Given all the needs the Dallas Cowboys have heading into the 2020 offseason there are countless directions they could go in the NFL Draft. As I outlined the other day, the Cowboys have a ton of needs to fill this offseason to bounce back to playoff contention. Though free agency will give the front office their first opportunity to retool the Cowboys this offseason the NFL Draft is the place where they have to swing for the fences and hit home runs.
After their rookie class yielded them very little production the Cowboys can’t afford to have two drafts that didn’t add much to the team in year one. Aside from Tony Pollard, the Cowboys got next to nothing from last year’s rookies. With a first-round pick again this year, the Cowboys have to find a guy that can step in right away and help them.
For this first attempt at a mock draft, we’re taking a look at the first three rounds of the draft. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, no trades were made.
Round 1, 17th Overall
Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide
Though defense seems to be the most obvious need to address with the Dallas Cowboys first-round pick at number 17, the idea of adding Wide Receiver Henry Ruggs III from Alabama is too good to pass up. Ruggs’ speed is something that every team is looking for in today’s NFL.
This likely wouldn’t be a very popular pick for the Dallas Cowboys as many in the fan base have already set their sights on safety or cornerback in the first round. However, finding a player with Ruggs’ speed is a dynamic that might be too much to pass on.
With the success of teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens with Tyreke Hill and Marquise Brown, adding a wide receiver with that type of speed would bring an element to the Cowboys offense that would take them to the next level.
In his career at the University of Alabama, Ruggs caught 98 passes over three seasons and averaged more than 17.5 yards per receptions. It’s possible Ruggs could threaten John Ross’ 40-yard dash record of 4.22 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ruggs isn’t only a speed guy though. He’s able to win at every level of the defense and because of his speed and agility is able to make things happen after the catch as well.
Whether he hits that number won’t really matter to his draft stock coming April. Ruggs is a first-round talent that brings a dimension that everyone in the NFL is looking for. Put him in Kellen Moore’s vertical based offense with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup and opposing defenses will struggle mightily to contain them and opposing offenses won’t be able to keep up.
Round 2, 51st Overall
Antoine Winfield Jr., Safety, Minnesota Golden Gophers
If there’s a player that I’m all-in on for the 2020 NFL Draft and his fit with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s Safety Antoine Winfield from Minnesota. I think it’s unlikely that Winfield makes it to 51st overall
Winfield Jr. plays with a lot of speed in run support and takes excellent angles to the ball carrier. Of the safeties I’ve watched this offseason, he is the most consistent tackler and attempts to wrap up on pretty much every attempt.
Though he stands at only 5-10, he plays much bigger. He has the athleticism to go get the football in the air. That combined with his natural instincts in both man and zone coverage, he’d make an excellent addition to the Cowboys secondary to pair with Xavier Woods.
Check out my draft profile on Antoine Winfield Jr.
Round 3, 82nd Overall
Leki Fotu, DL, Utah Utes
With Maliek Collins and Michael Bennett heading to free agency and Mike Nolan’s desire to use multiple fronts, the Dallas Cowboys need to find a legit 1-technique defensive tackle to play in the middle of their defense.
At 6-5, 337 pounds, Fotu challenges opposing offensive lines and requires double-teams often. He’s a nimble big man, but not nearly as agile as a player like Vita Vea. Fotu doesn’t offer a ton as a pass rusher but has a strong bull rush. He needs to get better at getting off blocks as he can often be initially stymied and taken out of the play. Still, he shows a good motor and ability to work down the line of scrimmage to chase in the run game.
His best fit would be as a two-gap 1-technique defensive tackle and could rotate initially with Antwuan Woods in four down linemen sets and be the primary nose tackle in 3-4 fronts.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The difficulty that most people will have with this draft is not addressing the defense in the first round. That’s a reasonable concern. Most people view Xavier McKinney and Grant Delpit as the top safety prospects and I can see why. Both were playmakers for their respective defenses. However, I don’t think the drop off from McKinney and Delpit to Winfield Jr, Ashtyn Davis, and Kyle Dugger is as stark as it is at some other positions. Yes, the wide receiver depth is also really good in this draft class, but a talent like Ruggs was too hard to pass on.
The positions that I generally look to most in the first in any of these exercises are cornerback and edge rusher. Several really good players were available at the spot I selected Ruggs, but I wanted to see how this would play out. Obviously, not addressing cornerback in the first three rounds is kind of a big deal if Byron Jones isn’t re-signed, so potentially, that’s a flaw in the draft.
But again, finding a player with the talent of Ruggs to add to the already prolific offense the Dallas Cowboys feature makes them even more dangerous. It’s certainly risky to allocate number 17 overall to a wide receiver given the needs on defense, but if the Cowboys’ front office does its job, they’ll be entering the draft with very few, if any needs.