The final mock draft is the one that counts. It is Football Christmas Eve, as the 2017 NFL Draft begins tomorrow night from Philadelphia. The end of this process is always a bittersweet moment for the analysts and fans that have been studying these prospects endlessly, as it signals the time to put all of this hard work to test against 32 NFL team's draft boards - while also adding work in the all-important mock draft of integrity.
Here is my last attempt at mocking the first round of this 2017 NFL Draft, along with all eight of the Dallas Cowboys' selections.
R1/1 - CLE: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
This is easy. You need a quarterback and a pass rush to win in the NFL. The Browns don't have either, and they don't have a QB on the board worth taking over the best player in this draft - edge rusher Myles Garrett.
R1/2 - SF: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
The 2nd overall pick has never been used on a safety, but in my evaluation there are two legitimate difference makers on the defensive side of the ball in this draft. With one of them already off the board, the 49ers land a rangy safety that can turn the ball over and get it back into the hands of Kyle Shanahan's new offense.
R1/3 - CHI: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
With no quarterbacks drafted through the first two picks for the first time since 2014 here, the Bears land the most pro-ready QB in this class surrounding reports that they're interested in the North Carolina product despite signing Mike Glennon in free agency.
R1/4 - JAC: Solomon Thomas, DT, Stanford
With a lot of money spent in the secondary this offseason, the Jaguars should be thrilled at the opportunity to draft Stanford's Solomon Thomas - arguably the second best player in this class. A ready-made pro, Thomas' elite strength translates to the edge as well as inside where he is a force for guards to deal with.
R1/5 - TEN: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Jamal Adams has one of the highest floors of any prospect on either side of the ball in this draft, making him the perfect pick to fill a clear need on a Titans team that picks again at 18th overall.
R1/6 - NYJ: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Jets roster is one of the thinnest in the entire league, with clear needs at nearly every position. Resisting the urge to add another young quarterback to struggle through a long rebuild, the Jets add this year's top CB in Marshon Lattimore - who is immensely hard to separate from with the ball skills to create turnovers.
R1/7 - LAC: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Once thought to be a pipe dream for any team picking outside of the top five, some shoulder concerns for Alabama's freak-of-nature in Jonathan Allen could see him slide to the Chargers at seven. Allen can wreck any offense's game plan with his combination of size and speed inside, with the ability to play with these traits just as well on the edge too.
R1/8 - CAR: Christian McCaffery, RB/WR, Stanford
Christian McCaffery's top-ten pick buzz has honed in on the Carolina Panthers at eighth overall. In need of another weapon for Cam Newton, the Panthers can use McCaffery out of the backfield as an elusive runner that effortlessly catches passes at both RB or WR.
R1/9 - CIN: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Bengals could use some young talent to add to their solid defensive line, and drafting Tennessee's all-time leader in sacks is a good start. Barnett can immediately win on the edge at the next level in a variety of ways, and will only benefit from not having to be "the guy" in Cincinnati.
R1/10 - BUF: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Stop me if you've heard this before - the Buffalo Bills are going through a transition. The one player this team seems to be committed to (for now) is QB Tyrod Taylor, so adding another legitimate weapon for him to throw to is a good idea with this 10th overall pick. Williams simply does not lose at the catch point and can create separation downfield with quickness at the line of scrimmage.
R1/11 - NO: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
With two picks in the first round of this defensive-heavy draft, the Saints need to come away with immediate starters to add to a defense that was dead last in points allowed per game a season ago. Quincy Wilson fits this mold as a lengthy CB out of Florida, a fluid athlete that mirrors receivers exceptionally well with textbook technique.
R1/12 - CLE: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
With their desired QB in Trubisky off the board, and no must-have defenders sliding to the Browns second pick of the round, Cleveland gets a quarterback that can grow into any offense with Pat Mahomes - who possesses all of the intangibles to start in this league should he improve his decision making.
R1/13 - ARI: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Many have mocked Carson Palmer's replacement to the Cardinals with this pick, but I still feel that the veteran quarterback has a window to contend for a Super Bowl in Arizona - or at least that the Cardinals feel that way. If this is the case there's no way the Cardinals pass on a dynamic play maker like Corey Davis to inject some youth into an offense he'll fit perfectly with.
R1/14 - PHI: Marlon Humphrey, CB/S, Alabama
An absolute nightmare for WRs coming downhill towards the football, Marlon Humphrey can greatly upgrade the Eagles' secondary with his length and tenacity - using his strong arms better than most CBs in this entire draft. Regardless of if he plays at cornerback or safety, the Eagles will get a good player for Jim Schwartz to use in Alabama's Marlon Humphrey.
