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NFL Draft

Why Finishing 8-8 Improves Cowboys’ 2018 NFL Draft Position

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett

The majority of Cowboys Nation believes there is nothing on the line for the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, any aspirations of seeing the Cowboys making the playoffs have been squashed after the devastating loss on Christmas Eve to the Seattle Seahawks, but there is something at stake still… 2018 NFL Draft positioning.

It may seem like a minuscule thing right now because many of us are still extremely disappointed how the Cowboys played on Christmas Eve, but draft positioning is still important for the future of this organization. So important in fact that I believe Dallas would be better off finishing the season with an 8-8 record instead of 9-7 and I will tell you why.

The Dallas Cowboys are currently slotted to select 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft based on their current record and strength of schedule. Of course, this could all change based on how things turn out in the final week of the 2017-2018 season.

There are currently eight NFL teams who could finish the season with an 8-8 record, including the Cowboys. But, the Tennessee Titans are currently the only team who could possibly finish 8-8 and still make the playoffs as a wild-card candidate. Let's take a look at how things stand right now.

13. Arizona Cardinals (7-8)
14. Washington Redskins (7-8)
15. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
16. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)
17. Buffalo Bills (8-7)
18. Detroit Lions (8-7)
19. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
21. Tennessee Titans (8-7)

So, you can see for yourself how finishing 8-8 could shake up the 2018 NFL Draft order. But, let's try to break this down a little bit further to see just how much the Cowboys can improve their draft positioning.

Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Let's pretend all of these teams finish 8-8, because that simplifies things quite a bit. Also, let's take the Titans out of the equation completely and pretend they make the playoffs. That leaves seven teams to shuffle around and figure out exactly where they will be slotted to select in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys strength of schedule doesn't really help them a lot. Out of the seven teams, only the Redskins (.538) and Packers (.538) have a more difficult strength of schedule than the Cowboys (.500). That means the Cowboys would only move up two spots to the 17th overall pick.

Selecting 17th isn't that much of an improvement, but you never know how things will shake out once the draft gets underway. Moving up two spots could land them the player they wanted all along, but that's a discussion for another time.

Fortunately, I think the Cowboys can move up even further. For fun, I'm going to predict how the 2018 NFL Draft order will look after Week 17 based on which of these teams win and lose to close out the season.

13. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
14. Green Bay Packers (7-9)
15. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
16. Washington Redskins (8-8)
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
18. Buffalo Bills (9-7)
19. Detroit Lions (9-7)

Now, this is where I think the Dallas Cowboys benefit from losing their season finale this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Picking in the top 15 of the 2018 NFL Draft should land them a blue-chip player and someone who should not only start right away, but hopefully be a cornerstone of the organization for years to come. These types of players are hard to come by.

So you can see, the Dallas Cowboys really have nothing to gain from winning the game against the Philadelphia Eagles and finishing the season with a 9-7 record. They will still be picking 19th overall, but in losing I believe they will move up all the way to the 15th overall spot.

Are you rooting for the Cowboys to finish with an 8-8 record?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Joshua Blue Killion

    December 28, 2017 at 11:36 am

    As much as I love my Cowboys I will be hoping we lose just for this reason. This game is pointless anyways so why not try to better our draft position. Also fingers crossed that our house gets cleaned in the coaching dept, ie linehan and marinelli. I’m also on board with ridding ourselves of Dez and possibly drafting a wr first round if a decent one is available. Time for some changes.

    • kabob

      December 31, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      Why are you getting rid of Marinelli considering we had one of the 3 best pass rushers that flourished under Marinelli and the rest of the defense markedly got better as the season went on? Just to “shake things up”? There’s such a thing as continuity that helps young defenses, look it up.

  2. Fatfan

    December 29, 2017 at 8:16 am

    I agree! Dallas should play players who have rarely had a chance to play much, and sit certain important players to protect their health…Lee, T Smith, LaEl Collis. finish 8-8, and help your draft status. Get a real no.1 and move on from Dez, or make him a no, 2 with a reduced contract (if he agrees). AND replace Linehan! Otherwise, it’ll be more of the same.

