If the Cowboys hope to get better as a team they have to make sure to they hit on players in the NFL draft.
This particular draft sets up perfectly for the Cowboys who have serious needs along the offensive and defensive lines, safety and running backs. The depth this year will allow the Cowboys to potentially grab a few starters.
In the first edition of my Dallas Cowboys Mock draft this is how I see things working out:
Round 1: Tavon Austin, WR, WVU
I understand the frustration you’re feeling while reading this. Truly I do. However, in this particular simulation the Cowboys have watched Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack and Sheldon Richardson fall.
I’m a firm believer that with your first round pick you need to grab a guy who can be a top-10 guy in his position for the foreseeable future.
That guy is Austin.
Yes, D.J. Fluker is still available in this situation but he is an inconsistent lineman who has a lot of weaknesses. While he does fit a need, he isn’t a guy who I see as a franchise guy who will be among the elite at his position.
With Austin you get a versatile player who can play in the backfield, slot and outside. He has tremendous speed and reliable hands. At WVU he rushed for over 600 yards to go with his excellent receiving totals.
The key here is that Austin is freakishly durable. He has never missed a game or practice and would be an excellent guy to have around incase Miles Austin gets injured again. At the very least you get a guy who can hurt defenses all over. At best you get your next franchise receiver.
Round 2: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Cowboys are yearning for a dominating interior defensive lineman who can take over a game and stay out of trouble.
Apparently that’s tough to find.
With the Cowboys switching to the Tampa 2 defense they need an athletic guy who can generate pressure from the 1-technique position.
I believe Williams is that guy.
Williams is an athletic player who does everything quite well. He’s a first-round prospect who falls because of a deep class of defensive lineman. Williams would be a match-up nightmare for offensive lineman with is combination of size, strength and explosive speed.
The Cowboys really land a great player in the second round.
Round 3: Kyle Long, OG/OT/ Oregon
Yes the Cowboys missed out on Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack and Larry Warford but they do get Kyle Long who is a versatile, athletic offensive lineman who has a ton of upside.
Long is raw and will need coaching but he can play both guard and tackle. He has good footwork, strength and technical skill-set. The son of NFL Legend Howie Long, Kyle offers a guy who always works hard, he can get to the next level and fits the Cowboys zone-scheme.
Long is a consolation prize but one that can develop into a big steal in this draft.
Round 4: Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
The Cowboys are not getting anywhere in their extension negotiations with long-time quarterback Tony Romo.
They need to consider a replacement plan.
Scott isn’t the elite prospect that Cowboys fans might want. However, he’s an exceptionally athletic quarterback with great mobility and arm strength. Scott struggles with deep accuracy but he has all the skills to develop into a dual-threat NFL caliber quarterback.
Round 5: Michael Mauti, SLB, Penn State
Mauti is exactly the type of player Jason Garrett loves. Look passed his injury history and just focus on his positives.
Mauti is built to play Sam linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. He is a considered a great all around guy. He plays hard, diagnoses the run well and have excellent pursuit skills.
What you get with Mauti is a guy who has great upside. He needs to get better in his all-around skill set but Penn State linebackers have a great heritage and his work ethic suggests he can develop into a very solid professional.
Round 6: Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska
Burkhead fits the same mold as Mauti. He’s a hard-working grinder type player. He is explosive enough to burst through holes despite lacking elite speed. He’s tough enough to finish runs and is strong after initial contact.
Burkhead is more than a pure runner though. He is competent in pass-blocking and is a legitimate threat as a receiver out of the backfield.
The Cowboys have a legitimate need for a every-down type back behind DeMarco Murray. With the departure of Felix Jones and Murray’s injury history there will be a role of Burkhead who could end up emerging as a consistent threat in an explosive Cowboys offense.