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NFL Draft options for Cowboys: Will Dallas go 1st round wideout again?

With Amari Cooper out of the picture, wide receiver could be a major need that the Dallas Cowboys could look to fill with their first pick at the NFL Draft.

DALLAS — For football fans, the month of April means digging into the ins and outs of the upcoming NFL Draft. 

For the Dallas Cowboys, the annual event has become the main way that the organization builds the core of the team. The offseason maneuvering thus far has left some holes on the Cowboys, most of which will be addressed during the draft.

With the trade of Amari Cooper, Kellen Moore’s offense is in search of a wide receiver to pair with recent first-rounder CeeDee Lamb and four-year pro Michael Gallup, who signed a long term deal to stay in Dallas this spring. 

Luckily for the Cowboys, this year’s draft has a strong group of wide receivers. The 2022 class features a deep group of quality playmakers that extends well past the first round, which might be the reason that the Cowboys were fine with moving on from Cooper. 

Here are a handful of wideouts that the Cowboys could target with their top selection, if that’s the direction they choose to go in:

Drake London, USC

At 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 210 pounds, London is a physical presence in the mold of former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. In eight games of his junior season, London topped 1,000 yards on 88 receptions and scored seven touchdowns. 

Among London’s best traits include his physicality, which will serve him well in the transition to the NFL, strong hands, and the ability to high point the ball and make contested catches. London doesn’t have blazing speed, but he is still very good with the ball in his hands on the move. His size makes him difficult to bring down in the open field and he’s a big-bodied receiver who could excel in the red zone.

Although there isn’t a consensus as to who the top wide receiver is in the draft, many talent evaluators have London as the No. 1 receiver coming out this year.

London is likely to be off the board when the Cowboys select at 24, but no one expected Lamb to reach Dallas with the No. 17 overall pick in 2020. If somehow London makes his way to the Cowboys in the first round, or they go up to get him with a trade, he would make for a great complement to their current group of wideouts.

Jameson Williams, Alabama

If the Cowboys are looking for the speed and a vertical threat that they’ve been missing, Williams would be a fit. Williams only had one standout season at Alabama, playing with some of the most talented players that college football has to offer, but it was an electric year. 

The recently turned 21-year-old wide receiver had 79 catches for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide in 2021, with a whopping 19.9 yards per catch (YPC) average. Williams ranked second in the NCAA in YPC for players who qualified with at least 50 receptions.

Williams has excellent speed and is a terror after the catch, making him perhaps the most explosive wide receiver in the draft.

The problem with selecting Williams is he suffered a torn ACL in January, making his status for the start of the NFL season up in the air still. With Gallup already questionable for the early part of the season, would the Cowboys gamble on a second receiver rehabbing a serious injury?

Dallas might not get the chance to make that decision as he’ll likely be gone before the 24th pick.

Treylon Burks, Arkansas

The Cowboys have an affinity for Arkansas players since owner Jerry Jones attended the school, but Burks would be a match as a potential personal favorite who also happens to be a very skilled player. Burks had a great junior season for the Razorbacks, catching 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns, while thriving despite less than stellar quarterback play.

Burks doesn’t have the speed that some of the other elite prospects possess, clocking in with a 4.55 40-time at the NFL combine, but the talented wide receiver plays faster than his timed speed. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, 225 pounds, Burks has the size, strength, and athleticism to excel at the next level. Burks also has the physicality to break tackles in the open field and uses his size as an advantage against most cornerbacks.

Speed appears to be the only question with Burks, yet he found a way to dominate in the nation’s best football conference. Burks is also a legitimate option for the Cowboys around their spot in the first round.

Chris Olave, Ohio St.

Rarely does a wide receiver without a 1,000-yard season in his college career get talked about as a potential first-rounder, but Olave is that player. Olave played four years at Ohio St. and his best season was his senior year where he caught 65 balls for 936 yards and 13 scores.

However, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. Olave was always a part of a talented offense that usually boasted three star receivers that spread the ball around. Olave is considered one of the best route runners and is perhaps the most polished receiver in the draft. 

The knock most draft analysts have on Olave is that he doesn’t have an elite trait. He’s got good but not great speed and he isn’t as strong as some of the other options at the position. Olave feels like a safe, solid pick who will be a good wide receiver in the NFL during his career, he just might not be a true No 1. wide receiver.

Most believe that Olave is a realistic option for the Cowboys at No. 24.

Garrett Wilson, Ohio St.

Wilson played opposite Olave and managed to put up stellar numbers in his final season with the Buckeyes, catching 70 balls for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6 feet tall, 185 pounds, Wilson has good size with room to get stronger.

Most of the attributes are there with Wilson. The Austin, Texas native has good athleticism, strong hands, and an instinct for the position. Wilson’s also a deep threat that has the speed to do damage with the ball in his hands in the open field.

Most draft experts feel there’s an element of boom or bust to Wilson, but he’s a solid prospect who the Cowboys could target with their first-round pick. 

If the Cowboys ultimately bypass the receiver position in round one, there are many other good options on the second day of the draft that could fill out their wide receiver room. An elite option might cost them their first pick but they’ve shown that they’re willing to take the right receiver when the opportunity arises.

Would you be happy to see the Cowboys select a wide receiver in the first round? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

    

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