Tamp Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, FSU
Winston is the best QB prospect in this draft and the Bucs need a franchise QB, so this isn’t a hard one to match up.
Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Many have the #2 QB in this draft – Marcus Mariota – going in this spot, however, I don’t see logic behind the Titans coming out and endorsing Zach Mettenberger then taking a QB.
The Titans defense has been horrible for a while so they could certainly use a blue chip player like Williams added to it.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr, EDGE, Florida
There are a ton of top pass rushers in this draft, half of the top 8 could very well be EDGE players, so the Jags have a lot of options here. I believe Fowler is the 2nd best defensive player in the draft, so he would be a good choice here.
Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
I had Kevin White in this spot in my previous mock, but it recently came out that Cooper actually ran the same 40-time as White at the combine.
A major reason I initially pegged White ahead of Cooper is because he ran faster, while also being bigger than Cooper. If both are just as fast, it's really a toss-up as both have great tape. Cooper is a better route runner and White has the size advantage, so it's really going to be up to the team's preference.
The Raiders definitely could use a top WR for their young QB Derek Carr, and Cooper has true #1 potential.
*TRADE* Cleveland Browns: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
I'm going to mock a trade at the top for Mariota because I have a feeling it's bound to happen. I don't believe the Jets for a second when they say they aren't interested in Mariota. I personally don't think he makes it past #6.
This trade would make sense; if the Browns were willing to trade a 1st round pick for Sam Bradford, it obviously means they aren't happy with the position. Now if they like Mariota they could just keep him, but another scenario, if they really like Bradford, would be to trade the rights to Mariota for Bradford and the Eagles' first two picks, or 1st this year and next.
Washington gets pick #43 to move down 7 spots; with their current roster I'm sure they would take the opportunity to add two potential starters to their team opposed to one.
New York Jets: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Beasley was certainly this combine’s workout warrior.
He showed incredible strength with 35 reps @ 225 and amazing speed running a 4.53 40 at 6’3 246lbs, BOTH tops among all DL/LBs!
Good tape is always great to have but a lot of the time it’s combine studs that tend to get taken high. The Jets are stacking up on defense and adding a stud pass rusher would make them scary.
Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, WVU
After White ran a 4.35 40 at 6’3 215lbs at the combine he quickly shot up draft boards. Playing across from the 6'3 216lb Alshon Jeffery would give Chicago a ridiculous duo that would be difficult to cover.
Atlanta Falcons: Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
The Falcons signed a couple of pass rushers in free agency but they need all the help they can get after last season. Here they're in position to take 2 of the top 4 in Ray or Randy Gregory. With Gregory failing a drug test at the combine, along with showing up at a thin 235lbs, he's falling down draft boards. Ray gives new head coach, Dan Quinn, a new, explosive edge rusher.
New York Giants: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Giants only have 2 back up safeties on their current roster; they can re-sign Stevie Brown but that still leaves a hole on the strong side. Collins is the lone safety with a 1st round grade in this draft class, which could lead to him going quickly. Collins would be a big help in run support and help stop New York from getting burned so often.
St. Louis Rams: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
The Rams need a lot of help on their offensive line. They released LT Jake Long and C Scott Wells this offseason so they basically just have T Greg Robinson (last year's #2 overall pick) and T/G Rodger Saffold.
They just signed last year's back up C Tim Barnes to a one year deal so I'm guessing he's the favorite for that position, and I'm sure they're hoping to re-sign RT Joe Barksdale, but that would still leave a big hole at G. In this situation, with the top ranked OL Scherff available, I can't see them going any other way.
Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
Waynes is the top rated corner is this draft and backed it up with a stellar combine performance. Xavier Rhodes has been a great CB for the Vikings but they could use a starter across from him. Rhodes and Waynes would make a great young duo for Minnesota.
*TRADE* Washington Redskins: Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska
Gregory is one of the best pure pass rushers in this draft. I discussed earlier why he might drop, but based on how talented he is, and the need for pass rushers around the league, he shouldn't fall out of the top half of the 1st round.
Washington drafted Trent Murphy in the 2nd round last year but he seems to be more of a role player than a replacement for Brian Orakpo. Gregory, along with Ryan Kerrigan, could give Washington a young pass rushing duo.
New Orleans Saints: La’el Collins, OL, LSU
The Saints signed both Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller to 4 year deals this offseason and look interested in making an effort to run the ball more. Collins is a college tackle that has been consistently making his way up draft boards and has a lot of NFL people talking. Many think he has Pro Bowl potential inside.
After trading away Ben Grubbs this offseason, it's a hole that needs filling and Collins would be a great fit.
Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Dolphins shipped out Mike Wallace and lost Brian Hartline this offseason, they did trade for Kenny Stills though, and last year's rookie Jarvis Landry was great in the slot. They lack a true #1 though. Parker would provide Miami with a big and athletic target for Ryan Tannehill.
San Francisco 49ers: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
A lot of people see Shelton going much higher than this, but in every draft nose tackles seem to drop. The 49ers, once an extremely deep team on defense, now find themselves with several holes. Shelton would be a great value here and provide them with a true stud nose tackle.
Houston Texans: Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
The Texans need a franchise QB and a replacement for Andre Johnson, but by this time the top two QBs are long gone and so are the top 3 WRs. They could also really use a new ILB, but there aren't any in this draft with a mid first round grade, in my opinion.
At 6'7 292lbs, Armstead is a long, athletic DT with a lot of upside. If he can tap into his potential playing beside Vince Wilfork and J.J. Watt, it would give Houston a scary front.
