When I started this series, I mapped out all six versions to ensure I didn't pick any positions in the same round multiple times.
I had this version slated to be last, but given the recent report by ESPN's Jordan Reid, I decided to push it up.
The links to 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 are here if you've missed them. Below is a recap of the positions picked by round thus far:
- Round 1 – Running Back – Cornerback – Linebacker/EDGE
- Round 2 – Defensive Tackle – Offensive Lineman – Wide Receiver
- Round 3 – Offensive Lineman – Wide Receiver – Defensive Tackle
- Round 4 – Wide Receiver – Defensive Tackle – Running Back
- Round 5 – Linebacker – Running Back – Cornerback
The numbers in parentheses next to player's names indicate their current ranking on the consensus big board.
The Beast by Dane Brugler is another resource that will be referred to often. It requires a subscription to TheAthletic, but is well worth the price of admission as it's easily one of the best draft guides each year.
To keep player value and the number of picks consistent, there will be no trades in any mocks in this series.
Finally, a position can't/won't be included in every mock. Before you freak out, it was the running back's turn to be left out.
Round 1 — TE Darnell Washington (30), Georgia
Alternates at the same/similar position: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (13), Ohio State; WR Quentin Johnston (19), TCU; WR Jordan Addison (21), USC; TE Michael Mayer (25), Notre Dame; WR Zay Flowers (26), Boston College; TE Dalton Kincaid (27), Utah; WR Jalin Hyatt (39), Tennessee; TE Luke Musgrave (49), Oregon State
In my opinion, the Cowboys don't need a wide receiver AND a tight end. Throughout the process, I've categorized the need together as pass catcher.
Here's my two cents on addressing a pass catcher in round one: Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the only wide receiver I want for the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys go with a receiving weapon in the first, and JSN is gone, I'd rather go with a tight end for multiple reasons.
To put it simply, there are less good tight ends walking the earth than good wide receivers.
In a strong tight end class and weak receiver class, I want to take advantage of that strength especially at a position that usually isn't this top heavy.
Plus, the history of the draft tells future classes will provide more opportunities to upgrade at wide receiver compared to tight end.
Final point, the path to significant snaps in 2023 and 2024 is more clear for a tight end vs wide receiver.
Though receiver is a more important position and will likely be a need in the near future, tight end is more pressing now and receiver can be addressed more easily in the future when it becomes more of a need.
I did a deep dive of the four tight ends who could hear their name called in the first round earlier this week. If you want to know more about each prospect, give it a look.
For the record, I'd be very happy with Mayer, Kincaid, or Washington at 26. Musgrave, not so much.
Round 2 — DE/DT Tuli Tuipulotu (57), USC
Alternates at the same/similar position: DE/DT Adetomiwa Adebawore (42), Northwestern; LB Trent Simpson (43), Clemson; DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah (44), Kansas State; LB Jack Campbell (45), Iowa; DE Keion White (48), Georgia Tech; DE Isaiah Foskey (52), Notre Dame; DE/DT Derick Hall (59), Auburn; LB Daiyan Henley (68), Washington State
As I mentioned in the intro, I map these out ahead of time. For this slot, I was open for defensive end or linebacker, which is why there's such a wide range of alternates.
I was hoping for LBs Trent Simpson, Jack Campbell or Daiyan Henley. They were gone, so I went with Tuli Tuipulotu.
People thought he played heavier at USC and would be an interior defensive lineman in the NFL. He weighed 266 pounds at the combine and is now considered a base defensive end who can move inside on passing downs.
The Cowboys have shown interest in these tweener defensive ends this draft cycle. It makes sense given Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's success in Seattle with Michael Bennett, who was also that type of player.
Despite the long list of names, Tuli and Derrick Hall were the only ones left when I got on the clock. Both linebacker and EDGE are needs to a degree, but finding one of value here may take some luck.
