The 2015 NFL Draft is just a few days away, so it's time for version 3.0 of my mock draft. And this time around, I'm mocking rounds one and two.
It's increasingly more likely that #27 for the Cowboys will be a BPA pick (Best Player Available) that may not address one of the more pressing concerns on the team right now, so we're reaching down into the second round to see what options might be available for Dallas at #60.
[dropcap type="3"]1 [/dropcap]Tamp Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, FSU
Winston is the best QB prospect in this draft and the Bucs need a franchise QB, so this isn’t a hard one to match up.
[dropcap type="3"]2 [/dropcap]*TRADE* Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The trade everyone is anticipating come draft day. Here is how I believe this scenario could play out:
- Tennessee gets picks #12, #19 and Cleveland's 2016 2nd
- Cleveland gets picks #20, #52, Philadelphia's 2016 1st, and Sam Bradford
- Philadelphia gets #2.
The Eagles give up a lot but Chip Kelly gets the perfect QB for his offense. Cleveland moves from #19 to #20 then essentially trades down from #12 to #52 and give up next year's #2 for the Eagles #1 next year and Sam Bradford, a player they are obviously very interested in if the report they offered a 1st round pick for him are true. Tennessee gets two 1st round picks and a #2 next year. To me TEN and CLE would have to take an offer like this, the question is if the Eagles are willing to give that much for Mariota.
[dropcap type="3"]3 [/dropcap]Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DL, USC
The Jags get to take the best defensive player in the draft at #3 with the QBs going 1-2. Williams is a versatile difference maker that would bring big help to that Jags front.
[dropcap type="3"]4 [/dropcap]Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
I had Kevin White in this spot in my 1st mock, but it recently came out that Cooper actually ran the same 40-time as White at the combine.
A major reason I initially pegged White ahead of Cooper is because he ran faster, while also being bigger than Cooper. If both are just as fast, it’s really a toss-up as both have great tape. Cooper is a better route runner and White has the size advantage, so it’s really going to be up to the team’s preference.
The Raiders definitely could use a top WR for their young QB Derek Carr, and Cooper has true #1 potential.
[dropcap type="3"]5 [/dropcap]Washington Redskins: Dante Fowler Jr, EDGE, Florida
Pretty sure this would be an easy decision for Washington, Fowler is a stud that would have no business escaping the top 5.
[dropcap type="3"]6 [/dropcap]New York Jets: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Beasley was certainly this combine’s workout warrior.
He showed incredible strength with 35 reps @ 225 and amazing speed running a 4.53 40 at 6’3 246lbs, BOTH tops among all DL/LBs!
Good tape is always great to have but a lot of the time it’s combine studs that tend to get taken high. The Jets are stacking up on defense and adding a stud pass rusher would make them scary.
[dropcap type="3"]7 [/dropcap]Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, WVU
After White ran a 4.35 40 at 6’3 215lbs at the combine he quickly shot up draft boards. Playing across from the 6’3 216lb Alshon Jeffery would give Chicago a ridiculous duo that would be difficult to cover.
[dropcap type="3"]8 [/dropcap]Atlanta Falcons: Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
The Falcons signed a couple of pass rushers in free agency but they need all the help they can get after last season. Here they’re in position to take 2 of the top 4 in Ray or Randy Gregory. With Gregory failing a drug test at the combine, he’s falling down some draft boards. Ray gives new head coach, Dan Quinn, a new, explosive edge rusher.
[dropcap type="3"]9 [/dropcap]New York Giants: Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska
Although they have bigger needs, the Giants love pass rushers and taking top talents. Gregory has top 5 ability and is one of the best pure pass rushers in the draft. He could get looks from SAM LB and if he puts on some weight, could be JPP's successor at RDE.
[dropcap type="3"]10 [/dropcap]St. Louis Rams: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
The Rams need a lot of help on their offensive line. They released LT Jake Long and C Scott Wells this offseason so they basically just have T Greg Robinson (last year’s #2 overall pick) and T/G Rodger Saffold.
They just signed last year’s back up C Tim Barnes to a one year deal so I’m guessing he’s the favorite for that position, and I’m sure they’re hoping to re-sign RT Joe Barksdale, but that would still leave a big hole at G. In this situation, with the top ranked OL Scherff available, I can’t see them going another way.
[dropcap type="3"]11 [/dropcap]Minnesota Vikings: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Now that Gurley's knee has checked out he should go fast. Many believe he's the best RB prospect to come out since Adrian Peterson. Speaking of whom, has made it abundantly clear he wants out of Minnesota. This pick would give the Vikings freedom to try to move Peterson during the draft.