    • Tristan Hays

      December 30, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      I wish Garrett would be fired but that won’t happen. At least get rid of Linehan and Marinelli! Get rid of Dez. His time is done with the Cowboys. We need quite a bit of players and we don’t have enough picks to fill all our holes. We won’t be good enough to really compete for a couple more years! Between constant injuries and constant lack of play with our “best” players we are a mess! I think our 3 biggest problems are Garrett, Linehan and Dez!

      • dallas1966

        December 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm

        Linehan and Marinelli are overrated, but are going nowhere, so continue to tolerate mediocrity at it’s best.

        • EverybodyTalks

          December 30, 2017 at 9:49 pm

          I don’t think they are going anywhere either, but I’d like to see us get another WR coach. Plus, if Dez isn’t going to take a pay cut, then for 12.5 million learn how to run routes, because he needs more tools in his toolbox.

  3. Fatfan

    December 29, 2017 at 8:18 am

    And…play Cooper Rush at least a full half!

    • Tristan Hays

      December 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I agree! Dak needs to know that he doesn’t have his job secure! He needs to get WAY better if we’re going to have a solid chance in the future! But more than anything I wish they would get rid of Garrett, Linehan and Dez! We all know that Garrett isn’t going anywhere though… ugh!

  4. Tristan Hays

    December 30, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    We better lose!! After the loss they better fire some coaches and trade Dez!

  5. dallas1966

    December 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Yes, I’m rooting for the 15th selection in the upcoming draft. But with this organization they will probably screw it up. Hopefully, the organization with Stephen and McClay, will continue to hit homeruns, and keep Jerry tied up in a closet, with duck tape over his mouth.

  6. EverybodyTalks

    December 30, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Good article on the draft that many a Cowboy fan is already contemplating…including me. I think we should play this game like a preseason game. All the back-ups start after the first couple of series. If Dak wants to wash the hands of the Seattle game, he may need to wait until next season. Right now Fanspeak in giving the Cowboys 4 compensatory picks- (2 in the 4th round and 2 in the 5th round) totaling 10- picks in 2018. If we were to get the 15th pick verses the 19th pick., the value is equal to a high 3rd round pick. I hope we lose and I pray we are smart enough to see how are rookies and back-ups play in a regular season game. We will learn about them and that experience will be invaluable to those players for next year.

  7. fgoodwin

    December 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    I don’t like the idea of deliberately throwing this game to improve our draft position.

    It’s not your draft position that counts, it’s what you do with your draft position. Don’t believe me? Consider the Patriots. They’ve made the playoffs something like ten of the last eleven years (or thereabouts). So their draft position has been consistently bad, yet they make the playoffs every year because they draft well and they play the cap-game well, as well as free-agency. Even in the year they lost Brady, I think they went 11-5, missing the playoffs, but still drafting pretty high.

    If they can do it, so can we.

  8. kabob

    December 31, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Seriously? What more could we get at 15 that we can’t get at 18? Do you know how bad it feels for the players to end the season on a two-game losing streak and to not even finish with a winning record? Picking a few draft positions up doesn’t make up for that.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft

Jess Haynie

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Why Finishing 8-8 Improves Cowboys' 2018 NFL Draft Position

The Dallas Cowboys will receive an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the league awarded compensatory picks today.

The pick will be 136th overall, which is one spot below were Dallas drafted Dak Prescott in 2016.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

And in other news... NFL awarded compensatory draft picks today - Patriots and Rams each received two third-round picks. The full list, per sources:

We have Anthony Hitchens to thank for this extra pick. The former Cowboys linebacker signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason which far surpassed any of the deal that Dallas made with their own free agent acquisitions.

Only free agents whose contracts expired, not those released in the offseason by their previous team, count towards the compensatory pick formula.  Therefore, Allen Hurns' deal was not a mitigating factor.

As mentioned already, the fourth round of the NFL Draft recently gave Dallas its starting quarterback. Other notable fourth-round picks in the modern era have been Hitchens, Doug Free, Marion Barber, and Chris Canty.

Last year, Dallas drafted DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz with fourth-round picks.

Already short their first and sixth-round picks this year from previous trades, the Cowboys are certainly happy to have this extra selection for April's draft.



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NFL Draft

7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition

Brian Martin

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3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys 2

I thought it would be a good idea to get out another 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week. Not only will the Combine shakeup a lot of people's big boards and draft rankings, but it will also be the first opportunity a lot of us will get to see some of these players firsthand.

