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.
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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