We are less than two weeks away from the 2018 NFL Draft! For some die-hard fans, the Draft is just about as exciting as the Super Bowl. We wait for it with the same or even more anticipation. A month ago, I presented you with my first Mock Draft of the year.
However, the NFL changes week after week. Heck, just last Friday the Cowboys cut veteran WR Dez Bryant in the middle of April.
In this edition, four of the top quarterbacks find their NFL teams in the top five picks. There's one mock trade (and only one) since I didn't want to exaggerate and some surprises.
I hope you enjoy this one, and as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or tweet me @PepoR99 and let's talk football!
R1/1 - CLE: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
It's time for the Browns to prove they're a serious NFL franchise and the first step to do so is actually taking a franchise quarterback with the first overall pick. Sam Darnold and his play-making ability will provide just that for Cleveland.
R1/2 - NYG: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Giants will either stay put and take a quarterback or trade their pick for a lot of value. In this mock draft, they take their QB of the future in Josh Rosen and take advantage of a unique opportunity. They won't be drafting this high anytime soon.
R1/3 - NYJ: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield has been underrated by many, mainly because of his height and his "cocky attitude." But he's too talented. This guy will prove everyone wrong playing for the Jets. He'll do an excellent job in the pros. His arm isn't talked about as much as it should, to be honest.
R1/4 - CLE: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Taking a running back at 4 may be a questionable call. But it's worked out for the Jaguars and for the Cowboys lately. Barkley might be an even better prospect. With a rookie QB, adding Barkley would take a lot of pressure off of his shoulders. Barkley is too good to pass on him.
R1/5 - DEN: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Broncos added Case Keenum in free agency, but we won't see the same guy we saw playing in Minnesota a year ago. After the Paxton Lynch pick, Denver will be trying to make up for their mistakes by taking the best arm in the Draft. Allen has a long way to go, but has the potential to become one of the best QBs in the league.
R1/6 - IND: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
The Colts have an entire roster to rebuild. Switching to a 4-3 defense makes picking the best pass rusher in the Draft a no-brainer at this point. His impact will be felt from Day 1. Chubb heads to Indy, as do the three second-round picks the Colts took from the Jets.
R1/7 - TB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is a cornerback in some analysts' boards and a safety in others. The Bucs need both. One of the best defensive prospects in the Draft is taken by Tampa Bay and will make his presence felt on the field from whichever spot he's put.
R1/8 - CHI: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
If Barkley isn't the best prospect in the Draft, then it's Nelson. After adding some weapons for Trubisky via free agency, now they draft a blue chip player to protect him and to give a spark to the running game. Nelson's talent is ridiculous.
R1/9 - SF: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia
Tremaine Edmunds is a rangy linebacker and with just 19 years of age, he presents a very high upside for the 49ers and a team who doesn't know what will happen with Reuben Foster. Edmunds' ceiling is very high and he can become one of the game's finest in just a matter of time.
R1/10 - BUF: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Trade Alert: Raiders trade 10th pick for the Bills' 12th and 22nd picks)
It might be a little too soon for Lamar Jackson, but it's a quarterback needy league. With the Dolphins sitting at 11, the Bills pull the trigger on Jackson and find their QB of the future.
R1/11 - MIA: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Dolphins may target a QB here, but the top guys are already gone. Roquan Smith is a game-changer on the defense side of things. Miami needs a lot of help in the roster, and the first guy they get is Smith.
R1/12 - OAK: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
(Trade Alert: Bills trade 12th and 22nd pick for the Raiders' 10th pick)
Denzel Ward is arguably the best cornerback in the class and the Raiders are able to steal him with the 12th pick and still hold another first rounder.
R1/13 - WAS: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James is easily a top-10 talent but somehow the Redskins steal him at 13 and get a difference maker in the backfield. James doesn't get past the top 15.
R1/14 - GB: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Harold Landry could be in the top 10 conversation, but a 2017 injure-plagued season took a hit at his draft stock. Still, he's one of the best rushers in the Draft and finds his way into the 14th overall pick to Green Bay.
R1/15 - ARI: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Arizona could be looking for a quarterback, but just like Miami, it's too late for them in this scenario. I'm higher than most when it comes to Mike Hughes. The Cardinals draft their future starting CB from Central Florida. Hughes will be a very good CB1 in his career.
R1/16 - BAL: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Calvin Ridley falls all the way to the #16 pick to the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco gets a receiver who is always open on tape. Ridley, despite being 24 years old, will be a great receiver in the NFL. He's so good.
R1/17 - LAC: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers find McGlinchey with the 17th pick and don't even think about stealing him. I wouldn't b e surprised if some of the tackles in this draft start going earlier than expected. The Chargers keep adding talent to the OL.
R1/18 - SEA: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Josh Jackson at 18 is a steal for the Seahawks. They're rebuilding their team in unexpected fashion and Josh Jackson could be the foundation for another group of talented cornerbacks in Seattle.
R1/19 - DAL: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Before the Cowboys released Dez Bryant, this wasn't the pick. But Dallas is in a position in which taking a wide receiver in the first two rounds is a must. Courtland Sutton is the pick since he represents the best option to play as an "X" receiver for Dallas. If they'd rather have Hurns play Hurns at "X", DJ Moore is a name to keep an eye on.
I like this pick for Dallas, let me know what you guys think in the comments section below or shoot me a tweet @PepoR99!
R1/20 - DET: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
Marcus Davenport may be raw, but he has all the potential he needs to become a quality DE in the NFL. The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah but can still use another edge rusher in their defense.
R1/21 - CIN: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Bengals were probably planning on taking an offensive guard here, but Vea at 21 is a steal. Cincinnati, holding the 46th overall pick may look for offensive line help later in the Draft.
R1/22 - OAK: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
After adding Denzel Ward, the Raiders now find a starting linebacker in Rashaan Evans. Evans still needs to work on some things, but should still be taken in the first round.
R1/23 - NE: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Patriots lost Nate Solder in free agency and are left with a big hole at tackle. They find Connor Williams late in the first. Williams is a better prospect than much give him credit for.
R1/24 - CAR: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Jaire Alexander's stock has risen over the past month and for good reason. The Panthers start fixing their CB position by taking him at 24. Alexander will find success in Carolina.
R1/25 - TEN: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
The Titans find Isaiah Wynn available late in the first and steal the second best guard in the class to keep building a talented offensive line.
R1/26 - ATL: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Da'Ron Payne may end up going earlier than expected, but this time he falls to the Falcons who need help in their front seven. Taking Payne here is excellent value.
R1/27 - NO: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.
The Saints may want to get the heir to Drew Brees' throne here. However, they get Dallas Goedert as a new weapon for #9 in what could be his last season in the gridiron.
R1/28 - PIT: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Leighton Vander Esch at the end of Day 1 makes a ton of sense, especially for the Steelers who will be looking for a linebacker. Vander Esch may not provide an instant impact, but can become an excellent defensive player after being developed for some time.
R1/29 - JAC: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
The Jaguars need offensive weapons and in this case, it's DJ Moore. Moore is a receiver with safe soft hands and an excellent route runner. Blake Bortles gets help.
R1/30 - MIN: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Vikings can go in many different directions here. In this case, they decide to draft Hernandez in order to protect their big free agency investment known as Kirk Cousins. If they find him at 30, it's a no-brainer.
R1/31 - NE: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Tom Brady is awesome. But no TB12 method will save him from time. It's time to look for his future replacement and Mason Rudolph could be just that in a couple of years.
R1/32 - PHI: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Eagles will be a very powerful team in 2018 after winning the Super Bowl last season. Taking a RB like Derrius Guice would take their offense to the next level.
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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