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!
John’s 7 Round Cowboys Mock Draft, with Trades
With Dez Bryant's release, the need for a front-line wide receiver becomes a bit more urgent for the Dallas Cowboys. The 2018 NFL Draft sets up very well for DAL to fill several needs on the offensive and defensive sides of the football. With a lot of depth at positions that the Dallas Cowboys have been looking into, there will be options to move around in this draft that fit what the front office likes to do.
So, here is my new seven-round mock draft, only because the Bryant move made me rethink what I would do.
Using Fanspeak's On The Clock Premium, I explored what it would look like to trade back in the first round, which is becoming my preference if the first round falls right. After picking up an extra pick or two in a trade back in the first, I'd love to see them move up in the second.
I made probably more trades than they would make, but they all make sense from a trade value chart perspective.
I used Connor Livesay's big board from Pro Football Talk Line and set the computer to use multiple big boards, trying to simulate what an NFL Draft actually looks like. Different teams place different value on the players due to their varying evaluations.
Using the running list that KD Drummond has going over at The Cowboys Wire, I made an effort to select players the Dallas Cowboys have met with in some capacity.
Round 1: James Daniels, G/C, Iowa
National 30 Visit
Five quarterbacks went in the first 18 selections, which is the best case scenario for the Dallas Cowboys at #19. I've been very vocal about the idea that Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson will all go before the Dallas Cowboys pick at 19. There are enough quarterback needy teams in the first half of the first round, and some in the back half, that it just makes sense.
The top two guard prospects, Quenton Nelson and Isaiah Wynn, were gone by 19, and Harold Landry went at pick 14 to the Green Bay Packers.
The New England Patriots came 'a callin' with #23 and their third rounder (#95) to move up to 19. It's not as good as adding a second rounder, but I didn't want to fall back too far and miss out on who I eventually picked for the Dallas Cowboys.
Iowa guard James Daniels.
He's a player that will fit what the Cowboys want to do with their zone blocking scheme. He has the mobility to get to the outside and to the second level. He completes the Dallas offensive line and allows them to continue being the physical run-first football team that they've morphed into over the last three or four years.
Round 2: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
National 30 Visit
Maryland Wide Receiver DJ Moore slipped to the top of the second round, so I made a move up from 50 to get him.
In order to do so, I had to give up pick 50, New England's pick at the back-end of the third round (95), and pick 192 to equal 534 points. That is about equal to the first of Indianapolis' two second round picks at pick 36 (540 points).
Moore is a good route runner with quickness and speed to make big plays happen. Was very productive at Maryland and has received comparisons to Minnesota Vikings' Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs.
We still have our third rounder to work with and now have filled the two biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball with players who could be day-one starters.
Round 3: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
Heading into round three, I'm feeling really good about the draft so far. Obviously there are still some needs to address, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Got an offer from the Carolina Panthers to move back from 81 to 85, while also adding their fifth round pick, number 161.
After making the trade, the time came to address the linebacker position and Josey Jewell is the best one available at this point. Also the best available player at a position where the Dallas Cowboys have a hole.
The Cowboys coaching staff loves linebackers from the Big 10. See Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, and Sean Lee.
Josey Jewell is someone who can come in and rotate with Jaylon Smith at the MIKE linebacker spot right away. He isn't fast (4.8 40) but he has the quickness to be a pretty good linebacker at the NFL level. He will need to work on his coverage ability. He can help on special teams right away as well.
*After the trade back, we are armed with two fourths, two fifths, two sixths and a seventh.
Round 4: Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Mississippi
National 30 Visit
When our pick came up at up at #116 we had some trade-back offers, but Tarvarius Moore, who excited the masses with his Pro-Day 4.32 40-yard dash, was still available. That speed and his true free safety ability couldn't be passed on any longer.
He makes a great addition to the safety rotation and can potentially be "the guy" at free safety. He'll have value immediately as a special teams gunner with his speed and could compete to be the full-time free safety right away.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
The other player I considered was Penn State TE Mike Gesicki. It's time for this team to begin looking at life without Jason Witten and Gesicki has some impressive athletic ability.
According to PlayerProfiler.com, he was no worse than the 95th percentile in any measurable and compares favorably to Vernon Davis -- hopefully without some of the headaches.