[dropcap type="3"]12 [/dropcap]*TRADE* Tennessee Titans: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
So instead of taking a new QB, here the Titans get their current one a shiny new weapon. Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas are #2 and #3 guys, and Justin Hunter hasn't panned out. Parker could finally give Tennessee a true #1 receiver.
[dropcap type="3"]13 [/dropcap]New Orleans Saints: La’el Collins, OL, LSU
The Saints signed both Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller to 4 year deals this offseason and look interested in making an effort to run the ball more. Collins is a college tackle that has been consistently making his way up draft boards and has a lot of NFL people talking. Many think he has Pro Bowl potential inside.
After trading away Ben Grubbs this offseason, it’s a hole that needs filling and Collins would be a great fit.
[dropcap type="3"]14 [/dropcap]Miami Dolphins: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
The Dolphins need a better starter across from Brent Grimes. Waynes is the top rated corner is this draft and backed it up with a stellar combine performance. High ceiling prospect that could give much-needed help to Miami's secondary.
[dropcap type="3"]15 [/dropcap]San Francisco 49ers: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
The 9ers lost two corners in FA, they still have two solid starters in Tramaine Brock and slot corner Jimmie Ward, but that leaves a hole on the outside.
Jones was seen as a 2nd round prospect until he blew up the combine and his pro day. Measured in at 6'1 199lbs, recorded a 44.5" vertical, and completely insane 12ft 3in broad jump at the combine. Reportedly ran in the 4.36-4.39 range in his 40 during his pro day (did not run at combine due to a shoulder injury). Obviously a rare athlete that should go quick.
[dropcap type="3"]16 [/dropcap]Houston Texans: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
The Texans need a franchise QB and a replacement for Andre Johnson, but by this time the top two QBs are long gone and so are the top 3 WRs. They could also really use a new ILB, but there aren’t any in this draft with a mid first round grade, in my opinion.
At 6’7 292lbs, Armstead is a long, athletic DT with a lot of upside. If he can tap into his potential playing beside Vince Wilfork and J.J. Watt, it would give Houston a scary front.
[dropcap type="3"]17 [/dropcap]San Diego Chargers: Bud Dupree, EDGE, Kentucky
San Diego needs a lot of help on defense. Melvin Ingram is in the final year of his rookie contract but he's been injury prone his whole career, plus SD isn't bringing Dwight Freeney back. Dupree is a physical freak that blew up the combine. Still raw, but with some coaching, he could become a force.
[dropcap type="3"]18 [/dropcap]Kansas City Chiefs: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
The Chiefs took Eric Fisher with the #1 pick in 2013, but he hasn’t nearly played up to expectations. At the same time, KC needs to upgrade the RT position. Peat could provide competition for Fisher and also fill the hole on the right side.
[dropcap type="3"]19 [/dropcap]*TRADE* Tennessee Titans: (from BUF): Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
Some more help for the Titans offense after trading down. OT Michael Roos retired this offseason and Michael Oher was waived. Last year's 1st round selection Taylor Lewan can easily man the left side but that leaves a hole at RT. Flowers is a perfect RT prospect that could provide a big boost to Tennessee's run game.
[dropcap type="3"]20 [/dropcap]*TRADE* Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
A lot of people see Shelton going much higher than this, but in every draft nose tackles seem to drop.
The Browns have a horrible defensive line. Shelton would be a great value in this position and give them a stud NT to help their terrible run D.
[dropcap type="3"]21 [/dropcap]Cincinnati Bengals: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
The Bengals lack a speed option across from AJ Green, Perriman ran a sub 4.3 40 yard dash at his pro day and, like Jones, has a lot of experts bumping him from a 2nd round prospect, to a 1st. At 6'2 212lbs Perriman certainly has an elite height, weight, speed triangle. He could help Cincinnati spread the field to help the run, as well as take some attention away from Green.
[dropcap type="3"]22 [/dropcap]Pittsburgh Steelers: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
This is a pretty easy one to pencil in; if available, Collins would make an ideal successor to recently retired Troy Polamalu.
[dropcap type="3"]23 [/dropcap]Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DL, Texas
The Lions lost both their starting DTs this offseason, luckily they traded for Haloti Ngata, and in this scenario can land another big body for the middle of their defense. Even at 319lbs Brown is very athletic and versatile, him and Ngata (340lbs) could give Detroit a massive front.
[dropcap type="3"]24 [/dropcap]Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
With the departure of CB Antonio Cromartie, the Cardinals need a replacement. Collins is a raw prospect that needs development, but Arizona would be the perfect place for him to go with two fellow LSU alumni CBs in Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Collins possesses all the desirable measurables teams look for; big, long, athletic corner that has the potential to become a star.
[dropcap type="3"]25 [/dropcap]Carolina Panthers: D. J. Humphries, OL, Florida
This pick has to be for the offensive line for the Panthers; they have one of the worst units in the NFL. Luckily, this is a very deep draft for top caliber tackles.
Humphries is a LT prospect whose biggest concern has been his lean frame, playing at only 285lbs last season. However, Humphries showed up to the combine (amazingly) at 307lbs, so that should definitely entice a lot of OL needy teams like the Panthers.
[dropcap type="3"]26 [/dropcap]Baltimore Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
It seems every year the Ravens stand pat and take the best player available. Justin Forsett had a great year last season, however, he'll be 30 soon and there's really no one behind him. Gordon would provide Baltimore a young workhorse and nice 1-2 punch running game.
[dropcap type="3"]27 [/dropcap]Dallas Cowboys: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
If the top 2 RBs are off the board and there's a top 5 corner available, I believe that would be the selection for Dallas.
Johnson is one of the more polished corners in this draft that could contribute day 1, also would give the Cowboys some options with their current salary stand-off with Brandon Carr.
More on Johnson here: Draft: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest on BlueStarTimes.com
[dropcap type="3"]28 [/dropcap]Denver Broncos: T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh
As Peyton Manning enters his final years, the Broncos need to get him the best protection they can. Clemmings is a very athletic tackle that has a lot of scouts talking. Raw, but could start his career at G as he develops.
[dropcap type="3"]29 [/dropcap]Indianapolis Colts: Cameron Erving, OL, FSU
Here the Colts land the best center prospect in the draft and get Andrew Luck the protection he needs inside. This draft’s class of offensive linemen is much like last year’s class of cornerbacks: there’s a bunch of guys at the top and it’s going to be tough to peg which order they go.
[dropcap type="3"]30 [/dropcap]Green Bay Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
The Packers released A.J. Hawk this offseason and will need a replacement. I’m sure they’d also like to kick Clay Matthews back outside where he belongs. Perryman, although not a flashy athlete, is a stout, physical defender. Could provide a big help to that run defense.
[dropcap type="3"]31 [/dropcap]New Orleans Saints (from SEA): Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
Green-Beckham is a top talent who could fall in the draft due to character concerns. He was dismissed from the Missouri football program after being suspended twice, so the concerns aren't without merit, but he’s huge at 6’5 237lbs and yet still runs fast posting a 4.49 40 at the combine. He has Kelvin Benjamin size with Jordan Matthews speed. The Saints just traded away Jimmy Graham so here they could land another big target to try to replace his production.
[dropcap type="3"]32 [/dropcap]New England Patriots: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
The Patriots lost their top two corners this offseason, easily becomes their biggest need. Peters, like Green-Beckham, is a prospect with a lot of talent, but big character concerns. Many see him as one of the best cover corners in this draft, so would be a great value in this spot. If anyone can handle character concerns it's the Patriots, going to a top organization like New England would be a great place for Peters to get his head on straight.
[dropcap type="3"]33 [/dropcap]Tennessee Titans: Eddie Goldman, DL, Florida St.
After addressing their offense in round 1, the Titans pick up a huge NT for their atrocious run defense.
[dropcap type="3"]34 [/dropcap]Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jake Fisher, OL, Oregon
The Bucs currently have nobodies penciled in at RG and RT, Fisher would be a great selection as he can play multiple positions on the OL.
[dropcap type="3"]35 [/dropcap]Oakland Raiders: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, EDGE, UCLA
The Raiders currently have one serviceable starter at DE, 32-year-old Justin Tuck. Here they could land the big, strong, athletic, edge setter that could fall into the 2nd due to some injury concerns.
[dropcap type="3"]36 [/dropcap]Jacksonville Jaguars: Eli Harold, EDGE, Virginia
I had the Jags passing on Dante Fowler at #3, but here they can still land their 'LEO' LB for coach Gus Bradley's defense with the explosive pass rusher, Harold.
[dropcap type="3"]37 [/dropcap]New York Jets: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
The Jets traded for Brandon Marshall this offseason finally giving them a true #1 WR. Eric Decker is a great #2, but the Jets could use an explosive slot guy. Agholor would fit that role perfectly and give whoever starts at QB for NYJ a great weapon.
[dropcap type="3"]38 [/dropcap]Washington Redskins: Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A&M
Ogbuehi will drop due to a torn ACL in his bowl game so he could very possibly not play his 1st year, unless his team makes the playoffs, but in the 2nd round he's a great value and could finally give Washington an answer at RT.
[dropcap type="3"]39 [/dropcap]Chicago Bears: Preston Smith, DL, Mississippi St.
Chicago will be moving to a 3-4 defense but currently lacks a lot of personnel. They just signed the 49ers cast-off Ray McDonald who should be a big help if he can stop getting in trouble, but could still use another 3-4 end and NT. Smith would be a great fit playing the Justin Smith role in Chicago's new defense.
[dropcap type="3"]40 [/dropcap]New York Giants: Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah
The Giants only have 2 back up safeties on their current roster, obviously making it their biggest need. Rowe is a very good corner prospect, however many believe S would be a better fit for him in the NFL. Could immediately step in as the Giants center fielder.
[dropcap type="3"]41 [/dropcap]St. Louis Rams: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St.
A lot of people have Strong as a 1st round lock, but just like last year, this draft has a ton of WRs at the top, which should lead to some good ones to fall. Here the Rams can land a big, athletic target for new QB Nick Foles.
[dropcap type="3"]42 [/dropcap]Atlanta Falcons: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
The Falcons lacked an intermediate target last season with the retirement of Tony Gonzalez. Williams would provide them with a true pass catching TE and give them another dimension in the passing game.
[dropcap type="3"]43 [/dropcap]Cleveland Browns: Mike Bennett, DL, Ohio St.
As I stated earlier, the Browns have a horrible DL. I could certainly see them double up on NT and DE. Bennett's best fit would probably be as a 3 technique in a 4-3, but he could give the Browns the pass rush from inside they need.
[dropcap type="3"]44 [/dropcap]New Orleans Saints: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
All three of the Saints projected starting LBs are average players, they could use an infusion of talent in the middle of that defense. Kendricks played ILB in college, however many think he projects better to WLB in the NFL. The Saints could try him in multiple spots and see where he fits.
[dropcap type="3"]45 [/dropcap]Minnesota Vikings: Shaq Thompson, LB/S, Washington
Chad Greenway was terrible last season and is entering the last year of his deal. Thompson is a versatile player who is being looked at as a LB, S, and even RB. I think he'd be best as a WILL LB in a 4-3, if available, he would be a great fit in Minnesota.
[dropcap type="3"]46 [/dropcap]San Francisco 49ers: Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson
With the retirements of star Patrick Willis and last year's stand out rookie Chris Borland, the 9ers strength has become a weakness. Anthony is an athletic, physical defender that would fit nicely next to NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco's middle.
[dropcap type="3"]47 [/dropcap]Miami Dolphins: A.J. Cann, OL, South Carolina
The Dolphins have dramatically improved their OL the past couple of years, they still have a hole at LG however. Cann was a 4 year starter at the position and could give Miami one of the best units in the NFL.
[dropcap type="3"]48 [/dropcap]San Diego Chargers: Jordan Phillips, DL, Oklahoma
The Chargers have a very poor defensive line and lack a true NT. Phillips is a monster at 6'5 329lbs, yet still athletic for his size. Has the ability to eat up blocks with ease, however has an inconsistent motor, which could cause him to drop.
[dropcap type="3"]49 [/dropcap]Kansas City Chiefs: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
Signing Jeremy Maclin this offseason should help the Chiefs passing game woes, but they could still use an explosive slot guy like Dorsett. QB Alex Smith is Mr. dink and dunk, Dorsett is a playmaker that can take a cross to the house.
[dropcap type="3"]50 [/dropcap]Buffalo Bills: Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
If the Bills plan to be a ground and pound team under new coach Rex Ryan they need two upgrades at G. They recently signed Richie Incognito, but a RG is still needed. Tomlinson was a 4 year starter at the position and would give Buffalo the mauler they need.
[dropcap type="3"]51 [/dropcap]Houston Texans: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio St.
DeAndre Hopkins is becoming a stud in the league, but the Texans could use a speedster to stretch the field. I don't think anyone could fill that role better than Smith. Averaged a ridiculous 28.2 yards per catch in 2014, he's the ultimate home run hitter.
[dropcap type="3"]52 [/dropcap]*TRADE* Cleveland Browns: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
At 6'4 232lbs a lot of people think Funchess could be a TE in the NFL. With the loss of Jordan Cameron the Browns could use Funchess in a Jimmy Graham type role to exploit mismatches. Also, with Josh Gordan's future a question mark, and both Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline only signed for 2 seasons, Funchess could be Cleveland's future #1 WR.
[dropcap type="3"]53 [/dropcap]Cincinnati Bengals: Grady Jarrett, DL, Clemson
The Bengals 3 technique, Geno Atkins, wasn't the same player last year after tearing his ACL in 2013 and 1 technique, Domato Peko, is just plain bad. Jarrett can play both positions and is great at getting penetration inside. Considering Cincinnati had the least sacks in the NFL last year, they could use the help.
[dropcap type="3"]54[/dropcap] Detroit Lions: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
The Lions currently have Joique Bell and Theo Riddick as their top two backs. Bell is a nice runner but there's nothing special about him, while Riddick is just a 3rd down pass catching back. Coleman would give Detroit a young, explosive, home run hitter at the position.
[dropcap type="3"]55 [/dropcap]Arizona Cardinals: Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise St.
Andre Ellington is an explosive RB, but he’s just not a back that can carry the ball 20+ times a game like the Cardinals want. Ajayi is a big, versatile back that can play all 3 downs.
On Monday CBS Sports' Dane Brugler tweeted:
FYI - #BoiseState RB Jay Ajayi was dinged for his knee from re-check on visits, not Combine re-check. Point stands, "strong" concerns there
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 20, 2015
Everyone has an opinion, mine is either teams are spreading rumors to try to get him to fall, or the concerns are by a few teams and it's being blown out of proportion. Ajayi wasn't even at the Scouting Combine medical re-check and his injury was 4 years ago. He's racked up 3,796 yards and 50 TDs on 678 carries since. If the concern is longevity, you could say that about any RB. I think he's be a great fit in Dallas if available at #60.
[dropcap type="3"]56[/dropcap] Pittsburgh Steelers: Hau'Oli Kikaha, EDGE, Washington
Very productive pass rusher that will fall due to lack of athleticism. Ran a 4.90 40 at the combine, but had 32 sacks past two seasons and even lead the nation in sacks in 2014. With the surprising retirement of Jason Worilds, and the lack of production from 2013 1st round pick Jarvis Jones, the Steelers had to re-sign 37 year old James Harrison, they need big help at the position.
[dropcap type="3"]57 [/dropcap]Carolina Panthers: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
The Panthers need a #2 receiver to play on the other side of Kelvin Benjamin as their current depth at the position is awful. Coates would make a nice counterpart to Benjamin as he's a vertical threat that can spread the field.
[dropcap type="3"]58 [/dropcap]Baltimore Ravens: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida St.
Corner is a big need for Baltimore as they only have one solid starter in Jimmy Smith. Darby is an extremely athletic cover corner that has starter potential.
[dropcap type="3"]59 [/dropcap]Denver Broncos: Carl Davis, DL, Iowa
The Broncos will move to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillip, with the departure of Terrance Knighton they currently have Sylvester Williams penciled in as NT, Williams has never played the position though and would be better suited playing end.
Davis is a 6'5 320lb powerful clogger who, although doesn't offer much as a pass rusher, can take on double teams and give teammates 1 on 1s.
[dropcap type="3"]60 [/dropcap]Dallas Cowboys: Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska
I'm sure many don't think Abdullah will make it to 60, he very well might not, but I believe there won't be a run on RBs until the 3rd round. Dallas should be in position to take a top 5 RB in this spot if they don't get one at #27.
Most have Abdullah as a top 3/4 RB, but the reason I think he could fall here is, he's a smaller back, at 5'9 205lbs, and did have fumbling problems in college, coughing it up 13 times in 4 years. His small frame could also lead to pass protection problems.
Abdullah is a big time playmaker with explosive acceleration that can cut on a dime. Natural pass catcher, dangerous after the catch. Great patience and can use his short stature to hide behind blockers, then hits the crease and can get to top speed in an instant. Even if Abdullah is a two down back, behind Dallas' tremendous offensive line, he could be a stellar player.
[dropcap type="3"]61 [/dropcap]Indianapolis Colts: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi St.
The Colts need better play at ILB, their current starters are a liability in coverage. McKinney is a complete player and would provide Indy an immediate upgrade.
[dropcap type="3"]62 [/dropcap]Green Bay Packers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
The Packers lost CBs Tramon Williams and Davon House this offseason, Williams is a good cover corner that would be a nice value in this spot as he should fall some after getting a DUI this month.
[dropcap type="3"]63 [/dropcap]Seattle Seahawks: Donovan Smith, OL, Penn State
With the trade of C Max Unger to New Orleans, the Seahawks only solid starter is LT Russell Okung. Smith played LT in college, but he seems better suited to play G in the NFL. Could come in and compete for the LG vacancy left behind by James Carpenter.
[dropcap type="3"]64 [/dropcap]New England Patriots: Tre Jackson, OL, Florida St.
After trading G Logan Mankins last year the Patriots really didn't have an answer at LG, Jackson is a 6'4 330lb beast that could help fill that void.
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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