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NFL Draft

John’s 7-Round Cowboys Mock Draft

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Know G Will Hernandez Well, Even Without Formal Pre-Draft Visit

The NFL Draft is less than three weeks away now, and what's more fun than reading mock drafts at this time of the year? The Dallas Cowboys have a couple of needs to address with this year's class and we all have players on our minds that we hope they draft. Who knows if any of those players will be any good.

Using Fanspeak's On the Clock Simulator, I attempted to take a realistic approach to the mock draft, without making any trades. For example, in the simulator Calvin Ridley was available in the second round. That isn't going to happen. Ridley is a top-20 player, so I didn't select him.

What you'll read below, is my best -- and only -- attempt at mocking the draft.

Feel free to mock me in the comment section.

Team Needs

I don't believe wide receiver is as big of a need for the Cowboys as many people do. They now have seven wide receivers under contract for the 2018 season. Now, a lot of things can change, but I believe they are set at the position and just need to figure out which five or six are going to be on the roster come week one.

Also, I don't believe there is a huge need at cornerback, given that they're running four deep there with the move of Byron Jones to the position. Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown pencil in as your top four, and Xavier Woods can also play some slot corner if needed. Aside from depth, they're set at corner.

Cowboys Draft Target: UTEP OL Will Hernandez

UTEP OL Will Hernandez

The Mock

19. Will Hernandez - Guard, UTEP

Will Hernandez fits an immediate need and is a favorite of Inside The Star draft analysts, Kevin Brady and Sean Martin. It came down to Hernandez and James Daniels from Iowa, and I went with the guy who has already built a rapport with the Dallas Cowboys OL.

He has a strength and nastiness that will fit right in with the rest of the DAL offensive line, and will immediately open holes for Ezekiel Elliott.

> Read Kevin Brady's scouting report on Will Hernandez on Slant Sports.

50. Leighton Vander Esch - Linebacker, Boise State

Projecting as a late-first rounder by some and a second rounder by others, I couldn't help but take Leighton Vander Esch as a player who could rotate in with Jaylon Smith day one, then take over for Sean Lee in 2019.

Other options I passed on were TE Dallas Goedert and WR James Washington. Taven Bryan was also available, but I felt the 3T spot was a bit crowded with David Irving and Maliek Collins to add another under tackle.

One of my favorites, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from the University of Oklahoma, was also available, but seeing as how there is a greater need at LB than EDGE, I went that direction.

It also seems that many in the Draft Twitter community are lower on Obo than I am, which probably means I have some fan bias when it comes to the former Sooner.

Oklahoma Sooners TE Mark Andrews (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

81. Mark Andrews - Tight End, University of Oklahoma

Some will think that this is a waste of a pick, but it's time to begin finding the successor to Jason Witten, and Mark Andrews is that.

While at the moment seen as more of a "move tight end," Andrews can play in sub-packages while learning the finer points of blocking at the tight end position from a future Hall of Famer in Witten.

At Oklahoma, Andrews displayed really good hands and route running ability. His run after catch prowess led to many big gains for the Sooners as a favorite of Baker Mayfield. In three years at OU, he caught 22 touchdowns and averaged more than 15 yards a catch for his career.

The Dallas Cowboys like to use 12 personnel and with Andrews, they could motion him out to create mismatches and he's an excellent fit for Dallas as they continue to adopt more and more RPO concepts.

At 6'5", 254 lbs, he has the frame to become a good blocker and continue to be a red-zone weapon for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.

116. DeShon Elliott - Safety, University of Texas

The Cowboys have been doing a nice job of revamping their secondary and DeShon Elliott can fit right in with their safety group. He had a nice 2017 with the Longhorns, picking off six passes and converting 8.5 tackles for loss.

With Woods and Jeff Heath manning the free safety positions, Elliott can begin to rotate in with Kavon Frazier as well as manning some TE coverage roles.

137. Shaquem Griffin - Linebacker, University of Central Florida

Linebacker Shaquem Griffin is a favorite of Draft analyst Kevin Turner from 105.3 The Fan, and he's got me convinced that Griffin is a guy I want on my team.

Like the Dallas Cowboys did a year ago at cornerback, I attacked the LB position given the health concerns of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. Griffin can be a situational MIKE and WILL while also playing some special teams for you as well.

While he does have a disability that will limit him, effort will never be the issue with Griffin.

171. Deadrin Senat - Defensive Tackle, University of South Florida

Finally getting a chance to address the gaping hole at the 1T Nose Tackle spot, South Florida's Deadrin Senat's presence fills that hole.

While Vita Vea is the cream of the crop, Senat is no slouch himself.

I took him a bit higher than I should, but with only one fifth round selection and three in the sixth, I felt it was a justifiable reach for a guy who can push for snaps day one on the interior of the defensive line.

His senior season was pretty awesome. He had 66-combined tackles, 10.5 for loss and six sacks. He's rotating in on early downs right away and helps the run defense tremendously.

Nyheim Hines

N.C. State RB Nyheim Hines

192. Nyheim Hines - Running Back, North Carolina State

Nyheim Hines is the pass-catching Chris Thompson, Alvin Kamara type of running back this team has been looking for. They tried it with Lance Dunbar but were never able to complete the plan.

Hines ran for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns while playing in the ACC. The only thing that limits him is his size. But he can be a chunk player on 10 touches a game and has some experience lining up as a wide receiver as he did his freshmen year. Before becoming the lead back, he averaged more than 12 yards per reception his first two seasons.

He's the guy you want giving Ezekiel Elliott a breather a couple series a game and on third downs.

193. Jeff Holland - EDGE, Auburn University

Jeff Holland fills a need for some depth at EDGE and comes out of a Power 5 Conference, like this team likes to draft. He was a productive player at Auburn who had 9.5 sacks in 2017 to go along with 12.5 tackles for loss.

He can come in and compete for snaps on the weakside of the defensive line while continuing to refine his game.

208. Joseph Noteboom - Tackle, Texas Christian University

Joseph Noteboom. I'm pretty much ready to move on from the Chaz Green experiment. Noteboom is Jonah Tuls 171st ranked player and someone who could be the swing tackle and provide some competition on the offensive line.

236. Dimitri Flowers - H-Back, University of Oklahoma

I grabbed another Sooner, Dimitri Flowers, here because he is probably one of the more underrated offensive players in the draft.

He's a great receiver for his size and can run the ball with fluidity. He can do a little lead blocking, but needs some work on that front. Flowers scored 17 rushing and receiving touchdowns over his final three seasons at OU, and averaged more than 16 yards per reception on 54 catches.

He's a chess piece that would allow Dallas to be really creative in their formations.

Imagine him and Ezekiel Elliott lined up in shotgun on either side of Dak Prescott and the RPO and route options you could have with those two guys.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Well, Cowboys Nation, there you have it. The Dallas Cowboys didn't ask me, but I gave it my best shot.



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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Needs: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys already have a lot of young talent at the cornerback position. But with two key players close to free agency, it's an area where they could still consider adding a player in next week's 2019 NFL Draft.

Dallas has assembled a solid group at corner with the use of several higher draft picks in recent years. They spent a first on Byron Jones in 2015 and then their second and third picks in 2017 on Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.

Also in the mix is Anthony Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2016 who has proven to be a true steal. At this point, one could argue that he is tied with Awuzie's as the team's second-best CB behind Jones.

Unfortunately, those affordable rookie contracts don't last forever. Byron's has already expired; he's currently set to play 2019 under the fifth-year option. Brown's rookie deal expires this season, meaning both players could be unrestricted free agents in 2020.

The Cowboys have already expressed interest in re-signing Byron Jones to an extension, and they should after his Pro Bowl season last year. But a big contract for Byron means less money for the other guys, who will all be looking for new deals over the next two offseasons.

That said, these are situations that the Cowboys can resolve in other ways between now and 2021. There's no real pressure to add more CB talent now given the timetable.

A far more significant factor is the way that Jourdan Lewis appears to currently fit into Dallas' scheme.

CB Jourdan Lewis Finally Looks Himself In Cowboys Blowout Win

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis

After an impressive rookie season, Lewis surprisingly slid down the depth chart last year. He was the team's fourth CB, only appearing on 18% of Dallas' total defensive snaps. The other three players we've mentioned were all at 67% or higher.

One key reason for this may have been the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach. He brought a new philosophy about the size and playing style of cornerbacks which Lewis doesn't seem to fit.

Even if Jourdan isn't valued much in Dallas anymore, he could still have worth elsewhere in the league. After all, Lewis was considered a potential first-round talent in 2017 but slid to the third after some concerns over legal issues.