San Diego Chargers: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
I see this pick more and more in mock drafts and I just don't agree with it - the Chargers need a lot of help on defense, but San Diego's GM Tom Telesco came out a few days ago saying his team didn't "need" to add a RB.
I've learned to believe the opposite of what teams say before the draft usually, and his comments seem to me like someone hoping a player drops.
Gurley is a top 15 talent that will only fall due to an ACL tear in November, but if his knee checks out, he could provide a huge upgrade from Branden Oliver and Donald Brown.
Kansas City Chiefs: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
The Chiefs took Eric Fisher with the #1 pick in 2013, but he hasn’t nearly played up to expectations. At the same time, KC needs to upgrade the RT position. Peat could provide competition for Fisher and also fill the hole on the right side.
Cleveland Browns (from BUF): Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
The Browns have a horrible defensive line. Luckily - with two first round picks - they could address their QB situation and also land a top DT. Brown is a big boy who could play nose or end in their 3-4.
Philadelphia Eagles: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
With Jeremy Maclin heading to Kansas City, Chip Kelly needs another WR. Green-Beckham is a top talent who will fall in the draft due to character concerns. He was dismissed from the Missouri football program after being suspended twice, so the concerns aren’t without merit, but he’s massive at 6’5 237lbs and yet still runs fast posting a 4.49 40 at the combine.
He has special potential, but could also be Josh Gordon.
Cincinnati Bengals: Bud Dupree, EDGE, Kentucky
The Bengals had the least sacks in the NFL this past season, so their need for a pass rusher is evident. Dupree is a physical freak that's big enough to play DE in a 4-3, still raw, but with some coaching, he could become a force.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Peters is a prospect with a ton of talent but - like Green-Beckham - also with big character concerns that could go anywhere from top 10 to out of the first round. Some even see Peters as the top corner in the draft, so he would be a nice value for the Steelers, who currently have only one serviceable starter: William Gay.
Detroit Lions: D. J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Humphries is a great LT prospect whose biggest concern has been his lean frame, playing at only 285lbs last season. However, Humphries showed up to the combine (amazingly) at 307lbs, so that should definitely entice a lot of OL needy teams.
The Lions need to provide better protection for Matthew Stafford, and many analysts believe Humphries is the best pass blocker in this draft and can start at LT day 1. This could allow Detroit to move Riley Reiff to the right side or shuffle some other personnel around, and provide a big upgrade to that unit.
Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
This pick would make a lot of sense to me with the departure of Antonio Cromartie. The need is obvious. Collins is a raw prospect but who better to learn from than one of the best corners in the league and LSU alum, Patrick Peterson? Collins is a big, long, athletic corner that – with coaching and development – could become a star.
Carolina Panthers: T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
This pick HAS to be for the offensive line for the Panthers; they have the worst unit in the NFL. Luckily, this is a very deep draft for top caliber tackles. Clemmings is a very athletic tackle that has a lot of scouts talking. He needs some development but could give Carolina their LT of the future.
Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St.
It seems every year the Ravens stand pat and take the best player available. If they do that again, I could definitely see this pick being Melvin Gordon. Even though Baltimore just signed Justin Forsett to a 3 year deal, he's going to be 30 and they don't really have anyone behind him.
I'm going to mock Strong in this position, however, because with the departure of Torrey Smith, the Ravens can't rely solely on 35-year-old Steve Smith. Whether it's the 1st round or not, Baltimore definitely needs to draft a wide out early, Strong would be a good value in this position and provide Joe Flacco a much-needed big bodied weapon.
Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
I’m sure everyone knows the Cowboys lost DeMarco Murray to the Eagles this offseason. It would be Dallas’ best-case scenario for one of the top 2 backs to fall to #27.
Gordon would be an ideal replacement for Murray as he's a talented workhorse that can handle a load. If the Ravens were to select Gordon - like I discussed for their pick at #26 - it would definitely make this choice tougher.
In this hypothetical situation, there would be two really good 1 techniques available in Eddie Goldman and Jordan Phillips, however, I know Dallas doesn't believe in taking that position high. There's also a couple of good LBs in Denzel Perryman and Eric Kendricks.
A choice that would make a lot of sense though, is CB Kevin Johnson, with the position being what it is right now.
Denver Broncos: Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
As Peyton Manning enters his final years, the Broncos need to get him the best protection they can. Flowers would be an immediate upgrade at RT, not only providing protection for Manning, but he’s an absolute bruiser in the run game. Would be a big help in bolstering Denver’s run offense, which they seemed to rely on more and more last season.
Indianapolis Colts: Cameron Erving, OL, FSU
Here the Colts land the best center prospect in the draft and get Andrew Luck the protection he needs inside. This draft’s class of offensive linemen is much like last year’s class of cornerbacks: there’s a bunch of guys at the top and it’s going to be tough to peg which order they go.
Green Bay Packers: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
The Packers lost CBs Tramon Williams and Davon House this offseason, Kevin Johnson is a seasoned corner that could come in and help Green Bay day 1.
New Orleans Saints (from SEA): Eli Harold, EDGE, Virginia
The Saints have re-tooled their defense this offseason but are still in need of another pass rusher across from Junior Galette. Harold is an edge setter that would be a nice value here and a great fit for New Orleans' 3-4.
New England Patriots: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St.
The Patriots lost a huge body in Vince Wilfork this offseason. Here they can replace it with another. Mammoth at 6’4 336lbs, Goldman could provide the Pats with a true NT. Some like last year’s 1st round selection Dominique Easley as the favorite for that position, but he’d be very undersized at 6’2 290lbs to play the 0.
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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