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NFL Draft

Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver

Sean Martin

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Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, WR

The official start to the 2018 league year, and the NFL free agency period, is right around the corner - with a number of upcoming signings already set to shake these rosters up. The Dallas Cowboys likely won't look drastically different by the time free agency opens and closes, but this part of the roster building process is crucial to succeeding in the Draft.

With some fans distracted by the lure of lucrative contracts being handed out to attractive free agents, the NFL Draft's starting date of April 26th from Dallas is sneaking up.

That is not the case for the following mock draft sources that we'll look at to see which prospects are linked to the Cowboys this week.

CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama

This pick from Chris Trapasso remains exactly the same from last week, with the need for the Cowboys to upgrade at WR only in position to become more dire, should Dez Bryant be released.

Analysis:

The Dallas Cowboys are certainly doing more than just their due diligence in preparation for Ridley being available to them in the first round, visiting with him at the Combine and reportedly already scheduling a pre-draft visit with the 23-year old Alabama star.

As I've written before, Ridley is exactly the type of receiver the Cowboys need to be looking at to support Dak Prescott in year three. The best overall WR available in this draft, Calvin Ridley at pick #19 is gaining momentum - but will the Cowboys have to trade up to secure their next big outside target?

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SB Nation: Taven Bryan, DT - Florida

Dan Kadar of SB Nation:

"There may be more high-rated defensive tackles available, but Bryan fits perfectly in the Cowboys’ scheme. They like defensive tackles who can split gaps and get into the backfield, and that is Bryan’s specialty. Michigan’s Maurice Hurst fits the mold as well, but a heart condition discovered at the combine could knock him a little."

Analysis:

Florida's Taven Bryan is another prospect I've discussed as a target for the Dallas Cowboys, with a full scouting report available at Slant Sports.

A free agency decision on RFA DT David Irving is coming soon from the Cowboys, and even with Irving returning for 2018, it is hard for Rod Marinelli to have enough pass rushing depth at DT. Bryan would certainly provide that, drafted in the top twenty on pure upside should he land in Dallas.

Far from a finished product, Bryan has the traits to be molded into a disruptive 3T DT - along with enough strength and awareness to contribute right away. I personally wouldn't be a fan of the Cowboys using their first pick on Taven Bryan, but this is a player that could easily prove a lot of people wrong through his NFL career.

Sporting News: Da'Ron Payne, DT - Alabama

Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News:

"The Cowboys keep loading up on speed and quickness for Rod Marinelli's defense. Although they have a dominant edge player in DeMarcus Lawrence and a dangerous swing man in David Irving, they need another big body who can blow up plays in the backfield. Bringing in Payne would give Dallas quite a pile up front after taking end Taco Charlton in the first round last year."

Analysis:

For the second week in a row, Payne joins his Alabama teammate Calvin Ridley as a possible pick for the Dallas Cowboys. Fitting the profile Stephen Jones has alluded to when it comes to evaluating DTs, Payne can provide solid depth at both the 1T and 3T position inside.

Payne tested as a well-rounded athlete at the Combine, and has a chance to come out from underneath the shadows of so many other Crimson Tide defensive prospects at the next level. He won't be a flashy pick, but Da'Ron Payne is a ready-made NFL contributor that fills a need for the Cowboys in upgrading their run defense.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys' free agency strategy is to once again put themselves in position to improve wherever they please using their ten 2018 draft picks. Already impressively close to doing so, the recurring availability of prospects like Calvin Ridley at 19th overall in these mocks drafts should be exciting for Cowboys Nation.

Tangible football things are on the horizon.

Tell us what you think about "Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments
  • Reynaldo Laporte

    Any mock that has us drafting a WO in the first round immediately loses credibility to me. Fortunately for us this is a lot of talent to be had at the reciever position.

  • Patsy Lucente

    I do believe that if we have a chance to draft a top-notch receiver to take some of the pressure off of Dez Bryant that that would be the smartest thing to do for the Cowboys because it would definitely make an instant impact which they need to do 2 be an explosive offense and I do believe Dez Bryant is worth keeping his numbers went down since Dak Prescott became the new quarterback! I also think it would not be a bad move to try and trade David Irving for Earl Thomas which would make another instant impact with our secondary and our new secondary coach who’s going to be our defensive coordinator next year I think they should look at a tight end in the second round someone that’s comparable to a Jason Witten and also trying to find a diamond in the rough running back to compliment Ezekiel Elliott….

Dallas Cowboys

Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

Brian Martin

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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.

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

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.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

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?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

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.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

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.



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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

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?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 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.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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