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NFL Draft

Haynie 2017 Mock Draft: Complete First Round

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Top Rated Defensive Players - Pre Combine

The big night is almost upon us!  As such, I am long overdue for getting out my first mock draft of 2017.

After the narrow scope of the fourth-overall pick last year, it's been harder to sink my teeth into this year's draft and the 28th pick. So many variables, both in this draft class and in the Cowboys' needs, have made projection difficult.

Nevertheless, I did my best to come up with a draft that I think closely resembles what you'll see on Thursday night.  Here are my standard disclaimers:

  • Please comment with your thoughts on my picks. If you're a fan of another team I really value your insider perspective and will use it to make my next mock better.
  • These are predictions of what teams WILL do and not necessarily what they SHOULD.
  • I don't get into predicting trades. It's too much of a crapshoot to spend mental energy on.
R1/1 - CLE: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

With this draft class being unfriendly for QB-needy teams, Cleveland takes one of the most exciting defensive line prospects in the last decade. They will hope for a QB to fall to them #12.

R1/2 - SF: Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

Switching to a 4-3 defense this year, 49ers take Thomas for immediate talent infusion and insurance in case other guys struggle with the transition.

R1/3 - CHI: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Malik Hooker may have more upside but also has risks. The Bears take the surer thing in Adams, who will bring immediate improvement and leadership.

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R1/4 - JAC: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory aren't getting it done as a tandem. With QB Blake Bortles on the hot seat, the Jaguars give him some help with Fournette's potentially elite talent.

R1/5 - TEN: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.

Things align perfectly for the Titans to fill their biggest need with the best CB prospect in the class.

R1/6 - NYJ: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St.

Hooker's upside is right there with the best talents in the class, making it impossible for the Jets to pass on him. They need upgrades in the secondary.

R1/7 - LAC: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen can be a stalwart as a 3-4 DE for the next decade. Needs to add power but that's what NFL strength coaches are for.

R1/8 - CAR: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

After Garrett and Thomas, Taco is probably most ready to come in and help a 4-3 defense right out of the gates. Carolina needs immediate talent infusion if they want to get back to contender status.

R1/9 - CIN: Haason Reddick, DE/LB, Temple

The Bengals have need at both DE and LB and Reddick's versatility serves both. Comparable to Khalil Mack, he will bring immediate help to their pass rush.

R1/10 - BUF: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Howard gives Tyrod Taylor a new weapon as he fights to keep the starting QB job. If he fails, Howard becomes some new young QB's best friend.

R1/11 - NO: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

I've been thinking for a while they would take Drew Brees' understudy at their #32 pick. If that's the plan and then Trubisky is available here, how can they say no?

R1/12 - CLE: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

I think the Browns will give Cody Kessler a shot and wait for a better QB class to add talent if needed. They add another significant defensive talent here with Foster.

R1/13 - ARI: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Mahomes' college scheme makes him an ideal fit for Bruce Arians' offense. Arizona starts preparing in what is likely Carson Palmer's last year.

R1/14 - PHI: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.

Cook isn't a power runner but that's normal for the Eagles' offense. He is a great fit for them, so long as they trust his character.

R1/15 - IND: Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA

McKinley may be best suited to convert to a 3-4 OLB of the available pass rushers, which makes him ideal for Indy.

R1/16 - BAL: Corey Davis, WR, W. Michigan

It's been five years since the Ravens' Super Bowl win and Flacco hasn't been given much offensive help since. Davis could form a championship duo with Breshad Perriman.

R1/17 - WAS: Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford

Matt Jones was solid but did not break out last year as many hoped. McCaffrey solidifies the backfield and gives them an option at WR also, where Washington is also thin.

R1/18 - TEN: John Ross, WR, Washington

With Marcus Mariota's ability to move around and extend plays, Ross' speed could make them a dangerous pair in the wide-open AFC South.

R1/19 - TB: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Noah Spence was a steal last year but the rest of the Bucs' pass rushers are old men. Barnett gives them one of them best young DE combos in the game.

R1/20 - DEN: David Njoku, TE, Miami

The Broncos help their young quarterback, whoever it turns out to be, with the draft's other exceptional TE prospect.

R1/21 - DET: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Matthew Stafford needs another weapon and Williams falling to this spot is a major gift. He's not Megatron, but Mike could be great with Stafford as his QB.

R1/22 - MIA: Forrest Lamp, OL, W. Kentucky

Able to play any OL position, Lamp can fill one of the Dolphins' many needs up front as they look to get back to the playoffs.

R1/23 - NYG: Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama

The Giants add Robinson, hopefully keeping Eli's "game worn" jerseys from getting too dirty.

R1/24 - OAK: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan St.

McDowell's raw talent keeps him in the first round despite the concerns about scheme fit and locker room chemistry.

R1/25 - HOU: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

The pick is late enough that Watson doesn't have to start Week One to justify it, which is ideal for the Texans as they let Deshaun compete with Tom Savage.

R1/26 - SEA: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

He should become a star as a 4-3 tackle, which is what the Seahawks need as they rebuild their front lines.

R1/27 - KC: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The pick would've been Sidney Jones if not for his recent Achilles injury. The Chiefs are looking to compete and Humphrey should be ready to contribute now.

R1/28 - DAL: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri

Dallas gets the edge rusher they desperately need. If Harris is gone, Dallas might go cornerback here as the next tier of pass rushers isn't as enticing.

R1/29 - GB: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU

A perfect replacement for Sam Shields, White should flourish in the Packers' man-heavy scheme.

R1/30 - PIT: Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

The last great Pittsburgh safety, the one with the big hair, was only 5'10". Pittsburgh will move Peppers around and let him make plays.

R1/31 - ATL: Garrett Bolles, OL, Utah

The reigning NFC Champions look to keep their infrastructure solid with the conservative, but often profitable, o-line pick.

R1/32 - NO: Budda Baker, S, Washington

The Saints badly need a safety and Baker is the consensus as the #3 prospect after Adams and Hooker.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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3 Comments
  • http://alpalfantasy.wordpress.com alpalfantasy

    I agree with a lot of your early picks, but don’t think McCaffrey, Williams, or Barnett will drop that far. Here is mine: https://alpalfantasy.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/nfl-mock-draft-2-0/

  • BigD

    I worry about Smiths athleticism and the fact he gets dominated in the run game. Seems like Watt, Bowser, or a CB (King) would make more sense IMO.

    • Jess Haynie

      Did you mean Harris?

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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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.

Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.

Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.

Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.

But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.

Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.

Drew Davison on Twitter

The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.

With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.

What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?

For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.

But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.

 "If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft. 

For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.

At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" 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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