Dallas Cowboys Draft: Why receiver is so unpredictable in the draft

Michael Gallup #13 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Michael Gallup #13 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

There’s a reason why receivers go off the draft board in an unpredictable manner and why the Dallas Cowboys like to play the waiting game

Last season, the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2018 NFL Draft with a significant need at receiver. But instead of jumping on the top WRs on the board, they stayed patient because they knew value could be found later in the draft and one of their top targets was sure to slip through the cracks.

When one of their favorite players, Michael Gallup, fell to them in the third round, they pounced. A plan perfectly executed. We see this same thing unfold year after year. It happens at other positions as well, but receiver seems to have the biggest variability. How come?

Matching teams and receivers is complicated

Receivers are like automobiles. They are a means to get you where you want to go. There are also a vast number of varying shapes and sizes that are either more or less attractive based on user needs.

A family of five might appreciate the awesomeness of a Porsche 911, but it probably doesn’t fit what their looking for so instead they opt for a Toyota SUV. Does that mean they think a Toyota is better than a 911? No, it just means they think the Toyota is better for what they need. Cost also plays a significant part. Some people prefer a debt-free life or homeownership above all else. They probably aren’t interested in the cost that accompanies a Porsche.

The same can all be applied to NFL teams. Last season the Dallas Cowboys weren’t interested in buying a Porsche (using a top-50 pick). It’s not that they didn’t like those players it’s just they valued other things greater. The Dallas Cowboys also seemed to have a type they were looking for. Instead of going for the biggest, strongest, or fastest, Dallas was attracted to a complete multi-dimensional player. Gallup was their SUV.

Every team has different wants and needs at the receiver position. They may really like Player A but if he doesn’t fit those wants and needs, he probably won’t be seriously considered.  That’s why it’s not uncommon to see a higher-rated player go after a lower rated player. Teams are often looking for a type of receiver. One that fits their offense.

X,Y, Z receivers

Not only do different offenses command different types of receivers, but each offense has specific receiver positions that traditionally have a wide variation of skills and abilities.

The X receiver lines up at the line of scrimmage so he must be able to withstand the effects of press coverage. This guy needs quickness, strength, and technique to reliably beat press and stay in time on his routes.

The Z typically offers the speed. He has an added advantage by lining up off the line so he needs to be quick enough to take advantage of that space and get into his route free and clear.

The Y, or slot, has the biggest advantage of all since he can break in any direction. Some teams like big slots who can win contested balls by relying on body positioning and ball placement. And some teams like “water bugs” – little guys with next-level quickness who create separation.

Each offense is different, each team is different, and each position is different so it makes little sense to follow a draft board of the top-20 WRs when a significant chunk of them just don’t fit.

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Advantage, Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys were a team that took advantage of this last year and they look like they’ll do it again this year. Based on the list of 30-visits, the Cowboys seem to be targeting route-runners and burners. They aren’t being tempted by the big-bodied X-receivers but rather seem to be looking at Z and a little bit of Y.

Amari Cooper affords them immense flexibility since he can proficiently play all three receiver positions. Even Gallup appears like he’s physical enough to work out of the X should Coop move inside.

The point is, not every receiver is a fit for every team and some won’t be considered at all. This is the perfect environment to sit back and wait for a bargain to fall. Last season the Dallas Cowboys remained patient and were rewarded with Michael Gallup.

Next. 4 Myths about slot receiver. dark

Will they do the same this season? Who are you hoping will slip through the cracks?

  • Published on 04/05/2019 at 12:00 PM
  • Last updated at 04/05/2019 at 07:25 AM