R1/15 - IND: Haason Reddick, DE/LB, Temple
The Colts have added some nice pieces to their defense in free agency, most notably DT Jonathan Hankins. Come week 1 of 2017 though, Haason Reddick could be their most visible front seven defender. An absolute blur on tape, Reddick shows range and closing speed at SAM LB with the ability to hold up at DE in the NFL.
R1/16 - BAL: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Ravens lack an identity with their running game on offense, going through a transition at the WR position as well. Fournette is a steal with the 16th overall pick, and will not only greatly help Joe Flacco but the entirety of this Baltimore team in setting the tone each game.
R1/17 - WAS: John Ross, WR, Washington
Committed to Kirk Cousins for at least another season, the Redskins can continue to have one of the strongest offenses in the NFL should they find an ideal replacement for DeSean Jackson. Washington's John Ross, who broke the Scouting Combine's record for the 40-yard dash, is exactly that as a burner with the shiftiness to win underneath.
R1/18 - TEN: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Titans offense under Marcus Mariota is truly unique, as their spread concept still plays to the strengths of two downhill running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. O.J. Howard would be an absolute perfect fit to this passing offense with his ability to block and run routes as an inline TE as well as split out wide and be a big target that consistently wins downfield with strong, reliable hands.
R1/19 - TB: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
Tampa Bay's top priority moving forward should be giving QB Jameis Winston a clean pocket, and drafting my top OL prospect would go a long way in doing that. While Lamp played LT at Western Kentucky, his fine tuned technique and size projects him best as a dominant guard at the NFL level.
R1/20 - DEN: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Offensive tackle might arguably be the bigger need in Denver, to protect whoever is playing QB, but with no tackles jumping off the board as "must-have" players here, David Njoku becomes the better pick at a position of need. The true definition of a modern-NFL tight end, Njoku will help the Broncos speedy WRs win on the outside by wearing out the middle of the field and showing off his athleticism blocking on the edge as well.
R1/21 - DET: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
It is no secret that the Lions value above-average athleticism across their defensive line, and Charles Harris has a chance to be their most athletic rusher at RDE on day one. Teams will love the Missouri product's ability to win on the edge with his spin, inside counter, and consistent bend.
R1/22 - MIA: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Original pick: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
With Conley's recent sexual assault allegations, the Dolphins change their focus at CB to a player that will be at the draft - with speculation that he'll be one of the inevitable players that doesn't hear his name called in day one. Here, Awuzie gets his shot as an instinctive cornerback that fights for every ball like it's his.
R1/23 - NYG: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
I'm sorry, fans of other NFC East teams. It is finally time for the Giants to replace the failed pick at LT that was Ereck Flowers. A disaster in protecting Eli Manning, the Giants have reportedly considered using this pick on Manning's predecessor at QB - instead opting for a much more reliable option at tackle in Wisconsin's Ramcyzk.
R1/24 - OAK: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Raiders' current roster makes them one of the most up-and-coming teams in the NFL, with a young star at DE in Khalil Mack. A natural SAM LB, Zach Cunningham can play behind Mack and add even more physicality to the Raiders defensive front with his tackling ability and play recognition skills.
R1/25 - HOU: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Also following the, "our QB is gone so let's get a guy to protect whoever has to throw passes for us" draft strategy, the Texans see Pat Mahomes long gone and instead opt for an athletic LT with tons of upside in Alabama's Cam Robinson.
R1/26 - SEA: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Knocked by many for his speed at both the Combine and his Pro Day, Teez Tabor still displays elite zone coverage skills and awareness with an instinct for the football that Seattle can't ignore in replenishing a secondary that can still protect a young player like Tabor. With plenty of veterans continuing to fly around and make plays for them, Tabor should fit in nicely with the Seahawks.
R1/27 - KC: Kevin King, CB, Washington
The thought of Kevin King joining Marcus Peters and Eric Berry in the same secondary is a terrifying one for any offenses facing the Chiefs this season. King may not get his hands on as many passes as the other two players listed here, but his massive frame and strong hands make him a tough CB to gain a step on.
R1/28 - DAL: Tyus Bowser, DE, Houston
Coming on late here in this draft process, Tyus Bowser is a hidden gem at this point in the first round when it comes to this year's DEs. Asked to drop into coverage far too much at Houston, Bowser can be the feared defensive end Dallas is desperately lacking once he is asked to rush every play and display his burst and elite change of direction skill.
R1/29 - GB: T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
A Wisconsin kid and brother to Texans' star J.J. Watt, the Packers ignore their glaring need at CB - with starters available there well into this draft - and grab another flexible player with a high ceiling to their front seven. Playing just one full year defensively in college, Watt shined consistently as a pass rusher and hunting LB with a nose for the ball.