With two years left on a cheap rookie deal, Lewis could be very attractive to other teams in a potential trade. If the Cowboys did move him, that would open the door for them to spend a pick this year on a new CB prospect.

That doesn't mean Dallas would spend a high pick at corner. After all, they still have their top three in place for this season. Plus, as we've seen recently with Brown and Xavier Woods, the Cowboys have been able to find solid defensive backs in the later rounds of the draft.

That gives us an "If... Then..." situation when it comes to cornerback and this 2019 draft. If the Cowboys stick with Jourdan Lewis then I could see them not draft any corners, or at least waiting until the late rounds for some intriguing developmental prospect.

But if they do trade Lewis away, Dallas could spent as high as a fourth or fifth-round pick to help fill the depth chart and hopefully prepare for the upcoming free agency of their current players.

So, that leave us with two probability scenarios:

If Jourdan Lewis stays...

Draft Likelihood: 20%
Projected Round: *6th-7th

* The Cowboys don't currently have a 6th-round pick, but could acquire one in a potential trade.

If Jourdan Lewis gets traded...

Draft Likelihood: 70%
Projected Round: *4th-5th

~ ~ ~

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NFL Draft

NFL Draft: 2019 RB Class Could Benefit Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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NFL Draft: 2019 RB Class Could Benefit Cowboys
AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez

Running back is a need for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. Despite counting with Ezekiel Elliott, the team urgently needs someone for Zeke to share the workload with. If the Cowboys want to Elliott to last longer than your average star running back, they'll have to add a young backup to that RB room. So far, it looks like the front office will address the position via the NFL Draft, having let Rod Smith become a free agent and passing on some interesting options in March.

This year, the running back class is a pretty interesting one. Over the last few years, college football has brought many unbelievable players at this position. In 2015, it was Todd Gurley. Then would follow guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley. This running back class though, doesn't seem to have a player of this level.

However, it does count with tons of guys who will make for valuable picks in the middle and late rounds.

The rookie class is led by the Alabama product, Josh Jacobs. Although the consensus agrees he's the top running back prospect, many see him falling off the first round. Even if he's picked on Day 1, it isn't likely he'll be drafted in the Top 20. Teams like the Philadelphia Eagles at #25 or the Oakland Raiders at one of their three picks are candidates.

After Jacobs, there's a wide array of prospects who might not even go in the second round but when the third round begins, they could start flying off the shelves. While this draft class does not necessarily count with top players at this position, it does provide a  lot of depth. The good thing is the Cowboys don't need a starter, they need a backup. From Penn State's Miles Sanders to Oklahoma's Rodney Anderson, there will be some pretty interesting guys who can bring a change of pace to an Ezekiel Elliott-led offense.

Ezekiel Elliott Already Has Second Rushing Title Locked Down

There are many prospects worth talking about, but one I personally like is Texas A&M Trayveon Williams. Matt Miller from Bleacher Report goes as far as saying that he ranks as the best third down running back thanks to his pass protection and his skills as a receiver. While some see him as a third rounder, I wouldn't doubt he lasts until day 3. If he does, the Cowboys shouldn't hesitate to draft him.

Which brings me to another point, if Dallas really wants to walk away with a rookie contributor, they should address this need between the fourth and fifth round. They don't own a sixth round pick and waiting until the seventh round wouldn't really lead to an upgrade over guys like Darius Jackson. However, both the second and third round would be too early for a team that has way more relevant needs.

With two selections in the fourth round (#128 and 137), this would probably be the best spot to find Zeke a promising backup. The fact that this is a pretty deep class for the running back position will benefit the Cowboys and I don't doubt they'll get a pretty decent player to help their superstar running back get a bit of rest every now and then.

Tell me what you think about "NFL Draft: 2019 RB Class Could Benefit Cowboys" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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

Safety Leads the Way in this Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill V

This is the week that we've all been waiting for. The NFL Draft is now just five days away. The Dallas Cowboys will finally be able to put all the hard work they've done over the last year into practice. They'll finalize their big board and will add six (or more) players to their roster between now and next weekend.

As it's the last week before the draft, I wanted to bring you one final mock draft. This one will focus on the Dallas Cowboys pre-draft visitor list. They've had contact with tons of players over the last several months, so we should have a pretty good idea where their collective minds are at. Of course, the draft brings so many variables into play that it's hard to accurately predict who will go there, but we're going to try anyway.