For this Cowboys mock draft I used Matt Miller's big board on Fanspeak.com. I don't necessarily agree with where he has some of these players ranked right now, but that's part of the fun of doing these kind of exercises. With that said, he is still one of my favorite draft analysts.

Without further ado, here is my Pre-Combine 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft.

TE, Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M (2nd-round)

*189th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jace Sternberger

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger (John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports)

First off, I think Matt Miller has Jace Sternberger ranked way too low on his Big Board. I don't think he will make it out of the second round and may not even be available for the Dallas Cowboys when they are on the clock with the 58th overall pick. But if he is, I'm writing his name down on the draft card and not looking back.

The Cowboys have made it pretty clear they want to upgrade their TE position, but in order to do that they're going to have to draft one pretty early in my opinion. Sternberger may be a one-year wonder at Texas A&M, but he is exactly what Quarterback Dak Prescott needs in the passing game. He would change the dynamic of this whole offense.

At 6'4", 250 pounds, Sternberger has the size the Cowboys look for in their starting tight ends. His biggest asset right now is his natural receiving ability and how dangerous he is after the catch. He runs and moves like a big receiver. He's decent as an in-line blocker as well, but it's an area of his game that is still improving.

OT, Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (3rd-round)

*89th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bobby Evans

Oklahoma OT Bobby Evans

It's a little surprising it hasn't been brought up more this offseason, but with Tyron Smith's continued back problems and La'el Collins entering a contract year, the Dallas Cowboys could be looking into drafting another offensive tackle. I know it may be an unpopular pick in the third-round, but I couldn't pass up on Bobby Evans.

At 6'5", 300 pounds, Bobby Evans has the prototypical size teams look for in their starting offensive tackles. He is a smooth athletically gifted lineman who does his best work in the running game. He projects best in a zone blocking scheme where he can use his athleticism to his advantage. He will struggle a little bit in pass protection until he cleans up his hand technique.

With the Cowboys he could compete with La'el Collins for the starting RT position as a rookie, but at the worst be the teams swing tackle in 2019. Since he has the ability to play either tackle position, he would make a good insurance policy if Tyron Smith has to miss time again because of his back issues. Again it may be an unpopular pick, but a necessary one.

OLB, Christian Miller, Alabama (4th-round)

*161st on Matt Miller's Big Board

Christian Miller

Alabama OLB Christian Miller

With the Dallas Cowboys needing more depth at linebacker and defensive end, I decided to select Christian Miller with their first fourth-round draft pick. He unfortunately hasn't been able to showcase his skill set on a regular basis due to being buried on the depth chart at Alabama and some unfortunate injuries, but he has immense potential.

I think a lot of teams will look to draft him as a outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but I really like the variety of roles he could play in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. I think he could replace Demian Wilson as their strong side linebacker, provide depth at defensive end, and be a special-teams demon as a rookie.

The Cowboys of course will have to be comfortable with his injury history, but in the fourth-round I don't think that would be a problem. If he can stay healthy he has Pro Bowl potential as a pass rusher because of his size (6'4", 247), athleticism and fluidity to bend and torque his body. This might be my favorite pick in this Cowboys mock draft.

DT, Daylon Mack, Texas A&M (4th-round comp pick)

*178th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Daylon Mack

Texas A&M DT Daylon Mack

The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use some more defensive tackle help, especially after all but washing their hands of David Irving. They currently just have Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins on the DT depth chart, unless you want to count Tyrone Crawford. That's why I returned to Texas A&M for the second time in this Cowboys mock draft and selected Daylon Mack.

Daylon Mack is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing at Texas A&M. Don't let that fool you though, he has the talent to earn a starting job with the Cowboys as a rookie at either the one or three-technique. He is the kind of prospect Rod Marinelli would love to work with.

At 6'1", 327 pounds, Mack would provide some much-needed beef to the Cowboys defensive front. He has surprising athletic ability for his size and has a devastating first step to be the kind of disruptive DT Marinelli prefers along his DL. I really love his violent hands and raw athletic ability, and I believe he could be an absolute steal in the fourth-round even though Matt Miller has him ranked much lower.