To get him, I sent both of our fifth round picks to Detroit to make the pick.
I traded pick 137 to the Seattle Seahawks for picks 141 and 168, though it was awfully tempting to stay there and take Nyheim Hines.
Round 5: Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State
National 30 Visit
Was able to pick up an extra fifth, move back and get a player who can contribute offensively and on special teams right away, Nyheim Hines. A dynamic pass catcher, Hines would be an excellent change of pace back to Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith.
He rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in 2017 at NC State, so he could be more Darren Sproles-like as a runner and receiver than anything they have on the roster at the moment.
Breeland Speaks, DT, Ole Miss
National 30 Visit
Attempting to add some depth with promise along the defensive line, Breeland Speaks is a nice addition who could fill some of the Tyrone Crawford role if he sticks. He can take some running-down snaps at defensive end or move inside and play some 3T defensive tackle for you as well.
Here's what NDTScouting.com's Jonah Tuls had to say about Speaks.
"I have a feeling Breeland Speaks will get drafted higher than he should because of his athletic traits and tools as a pass rusher, but his experience is mostly as a two-gap defensive end who is relatively unproven and underdeveloped with his plan of attack. Comparison: Jonathan Babineaux."
Jonah Tuls - NDTScouting.com
Round 6: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
Part of the National Championship winning Georgia Bulldogs, the Dallas Cowboys like getting players from the Power 5 conferences and players who have good motors. Thompson has that.
Here's what Connor Livesay from ProFootballTalkline.com had to say about Thompson.
"Trenton Thompson was built in a lab, and passes the eye test with ease. At 6-foot-4 297lbs, Thompson has extremely good size and matches that with a fluid lower half that allows him to move well laterally and vertically. Has very heavy hands and you can see that from the tape when he strikes offensive lineman. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistent play plagued Thompson’s career, but he can be a quality three-technique in the NFL if he’s able to stay healthy and hungry."
Connor Livesay - ProFootballTalkLine.com
208 - Leon Jacobs, LB, Wisconsin
Another linebacker from the Big 10 who can be competition for Damien Wilson on the strongside, but also has some weakside EDGE potential for you as well.
"The thing with Leon Jacobs is that he may be scheme specific to just a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker who can drop if asked, but rush with a blend of speed and power as well. He is incredibly raw and will take time to develop mental processing, however. Comparison: Aaron Curry"
Jonah Tuls - NDTScouting.com
Round 7: 236 - Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma
Yes, they signed Jamize Olawale in free agency, but that shouldn't prevent them from drafting one of the better chess pieces in the 2018 NFL Draft. I outlined my affection for Dimitri Flowers in last week's edition of my mock draft.
Dimitri Flowers is a pet cat of mine that I think could be a dynamic weapon for the Dallas Cowboys offense. He can run, catch, and block. He can lineup in the backfield, in-line as a tight end, or in the slot as a receiver.
If you watch his tape, you see him catching passes over the middle, down the seem, and along the sideline.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
While I don't expect that this is the way the draft is going to unfold, I do think trading back in the first and then up in the second is going to be the best option for the Dallas Cowboys to get the guard, wide receiver, and/or linebacker they need in the first two rounds.
Take it easy on me in the comment section. Thanks for reading.
Top 10 Safeties Cowboys Could Target After the 1st-Round
There has been quite a bit to talk about the Dallas Cowboys safety position this offseason, especially in regards to the possibility of trading for Earl Thomas or moving up in the draft to select Derwin James. Unfortunately, I don't really think either one of these moves happen, but that shouldn't discourage you.
The Dallas Cowboys already have a few safety options on the roster, but that shouldn't keep them from looking for an upgrade. Jeff Heath could reprise his role at free safety this season, but the other safety spot opposite him is completely up for grabs with Byron Jones moving back to cornerback.
Personally, I would like to see Xavier Woods get a shot at one of the starting positions, but that's something to debate and speculate about once we get a little further along into offseason workouts. That is why today I want to share with you the top 10 safeties I think the Cowboys could target after the first-round.
Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee
Round Grade: 2nd
Rashaan Gaulden was a two-year starter for the Volunteers and was part of the No. 3 nationally ranked pass defense in 2017. He is a bit of a Swiss Army knife defensive back and has lined up at several different positions in the secondary during his time in college.
Gaulden was primarily the starting nickel or inside corner, but I think he projects better as a free safety in the NFL. He has the speed and toughness to play the position, but needs to become a little bit more disciplined. He has all the traits scouts look for in a safety prospect and a good foundation to build upon.
Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
Round Grade: 2nd
Jessie Bates played in 20 career games and has two years of starting experience during his time at Wake Forest. His decision to enter the 2018 NFL Draft is somewhat of a head scratcher since he had two years of eligibility remaining, but he looks like a surefire second-round draft pick.
Bates was the starting strong safety for the Demon Deacons, but probably projects better as a free safety in the NFL. He has a slight frame which could lead to durability issues down the road. Despite this, he is fearless in run support and shows good range and coverage instincts. He fits the mold of the kind of free safety the Dallas Cowboys are in search of.
Justin Reid, Stanford
Round Grade: 2nd
Justin Reid is the younger brother of Eric Reid, the former San Francisco 49ers safety. He was a two-year starter at Stanford and although he was listed as a free safety on the depth chart, he played several different roles in their secondary.
I believe Reid can be an interchangeable safety in the NFL who is capable of playing deep in coverage or in the box around the line of scrimmage. At Stanford he primarily played in the box or in man coverage in the slot. His smooth athleticism and versatility make him an intriguing second-round option for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh
Round Grade: 3rd
Jordan Whitehead is a three-year starter at Pittsburgh and lined up primarily at strong safety. But, he also showed off his versatility by playing free safety, cornerback, and even played on offense. He is a premium athlete, but there are some concerns with him as a prospect.
He doesn't have the ideal frame NFL teams look for in a safety prospect and there is a little bit of concern with his character. He also needs to clean up his technique in coverage and play with better eye discipline. As a run defender he is an inconsistent tackler at times because of poor technique, which will need to be cleaned up in the NFL. Overall, he has starting ability, but there are a few things that need to be cleaned up before he is trustworthy.
Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Round Grade: 3rd
Terrell Edmunds is the brother of Tremaine Edmunds, a projected first-round linebacker who a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans would love to see available at 19. Terrell is a three-year starter at Virginia Tech and bounced around their secondary throughout his collegiate career.
Terrell is a sound run defender and has shown he can make plays on the ball in the passing game, but good route runners will eat him up. He is probably best suited to play in a defensive scheme that utilizes a lot of zone coverages because he really struggles when he's asked to play man to man.
Marcus Allen, Penn State
Round Grade: 3rd
Marcus Allen is a four-year starter at Penn State and helped lead them to a national championship. Despite being listed as a free safety on their depth chart, he played primarily around the line of scrimmage as a box safety.
Allen is an aggressive downhill tackler and finished his collegiate career with 321 tackles, ranking 5th overall in school history and only four behind Dallas Cowboys own, Sean Lee. He has the speed and athleticism to be a coverage safety, but he is much more comfortable making plays in front of him than he is when he has to play in reverse.
Dane Cruikshank, Arizona
Round Grade: 3rd-4th
Dane Cruikshank was a two-year starter at Arizona. The former Wildcat first started his career at cornerback before making the transition to a hybrid safety role last season. He looks most comfortable as a overhang safety where he can blitz, defend against the run, or cover tight ends and receivers in the slot.
Cruikshank projects to be a strong safety in the NFL and has starting potential. He will struggle early on in coverage, but with time to develop could improve in this area. With the Dallas Cowboys, he would likely end up being a player similar to Barry Church, but they may already have that type of player in Kavon Frazier.
Tracy Walker, Louisiana Lafayette
Round Grade: 3rd-4th
Tracy Walker was a four-year starter at Louisiana Lafayette and was primarily used as a boundary safety. He is a former basketball player and as the frame to match. He needs to put in the work in the weight room in order to fill out his frame, but has starting potential.
I believe he could become an interchangeable safety in the NFL with little time to develop. He has the athleticism to become a rangy free safety and has the physicality to play down around the line of scrimmage in the box. He could compete for playing time as a rookie, but he might not be ready for a full-time starting gig.
