With three first-round caliber wide receivers on their pre-draft visitor list, the Dallas Cowboys could very well pick their second first-round pass-catcher in the last three years. At 24th overall, it’s possible the Cowboys find that the best player available is indeed a WR.
Here’s why Treylon Burks, from Arkansas, could make a lot of sense for Dallas.
Nate Tice from The Athletic Football Show outlined how a particular trend in the league could shape some teams’ wide receiver preferences come the NFL Draft. As defenses continue to focus on a top-down approach, offenses could take the challenge head-on and try to go over the top instead of just settling for short, underneath gains in the passing game.
Instead, Tice explained on the podcast, expect teams to focus on the running game and deep shots in the near future. This means one big thing for the wide receiver position:
“Size and speed at the receiver are back. A true X. We can live with the 4.55 guy. Now we’re worried more about body size.” – Nate Tice
The Cowboys already have a true X receiver in Michael Gallup. While many teams could indeed be seeking that, Dallas already has a receiver that can win in isolated situations and battle for those contested catches. In fact, Gallup has lined up as the isolated receiver (X) at the second-highest rate in the NFL since 2020, per Next Gen Stats.
If you’re looking for reasons to love the contract extension he signed earlier in the year, how he fits this schematic trend is certainly one of the biggest.
Now, with CeeDee Lamb expected to become WR1 for the Dallas Cowboys, how he pairs up with Gallup could be very fun. Even if he’s the team’s #1 receiver, Lamb is expected to play in the slot frequently, which would also line up with trends in the league.
Sure, when we think about what a “WR1” looks like, we mostly think about outside guys. But the NFL is rapidly changing and we’re increasingly watching top players move inside.
Just look at some of these #1 wide receivers and their number of targets from the slot, per Sports Info Solutions:
- Cooper Kupp, 143 (1st in the NFL)
- Davante Adams, 104 (6th)
- Tyreek Hill, 103 (7th)
CeeDee Lamb can be the #1 receiver for the Cowboys while playing inside! And he can do so while Gallup is on the other side winning in isolated situations.
But oh, how fun the offense could be with Treylon Burks involved.
Burks played over two-thirds of his snaps from the slot in 2021. He was PFF’s highest-graded receiver in college football from the inside. Dane Brugler has used the quote “linebacker-sized Deebo Samuel” to describe him as a prospect.
As such, Burks is projected by many to be a big-play machine from the inside.
But his size and speed give him some legit X-receiver potential in the NFL. There’s a lot he needs to polish, starting with his route-running. Yet according to Brugler’s 2022 Draft Guide, he caught 12 of 18 targets of 20-plus yards in 2021.
Treylon Burks spent about 2/3 of his snaps in the slot this year, but he can win on the outside too ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/QN4VwM8bzU— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) December 16, 2021
Plug in Treylon Burks into the Dallas Cowboys offense and suddenly you have a guy who can potentially be a super effective slot like Lamb and an X-receiver like Gallup. The versatility in the wide receiver room could allow Dallas to pick and choose their favorite match-ups each and every week.
Pass is king in the NFL and defenses have adjusted with top-down defenses. The Cowboys could be in a great spot to respond and take things over the top with great receivers.
On my nightly show A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime, we looked at other WR options on Day 2 the Cowboys could look at as X-receivers.
Featured image via Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports