The 2021 NFL Draft is almost here and drawing closer by the day. While we still have no idea how things will play out on Draft Day, we can still have fun trying to figure out which prospect goes where and when. That's what we're going to do today for the Dallas Cowboys.
Using Draft Network's mock draft simulator I decided to take a somewhat aggressive approach for the Dallas Cowboys. There's no way of knowing if that's the mindset they will have as well for the big event in the offseason, but we can't rule it out either.
With that in mind, below is how I decided to use the Dallas Cowboys original 10 picks:
The first nine first-round picks…
(1) Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
(2) New York Jets – QB Zach Wilson, BYU
(3) San Francisco 49ers – QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State
(4) Atlanta Falcons – TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
(5) Cincinnati Bengals – OT Penei Sewell, Oregon
(6) Miami Dolphins – WR Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
(7) Detroit Lions – WR Jaylon Waddle, Alabama
(8) Carolina Panthers – CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
(9) Denver Broncos – OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Decisions… Decisions… With both the top-ranked offensive tackles and arguably the best cornerback in the 2021 draft class gone the Dallas Cowboys find themselves both disappointed and giddy with the remaining options on the board. They could stand pat and draft CB Jaycee Horn to fill the void opposite Trevon Diggs in their secondary or they could shop the 10th overall pick to QB “needy” teams willing to move up for either Justin Fields or Mac Jones.
After fielding offers I decided it was in their best interest to trade down and I'd be surprised if the Dallas Cowboys didn't feel the same. In this scenario New England was my preferred trade down partner and I think I worked out a trade that was mutually beneficial for both organizations. The Cowboys basically trade down five spots while also picking up two extra draft picks in the Top 100.
*TRADE* Patriots send 1.15, 2.46, 3.96 to Cowboys for 1.10, 4.115, 5.179
The next five picks…
(10) New England Patriots – QB Justin Fields, Ohio State
(11) New York Giants – WR Devonta Smith, Alabama
(12) Philadelphia Eagles – CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
(13) Los Angeles Chargers – OT Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
(14) Minnesota Vikings – OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
I was hoping Jaycee Horn would somehow slide all the way to #15, but the Eagles swooped in and ruined that plan. Not all is lost though. Mac Jones is still on the board and the Chicago Bears want to move up to make him their future QB. So, Dallas moves down five more spots to #20 and picks up another Top 100 pick and an extra fifth-rounder.
*TRADE* Chicago send 1.20, 3.83, 5.164 to Cowboys for 1.15
After trading down twice in the first-round the Dallas Cowboys now have seven picks in the Top 100 and 12 overall…20, 44, 46, 75, 83, 96, 99, 138, 164, 192, 227, and 238. Now, let's get to drafting…
Round 1, Pick 20 – CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Injuries are definitely a concern for Caleb Farley's long-term future. But, at #20 instead of #10 gambling on arguably the most physically gifted CB in the entire draft class is something the Dallas Cowboys might be willing to risk.
“Farley might have some rough patches early on and his past injuries are a strong concern, but he has outstanding physical tools with natural instincts and ball skills to consistently stay in phase and make plays on the ball. He projects as a press-man starter with Pro Bowl upside if healthy.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 2, Pick 44 – S Javon Holland, Oregon
Javon Holland played mostly out of the nickel and as a split safety during his time at Oregon, but could be Dallas' long-term solution at free safety. He could compete for the starting job as a rookie or at the very least be a valuable chess piece in the secondary early on.
“Holland needs to mature areas of his game in both coverage and run defense, but he is highly competitive with the natural ball skills and versatility to be a matchup defender with starting potential at nickel safety.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 2, Pick 46 – CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
With the extra second-round pick from the Patriots I decided it was in the best interest of the Cowboys to double dip at CB to not only add more depth to the position, but also an insurance policy if Caleb Farley's back problems become an issue. Melifowu's combination of size, speed, and length make him intriguing prospect, one in which could challenge for starting job as a rookie.
“Melifonwu is more reactive than instinctive and needs to improve his anticipation, but he has rare physical gifts (length, speed, fluidity) to become an NFL starter. He projects best in press-man or Cover 3 schemes.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 3, Pick 75 – LB Pete Werner, Ohio State
With the long-term futures of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch the Cowboys need to both upgrade the depth at LB and find another potential starter. Pete Werner has the skill set to be such a player and the versatility to possibly play all three LB positions.
“Werner needs to clean up some inconsistent tendencies, but he has outstanding lateral range and his sights are always on the football. He projects as a versatile linebacker with four-down potential.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 3, Pick 83 – EDGE Payton Turner, Houston
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use more depth behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and Payton Turner would definitely provide that. From a size and skill set standpoint he's a player who compares favorably to Chandler Jones.
“Turner needs to cultivate his pass rush sequence, but he has outstanding length, foot quickness and competitive energy. He projects as an eventual NFL starter with inside/outside versatility.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 3, Pick 96 – OT James Hudson, Cincinnati
It's probably time for the Dallas Cowboys to start preparing for a future without Tyron Smith and James Hudson is just the developmental prospect they could target to be his eventual replacement. The former DT turned LT has the skill set to be just that person. He just needs to put it all together.
“Hudson requires continued technical refinement to match up in the NFL, but his light feet, strong hands and natural balance are an intriguing starter pack at left tackle. He would fit best in a zone scheme where he can develop into an above-average starter.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 3, Pick 99 – DT Alim McNeill, NC State
Alim McNeill is just the player who can help upgrade the Dallas Cowboys defensive line from an embarrassment a season ago to a solid unit in 2021. He is a stout run defender who consistently sets and resets the line of scrimmage and also provides a little juice as a pass rusher as well from the 1-technique.
“McNeill is not yet a sum of his parts and he needs to turn the flashes into better production, but his moldable raw traits are unique. He projects as a one-gap tackle with Javon Hargrave-like upside.” – Dane Brugler –
*TRADE* Cowboys send 4.138, 5.192, 2022 4th-rounder to Jaguars for 4.106
Round 4, Pick 106 – QB Kyle Trask, Florida
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys come out of the 2021 draft with a new QB2 to backup Dak Prescott. Because of that I decided to put together a package to move up to the first pick in the fourth-round for Kyle Trask, a talented QB prospect with starting potential.
“Trask is a well-built, smart and tough competitor with natural touch as a passer, but his inconsistent mechanics and below-average mobility cap his ceiling as an NFL quarterback. He projects as a carbon copy Mason Rudolph.” – Dane Brugler –
Round 5, Pick 164 – S Caden Sterns, Texas
Despite drafting Javon Holland earlier having Caden Sterns available at this point in the draft was too good a value to pass up. The Cowboys could definitely use more depth at the safety position and Sterns is a player who could not only provide that, but also become an eventual starter as well.
“Sterns as functional range with efficient footwork to gather and go, but he struggles to anticipate, lacks grit and doesn't have the tape of a playmaker. He projects as an overly conservative deep safety with durability concerns.” – Dane Brugler –
*TRADE* Cowboys send 6.227, 7.238 to Rams for 6.209
Round 6, Pick 209 – WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas
For whatever reason the Los Angeles Rams wanted the Cowboys final two draft picks and I was more than willing to make the trade. While Darden may have still been available according to TDN's simulator with Dallas' original picks I didn't want to take the chance. He could be another Cole Beasley type of weapon out of the slot for Dak and the primary punt returner as well.
“Darden is obviously undersized, which will limit his potential role in the NFL, but his foot quickness and home run gear will leave defenders in the dust. He projects similar to Jakeem Grant when he was coming out of Texas Tech.” – Dane Brugler –