Using Fanspeak.com's Premium On The Clock Simulator, I declined options to trade back in the second, because they required trading back a full round. In trade back scenarios, I wouldn't want to trade back further than the fifth pick in the third round. The Cowboys would miss out on too much talent by going back a full round in the draft.

I attempted to focus this mock on players that the Cowboys have had in for visits this offseason. So let's find the Dallas Cowboys some players.

58 - Juan Thornhill, Safety, Virginia

Juan Thornhill has been a guy I've hyped up for much of the last two weeks. Until I watched his tape, I was all about Maryland Safety Darnell Savage. In Thornhill, I saw a similar player to Savage, but a better overall athlete that is bigger as well.

Thornhill is in that group of safeties along with Taylor Rapp, Jonathan Abram, and Savage, who could be there for the Dallas Cowboys at pick 58. While each in that group are capable of making a day one impact for the Cowboys, Thornhill is the guy that I think has the best potential.

He's smooth in coverage and willing as a tackler. He plays the ball well in the air and is excellent with the ball in his hands. He has the ability to play corner if needed. At Virginia, he lined up all over the secondary.

Here's what Dane Brugler from The Athletic had to say about Thornhill:

"A three-year starter at Virginia, Thornhill arrived in Charlottesville as a safety before moving outside to corner his sophomore and junior seasons. He moved to the “Sabre” strong safety position as a senior and led the team in tackles (98) and interceptions (6), playing everywhere from nickel to single-high to linebacker (showed he can just as easily press as he can play from deep positioning). Thornhill, who wears No. 21 for Sean Taylor, doesn’t play as fast as he timed, but he has a smooth lower body and doesn’t get off-balance in his movements. He has plus anticipation and ball skills, but will take the worst of hits when his tackling technique isn’t perfect. Overall, Thornhill is more smooth than sudden, which causes him to be a beat late at times, but his instincts, field range and roster versatility are strong selling points, projecting as a high alignment safety who can walk down and cover slot receivers."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

He's Dane Brugler's 49th ranked player and fifth best safety in this year's draft. Over the course of Thornhill's career he totaled 13 interceptions and 26 pass deflections. He's a playmaker that stays around the ball and would give the Cowboys another ball hawk in the secondary.

Check out Brian Martin's Scouting Report on Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill.

90 - Jace Sternberger, Tight End, Texas A&M

I don't think that tight end is as big of a need in this year's draft because I firmly believe that Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are solutions there long-term. However, sometimes the draft doesn't fall like you'd like and here, there weren't any defensive players available that I was as interested in as Texas A&M Tight End Jace Sternberger.

Already off the board were any of the EDGE players that the Cowboys have shown interest in as well as Defensive Lineman Trysten Hill and Khalen Saunders. There were several wide receivers available that the Cowboys have had in for visits, but I felt like there was an opportunity to get one of those later in the draft, thus the pick of Sternberger.

"A one-year starter at Texas A&M, Sternberger quickly emerged as the centerpiece of the Aggies’ passing game, lining up split out, wing or inline. Despite only one season in College Station, he is one of the most productive tight ends in school history, setting the single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown catches. With his athleticism and toughness, Sternberger offers tremendous YAC and down-the-seam value, recording at least one 20-plus yard catch in 12 of 13 games in 2018 (44 percent of his catches resulted in a 20-plus yard play). He is a work-in-progress as both a route runner and blocker and his NFL ceiling will be closely tied to his development in both areas. Overall, Sternberger is a vertical pass-catching target with the athleticism and warrior toughness to be a mismatch weapon, projecting as an NFL joker tight end."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

He's a field stretching tight end, similar to Blake Jarwin, with a better  pedigree and more college production. Potentially, Sternberger could get snaps right away as a move tight end as he learns his blocking responsibilities.

128: Emanuel Hall, Wide Receiver, Missouri

There are several wide receivers that bring a speed dimension to the NFL draft this year and Emanuel Hall is one of them. He had good production at Missouri, but injuries kept him from having the type of career that potential first round pick Marquise Brown had.

Like Sternberger, Hall could make an impact week one in three and four wide receiver sets on the outside. With Amari Cooper's ability to line up in the slot, Hall on the outside would add another dynamic element to this young and improving offense.

