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Cowboys Trade Back in the First Round in this 3-Round Mock Draft

The Dallas Cowboys and the NFL are a little more than two months away from the NFL Draft, and a lot of names will be mentioned to America’s Team. Mock drafts are a good exercise to see what these names could be and how they might fall to the Cowboys.

At this point, most of Cowboys Nation seems to be targeting cornerback or defense in particular with the Cowboys’ first pick at number 10. One of the two names that seem to be high on everyone’s target list, Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain II, is likely to be there when the Cowboys go on the clock in April. However, if a team comes with a trade back, it might be more profitable for the Cowboys to move back in the draft and still target the cornerback position.

And a trade back is what happened in this 3-round mock draft for the Cowboys. Using the mock draft simulator from Pro Football Network, which allows for trades in their free simulator, the Cowboys selected five players to add to their defense.

Round 1, Pick 10 – Trade Back with the New England Patriots

For pick 10, New England sends numbers 15 and 46 overall.

Round 1, Pick 15

Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina

Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are likely on their way out the door in free agency. The Cowboys will be returning Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Maurice Canady at cornerback. Suffice it to say, the Cowboys have a need at the position.

Though many expect the Cowboys to fill that hole with either Patrick Surtain or Caleb Farley at 10, if they can trade back in the draft, pick up an extra second-round pick and select Jaycee Horn, this should be the way forward.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Def Def Def Fumb
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FF
*2018 South Carolina SEC FR DB 11 30 15 45 4.0 2.0 0 0 0 8 0
2019 South Carolina SEC SO DB 12 29 11 40 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 9 2
2020 South Carolina SEC JR DB 7 10 6 16 1.0 0.0 2 34 17.0 0 6 0
Career South Carolina 69 32 101 7.0 3.0 2 34 17.0 0 23 2
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2021.

“Horn is one of the most physical, aggressive cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The South Carolina cornerback has a long, lean build, and uses his length both at the line and in coverage. He’s not shy when attacking his opponents in press coverage, and his aggressive nature also shows up at the catch point, where he doesn’t hesitate to impact the ball.”

Ian Cummings, Pro Football Network

Round 2, Pick 44

Richie Grant, Safety, Central Florida

Richie Grant is a player that’s been on the rise since the end of the season and saw his stock jump tremendously after the Senior Bowl as well. Grant is a playmaker at free safety and a guy who would fit perfectly in Dan Quinn’s scheme to complement Donovan Wilson at strong safety. The Cowboys need someone with the range and coverage chops that Grant provides.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb
Year School Conf Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR FF
*2017 UCF American FR 12 24 8 32 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 1 0
*2018 UCF American SO 13 68 40 108 3.0 0.0 6 40 6.7 0 3 1 2
*2019 UCF American JR 12 48 30 78 4.0 0.0 1 39 39.0 1 8 0 1
*2020 UCF American SR 9 49 23 72 3.5 1.0 3 25 8.3 0 5 2 2
Career UCF 189 101 290 11.5 1.0 10 104 10.4 1 17 4 5
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2021.

Here’s what I wrote about Richie Grant a couple of weeks ago after watching him play.

“Grant is a durable safety with the ability to play in single and two-deep high safety looks and provide coverage in the slot. He shows a willingness to come up in run support to make the tackle and is willing to stick his nose into the play. Grant shows good range and good instincts. On crossing routes generally shows good awareness to sift through the traffic to stick with his guy in man coverage.”

Round 2, Pick 46

Alim McNeil, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina State

The Dallas Cowboys have a couple of promising three-technique defensive tackles in Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore. However, they desperately need players that can play the one-technique defensive tackle. Alim McNeil fits the bill.

He’s a run-stuffing defender who can fit into a nice rotation with Antwaun Woods until McNeil can take over as the starter along the defensive line.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb
Year School Class G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR FF
*2018 North Carolina State FR 11 14 10 24 5.5 3.5 0 0 0 3 0 1
2019 North Carolina State SO 10 16 12 28 7.5 5.5 0 0 0 2 0 0
*2020 North Carolina State JR 11 6 19 25 4.5 1.0 1 18 18.0 1 0 1 1
Career North Carolina State 36 41 77 17.5 10.0 1 18 18.0 1 5 1 2
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2021.

“McNeill is a powerful interior defender that is capable of controlling and resetting the line of scrimmage with his heavy hands and functional strength. While he wasn’t often asked to shoot gaps, he also has positive flashes of gap-penetration skills during his time at NC State.”

Joe Marino, The Draft Network

Round 3, Pick 75

Dylan Moses, Linebacker, Alabama

Another area the Dallas Cowboys need to address is the linebacker spot. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have declined since their breakout 2018 seasons, and though addressing the defensive tackle spot should help, it’s still a good idea to add someone with speed, aggressiveness, physicality, and the experience of Dylan Moses.

Even if Smith and Vander Esch continue to start in 2021, adding Dylan Moses to the group gives them someone who can step in if Vander Esch continues to struggle with injuries. It also provides them a player that can rotate with Jaylon Smith minimizing his exposure.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Def Def Fumb
Year School Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg PD FF
*2017 Alabama FR LB 8 19 11 30 5.5 1.5 1 11 11.0 0 1
*2018 Alabama SO LB 15 45 41 86 10.0 3.5 0 0 1 1
*2020 Alabama SR LB 12 40 36 76 6.0 1.0 1 1 1.0 3 1
Career Alabama 104 88 192 21.5 6.0 2 12 6.0 4 3
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2021.

