This is the day we've all been waiting for. Draft Day. The NFL Draft is finally here and finally we can move on from the overly speculative aspect of the NFL Draft process and actually start selecting players.
The NFL Draft is by far one of the best parts of the NFL. Aside from actual games -- aside from Cleveland Browns games -- not a whole lot in the NFL or in professional sports holds up to the excitement, anticipation, and grandeur of the NFL Draft.
So, today is the day and with many final mock drafts coming out over the last couple of days, let's take a look at who the analysts and experts think the Dallas Cowboys will select at #19.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
"The Cowboys have a ton of needs and will find talent for basically every position they could use at 19. Vita Vea would help the defense a lot, wrecking chaos in the middle of the line of scrimmage. With talented players like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, the Cowboys could have a top defensive line for the 2018 season.
If they don't find Vea, they could target a WR like Sutton or Moore. Offensive guard might be an option as well, especially with Hernandez and Wynn still on the board. Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch will also be in consideration, but I don't like either at 19 compared to the other prospects, to be honest."
Jonah Tuls of NDT Scouting also had the Dallas Cowboys selecting Vita Vea, the physically impressive defensive tackle from the University of Washington. He's a player who's been rumored to go in the early teens, so if he were the selection, it would make a strong contingent of Cowboys Nation elated.
Here's what Jonah had to say:
The Cowboys could go a number of different directions here including wide receiver, offensive line or linebacker, but I think defensive tackle is squarely in play here, especially if Vander Esch is off the board. This team views Vea as a three-down player and brought him in for a visit as a result.
Jonah Tuls - NDTScouting.com
Another NDTScouting.com guy, Kyle Crabbs, also has the Dallas Cowboys going with the big man, Vita Vea, but after a trade back with the Atlanta Falcons to pick #26. If that happened, I'd be thrilled. Crabbs sends us his mock via FanRagSports.com:
The Cowboys have to be thrilled to see Vea still on the board here at 26. Yes, WR Courtland Sutton is in the mix, but Dallas insiders have suggested the team views him as more of a second-round talent. Dallas would be wise to take their pick at 50 and get into the first 10 picks of the second round.
That approach would give them a solid interior presence who can rush the passer AND a size receiver to help replace Dez Bryant.
Kyle Crabbs - FanRagSports.com
Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Boise State
The Leighton Vander Esch love has grown quite strong over the last month. Bobby Belt, the host and creator of Cowboys Cast, has had him to the Dallas Cowboys for quite a while, even if some of us -- looking at myself -- were in denial about it.
As of today, here are the percentages I'd put on who is pick 19... Rashaan Evans - 25% Leighton Vander Esch - 20% Da'Ron Payne - 15% Calvin Ridley - 15% Will Hernandez - 5% Isaiah Wynn - 5% Field - 15%
Kevin "KT" Turner over at TheAthletic.com had the Dallas Cowboys going with LVE at 19 as well in his most recent and final mock draft.
"If Vita Vea is around, I suspect the Cowboys will pounce on him. But the Jones family will rest more easily knowing that they’ve solidified their fragile group of linebackers. Vander Esch doesn’t have a long track record but is an unbelievable athlete with huge upside. Sean Lee, Vander Esch, and Jaylon Smith have a chance to be a special linebacking corp."
Kevin Turner - TheAthletic.com and 105.3 The Fan
K.D. Drummond over at CowboysWire.com also mocked Leighton Vander Esch to the Dallas Cowboys, but he's not too pleased with it.
"This might end up being the worst mock draft in the history of history. Screw it, though. We’re going live with it. And if you aren’t a fan of the player mocked to the Cowboys here, you’re likely going to have to live with it."
He adds at the end.
"Please oh please let the reverse jinx work."
K.D. Drummond - CowboysWire.com
Dan Kadar of SBNation.com in his most recent mock draft also has the Dallas Cowboys selecting Vander Esch.
"Dallas would love to see Vander Esch still on the board. You can argue for a wide receiver or guard for the Cowboys, but Vander Esch could make a big impact on defense."
Dan Kadar - SBNation.com
Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com is also team LVE, but leaves himself a bit of an out. He doesn't give us a ton of analysis on his pick and his mock draft is pretty straight forward, but here are his thoughts.
"This pick is LVE, Vea or receiver."
Josh Norris - Rotoworld.com
Jeff Risdon is all aboard the LVE train as well as he has the Dallas Cowboys selecting Vander Esch at 19.
"An off-ball linebacker with potential to become a pass rusher, Vander Esch is one of draft season’s biggest winners. Dallas reinforces the defense. I know many think they go WR here, but I’m sticking with the D."
Jeff Risdon - RealGM.com
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Newsweek.com tried to come up with a consensus pick for the Dallas Cowboys, based pretty much on how five analysts mocked the players in their mock drafts. It's an interesting exercise, not sure how scientific it is, but the Dallas Cowboys do end up with a good player in Landry.
"To make the process as scientific as possible, we have combined each selection and then divided it by five to work out the average, then assigned the player with the lowest average to the team picking first and so on.
