SBNation NFL Mock Draft, Pick 61: The Dallas Cowboys Select...

No. 61
Pick by Blogging the Boys

Tyrell Johnson

Arkansas State

With the 61st overall selection in the 2008 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft, the Dallas Cowboys have selected Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson. Brandon W of Blogging the Boys made the pick and explains his selection below:

Trying to come to a decision on which position to pick in the second round, let alone which player, was not an easy task. The Cowboys entered the draft with a consensus need at cornerback, running back and wide receiver and filled two of those needs in the first round (CB, RB). With WR's Mario Manningham, Donnie Avery and Eddie Royal, among others, still available it was very tempting to grab one before they are gone. But Dallas had one of the top ranked offenses in the league last year with Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton starting and you have to also factor in Jason Witten, Marion Barber and newly acquired Felix Jones. That same group has the ability to put up the big numbers once again this year.

Once you move past the top three positions of need for the Cowboys, several small holes start to show themselves. There is no depth at fullback behind second year player Deon Anderson and Dallas could also draft a nose tackle if they shift the versatile Jay Ratliff back to defensive end. But the biggest area of concern could be the uncertain future for the Cowboys' safeties. Starting SS Roy Williams' productivity and reliability has sharply declined in the past few years and there is speculation that this might be his final year in Dallas. Starting FS Ken Hamlin has been franchised by the Cowboys and is hopeful of working out a long term deal with the team, but it is not a given that the Cowboys will be able to afford him after 2008. No one is sure if backup Patrick Watkins is starter material while second-year player Courtney Brown is making the transition from corner to safety. With the future unclear as to which starter, if any, will return after 2008 it becomes apparent the teams needs to draft a highly rated safety if one is still available. And one just happens to be available, so the Dallas Cowboys select safety Tyrell Johnson, from Arkansas State, with the 61st pick.

Tyrell Johnson has the ability to play both free and strong safety, a versatility that will be highly valued in Dallas. He set all time tackling records in the Sun Belt Conference during his college career along with 13 career interceptions, setting another record for total return yards. He is very strong and can play down in the box as well as playing back and making plays in pass coverage. A four year starter, he was a team leader at Arkansas State and there have never been any doubts about his character. A proven playmaker, he constantly put up big numbers in school, once recording 25 tackles in a single game. Coming out of college it was thought that his numbers might be inflated a bit since he did not play for a big name school, but his performance at the combine made his stock skyrocket. He is exceptionally strong for his size (6-0, 205) as well as being one of the fastest safeties in the draft. Johnson can provide future stability at safety for the Cowboys while serving in a valuable backup role his rookie season. He would not be forced into a starting spot his first season, giving him the opportunity to make the adjustment to the NFL and hone his playmaking skills.

Matt Miller, host of this site as well as owner of New Era Scouting, provides his analysis below:

Johnson has generated a lot of buzz this off-season, but most of it started week one against Texas. He is a very good athlete, a proven stud on special teams, and a huge upgrade in coverage over Ken Hamlin and Roy Williams. Drafting Johnson gives the team a lot of flexibility in nickel and dime situations; and it assures them a talented future at safety.

Grade: B+ :: Tyrell Johnson Scouting Report - New Era Scouting :: Matt Miller's Top Five Prospects Remaining: 1. LB Shawn Crable, 2. RB Jamaal Charles, 3. TE Fred Davis, 4. TE Martin Rucker, 5. OT Barry Richardson

We've only got two more picks to go in the 2008 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft! The New England Patriots, represented by our new bloggers at Pats Pulpit, are on the clock.

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