Position: Wide Receiver
College: Louisiana State
Height/weight: 5'11', 205 lbs.
The Cowboys are in an interesting situation heading into May's NFL Draft. The 2013 Dallas defense stunk epically, so they need help on that side of the ball and will most likely go in that direction in the first round. But, with the mass exodus of players from an already mediocre team to free agency, the 'Boys can make a case for any position on the field - except kicker, Dan Bailey is a stud - being a 'position of need.' Obviously some positions more than others, and the defensive line and safety should remain priorities, but with Miles Austin's departure (which feels like it really happened about a year ago) the Cowboys could use another wide receiver. LSU's Jarvis Landry could be the solution, and he will likely be available after the first round.
Landry was a five-star recruit out of high school, and saw immediate action for LSU in his freshman season. He showed vast statistical improvement each season, as he went from four catches in his first year to a team-high 56 catches and five touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. Landry hauled in 77 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior in 2013. Landry's numbers were among the very best in the SEC, but Landry is projected by CBS Sports to be selected in the second or third round. He pulled a muscle while running a less-than-stellar 4.77 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. His underwhelming combine may cause Landry to slip further down the draft board, which would behoove a team like Dallas looking for later-round value at a skill position.
Why he's a good fit for the Cowboys
Landry played alongside Odell Beckham, Jr. in each of his three seasons as a Tiger. The quicker Beckham was more of a deep threat, averaging almost 20 yards per catch last year, and is a likely first round pick. Why rave about Beckham in a draft focus on Landry? Five words:
Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.
Bryant and Williams are both capable of being big play receivers and bring the speed that Landry lacks. Landry thrived playing in the slot, murdering defenses on underneath routes while at LSU. The Convent, La. product would be a valuable acquisition in the post-Miles Austin era in Dallas, and would expand on an underneath passing game that is currently limited to Cole Beasley. You can watch Landry carve up a strong TCU defense in the first game of 2013 here:
For whatever it's worth, Landry posted eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown in that game against the Horned Frogs, his only game in AT&T Stadium.
Landry's stats in his junior year were impressive, to say the least. But what might be the most impressive is his numbers when it mattered. The reliable slot man had 28 catches (15 of those for 15+ yards) and six touchdowns on third down last season, according to cfbstats.com. Dallas converted just 35 percent of its third downs in 2013 (the eighth-worst rate in the league). While that is due in large part to awful playcalling, it wouldn't hurt to equip new play-caller Scott Linehan with a guy like Landry who has that 'clutch factor.'
Beyond the numbers
Landry's talent is undeniable. I watched him play in the aforementioned Cowboys Classic against TCU, and his playmaking ability is phenomenal. He makes sensational catches, and does it when it really counts.
But he has also been praised by draft scouts for his toughness and competitive drive.
'Landry is a really strong hands-catcher who is fluid in and out of his breaks and doesn't care about making catches in traffic. Landry is a competitor, and isn't afraid to throw a block,' ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said, according to ninerfans.com.
For that theory in action, check out this play from the above game footage:
'I'm going to play special teams, I'm (hard to bring down) across the middle,' Landry said to reporters at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. 'I'm going to block linebackers, safeties ... (and do) just the little things that people forget.'
Like Jackson Jeffcoat, the subject of the last 'Draft Focus,' Landry's is a member of a talented and deep group at his position in this draft. His underwhelming numbers at the combine could cause him to fall further than expected in the draft, and if he falls far enough, picking up the college standout would make a ton of sense for the Cowboys. Just how far he falls could depend on LSU's upcoming pro day on April 9. He could be worthy of a second round draft pick depending on the top players available at the Cowboys' other positions of need. If Landry is still on the board in the third round, the suits shouldn't hesitate to call his name.
Landry is a sure-handed receiver with a knack for the spectacular catch, and would be a reliable target for Tony Romo and the Cowboys' offense. Dallas has the receiving coprs in place to develop a player like Landry into a successful NFL talent. He would, however, more than likely still be considered the second-best Landry in Cowboys' history.