At the same time, players with a lower average than others but who did not appear in all the five mock drafts analyzed appear lower in the order. For example, a player whose average pick position is 6.2 but only appears in four mock drafts, is listed lower than a player whose average is 8.7 but appears in all five mock drafts"
DJ Moore, Wide Receiver, Maryland
InsideTheStar.com Draft Analyst, Sean Martin -- who will be covering the 2018 NFL Draft from the AT&T Stadium press box -- has the Dallas Cowboys addressing the wide receiver position in the first round of the draft. He also mocks out the other nine picks the Cowboys will be making over the rest of draft weekend.
"Too much has been made of the Dallas Cowboys targeting a true X-receiver to "replace" Dez Bryant. This is a team going in a new direction with their wide receivers, in desperate need of play makers on the outside.
With Calvin Ridley long gone, the Cowboys draft arguably the better fit in Maryland's D.J. Moore. An easy target for Dak Prescott given his burst and acceleration, Moore's trademark toughness with the ball in his hands will make Cowboys Nation fall in love with him."
Sean Martin - InsideTheStar.com
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, who puts out one of the more comprehensive draft guides in the industry, released his final mock draft and has the Dallas Cowboys taking wide receiver DJ Moore from Maryland, but sees it as a back-up plan for the Cowboys.
"I think Option A for the Cowboys is linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, but in this scenario, he is off the board. Depending on who is available, the focus could shift to wide receiver and Moore gives Dallas the versatility to play the X, Y or Z wide receiver positions."
Dane Brugler - NFLDraftScout.com
Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, in his annual "What they should do" mock draft, also had the Dallas Cowboys selecting DJ Moore.
"They have to get better outside in the passing game. They just don't have enough speed, and Moore would help fix that."
Pete Prisco - CBSSports.com
Former University of Texas quarterback, Chris Simms, now with Bleacher Report, gave us his final predictions on the 2018 NFL Draft and has the Dallas Cowboys going with Moore as well. Here's an excerpt from his analysis.
"Moore phenomenal [sic] at playing the ball in the air, and he'll make life easier on Dak Prescott. He's also the draft's most explosive receiver with the ball in his hands. Dallas can use him to attack downfield, but it can also use him on screens and speed-sweeps and even out of the backfield."
Chris Simms - Bleacher Report
Courtland Sutton, Wide Receiver, Southern Methodist
Another wide receiver who has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys is SMU's Courtland Sutton, who had a private workout with Head Coach Jason Garrett. NFL.com Draft Analyst Mike Mayock has the Dallas Cowboys selecting the big-bodied wide receiver.
"He's got outstanding hands. Oily hips, ability to get in and out of breaks. You can throw the ball to this guy immediately, and he's capable of making an impact."
Mike Mayock - NFL.com
Mike Tagliere, who works for FantasyPros.com, has a pretty good in-depth knowledge of the NFL Draft. He isn't just a "fantasy guy." Like Mayock, he's sending Courtland Sutton to the Dallas Cowboys. Here are his thoughts. Tagliere goes three rounds in his final mock draft and it's worth your time.
"I mentioned this pick two weeks ago in my last mock draft, as the Bryant rumors were to [sic] strong not to have some substance. Sutton is the closest thing you’ll find to a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver build in this draft and even though there are a few concerns, he’s likely worth the risk at this point. You aren’t going to go into the season with Allen Hurns and 36-year-old Jason Witten (he’s just not the player he was a few years ago) as your top two receiving options, so it all comes down to who the Cowboys view as the best receivers in the class."
Mike Tagliere - FantasyPros.com
James Daniels, Guard, Iowa
After scouring the internet, I finally found a final mock draft that had the Dallas Cowboys doing what I hope they will do when it comes time to pick at #19 - take a guard and make the OL an elite unit. Michael Sisemore over at BloggingTheBoys.com did just that. His selection is via a trade back in the first.
"Not every Cowboys’ fan is going to walk away with elation from AT&T Stadium this Thursday night with this unsexy pick but it’s still a good move. The value here is tremendous when you pencil Daniels in at starting left guard not only because of his supreme athleticism but because how well he fits the zone blocking scheme. Point blank, when the Cowboys are dominant up front, they dominate their competition, and we’ve seen the alternative. Here’s to five years of getting another top road-grader playing below the market price."
Michael Sisemore - BloggingTheBoys.com and The Brews and the Boys Podcast
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Well, there you have it.
There are still several names that have been linked to the Dallas Cowboys that could be their pick in the first round. Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, and Calvin Ridley could still all be in play for Dallas. Trading up is also an option, though it would mean giving up pick 50 and/or 81 to do so.
Needless to say, it seems like the draft could go in a hundred different directions for the Dallas Cowboys. How it all falls in round one is anyone's guess, but it could dictate what the rest of the draft looks like.
I, for one, think by Sunday night, we're going to like what we see.
Make sure you come by Inside The Star for your NFL Draft Coverage. We'll be working tirelessly to provide you with the best content and analysis throughout the weekend.
Have fun and How 'Bout Them Cowboys!!!
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
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