We are 16 days from the start of NFL free agency and 59 days away from the first round of the NFL Draft and the Dallas Cowboys will hope to continue their recent track record of success. They've been able to find players on each day of the draft over the last few years. No longer armed with a first round pick after sending it to Oakland for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys will have to continue to that kind of success throughout the draft.
Mocking players is a difficult exercise, even when attempting to place a player with a team that has a first round pick. Trying to project players in the second round and later is dang near impossible. These mock drafts do serve a purpose, even this early, in that they give us an indication of the players that could be available to the Dallas Cowboys around the time they'll be drafting.
There's a nice variety of players and positions being mocked to the Dallas Cowboys in the last week, so let's take a look.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
Last week Ric Serritella of Football Maven released a two round mock draft and sent the Dallas Cowboys Florida Safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and had this to say, "The safety spot may be the position in biggest need of an upgrade on the Cowboys roster."
That's certainly debatable as the Dallas Cowboys could also use a pass rushing 3-technique defensive tackle, a tight end, and a slot receiver, but safety is a position the Dallas Cowboys will be actively pursuing, but more than likely in free agency.
Gardner-Johnson recorded nine interceptions, four sacks, and 15.5 tackles for loss in 33 games for the Gators. He'd certainly fill a need and this a deep draft at safety, so it's not unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys could use the 58th pick in the draft to go this direction.
Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson
Last time we did this piece, Ben Standig from NBC Sports sent the Dallas Cowboys Old Dominion Defensive End Oshane Ximenes and he keeps the EDGE theme going this week with the Cowboys selecting Clemson Defensive End Austin Bryant in his latest two-round mock draft.
The rationale didn't change much as he cites the impending free agency of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving, but it's an absolute certainty that Lawrence comes back. It's not improbable that the Dallas Cowboys take an EDGE rusher at 58, but at the moment it seems unlikely with the return of Lawrence and the on and off-field development of Randy Gregory.
Bryant would be a good get though as he recorded 8.5 sacks for the Clemson Tigers on a defense with several standout players. 2018 was the second season in a row that Bryant recorded 8.5 sacks, so he has the production and pedigree to potentially be a productive player in the NFL.
Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
Mike Tagliere from FantasyPros.com keeps the defensive line theme top of mind as he sends the Dallas Cowboys Defensive Lineman Dre'Mont Jones from Ohio State University. It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys need to add defensive line help along the interior, but there's not telling where they'll get those reinforcements from. In the Rod Marinelli era at defensive coordinator, the Dallas Cowboys have opted not to spend a draft pick on a defensive tackle in the first two round and generally hunt the bargain bin. Could this be the year that the Cowboys allocate a premium pick for defensive tackle. Tagliere, thinks so. Here's what he had to say on Jones.
"After overlooking the tackle position last year, the Cowboys must find one in this year’s draft now that David Irving is headed to free agency. Jones is thin for a defensive tackle, but he has a good motor because of it. He’s a much better pass-rusher than run-stuffer, as his swim move to get inside the offensive linemen is rather impressive. He will need to add weight for the next level."
Mike Tagliere - FantasyPros.com
2018 was by far his most productive season for the Buckeyes when he recorded 8.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 43 tackles. Sounds like the type of player that Marinelli likes on the inside; long and lean. At 6-3 286, he could be the penetrating 3T that the Cowboys have been looking for.
Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
Luke Easterling, over at The Draft Wire, put together a four round mock draft with trades that you'll want to check out. Just like last time we did this piece, Easterling continues to give the Dallas Cowboys Stanford Tight End Kaden Smith.
It's certainly a selection that meets a need with the Cowboys heading into free agency with only Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz at the position, but does it make the most sense to select a tight end at 58. The Cowboys have liked Jarwin for the last couple of years and he started to show out toward the end of the season and with as deep as group as 2019 provides at the tight end position, solidifying tight end could be something the Dallas Cowboys could wait to do.
Easterling's not the only one to like Smith to the Cowboys at 58, as Eddie Brown of The San Diego Tribune also sent Smith to Dallas at 58.
Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama
A new name to pop up this time around is Alabama Defensive Tackle Isaiah Buggs, who is being mocked to the Dallas Cowboys in Fansided.com Draft Anaylyst Randy Gurzi's latest mock draft.
"Alabama players are found all over the league and another gets selected here as the Dallas Cowboys take Isaiah Buggs. A potential three-technique, Dallas needs someone who can replace David Irving, who simply can’t get on the field. He doesn’t get the hype that some of his teammates do, but Buggs had 9.5 sacks this past year and should continue to provide interior pressure at the next level."
While Jason Garrett seems to have an affinity for Nick Saban, the Dallas Cowboys haven't drafted an Alabama player during Garrett's nine drafts with the Dallas Cowboys. Buggs fits a need for reinforcements on the Cowboys interior, but as we discussed earlier, will the Cowboys use a premium pick on a defensive tackle? It would certainly be a departure from the norm.
Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
InsideTheStar.com's very own Brian Martin released a 7-round mock draft using Fan Speak's On the Clock Simulator and selected Jace Sternberger with the Cowboys first selection at number 58.
Here's what Martin had to say:
"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."
Brian Martin, InsideTheStar.com
Sternberger averaged 17.3 yards per reception for the Aggies while hauling in 48 passes for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are explosive numbers for a Tight End in college football. In Mark Andrews final season at the University of Oklahoma, he caught 62 passes for 952 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 15.3 yards per reception. In a better offense with a better quarterback, it's certainly possible Sternberger puts up Andrews like production last season.
Make sure you check out the rest of his mock to see who the Dallas Cowboys could take with their other five picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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It will be interesting to see if these mock projections hold up over the next couple of months with pro days and the NFL Scouting Combine coming soon. How the Dallas Cowboys allocate pick number 58 is anyone's guess at this point and will remain so until we get into the 50's of the NFL Draft. Get to know these players, because they'll likely be in the range of where the Cowboys will be picking come draft day.
2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott
The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.
Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.
This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.
Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:
The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.
Let's take a look…
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.
Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.
D'Andre Swift, Georgia
D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.
Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.
Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.
Travis Etienne, Clemson
The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.
Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.
Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.
The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.
- Cam Akers, Florida State
- Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
- Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
- Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
- Kylin Hill, Mississippi State
I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.
Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?
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?
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