The 2020 NFL Draft is drawing closer by the day and while we may not know the prospects the Dallas Cowboys could be targeting this year, we do have a pretty good idea of their “team needs”. With Travis Frederick’s unexpected retirement, finding his replacement could be at the top of the list.
The Dallas Cowboys may have seen this coming, which is why they have some solid options currently on the roster to step into Frederick’s now vacated spot. They re-signed Joe Looney, who started in his place in 2018, but they also have last year’s third-round pick Connor McGovern to compete for the job. But is it enough?
It’s hard to say right now what the new coaching staff thinks of their current options to replace Travis Frederick. That’s the mindset I entered into this seven-round mock draft and the mindset the Dallas Cowboys may have come Draft Day in a few weeks time. Will they draft another offensive lineman in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft?
Let’s take a look at how things could play out…
Round 1, Pick 22 – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
TRADE: Dallas Cowboys send 17 to Minnesota Vikings for 22 and 89
In 2013 the Dallas Cowboys traded down from 17 to draft Travis Frederick and I think history could repeat itself in 2020. Cesar Ruiz is head and shoulders the best center prospect in this year’s draft class and a plug-and-play Day 1 starter for the Cowboys. Forget about Joe Looney and Connor McGovern competing for the job, just insert Ruiz in Frederick’s vacant spot and prosper.
Round 2, Pick 51 – Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame
Julian Okwara is an underrated EDGE prospect in this year’s draft class. I think he his every bit as talented as K’Lavon Chaisson, who the Dallas Cowboys would’ve considered at 17 if still available. In Okwara the Cowboys get an insurance policy if Aldon Smith or Randy Gregory struggle if/when reinstated or if Tyrone Crawford has any lingering effects from last season’s hip surgery.
Round 3, Pick 82 – Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
If not for a gruesome ankle injury in 2019, Bryce Hall would likely be a first-round fringe draft prospect. All signs point to him making a full recovery, which is perfect for the Dallas Cowboys. Hall would add some much-needed size/length to the Cowboys secondary and could potentially be a Day 1 starter. He is at his best playing in zone, but is more than capable in man coverage as well.
Round 3, Pick 89 – Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
Chase Claypool is one of my “pet cats” in this year’s draft class and I absolutely love all the different ways he could be utilized in the Dallas Cowboys offensive scheme. He could step in and take over for Randall Cobb in the slot, play as a traditional X WR, or be used as a move TE when/if needed. He also adds some much-needed size to the position and becomes an immediate red zone weapon.
Round 4, Pick 123 – Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri
I highly doubt Jordan Elliott lasts until the fourth-round, but if he does he’s a no-brainer for the Dallas Cowboys. He can play any position on the defensive line and has the makings of a future star in the NFL. If he’s not available though, Leki Fotu (Utah) wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize here instead. He would add even more beef to the middle of the Cowboys DL.
Round 5, Pick 164 – J.R. Reed, S, Georgia
The value at safety simply wasn’t there earlier in the first four rounds for the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s okay because J.R. Reed makes up for it here in the fifth. Unlike the other safeties currently under contract with the Cowboys, Reed is more of a traditional SS who excels around the line of scrimmage. He is no slouch in coverage though and could challenge for starting job as a rookie.
Round 5, Pick 179 – Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
I like the fact the Cowboys extended Blake Jarwin’s contract and plan on making him the starter, but in no way do I believe the TE position doesn’t still need to be upgraded. Dalton Keene is an underrated TE prospect this year’s draft class. He has the prototypical size the Cowboys look for and the ability to be an every down player. He could challenge to be the TE2 as a rookie.
Round 7, Pick 231 – Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami
The only reason Jeff Thomas is still available this late in the draft is due to some character concerns that could scratch him off a lot of teams draft boards. Make no mistake, he’s worth the gamble here because he can challenge all three levels of the field from the slot and be the Cowboys primary punt and kick returner as a rookie. He could stand to improve as a route runner though.