Round 6, Pick 188 (Traded Picks 191 and 2022 7th to PHI for 188)
Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State
Yes, I traded up three spots for a running back, here’s why. The Cowboys are definitely carrying two running backs on their 53 man roster: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Rico Dowdle will likely get thrown in the mix for his special teams’ ability. Tony Pollard’s contract ends in two seasons and the Cowboys can release Dowdle whenever. Why not grab someone with similar skill sets as these two players to backup Elliot for the foreseeable future so the team doesn’t have to re-sign Pollard?
Jefferson was incredibly productive last season. In six games, the Beaver ran the ball 133 times for 858 yards and 7 touchdowns. That’s a staggering 6.5 yards per carry in one of the pass heaviest conferences in the country. Jefferson displays incredibly good patience on gap and zone runs allowing blockers to latch onto their assignment before working upfield. He has enough wiggle at the first level to avoid defenders and good acceleration and foot speed to hit the hole and separate at the second level.
For as good of a runner Jefferson has been, he struggles in pass protection because his technique is lacking and only possesses adequate play strength. At the second level, his contact balance could be better and he doesn’t have great short-area quickness. In a sense, he displays the foot speed and receiving ability of Pollard with the mental processing and aggression of Dowdle.
Round 6, Pick 192 (CAR traded Picks 151, 192, and 220 for 138 and 236)
Paris Ford, SAF, Pittsburgh
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The last pick of this draft sees us double downing on the safety position with a versatile defender. This sounds great until you realize Ford’s best trait might be his versatility and then extreme doubt starts to creep in. The redshirt junior has played 23 games for the Panthers and 136 total tackles, 89 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions, and ten pass deflections.
Ford’s production clearly is not why he fell to the sixth round. There are greater concerns about his ability his consistency. Often playing in the box, he was forced to take on blocks and make tackles. He displays good aggression to do such things but his pursuit angles and ability to disengage from blockers after leveraging the alley are solid at best. In the middle 1/3rd of the field, he displays adequate range to overlap routes displaying adequate instincts to recognize route patterns and key the quarterback.
He does display ball skills and is a solid athlete so with better development he could find himself in a similar role as now third-year player Donovan Wilson.
The Cowboys have a lot of picks in the 2021 NFL draft and are in a position to trade back and accumulate more. However, quantity doesn’t always quality. More tickets to the lottery are fun but they mean nothing if there is nothing to capitalize on. In all, the Cowboys can seemingly find impact players in all rounds of the draft. It might just take some luck and maneuvering.