Round 3 — CB Darius Rush (86), South Carolina
Alternates at the same/similar position: CB Garrett Williams (80), Syracuse; CB Eli Ricks (90), Alabama; CB Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (96), TCU; CB Kyu Blu Kelly (109), Stanford; CB Jaylon Jones (115), Texas A&M; CB Cory Trice (129), Purdue
The second part of that ESPN article mentions the Cowboys being interested in a day two cornerback. Reid specifically names Darius Rush.
Since he was available, he was the selection.
I've talked a lot about the state of the cornerback room in 2024 and how dire the room was at the end of 2022.
It's understandable the Cowboys want to avoid the 2022 fiasco and are willing to do so with a pick in rounds two or three. With the addition of Stephon Gilmore, I don't think they have to use a top 100 pick at the position anymore.
If they do, I have no issue with it. It's a premium position where five (and often times more) are used throughout the season.
Round 4 — iOL Jon Gaines II (236), UCLA
Alternates at the same/similar position: iOL Jarrett Patterson (140), Notre Dame; iOL Olusegun Oluwatimi (143), Michigan; iOL Nick Broeker (151), Ole Miss; iOL Ricky Stromberg (161), Arkansas
Jon Gaines II is a late fourth to early fifth round grade for Brugler. Despite his low ranking on PFF and the consensus, this is within his range.
He played center some for UCLA so he also offers much needed versatility.
Josh Norris of Underdog Fantasy has a “cheat code” for offensive lineman as you can see in his tweet below.
Finding potential starters this late in the draft is tough.
The short shuttle cheat code has produced some flops.
If Dallas waits this long to address the position, I'm ok trying to steal a starter at 129 using Josh's method.
Round 5 — DT Keondre Coburn (166), Texas
Alternates at the same/similar position: DT Jalen Redmond (169), Oklahoma; DT/DE Tyler Lacy (204), Oklahoma State; DT Cameron Young (282), Mississippi State
In round two, I took a big defensive end who can moonlight as a defensive tackle. In the fifth, we get a big defensive tackle to round out the position.
Once you get to round five (especially since this is a compensatory pick at the very back end of the round), teams look for players with high-upside traits, players who can play special teams, or players who fit a specific role.
At 332 pounds, Keondre Coburn fits the last category as a space-eating, run-stuffing nose tackle the Cowboys need.
He would compete with 2021 sixth round draft pick Quinton Bohanna for the backup role behind NT Johnathan Hankins.
If the Cowboys don't pick a true defensive tackle before here, I would be concerned.
If they did wait this long, I would expect them to look at available free agents or trade for a veteran before the start of the season.
I really like the picks of Washington, Rush, and Gaines. Given how heavily defensive linemen get rotated, adding two that play different roles could make sense.
That combined with picking lesser needs early (defensive end and cornerback), prevented addressing bigger needs like running back and linebacker.
What I learned about the positions I drafted by round:
Round 1 — Pass catcher
- Between wide receiver and tight end, there's going to be a talented player there who provides good value at 26.
- Is the value significant enough to take one here versus waiting until round two or three?
Round 2 — EDGE/Linebacker
- It's a weak linebacker class so I wouldn't be shocked if the trio of Simpson/Campbell/Henley don't make it to 58. If that's the case, hard pass on the position at 58.
- The consensus board has 12 EDGE players in the top 60 overall players; there's only four between 61-125. Between that drop-off in talent and the positional value, the board at 58 could be thin at defensive end too.
Round 3 — Cornerback
- I've now picked corners in rounds one, three, and five. In each round, there were several names to choose from.
- It's not a 2023 need, so the Cowboys can be as patient or as aggressive as they want.
Round 4 — Interior Offensive Lineman
- Broken record time: what's the plan for the players on the current roster? The projected starters before Tyron Smith's injury just before the season are all still on the roster.
- If the plan does not involve Tyler Smith starting at left guard, waiting until round four for someone to compete for that job is dangerous.
Round 5 — Defensive Tackle
- This is the biggest need in my book so I hate waiting this long.
- There were a few players who would make for value picks here, but fifth round picks aren't locks to make the roster. We saw just last year the Cowboys cut 2022 fifth round pick John Ridgeway after week 1, which looks like a mistake now.