The Dallas Cowboys have done an outstanding job of filling holes with some cost-effective free agents so far in free agency, which should allow them two approach the 2019 NFL Draft without any glaring "needs". This should free them up to take the best player available if they so choose, but they still have to keep the future in mind as well. After all, there are several players on a one-year deal or entering the last year of their contracts.
For this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft exercise I decided to use the mock draft simulators for Draft Network and Fanspeak. I was curious to see the difference, if any, between the two. I have to say, even though I used two different draft simulators, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out.
Let's take a look…
|Rd 2 (58)||DE, Christian Miller||DE, Christian Miller|
|Rd 3 (90)||DT, Trysten Hill||S, Amani, Hooker|
|Rd 4 (128)||OT, Bobby Evans||TE, Kahale Warring|
|Rd 4 (136)||S, Marquise Blair||RB, Rodney Anderson|
|Rd 5 (165)||WR, Jalen Hurd||DT, Michael Dogbe|
|Rd 7 (241)||RB, James Williams||WR, Cody Thompson|
Even though I used two different draft simulators, you can clearly see the positions I was targeting for the Dallas Cowboys. I think each one of these players I selected can challenge for a starting job in 2019, but at the worst can be solid depth this year and then become starters in 2020.
Let's dive into this a little deeper so I can tell you why a selected each one of these players…
2nd-round (58th overall)
Christian Miller is the only player I drafted in both mock drafts for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of my "pet cats" this year and someone who I believe fits the criteria the Cowboys look for in their defensive ends. I believe he could challenge to be a starter as a rookie, but at worst would be a really good rotational piece with starting potential down the road.
3rd-round (90th overall)
Trysten Hill is a penetrating DT who could challenge Maliek Collins to become the starting three-technique as a rookie, but at the very least be a really good rotational piece with starting potential.
Amani Hooker is someone who I believe could start next to Xavier Woods as a rookie, even after the Dallas Cowboys added George Iloka to the mix.
4th-round (128th overall)
Bobby Evans has the ability to play the left or right tackle position in the NFL and could immediately challenge La'el Collins at RT. At worst, he would be Collins' replacement in 2020.
Sitting behind Jason Witten and learning for a season would be ideal for Kahale Warring, because he does have the potential to become the Dallas Cowboys TE1 in 2020 despite his lack of college production.
4th-round (136th overall)
Marquise Blair is an underrated safety in the 2019 draft class and someone who would also pair nicely with Xavier Woods. He played mostly strong safety at Utah, but as the ability to be a factor in coverage as well.
Rodney Anderson would immediately step in and become Ezekiel Elliott's backup as a rookie. He is an upgrade over Rod Smith and has starting potential if he can stay healthy.
5th-round (165th overall)
Despite signing Randall Cobb, the Dallas Cowboys could use a slot receiver for the future. I personally really like Jalen Hurd as a "big slot". He gives the Cowboys some size at the WR position and a big target for Dak Prescott to throw to in the slot.
Michael Dogbe is another potential three-technique with starting potential for the Cowboys. He'd likely be a rotational player as a rookie, but could take over for Maliek Collins in 2020.
7th-round (254th overall)
James Williams would bring an intriguing skill set to the Dallas Cowboys as Zeke's backup running back. He is arguably the best receiving RB in the entire draft out of the backfield and when split out wide like a WR.
Cody Thompson reminds me of LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp and would play a similar role with the Cowboys. He needs to fine-tune his route running, but I think he can become their future slot receiver.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Safety
To many onlookers, the safety position is considered the biggest need right now for the Dallas Cowboys. It is arguably their most talked-about spot headed into the 2019 NFL Draft, expected to be addressed with one of the team's highest picks.
After sending their first-round pick to Oakland for WR Amari Cooper, the Cowboys are limited in their current draft capital. Their need at safety and tight end is comparable, and I personally believe higher at TE than any other roster position.
I put tight end above safety because at every spot on the two depth charts, I think safety has a slight advantage in terms of current talent:
- Young Prospect: Xavier Woods > Blake Jarwin
- Veteran: George Iloka > Jason Witten
- Depth: Heath/Frazier > Schultz/Gathers
That Iloka/Witten comparison might stun you, but remember that this is 2019 and Witten just spent a year doing commentary. I'm not talking about Jason's Hall of Fame career, but just what he brings to the table this season.