R1/30 - PIT: Takk McKinley, DE, UCLA
The Steelers have pass rushers that they feel comfortable starting the season with, which puts them in a great position to potentially deal with Takk McKinley having to miss time through training camp. When he at his best coming off the edge, McKinley is one of the most explosive players in this class with the speed to set up tackles up field combined with the bend and upper body strength to finish.
R1/31 - ATL: Malik McDowell, DE, Michigan State
With Dan Quinn modeling the Falcons defense after his Super Bowl winning defense in Seattle, Atlanta rolls the dice on getting Malik McDowell to play with a consistent motor. If he does, the reigning NFC Champions' rotation of pass rushers would become much more lethal, as McDowell has top-five talent in this draft class with the ability to also play at DT.
R1/32 - NO: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
A Combine star that has the tape to match it, Florida LB Jarrad Davis deserves to go late in the first round. Capable of playing at all three spots, Davis stops running backs in their tracks and does not stay blocked for long all across the field. Landing his Gators teammate in Quincy Wilson at 12th overall, the Saints add two ready-made SEC defenders at positions of need.
Depending on how you quantify a "starter" in the Cowboys offensive or defensive scheme, I think this full Dallas mock brings them five new starters in total.
Tyus Bowser is more than ready to develop into the feared pass rusher this team needs, while Tarell Basham is the perfect rotational piece for Rod Marinelli to use early in his career.
In the secondary, there's a clear role for Marcus Williams to make a massive day one impact at safety, and the same can be said at cornerback with either Kazee or Decoud starting alongside Anthony Brown, Nolan Carroll, and Orlando Scandrick.
Both of the Cowboys' offensive picks here would be players to keep a close eye on through training camp and the preseason, as Fred Ross would be hard to take off the field should Dak Prescott find his chemistry with him once again. At running back, snaps are available for Aaron Jones - with the question being if they come ahead or behind Darren McFadden.
Getting younger at key positions is never a bad idea in the NFL, and that is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys continue to do in this mock draft.
It is far from over, but I would like to thank everyone that took the time to learn about this draft through my work and that of my peers here at Inside The Star this offseason. The NFL Draft has quickly grown into one of my deepest passions, with the potential to be much more than just a hobby sometime soon.
Let's all get ready to welcome some exciting new players to Cowboys Nation!
Cowboys Draft: Looking at West Virginia WR David Sills
Although the Dallas Cowboys won't be on the clock in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they essentially invested their first pick in Amari Cooper. However, wide receiver remains a need for the team, specially with Cole Beasley heading for free agency. Out of West Virginia, Wide Receiver David Sills is an interesting potential target for Dallas. A quarterback-turned-wide-receiver story, Sills is one of those guys who constantly shows up when you watch his football team play. That's what you want in a receiver.
Let's dive in.
During his time playing for the West Virginia Mountaineers, David Sills was a scoring machine. He scored 35 career touchdowns (15 in 2018, 18 in 2017) and caught over 980 yards in each of his two seasons as a starter. The Big 12 is known for its lack of good defensive backs, which will naturally raise skepticism when discussing how good Sills really is but it shouldn't.
Sills is 6-foot-4 and weighs 210 pounds. His frame is constantly criticized but thanks to his size and his excellent ability to high point the football that shouldn't be an issue. He's one of the best in this draft class when it comes to 50-50 jump balls. He shines the most as a vertical threat, including over the middle of the field, which should be an interesting trait for the Dallas Cowboys. Throughout his career, he was almost indefensible when given the opportunity at deep over the shoulder passes.
Although he doesn't have the best acceleration, Sills' build-up speed can be lethal for opposing defensive backs. Paired with this is his skill to adjust for deep balls, slowing down when necessary to take on defenders.
What I personally like the most about Sills is his play in goal line situations. Whether it's playing inside on a slant or running a fade route, the Mountaineer wide receiver surely made a lot of opposing defenses suffer. Thanks to his background as a quarterback, his understanding of defensive coverages is pretty solid. He manages to find the defense's soft spots and get open constantly.
But why isn't he valued as a top prospect on this year's NFL Draft? Well, unfortunately, there are a few reasons for this.
First off, David Sills had some problems in the "drops" department. He has plenty of body catches that aren't necessary. When balls weren't on target, he often didn't make the play despite counting with a pretty good catch radius. He can greatly improve in his route running abilities and he was challenged by true press cornerbacks, struggling to release early.
For the Dallas Cowboys, Sills could be a solid contributor as a vertical threat and in the red-zone, where the offense struggled so much last season. With the class being quite loaded at wide receiver this year, Sills should be a realistic target even in the fourth round.
Cowboys Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft
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.
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.
7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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