“He has plenty of body armor to withstand constant contact and the physical asking price of the position combined with his physical mindset. He’s a supremely unique athlete at the position. He has true sideline-to-sideline range and it’s rare to see him outran. When able to diagnose plays cleanly, Moses flies downhill with reckless abandon. When having exposure to anyone with the opposite color jersey on, he’s looking to embarrass them in any way possible.”

Jordan Reid, The Draft Network

Round 3, Pick 99

Bobby Brown, Defensive Tackle, Texas A&M

As I discussed above, the Cowboys need help at the 1-technique defensive tackle spot. It would not surprise me to see the Cowboys double-dip at the position. Bobby Brown might be more physically prepared to step in and help right away than McNeil is. But either way, a 1-technique rotation of Woods, McNeil, and Brown would fully solidify the Cowboys’ interior run defense allowing Hill and Gallimore to fully focus on playing the three-technique.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Fumb
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FF
*2018 Texas A&M SEC FR DL 9 5 9 14 1.0 0.0 0 0
*2019 Texas A&M SEC SO DL 11 8 13 21 2.0 0.5 1 0
*2020 Texas A&M SEC JR DL 9 10 12 22 7.5 5.5 0 0
Career Texas A&M 23 34 57 10.5 6.0 1 0
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/14/2021.

Bobby Brown III is an interior defender that’s built like a brick house. He possesses a very mature body that helps him maintain leverage as a run defender on the interior. He’s proven to anchor well and has the lower-body strength to stand pat at the point of attack. Brown III does everything that you can ask a run defender to do on the interior of the first level. While he isn’t a big sack artist, he has the ability to create pressure strictly off of gaining penetration with his natural strength. Playing mainly the 1-technique, he has gained lots of experience against double teams.

Jordan Reid, The Draft Network

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John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. I wouldn’t mind if the draft fell like this for the cowboys. But I think they go OL with one of the 3rd rd picks rather than doubling up at DT.

  2. Not bad with this mock and would love the board to fall this way. I’d sub one DT for a Edge rusher. We have Smith as a free agent with Gregory and Armstrong free agents next year. Could get a decent edge rusher to help offset those losses in the case Cowboys can’t afford them. Names like Patrick Jones, Rashad Weaver, Ronnie Perkins and Daelin Hayes could be 3rd targets

  3. Good mock John. Like Moses, Grant, doubling at DT, just not sure Brown is top 100. Probably can get him later. Agree with Justin, snag Weaver or Hayes in 3rd

    • Brown is one of those guys that I wasn’t sure would make it back to our pick in the fourth, so I went ahead and grabbed him there. I’m really focused on solidifying the interior defensive line.

  4. I like this draft quite a bit. Like Gary said and I agree, I wouldn’t mind seeing an O-Lineman(preferably a OT) thrown in the first couple of rounds, just because I think Tyron Smith is finished but I hope I’m wrong on that front. Other than that, I liked all of the picks, really intrigued by the LB-Moses pick, I think they need to address LB for sure, somehow.

  5. I 100% agree with the moves. The only thing i would change is get an OT/OG at first round instead of CB and sign Lewis or Awuzie to reasonable deals. Get a CB in 3rd or 4th round. Get another RB in 4th or 5th round. The O-line is aging and injury prone and it’s lack of effectiveness leads to shorter offensive drives and less rested Dallas Defenders so it’s really like a defensive pick. Zeke is banged up. Pollard is better but he can’t be a single back load kind of guy have him share the load with a 4th/4th round rookie. But I agree with the picks to shore up the center of the D.

  6. I don’t understand why the majority of the mock drafts don’t address the glaring need to build a consistent offensive line. The most glaring need for the last two years is the revolving door at left tackle when the annual multi-game injury hits Smith. There currently is no heir apparent at left tackle. Especially if the intent is to sign a franchise QB it would logically seem protecting that investment would be paramount. If the defense needs that much help, perhaps the obvious place to start is with the coaching. Maranelli could take a guy off the streets, plug him in to the D Line and start counting sacks in two weeks. Maybe the scheme and not the personnel is the issue.

  7. that is a good draft. 2 quality DT and secondary help finally. This is why Dallas will probably choose a LB in round 1 at 10 and waste such a well setup list for DT and DB

  8. Would only trade down if Surtain or Farley unavailable at 10. Like choice of safety Grant for second pick. Should go offensive lineman with third pick, though. After that should go defensive linemen and linebackers.

  9. We need CB and Safety and I think Gallimore is under utilized and will have a bigger impact in his sophomore year. I am fine with taking a filler at DT and LB but I think a aging Offensive line should first maybe 3rd and 4th rounds then pick up def role players in later rounds. So I like the first 2 rounds but would switch up the 3rd.

  10. I’m against it because I want Pitt (TE) out of Fla. We can get a CB or S in the 2nd rnd &don’t forget about free agency. Pitts is going to be that TE that everybody will be talking about for at least the next 10yrs. Our TEs are decent but they are not game changes. Pitt is going to be a nightmare for O coordinators when it comes to matching up against him

  11. Five positions are most in need – CB/DT/Safety/OL/LB but we can’t be locked into in any particular order necessarily. Depends on how the draft board falls and where the value is. We need to try to get a difference maker or starter at all these positions.

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