The 2021 NFL Draft of the Dallas Cowboys will go down as one of the most defensive concentrated achievements we've seen from this team in a long time. The team addressed defense early and often as selection after selection contained some very promising collegiate talent. It was a sight for sore eyes for fans who have witnessed this team be very inattentive when it comes to adding difference-making players on the defensive side of the ball. But alas, this most recent draft was a complete different story as eight of their 11 draft picks were used for defensive players.
Despite the clear intent to fix this Cowboys defense, the team committed a few picks to offense. All three of these investments came on Day 3 and consisted of players selected outside the top 135 picks of the draft. The team chose offensive tackle Josh Ball (4th round, 138th overall), wide receiver Simi Fehoko (5th round, 179th overall), and guard Matt Farniok (7th round, 238th overall). While teams are just throwing darts at this point in the draft, there is one player in particular who has some fans really excited.
When Day 3 of the draft started, I compiled my own personal wish list of eight players I would love for the Cowboys to go after. The only wide receiver on that list was Stanford's Simi Fehoko. He was actually one of two wide receivers I felt the team should be interested in with the other one being Auburn speedster Anthony Schwartz. With no reason to believe the Cowboys would throw an early round investment at the position, my attention turned to later round gems who had a shot at slipping through the cracks. Additionally, I looked for receivers who had a specific skillset who would complement an already potent Cowboys passing attack. And that skillset was - speed.
The Cowboys didn't need a "checks all the boxes" receiver because they were so front-loaded with great talent at the position. Instead, if they could just find a depth guy who posed a vertical threat, he could be a perfect fit for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore as he continues to add weapons for his quarterback Dak Prescott. Schwartz and Fehoko had those attributes and seemed like the type of player who could sway the war room away from defense because their talent would just be too hard to pass up that late in the draft.
Not surprisingly, Schwartz didn't last to Day 3 as the Cleveland Browns selected him in the third round with the 91st overall pick. That 4.25 speed is always going to attract somebody. What was surprising was that Fehoko slid all the way until the fifth round. Sifting through his tape displayed a very exciting playmaker, and I couldn't help drawing mental comparisons to Steelers receiver Chase Claypool as the athtleticism for a guy his size jumped off the screen. Needless to say, it was not all that surprising when I came across this little tweet nugget from Next Gen Stats:
That is some amazing company.
Fehoko was not clustered with the elite receiving prospects for many reasons. Most notably is just his overall rawness at the position. He spent his first two years out of high school on a religious mission, so he was a little late to the party. His overall experience is very limited (only five starts in college), and it shows. He hasn't developed his route-running ability. His size and speed create a lot of momentum and that makes it really difficult to stop on a dime and change direction. And Simi still has a lot of learning to do when it comes to understanding coverages. In short, his route-running ability is sub par, both mentally and physically.
Despite these bugs, there are many reasons to love the Cowboys newest addition. The obvious one is that he's really good at what he's going to be asked to do. He's not their go-to possession receiver who needs to hit the sticks. Instead, he'll be asked to streak off the line and hit the 4.43 speed that helped him set a school record of 23.6 yards per reception back in 2019. Big guys don't typically run that fast.
Even more than that, Fehoko has demonstrated the ability to haul down contested passes with defenders draped all over him. He shows great concentration to track the ball and masterful control of his body, setting him up to win those jump ball moments.
Even with this flaws, Fehoko can still add something to the Cowboys offense. With Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup already in the mix, that's a logjam of talent already so it's going to be tough for him to earn targets. But don't be surprised if he makes good use out of the little work he does get. Not only that, but he's still trending up. With gold-star character, you have to like his chances of maximizing his full potential. And don't let the fifth-round draft stock fool you. Players like Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill were also selected in the fifth round because of their own deficiencies, yet no other player has more receiving touchdowns from their respective drafts. Fehoko possesses that same type of upside. He can beat you with his legs and he can beat you with his hands.
Some players just have it.
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