Even though the 2016 NFL season is just a little over the halfway mark, that doesn't mean it's too early for 2017 mock drafts to already be circulating around the Internet.
Now, there is no way to predict where teams will be slotted to select players in April when the 2017 NFL Draft gets underway, but it is always fun to see who these so-called "experts" choose for each team.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) just released their first 2017 mock draft, and I not only like who they selected for the Dallas Cowboys, but where they have the Cowboys slotted to draft.
Here is who/where PFF thinks the Dallas Cowboys select in next year's NFL Draft and what they had to say:
32. Dallas Cowboys: Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
"After a slow start, Smoot is headed for another dominant finish that mirrors last year's as he is one of the nation's best pass-rushers down the stretch. He's shown the ability to take over games throughout his career and he'll step right in as a pass-rush threat along a Cowboys defensive line that has not gotten after the quarterback at a high rate this season."
First off, as a Dallas Cowboys fan, you have to be pleased with where PFF has the Dallas Cowboys slotted to draft in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Cowboys are indeed drafting #32 overall, that means that they are adding another Super Bowl trophy to their collection.
There is a lot of football left the season, but I know I would be ecstatic if the Cowboys are Super Bowl champs. That's a goal every year, right?
Secondly, we all know that the Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need for pass rushers, and although I'm unfamiliar with Dawuane Smoot, he does fit a need.
Since I was unfamiliar with Smoot, I decided to do a little research and was pleasantly surprised to find out what two of the top draft "experts" thought about the soon to be former Illinois defensive end.
ESPN's own Mel Kiper Jr. currently has Dawuane Smoot ranked #25 on his preseason Big Board.
"Smoot played like a first-round pick with Jihad Ward, who went to the Raiders in the second round, on the other side," wrote Kiper. "I had Ward as the No. 27 player on my final Big Board, but Smoot was more productive in 2015."
That is certainly high praise from someone who has been analyzing these prospects for years now, but his colleague, Todd McShay, apparently thinks even higher of Smoot and has him as his #5 prospect.
"A gifted pass-rusher, Smoot keeps offensive tackles on their heels with his ability to win with speed, power and redirection quickness," McShay wrote.
Both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are well respected for their draft analysis, which is plainly evident when you watch the NFL Draft on ESPN. I respect the work they do and the time they put in, but they aren't my favorite draft analysts. That distinction would go to Matt Miller.
Miller is the lead Staff Writer/draft expert for Bleacher Report, and someone whose opinion I tend to agree with more than any of the other draft analyst.
Miller currently has Dawuane Smoot in the top 10 of his latest mock draft.
Here's what he had to say about the Illinois defensive end:
"Smoot--6'3", 265 pounds--has ideal edge-rusher athleticism and size," Miller wrote. "Unlike a Randy Gregory or Vic Beasley, he can hold up against NFL offensive tackles with power and speed. Smoot also uses his hands like a pro and is able to be a force on the edge even when he's the sole defensive player opponents are game planning for."
Based on all of this information, it's a little difficult to believe that Dawuane Smoot will still be around when the Cowboys are on the clock at #32 overall, but if he is they may be running to the podium to turn in their draft card.
I thought it was worth mentioning that Smoot's head coach at Illinois is Lovie Smith, so defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and the Dallas Cowboys should be able to get a detailed scouting report straight from the horses mouth.
The Lovie Smith/Rod Marinelli connection makes the Dawuane Smoot to Dallas that much more plausible.
Does Dawuane Smoot sound like a good draft prospect for the Cowboys?
Let me hear what you think in the comment section below.
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog2 days ago
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Star Blog3 days ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Star Blog1 week ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?
NFL Draft1 week ago
Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver