The Dallas Cowboys are in somewhat of a waiting period until this weekend plays out and know who their opponent is, so there isn't a whole lot of news surrounding the organization.
I thought it would be fun to use this downtime to complete my first 2017 mock draft for the Dallas Cowboys. I know it's way too early to predict who will be available when the Cowboys are on the clock with any accuracy, but that doesn't make it any less fun to speculate.
To help with this mock draft I used Fanspeak's draft simulator and chose the CBS big board. Below are the players I chose for the Dallas Cowboys.
Rd 1, Pick 31: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys could be in need of depth at the cornerback position with both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in the last years of their contracts. Luckily, Anthony Brown, who was a six round draft pick last year looks to be a future starter, but that shouldn't stop the Cowboys from addressing the CB position at some point in the draft.
In this particular mock draft Sidney Jones was still available when the Cowboys were on the clock and I couldn't pass up the chance to add a player this talented.
Jones (6'0, 181) is one of the most talented CB's in this year's draft class and would instantly upgrade the backend of the Cowboys defense. In 40 games as a Husky, Jones has accumulated 145 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one quarterback sack, eight INT's, 21 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, and six forced fumbles.
Rd 2, Pick 63: Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
After addressing the cornerback position in the first round, I thought I would try to improve the pass rush by selecting defensive end Dawuane Smoot with the Cowboys second round draft pick.
Smoot (6'3", 265) has been projected to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys on several occasions by some of these so-called "draft experts", but in the first round. To have him sitting there in the second round was a no-brainer for me.
Smoot would already have a head start with Rod Marinelli's defensive scheme, since Illinois head coach, Lovie Smith uses nearly the exact 4-3 defense Marinelli does.
Smoot has played on both the right and left side as a DE at Illinois and gives opposing offensive tackles all they can handle in the passing game. He is a quick twitch athlete that can bend the corner and get the QB, but he needs to develop a more versatile pass rush move repertoire. He also tends to struggle a little bit in the running game from time to time, but should be able to improve in this area with more focus on his technique.
Rd 3, Pick 95: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
The wide receiver position will probably need to be addressed at some point in the draft with Terrance Williams and Brice Butler both in the last years of their contracts. So, I want to introduce you to one of my "Pet Cats" of this year's draft class, WR Carlos Henderson.
When watching Henderson play, you can't help but fall in love with the way he plays a game. He is exactly the type of WR Dallas Cowboys fans have been wanting for what seems like years now.
Henderson is a vertical type wide receiver that will open up the down the field passing game. He reminds me a lot of former Baylor WR, Corey Coleman, who is now a member of the Cleveland Browns. Henderson isn't quite as explosive as Coleman, but I think he is a better route runner at this point of their careers.
Henderson (5'11", 191) isn't as big as the WRs the Cowboys generally target, but his ability to stretch the field was too much for me to pass up at this point in the draft.
Don't believe me, check out Carlos Henderson's highlights.
Rd 4, Pick 135: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
The depth at the tight end position for the Dallas Cowboys next season is questionable at best. Jason Witten isn't getting any younger and both James Hanna and Geoff Swaim will be trying to come back from serious injuries in order to play in 2017. Of course, they do have Rico Gathers on the practice squad, but he is the ultimate mystery at this point.
Jeremy Sprinkle has the potential to develop into a #1 tight end in the NFL and is already experienced in both the running and passing game, having already played in a pro-style type offense at Arkansas.
Sprinkle (6'5", 256) has the size teams in the NFL look for in their tight ends. He is a natural hands catcher in the passing game and is good at the point of attack as a blocker in the running game. However, he isn't the most athletically gifted player. He has a plotting running style and might struggle to gain separation as a receiver in the NFL.
Overall, I think he can have a long NFL career, but he may never be a dominant player in the NFL.
Rd 6, Pick 215: John Johnson, S, Boston College
If you haven't noticed yet, you may see a pattern to the way I have approached this mock draft. Again, with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in the last year of their contracts, I decided to add depth to the safety position by selecting John Johnson with the Cowboys sixth round draft pick.
At this point in the draft I look for players with traits that can be developed and I think John Johnson absolutely has the physical makeup to develop into a solid player at the NFL level.
Johnson (6'0, 202) played mostly as a free safety at Boston College, but was asked to play down in the box as well. There are also times where he was asked to play in man coverage and didn't look completely out of place.
Johnson has the movement skills that you like to see in a free safety, but really needs to work on his technique. I think if he can clean up his technique, he can be a really good player in the NFL.
Rd 7, Pick 231: Jon Heck, OT, North Carolina
With first of the Dallas Cowboys seventh round draft picks I decided to take a shot in the dark in the hopes of finding depth at the tackle position.
Tyron Smith is likely the only tackle that can be penciled in as a starter in 2017. Doug Free has noticeably started to decline as a player and Chaz Green can't stay healthy. The Cowboys might've found something in Emmett Cleary, but I don't know if he is an every down starter.
Jon Heck (6'7", 300) has the size and length you for in a starting tackle in the NFL. He was strictly a right tackle at North Carolina and that would likely be the position he would play for the Cowboys.
Heck struggles with his technique and footwork, but that could be because of his size. If they can improve those two areas of his game, he could develop into a starter.
Plus, it would be just too much fun to come up with all kinds of different "Heck" jokes.
Rd 7, Pick 252: Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia
With the last of the Cowboys draft picks I decided to double dip and selected defensive end Noble Nwachukwu because we all know that the defense could use as much help as possible with their pass rush.
Nwachukwu (6'2", 275) lined up mostly as a left defensive end at West Virginia. He isn't the most explosive of athletes, but is stout against the run and has the ability to play a defensive end or be kicked down inside in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme.
I don't know how much he will help with the pass rush, because he only has one career quarterback sack in 49 games he's participated in at West Virginia. He does however have 29.5 tackles for a loss, so he is capable of making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
If nothing else, Nwachukwu could be a solid rotational player along the defensive line for Rod Marinelli.
Would you be satisfied with these draft picks for the Dallas Cowboys?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions about this topic.
Cowboys Receive 4th-Round Compensatory Pick in 2019 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys will receive an extra fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the league awarded compensatory picks today.
The pick will be 136th overall, which is one spot below were Dallas drafted Dak Prescott in 2016.
And in other news... NFL awarded compensatory draft picks today - Patriots and Rams each received two third-round picks. The full list, per sources:
We have Anthony Hitchens to thank for this extra pick. The former Cowboys linebacker signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Chiefs last offseason which far surpassed any of the deal that Dallas made with their own free agent acquisitions.
Only free agents whose contracts expired, not those released in the offseason by their previous team, count towards the compensatory pick formula. Therefore, Allen Hurns' deal was not a mitigating factor.
As mentioned already, the fourth round of the NFL Draft recently gave Dallas its starting quarterback. Other notable fourth-round picks in the modern era have been Hitchens, Doug Free, Marion Barber, and Chris Canty.
Last year, Dallas drafted DE Dorance Armstrong and TE Dalton Schultz with fourth-round picks.
Already short their first and sixth-round picks this year from previous trades, the Cowboys are certainly happy to have this extra selection for April's draft.
7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition
I thought it would be a good idea to get out another 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week. Not only will the Combine shakeup a lot of people's big boards and draft rankings, but it will also be the first opportunity a lot of us will get to see some of these players firsthand.
For this Cowboys mock draft I used Matt Miller's big board on Fanspeak.com. I don't necessarily agree with where he has some of these players ranked right now, but that's part of the fun of doing these kind of exercises. With that said, he is still one of my favorite draft analysts.
Without further ado, here is my Pre-Combine 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft.
TE, Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M (2nd-round)
*189th on Matt Miller's Big Board
First off, I think Matt Miller has Jace Sternberger ranked way too low on his Big Board. I don't think he will make it out of the second round and may not even be available for the Dallas Cowboys when they are on the clock with the 58th overall pick. But if he is, I'm writing his name down on the draft card and not looking back.
The Cowboys have made it pretty clear they want to upgrade their TE position, but in order to do that they're going to have to draft one pretty early in my opinion. Sternberger may be a one-year wonder at Texas A&M, but he is exactly what Quarterback Dak Prescott needs in the passing game. He would change the dynamic of this whole offense.
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.
OT, Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (3rd-round)
*89th on Matt Miller's Big Board
It's a little surprising it hasn't been brought up more this offseason, but with Tyron Smith's continued back problems and La'el Collins entering a contract year, the Dallas Cowboys could be looking into drafting another offensive tackle. I know it may be an unpopular pick in the third-round, but I couldn't pass up on Bobby Evans.
At 6'5", 300 pounds, Bobby Evans has the prototypical size teams look for in their starting offensive tackles. He is a smooth athletically gifted lineman who does his best work in the running game. He projects best in a zone blocking scheme where he can use his athleticism to his advantage. He will struggle a little bit in pass protection until he cleans up his hand technique.
With the Cowboys he could compete with La'el Collins for the starting RT position as a rookie, but at the worst be the teams swing tackle in 2019. Since he has the ability to play either tackle position, he would make a good insurance policy if Tyron Smith has to miss time again because of his back issues. Again it may be an unpopular pick, but a necessary one.
OLB, Christian Miller, Alabama (4th-round)
*161st on Matt Miller's Big Board
With the Dallas Cowboys needing more depth at linebacker and defensive end, I decided to select Christian Miller with their first fourth-round draft pick. He unfortunately hasn't been able to showcase his skill set on a regular basis due to being buried on the depth chart at Alabama and some unfortunate injuries, but he has immense potential.
I think a lot of teams will look to draft him as a outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but I really like the variety of roles he could play in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. I think he could replace Demian Wilson as their strong side linebacker, provide depth at defensive end, and be a special-teams demon as a rookie.
The Cowboys of course will have to be comfortable with his injury history, but in the fourth-round I don't think that would be a problem. If he can stay healthy he has Pro Bowl potential as a pass rusher because of his size (6'4", 247), athleticism and fluidity to bend and torque his body. This might be my favorite pick in this Cowboys mock draft.
DT, Daylon Mack, Texas A&M (4th-round comp pick)
*178th on Matt Miller's Big Board
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use some more defensive tackle help, especially after all but washing their hands of David Irving. They currently just have Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins on the DT depth chart, unless you want to count Tyrone Crawford. That's why I returned to Texas A&M for the second time in this Cowboys mock draft and selected Daylon Mack.
Daylon Mack is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing at Texas A&M. Don't let that fool you though, he has the talent to earn a starting job with the Cowboys as a rookie at either the one or three-technique. He is the kind of prospect Rod Marinelli would love to work with.
At 6'1", 327 pounds, Mack would provide some much-needed beef to the Cowboys defensive front. He has surprising athletic ability for his size and has a devastating first step to be the kind of disruptive DT Marinelli prefers along his DL. I really love his violent hands and raw athletic ability, and I believe he could be an absolute steal in the fourth-round even though Matt Miller has him ranked much lower.
WR, Jalen Hurd, Baylor (5th-round)
*159th on Matt Miller's Big Board
Outside of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, the wide receiver position in Dallas is pretty dreadful. There are some young WRs who show some promise, but they still need more depth regardless. That's why I decided to take Jalen Hurd in the fifth-round in this Cowboys mock draft. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire 2019 draft class.
The most intriguing aspect of Hurd's game is his background as a running back. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was once considered a top RB prospect during his time in Tennessee before deciding to transfer to Baylor in order to switch to wide receiver.
At 6'4", 227 pounds, he has the prototypical size teams look for in a WR prospect. He reminds me a little bit of Cordarrelle Patterson, but is much more natural catching the ball. His route running is a little raw, but he has the ability to play in the slot or on the outside, something he did at Baylor. I think he could help replace some of Cole Beasley's lost production.
RB, Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State (7th-round)
* 206th on Matt Miller's Big Board
I reached a little bit with this pick, but if Bruce Anderson is available this late in the draft I would do everything within my power to bring him aboard if I was the Dallas Cowboys. I really think he could be the lightning to Ezekiel Elliott's thunder in the Cowboys backfield. I personally have him in the 3rd-5th round range, but can understand why he's ranked so low on Miller's Big Board right now.
Unfortunately, the draft process hasn't been very kind to Bruce Anderson so far. He was originally expected to open a lot of eyes in Mobile at this year's Senior Bowl, but unfortunately sustained an injury that kept him from competing. To make matters worse, he was a surprise snub at the Scouting Combine, meaning he only has private workouts and his Pro Day to impress scouts.
I for one am a big fan of Anderson's though. I believe he is exactly the kind of RB the Cowboys need behind Zeke. I personally see a poor man's Alvin Kamara when I watched his game film because of the different ways he can be utilized as both a runner and receiver. But, he can also contribute on special teams as a return specialist.
How do you feel about this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft?
Cowboys Draft Target: Washington Safety Taylor Rapp
While most fans are hoping the Cowboys snag a different safety who played his football in the state of Washington, Huskies safety Taylor Rapp should be towards the top of their draft targets on day two.
The Cowboys have some decisions to make when it comes to their back-end, particularly at safety. Do they want to pursue a full time strong safety type who can play in the box, allowing Xavier Woods to play solely as the centerfield free safety? Or would they rather add a hybrid safety who can play in that deep third role, giving their defense more flexibility in how they utilize Woods moving forward?
If their answer to this question is to go with a more traditional strong safety, and slot Woods into one permanent role, then Washington's Taylor Rapp could be the right man in this draft class.
Taylor Rapp is not the single-high safety that I would typically value high in an NFL draft. He lacks the range to really play that centerfield role, and doesn't have the speed or agility to project to this role in the NFL. No one ever gets behind him, but that's more due to ridiculously deep alignment than excellent coverage skills.
Where Rapp does excel, though, is playing forward and downhill. Rapp is aggressive both in his pursuit of plays and in his tackling. He tackles with good technique as well, and can absolutely lay the wood when coming up to hit receivers over the middle. Rapp plays how you'd expect your old-school strong safety to play, and projects as a split-zone and box safety at the next level.
Rapp isn't anything special in man coverage, but he executes well at times. He's at his best when asked to cover tight ends in man coverage, something which would certainly be valued both in today's NFL and on this version of the Cowboys' defense. I wouldn't be as comfortable lining him up against shifty slot receivers over the middle, but he can match up well physically with tight ends in man.
Overall, Rapp is one of the best tacklers I've seen in this draft class so far, and with his instincts, size and physicality he will serve as a solid strong safety at the next level.
I don't see Taylor Rapp as the typical versatile chess-piece the Cowboys have valued when drafting defensive backs in recent years. He does what he does well, but they would be ill-advised to mess with his alignment too often or try to make him fit into a different role. He's not going to move all over the field like Xavier Woods can, but he can certainly fit the Cowboys' current need for a strong safety.
Many fans want the Cowboys to pursue Landon Collins in free agency, but if they strike out there, Rapp could be their consolation prize in the NFL draft.
No, he's not as good as Landon Collins. Let me make that perfectly clear. But for a day two pick Rapp could fit a similar role to what Collins would here in Dallas: a strong safety who will play primarily in the box and cover tight ends in man.
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