Tarvarius Moore, Southern Miss
Round Grade: 3rd-4th
Tarvarius Moore is a former junior college transfer and one-your starter at Southern Miss. He put up eye-popping numbers and his pro day and has the potential to become the best free safety in the entire 2018 draft class.
Moore has yet to play his best football and will only continue to get better the more coaching and playing time he receives. His on-field athleticism and range really stand out when watching his game film and he shows really good pursuit angles when chasing down the ball carrier. He also isn't afraid to mix it up in the running game.
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Round Grade: 4th
For many Dallas Cowboys fans, DeShon Elliott's name probably stands out the most on this entire list. The Cowboys have already met with him and worked him out, so you know there is an interest in him in some capacity.
Elliott is a bit of an enigma as a safety prospect. At times he looks like a top prospect, but then in the next instant looks completely lost. He has only average athleticism and play speed, but he has a knack for finding himself in the right place at the right time. He looks more comfortable around the line of scrimmage than he does in coverage. He will likely be a special teams standout as a rookie while he develops.
Any of these 10 safety prospects make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?
Cowboys 2018 Draft Needs: Offensive Tackle
The 2017 season wasn't pretty for the Dallas Cowboys, and perhaps the ugliest moment was at offensive tackle. Given last year's problems, the position may get some attention in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.
In Week 10 in Atlanta, Tyron Smith was out with a back injury and third-year backup Chaz Green got the start on the left side. The Falcons' Adrian Clayborn had six sacks by himself, of eight total on Dak Prescott, and the 5-3 Cowboys went into a three-game skid.
Of course, Ezekiel Elliott's suspension (which began in Week 10) was the primary cause of that losing streak. But Tyron Smith's health issues were also a major factor in why Dak Prescott struggled last season, and the Cowboys need more from their offensive tackle this year to avoid more disappointment.
The good news is that Smith, according to his own report, is feeling good already. If he can get back to normal, Tyron is one of the elite left tackles in the game. Being confident about what's going on in his blind spot is crucial for Dak Prescott, so this underrated aspect of Dallas' 2017 woes is a big thing for a return to playoff contention.
Along with getting Tyron Smith back on track, Dallas will hope for further growth from La'el Collins at right tackle. After switching to the position last year, Collins had some early issues but was much better later on. He also struggled with health, which may have hampered some of that development.
Given everything happened last year, it's no surprise that Dallas invested some cap dollars into the OT depth chart. They signed veteran Cam Fleming, who has started 20 regular season games and in the playoffs in four years with the New England Patriots.
Not only does Fleming give the Cowboys an upgrade at swing tackle over Chaz Green, as would any animate object, but he might even offer some flexibility in the starting lineup.
By the end of August, Dallas could determine that Fleming is one of their best five offensive linemen. They might elect to move La'el Collins back to left guard and start Fleming at right tackle.
Ideally, Dallas will find their new left guard in the draft or perhaps after more veterans get released around June 1st. This would give them a solid trio with Smith and Collins as starters and Fleming as the highly qualified backup.
But if the "Collins to guard, Fleming to start" scenario happens, Dallas may want another OT prospect ready to move up into that swing tackle role. As such, the priority on offensive tackles in this 2018 draft may shift as the event unfolds.
Guard will certainly have a higher priority than tackle on Thursday and Friday. But if the Cowboys don't get a guard in those first two rounds, the gap may narrow. If they like an OT talent more than a guard at their third-round pick, perhaps they take the tackle and then look more at moving Collins again.
So as it stands, offensive tackle isn't a major draft priority. But depending on what happens early in the draft, that could change quickly.
~ ~ ~
Other 2018 Draft Needs articles:
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog6 days ago
Making Sense of the “Garrett Guys” Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release
Star Blog2 days ago
Kris Richard Taking Over For Rod Marinelli Earlier Than Expected?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Cowboys Players Who Will Have a “Breakout” 2018 Season
Star Blog1 week ago
Cowboys Building a DL That Could Potentially Be Special
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Who Could the Dallas Cowboys Find if They Trade Down?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Sean’s Scout: As Late FA Signing, New DE Kony Ealy Brings Value to Cowboys D
Star Blog6 days ago
Cowboys Aren’t Better Without Dez, But They Can Be
Star Blog5 days ago
What Dez Bryant’s Departure Could Mean For La’el Collins