WR, Jalen Hurd, Baylor (5th-round)

*159th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Jalen Hurd

Baylor WR Jalen Hurd

Outside of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the wide receiver position in Dallas is pretty dreadful. There are some young WRs who show some promise, but they still need more depth regardless. That's why I decided to take Jalen Hurd in the fifth-round in this Cowboys mock draft. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire 2019 draft class.

The most intriguing aspect of Hurd's game is his background as a running back. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was once considered a top RB prospect during his time in Tennessee before deciding to transfer to Baylor in order to switch to wide receiver.

At 6'4", 227 pounds, he has the prototypical size teams look for in a WR prospect. He reminds me a little bit of Cordarrelle Patterson, but is much more natural catching the ball. His route running is a little raw, but he has the ability to play in the slot or on the outside, something he did at Baylor. I think he could help replace some of Cole Beasley's lost production.

RB, Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State (7th-round)

* 206th on Matt Miller's Big Board

Bruce Anderson

North Dakota State RB Bruce Anderson

I reached a little bit with this pick, but if Bruce Anderson is available this late in the draft I would do everything within my power to bring him aboard if I was the Dallas Cowboys. I really think he could be the lightning to Ezekiel Elliott's thunder in the Cowboys backfield. I personally have him in the 3rd-5th round range, but can understand why he's ranked so low on Miller's Big Board right now.

Unfortunately, the draft process hasn't been very kind to Bruce Anderson so far. He was originally expected to open a lot of eyes in Mobile at this year's Senior Bowl, but unfortunately sustained an injury that kept him from competing. To make matters worse, he was a surprise snub at the Scouting Combine, meaning he only has private workouts and his Pro Day to impress scouts.

I for one am a big fan of Anderson's though. I believe he is exactly the kind of RB the Cowboys need behind Zeke. I personally see a poor man's Alvin Kamara when I watched his game film because of the different ways he can be utilized as both a runner and receiver. But, he can also contribute on special teams as a return specialist.

How do you feel about this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft?



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

While most fans are hoping the Cowboys snag a different safety who played his football in the state of Washington, Huskies safety Taylor Rapp should be towards the top of their draft targets on day two.

The Cowboys have some decisions to make when it comes to their back-end, particularly at safety. Do they want to pursue a full time strong safety type who can play in the box, allowing Xavier Woods to play solely as the centerfield free safety? Or would they rather add a hybrid safety who can play in that deep third role, giving their defense more flexibility in how they utilize Woods moving forward?

If their answer to this question is to go with a more traditional strong safety, and slot Woods into one permanent role, then Washington's Taylor Rapp could be the right man in this draft class.

The Player

Taylor Rapp is not the single-high safety that I would typically value high in an NFL draft. He lacks the range to really play that centerfield role, and doesn't have the speed or agility to project to this role in the NFL. No one ever gets behind him, but that's more due to ridiculously deep alignment than excellent coverage skills.

Where Rapp does excel, though, is playing forward and downhill. Rapp is aggressive both in his pursuit of plays and in his tackling. He tackles with good technique as well, and can absolutely lay the wood when coming up to hit receivers over the middle. Rapp plays how you'd expect your old-school strong safety to play, and projects as a split-zone and box safety at the next level.

Rapp isn't anything special in man coverage, but he executes well at times. He's at his best when asked to cover tight ends in man coverage, something which would certainly be valued both in today's NFL and on this version of the Cowboys' defense. I wouldn't be as comfortable lining him up against shifty slot receivers over the middle, but he can match up well physically with tight ends in man.

Overall, Rapp is one of the best tacklers I've seen in this draft class so far, and with his instincts, size and physicality he will serve as a solid strong safety at the next level.

The Fit

I don't see Taylor Rapp as the typical versatile chess-piece the Cowboys have valued when drafting defensive backs in recent years. He does what he does well, but they would be ill-advised to mess with his alignment too often or try to make him fit into a different role. He's not going to move all over the field like Xavier Woods can, but he can certainly fit the Cowboys' current need for a strong safety.

Many fans want the Cowboys to pursue Landon Collins in free agency, but if they strike out there, Rapp could be their consolation prize in the NFL draft.

No, he's not as good as Landon Collins. Let me make that perfectly clear. But for a day two pick Rapp could fit a similar role to what Collins would here in Dallas: a strong safety who will play primarily in the box and cover tight ends in man.



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