"Prototypical size and length... excellent release package at the LOS... sets up corners well with head fakes and quick, deceptive feet... Long strider... few corners can keep pace with him vertically... good tracker of the ball... sneaky good route runner... keeps corners on their toes because of his deep speed... takes advantage with an array of double moves... great body control and adjuster to the ball in the air."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

See my Scouting Report on Missouri Wide Receiver Emanuel Hall.

136: Damien Harris, Running Back, Alabama

Alabama Running Back Damien Harris was a productive player in college who averaged 6.4 yards per carry for his career. Over the last three seasons in the Crimson Tide backfield, Harris totaled 1,000 yards each season. In 2018, he caught 22 passes for 204 yards for 9.3 yards per reception. Over his final two years, he totaled 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Only five times in his 54 games played in college did Harris receive more than 15 carries a game, so he's not coming into the NFL as a workhorse type back, but he has potential to work in a running back by committee. For the Dallas Cowboys, if he can take 5-10 touches a game from Ezekiel Elliott, it will help keep Elliott fresh down the stretch and hopefully keep Elliott from seeing 400 touches.

"A Swiss army knife type of running back who possesses good traits in nearly every facet of the game. Solid experience and production as a ball carrier, receiver, and pass protector for an elite program. Nice contact balance and rarely goes down on arm tackles. Underrated footwork and vision. Scheme-versatile to play in both zone and power schemes."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

Check out Brian Martin's Scouting Report on Damien Harris.

165: Kingsley Keke, Defensive Line, Texas A&M

The Dallas Cowboys don't really have a huge need along the defensive line in 2019, but when you look ahead to the 2020 offseason, you could be without Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys would have big needs along the defensive line if they were to move on from Crawford to save money on the cap, they would need a 3-technique defensive tackle. Kingsley Keke could be a potential starter.

In 2018, at Texas A&M, Keke had 7.5 sacks and 51 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 305 pounds, he's a player that could give you some snaps at 1-technique on passing downs and be your primary 3-tech in your base defense. He's a productive player with good athletic traits, so getting him in the fifth round would be huge for this defense.

"A quick interior defender with position flex as both a base end and nickel rusher in multiple fronts... played his best football at the end of his career... seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss... 35 consecutive starts... proven durability... a lightning- quick first step with an impressive array of pass rush moves... moves really well and is light on his feet... plays with impressive bend and cornering ability."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

"A three-year starter at Texas A&M, Keke started at nose guard as a sophomore and junior before losing 20 pounds prior to his senior season and moving outside to defensive end under new defensive coordinator Mike Elko. He was listed as an end on the depth chart, but he also played substantial snaps over the A-gap and B-gap in 2018 as the Aggies took advantage of his versatility. Keke is an active athlete and moves well on his feet to slip blocks and chase in pursuit. He flashes upper body strength, but plays too high and is too easily slowed by road blocks, lacking pass rush tempo or core strength to consistently work through contact. Overall, Keke’s inconsistent contact balance and marginal anchor strength will limit his NFL ceiling, but his foot quickness, nonstop effort and position flex are appealing traits, projecting as a base end in a 4-3 or rotational interior player."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

241: Chris Westry, Cornerback, Kentucky

Kentucky Cornerback Chris Westry is a project player, but has a lot of experience, size, and athleticism that makes him an interesting player to take in the seventh round. That's what you're looking for in the seventh round of the draft. Guy who have traits that with some coaching and an NFL training and conditioning program could turn into productive role players for your team.

"A three-year starter at Kentucky, Westry was a full-time starter as a freshman and sophomore at Kentucky, but gradually dropped down the depth chart as Derrick Baity improved and Lonnie Johnson arrived from the JUCO level. He was the third cornerback on the depth chart as a senior, playing primarily in the boundary when he was on the field. Westry has exceptional straight-line speed to stay stride for stride with receivers or quickly make up ground when he gets a late start. However, he plays undisciplined with a questionable mental process, struggling to recognize routes or create production. Overall, Westry is a better athlete than football player right now with questionable football intelligence, but his size/speed numbers are rare, which will get him drafted as a high upside project."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

The Dallas Cowboys may not have a ton of holes in the 2019 roster even before heading into the NFL Draft, but this draft sets up nicely for them to upgrade several positions for 2019 and beyond. If the Dallas Cowboys can pull off half of this draft, I think it should be considered a really nice weekend for the Cowboys. They add potential starters at safety, tight end, wide receiver, and 3-tech, as well as a good backup at running back, and project corner.

What do you think of this Dallas Cowboys mock draft?



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