward, Oakland Raiders
2015 - LB Hau'oli Kikaha, New Orleans Saints
2014 - OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Buffalo Bills
2013 - DT Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers*
2012 - OT Jeff Allen, Kansas City Chiefs
2011 - WR Titus Young, Detroit Lions
2010 - DL Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders
2009 - QB Pat White, Miami Dolphins
Short is the lone Pro Bowler of this group, which isn't necessarily a great omen...but that also fails to account for the picks immediately after that slot, which have produced a number of good players. To quote Lloyd Christmas:
"So you're telling me there's a chance?! YEAH!"
Yes, there is. So who are some names at key positions that Dallas fans should familiarize themselves with (and root to see the team have interest in)?
Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
2018 rookie Michael Gallup, free agent Allen Hurns, Amari Cooper and Cole Beasley isn't a bad core group of receivers, but there is a missing sense of dynamic open field ability from this group. Should the team look to add a more potent version of Tavon Austin (still with the team but a limited receiver), Samuel could certainly do the trick.
After having struggled with injury during his time in South Carolina, Samuel now struggles with a different problem: his quarterback is not good, which means the stats have suffered. But Samuel has still set a career high in receiving touchdowns this season (5) and has accounted for 4 return touchdowns in 39 career attempts (and counting).
Tight End Kaden Smith, Stanford Cardinal
Are y'all missing Jason Witten yet? The tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers have combined for 31 catches through 9 games thus far in 2018, a far cry from the production Cowboys fans are used to with Witten.
So why Kaden Smith? Well, for starters the team targeted his former college teammate Dalton Shultz in 2018 and drafted him to be a potential heir. But Shultz was more of a blocking weapon at Stanford, whereas Smith is much more of a receiver at the position.
Stanford is TE-U as far as I'm concerned (sorry Canes fans, your glory days were quite some time ago), so why not rebuild your tight end room with this NFL pipeline?
Defensive Lineman Christian Wilkins, Clemson Tigers
Cowboys fans wanting to get a taste of what Wilkins can do should look no further than Clemson's game against Boston College. Wilkins was a man possessed.
Wilkins' status in the Draft community seemingly peaked after the team's National Championship run of 2016, although some analysts still believe he's a first round talent. Personally? He's close for me, but this is a star-studded interior defensive line group. That may allow a guy like Wilkins to drop into the second round, where his versatility could shine with the Cowboys.
Tyrone Crawford has some similarities to Wilkins, so you know he's the kind of player the Cowboys would notice.