But you see my point; safety seems stronger across the board. Woods looks like a long-term starter and Iloka, a newly-added free agent, could have 2-3 years of solid veteran play left in him.
So yes, I think TE is a greater need. But that doesn't mean Dallas won't use their second round pick on a safety.
The decision at the 58th pick will come down to a variety of factors. Even if Dallas agrees with me that TE is their biggest need, will the right guy be available? Or will the depth at the position be great enough that the Cowboys decide they can afford to wait until the third round for a TE, and prefer to go ahead and grab their safety earlier?
One name we've seen liked to Dallas several times in draft prep is UVA's Juan Thornhill. He converted from cornerback to safety last year, which means he has the man-on-man coverage skills that the Cowboys love for the position.
That kind of player being available at their second-round pick will push the Cowboys hard to take safety. He might even be able to come in and compete for a starting job right away.
In fact, we could see a trade-up this year. With two fourth-round picks this year and their fifth, Dallas could try to work their way higher into the second to land someone they really like. Thornhill is just the kind of talent they might be willing to do that for.
Of course, there are plenty of other safety options the Cowboys might like better. And if they have their eye on someone who could fall into the middle rounds, such as Alabama's Deionte Thompson or Boston College's Will Harris, perhaps they wait a short time and address TE, DT, or RB with their early picks.
But I don't see Dallas waiting on a safety this year. For all I know, they just might see it as their top need. At the least, it's probably in their top 2-3.
Given that, I expect to see one drafted on Day 2.
Draft Likelihood: 100%
Projected Round: 2nd-3rd
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Other Draft Needs Articles
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Running Back
The Dallas Cowboys have general depth across the roster right now, but you can't include the running back position in that statement. Ezekiel Elliott is a superstar but Rod Smith is a free agent and the rest of the RBs have barely any playing experience. Could Dallas use the 2019 NFL Draft to fill this need?
Zeke will be in Dallas for at least two more years, and hopefully well beyond that. He has one year left on his standard rookie contract and now has the fifth-year option added for 2020. The Cowboys claim to want a long-term deal with Elliott and will likely get that figured out sometime next year.
As good and as durable as Zeke is, it's still dangerous to put all of your RB eggs in one basket. The Cowboys have gotten by with Rod Smith as their backup the last two years, though they may have suffered a bit during Elliott's 2017 suspension. A more dynamic player could've helped them then, and is probably even more important to find now.
Darius Jackson is the current RB2, and though he's flashed athletic ability during preseason games there's been no production in real NFL action. He has six more carries in his career than our other reserve, Jordan Chunn, who spent all of last year on the practice squad.
If the Cowboys are serious about championship contention going forward, can they risk having such a weak depth chart at running back? If Ezekiel Elliott were to go down, he could take any hopes of the Super Bowl right with him.
Free agency is one way Dallas could solve this problem. There are still some solid veterans out there like Jay Ajayi, Doug Martin, or Spencer Ware. They could even re-sign Rod Smith, at least getting system familiarity and strong special teams play out of their backup.
However, having not signed any of those veterans yet, it seems Dallas may be focused on the 2019 Draft to find their backup running back. They likely will turn to a free agent if they don't come away from this weekend with a solid rookie.
It will be interesting to see how this draft goes with the running back class. There are no Elliotts, Barkleys, or Fournettes in this group; 2019 could be a year where no RB gets taken in the first round.
There are two sides to that coin. On the one hand, it means Dallas could potentially land a top prospect like Penn State's Miles Sanders with their second-round pick. But it could also means that this entire RB group is suspect; a weak class that could lead to a lot of disappointments all around.
Another scenario is that other RB-needy teams scoop up top names before the Cowboys come on the board. If that happens, Dallas will likely use the 58th pick on another position and hope to find a steal at running somewhere on Day 3.
In truth, I don't expect the Cowboys to take any RB as high as the second round. The potential is there if the right guy falls to them, but it would be unwise to pass on a potential starter at safety, tight end, or some other spot just to draft Zeke's backup.
If they do draft a RB early, Dallas could be making a pretty big statement about how committed they are to Elliott beyond 2020.
What seems far more likely in this draft is that the Cowboys will use a mid-round pick on a guy like Bryce Love, whose pure speed make him a nice change-up player behind Elliott. A guy like Love doesn't threaten Zeke's status as the top dog, simply giving the offense a new toy to work with.
