The Dallas Cowboys are picking in the top five of the NFL Draft for the first time since 2003, and with their upcoming fourth overall pick has come plenty of speculation. Top names at nearly every position have been thrown around, from defensive back Jalen Ramsey, running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Jared Goff or defensive linemen Joey Bosa.
What seems to be lost in the excitement that is this fourth pick is the fact that the Cowboys also own overall pick #34 in the second round. As we get closer and closer to draft time this pick will certainly be discussed more and more, as plenty of first-round talent will still sit on the board for Will McClay and Co. to choose from.
Let’s jump ahead and look at five names that may be in the mix for Dallas in the second round:
Josh Doctson – WR
The theme of the Cowboys 2016 draft, from a fans perspective, is to add as much immediate impact talent as possible in order to contend in the small window that exists for Tony Romo.
An upgrade at the wide receiver position would certainly have a significant impact on the offense, especially if that upgrade comes in the form of TCU target Josh Doctson.
Welcoming back Romo to an offense that not only features a healthy Dez Bryant but a rookie in Doctson across from him – paired with Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Darren McFadden could take the Dallas offense to the next level, and carry them deep into the playoffs.
For my full scouting report on Doctson, click here.
Andrew Billings – DT
The Cowboys search for a reliable 1-technique defensive tackle will likely continue into the draft, and Andrew Billings of Baylor could be that answer in the second round. Billings, at 6’1″ and 311 pounds, possesses the athletic ability that the Cowboys deeply value in their defensive scheme.
Billings’ plays a bit top-heavy at times, but is physical enough to plug the hole against the run while eating up blocks on passing downs – the primary role for a 1-tech.
Perhaps the best aspect of Billings’ landing in Dallas would be his age – as he would be playing his rookie season at just 21 years old. Still, I think he is skilled enough to make an immediate impact for Rod Marinelli’s defense, while growing into a cornerstone of a young defensive line over his first few seasons.
Christian Hackenberg – QB
If the Cowboys do not address the future of the QB position in the first round, they will have plenty of chances to do so with their remaining picks. Potentially, they could look at a guy like Christian Hackenberg as early as the second round.
Hackenberg may be the best example of a quarterback in this draft class that could benefit the most from being groomed for a few seasons. Learning behind Tony Romo, the physical attributes are certainly there for Hackenberg to one day be a top-of-the-line starter for the Cowboys.
Assuming Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are both selected in the first round, and Hackenberg is not, he would likely become the best QB left on the board entering the second round.
Here is our Inside The Star film review for Hackenberg.
There is no question that the Cowboys need to address the defensive end position this off season, and doing so through the draft is likely their best bet. At pick #34, Ronald Blair should make his way into the conversation out of Appalachian State.
I wrote about Blair potentially being a late-round option for the Cowboys pass rush a few weeks ago, but since then his secret has gotten out to more and more scouts.
To secure the athletic pass rusher, the Cowboys may not be able to wait until after the second round. However, I do think that Blair is absolutely worthy of the 34th pick, as he possesses the ability to rush from the edge as well as on the inside with equal effectiveness.
Derrick Henry – RB
While I am personally not a fan of Henry as a NFL running back, the need at the position is there for Dallas – and Henry more than likely will not see the third round of this draft.
While there are backs that I expect to see available in the third round and beyond that are better fits for the Cowboys, Henry’s Combine numbers were certainly impressive enough to force teams to reconsider the Alabama product.
If there is a team that will get the most out of the downhill running Henry, it may just be the Cowboys and their stellar offensive line.
William Jackson III – CB
Jalen Ramsey is undoubtedly a fan favorite player to have his name called by the Cowboys at fourth overall. However, should they not select Ramsey at 4, the secondary could be addressed in the following round at 34.
Jackson III has soared up draft boards recently, and possesses the height and length required to be on McClay’s radar for Dallas. Jackson III also finds the ball very well in coverage, recording 5 interceptions and 23 pass breakups in his final year at Houston.
Should the Cowboys move on from Brandon Carr this off season and re-sign Morris Claiborne, a secondary of Claiborne, Jackson III, and Orlando Scandrick in 2016 could certainly strike fear in opposing offenses.