With two picks in the fourth round and one in the fifth, this seems a pretty good range for where Dallas will find their backup runner. They will likely go with some combination of TE, DT, and S with their first two picks on Friday night.
Even if the Cowboys do draft a RB this weekend, don't be shocked if they still add one of the veteran free agents. They may bring in a guy simply for insurance during training camp and the preseason. And at this point in the offseason, they should be able to sign him for a minimal deal.
We'll find out soon just how Dallas plans to address their backup RB position. Will it be with an eye to the future, perhaps wanting to guard against any contract issues with Ezekiel Elliott? Or will it be a player who clearly is here to supplement Zeke rather than replace him?
Draft Likelihood: 90%
Projected Round: 4th-5th
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Other Draft Needs Articles
Final 2019 Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft
After months of anticipation and buildup, the 2019 NFL Draft is finally upon us! Yes, the Dallas Cowboys are without a first-round draft pick due to the Amari Cooper trade, but in my opinion this just makes this years draft that much more exciting. I don't know about you, but I'm already on the edge of my seat waiting to find out which prospects will still be on the board for the Cowboys at 58 in the second-round.
If the Dallas Cowboys absolutely had to be without a first-round draft pick, this is probably the best year to not have one. The 2019 draft class is pretty deep at several positions the Cowboys could be targeting. They should be able to come away with some talented players who can come in and improve the roster as rookies. There may not be very many starting jobs up for grabs, but make no mistake, these incoming rookies are the future of the organization.
But enough of beating around the bush, let's get to my final Dallas Cowboys 7-round mock draft…
R2/26 - DAL: Trysten Hill, DT, UCF
I have a sneaky suspicion the safeties the Dallas Cowboys could be targeting at 58 will be wiped out, which could put them in no man's land in regards to the positions they could be targeting. Trysten Hill may be a little bit of a reach here, but I doubt he makes it to 90. He is the athletic, disruptive DT Rod Marinelli covets in his defensive front. He has the versatility to play the 1 or 3-technique and should push Maliek Collins for playing time as a rookie.
R3/26 - DAL: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
Mecole Hardman has the potential to be the versatile weapon the Dallas Cowboys are currently missing on the roster. He can be a deep threat, "gadget" player, return specialist, emergency CB, and a key member on special teams. He's still a little raw as a WR prospect, but has the makings to become something great and would provide a really a good insurance policy if Randall Cobb continues to struggle remaining healthy. I believe he will develop into a Tyreek Hill type of offensive weapon in the NFL in a year or two.
R4/26 - DAL: Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
Ideally either Jace Sternberger or Dawson Knox falls to the Cowboys here with the first of their fourth-round picks, but Kahale Warring is the next best thing. He is still a little raw, but has the strength and athletic ability to be a future starting tight end in the NFL after a little seasoning. Playing behind one of the best TEs to ever play the game in Jason Witten could be exactly what Warring needs to put his development on the fast track.
R4/34 - DAL: Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
The Dallas Cowboys have been pretty forthcoming about adding a "starting caliber" RB behind Ezekiel Elliott, and Alexander Mattison fits the criteria. He is a crafty runner who runs with good vision and patience, which allows his blocks to set up. He is a big, physical back with only average straight-line speed, but his tenacious mentality as a runner wears down defenses and reminds me a little bit of Marion "The Barbarian" Barber. He has every-down back potential and would make a really good RB2 behind Zeke.
R5/27 - DAL: Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami
The Cowboys may have missed out on one of the most athletically gifted safeties in the draft at 58 in Juan Thornhill, but Sheldrick Redwine is a nice consolation prize. He had the second best SPARQ score amongst all safeties this year behind only Thornhill and surprisingly has the same type of skill set and versatility. His background at CB shows up in coverage, but he needs to become a much more reliable tackler and take better angles in the running game before he can be relied upon. He has starting potential though after little a more seasoning.
R7/27 - DAL: Cole Holcomb, LB, UNC
I wanted to give Kris Richard a new tall, lengthy CB here in Chris Westry or Derrick Baity, but I think the Cowboys can get one of the two as an undrafted free agent. Cole Holcomb on the other hand wouldn't go undrafted in my opinion, hence his selection here. He is an instinctive and athletically gifted linebacker who played all three LB positions in UNC's 4-3 defensive scheme. He has starting potential, but would be a depth and special teams contributor as a rookie.
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